View Full Version : Requested Finger Exercises

04-22-2004, 06:47 PM
Here ya go Coypu, and anyone else who wanted these. I'm reposting the first set of exercises from the "Can I consider my self good now" thread that I posted, so scroll through if you want the new ones.

These exercises do not require your instrument... and they are pretty convienent as you can do them anywhere....

To increase Stretching distance:
This one sounds really stupid but it works... While watching tv or something of that effect, place your forearm between the fingers that you want to be able to stretch more... most common is sticking your arm between the middle and ring fingers... and the ring and pinky fingers... These three fingers have a hard time stretching and being independant of themselves because the muscles these fingers used are attatched to themselves, where as the muscle for the index finger is seperate from this muscle group. Once your fingers are comfortable with one part of the arm... which can take a couple of days, go to a thicker part of the arm.... don't over do this by going to the a really thick part of your arm first... The purpose of this exercise is to separate the muscle group attached to the last 3 fingers so they can be independent and strong... not rip the muscles!

To increase finger mobility and independence.. (which leads to strength):
Start in the position with your hands pressed together... palm to palm. Fold all fingers down, with your right hand index finger being first in the line of folded fingers. Then switch the line so that the left hand index finger is first in the line.. do this a couple of times to warm up the hands... The object it to not let your palms come undone.

Return to the plams/hands pressed together with the fingers lined up and pressed together with the opposite finger. Start with the index fingers by folding them down, right index finger first, then switch with the left index figner first. DO NOT LET THE OTHER FINGERS MOVE, OR THE HANDS TO COME APART! Do this slowly at first. Then go back into the start position and do this exercise again with the middle fingers... Fold them over the hand with the right one first in line and then switch so the left it first in line. Then you do this same thing with the ring and pinky fingers. 10 sets for each finger sould be sufficient for the first couple of time you do these... eventually, you want to beable to do this very fast, with out the other fingers moving or the plams of your hands coming apart.

You then do these exercises in sets of 2... the index and middle fingers, then the middle and ring fingers, and the ring and pinky finger. Then you the index and ring and then the middle and pinky. Then you do this in sets of three.. the index, middle and ring, then the middle, ring and pinky.

These exercised are usually hard at first because you are not used to moving fingers individually, or with odd sets, especially when you are not allowed to move the other fingers that normally move with the others.... the object is to do these faster and faster (there is no set limit after you are able to do it good)

WARNING... if you get pins and needles in your hands... or while you are doing the exercises your fingers are getting cold.. stop what you are doing... you are either pinching a nerve, or restricting blood flow.... these exercises are good warm ups before you play or practice, but learn when you are doing too much because they are very demanding on the muscle groups....

Exercise sets #2:

Pinky Swirl:
This is used and was taught to me by a good friend and a Timbali player (A latin percussion instrument, incase you were wondering)

With your hands in fists, and your pinkys sticking out, try swirling your pinky's in complete circles, without undoing the fist, or moving other fingers. You might have to do one pinky at a time until you are able to do both at once. You can also do this with the ring and middle fingers..... you can do it with the index too, but that is really easy for the index finger to do.

More finger Independance:

start with your hands in front of you, palms down and your wrists resting on something. Keep your fingers tightly together, move your index finger down but only by the primary knuckle. Like creating an "L" with your fingers. Return the index finger and do this with the rest of the fingers all while not moving any other fingers. Then you do it in sets of Index, Middle; Middle, Ring; Ring, Pinky. The in sets of 3, index, middle and ring; middle, ring, and pinky. Then complete this exercise with the set of index, ring; index, pinky; then middle, pink

These are really hard to do as you are straining and putting alot of pressure on the knuckle, they also tend to be a little painful.

Next Exercise:

Start with hands in fists. Raise the index fingers, lower it (Like you're saying "We're number 1) Raise the Middle fingers, lower them (Like you are flipping someone off.) Then raise the ring fingers, lower them, and lastly raise the pinky fingers and lower them. Do not move any fingers. Then you do it in sets of 2: Index, Middle. Middle, Ring. Ring, Pinky. Then sets of Three. Index, middle, ring. Middle, ring, pinky. Then in the sets of Index, ring. Index, pinky. Middle, pinky.

Remember..... Any significant pain, tingling of fingers or hands, or the sudden coldness of hands or fingertips means you should stop and shake out your hands.... and let them rest!

Enjoy guys!


04-22-2004, 06:47 PM
New Finger exercises! Yay!

This requires your instrument to do.
This is also the VERY first thing I teach my students. The object: To play these as fast and SMOOTHLY as you can. No breaks or "air" between notes, especially when switching strings.

1,2,3,4 Patterns:

Start at 7th fret.... yes the 7th... you need to work on these before you can take them down to the first fret, unless you have a super stretching hand.

Anyway... 7th fret of G string,or your highest string.. play 1,2,3,4 on the 7,8,9,10th frets... then continue on to the next string.

After you can play these very fast and with fulidity.... follow these patterns:


" " = on lower string

1,2, "1,2",1,3,"1,3" 1,4,"1,4,"

I have more.... but I gotta run.

I'll post them later.


04-22-2004, 06:48 PM
Originally posted by Lynx
Hi, I'm new here and only been playin bass almost 3 months.

Thanks a whole lot for this, now I've got something to do during class when I'm bored :D I just wish some of them were simpler, I can't remember all of the patterns.

Are there any exercises for right hand finger speed and accuracy? Right now I just practice that by pretending I'm playing in the air, but that doesn't seem to help a lot because it doesn't get me used to the resistance of the string. Any thoughts?

Sure there are. First off.... yeah, practicing air plucking isn't really going to help because there is no resistance, like the resistance you will feel when playing the instrument. Also, I just want to make sure you are plucking the strings right. Alot of people, who are just beginning, seem to think that you pluck the strings by pulling upwards.... this actually slows you down, and is an improper technique (I'm real big on technique because I am classically trained)... anyway...the correct way to pluck... you are supposed to pluck "in" to the bass. Try this visual to understand what I am talking about:

Hold your hand up at chest level so that your hand is relaxed and curved, as if you are waving bye to someone. quickly snap your index or middle finger down just a bit, like an inch. Now bend your hand down as if you are playing the bass and do it again... hopefully you will see that you are plucking into the bass and not upwards on the strings.

As for exercises... you have to start slow to build speed. Start on the D string..... resting your thumb on the E string or the edge of the finger board, or the pick up, set your metronome (Yes, get a metronome... it is Very important! they cost as little as $8) set your metronome to like 50bpm and pluck quarter notes. You should do this exercise with your index finger alone, then your middle finger alone, and then alternate the two....master this an you can add the other fingers too.

Pluck quarter notes until the cows come home.... like 2 mins... then click the metronome up 5 to 55bpm. 2 mins later click it up to 60.. so on an so forth. You might find that you can only get to like 80 or 90 bmp before your arm threatens to fall off.... but you need to rip muscle to build it.... and the process can be slow. when you get around 80 bmp... only take the metronome up in increments of 3. by the time a week passes.... you'll probably be able to go all the way to 120bpm before the pain starts in. Get all the way up to 200 bpm, or however high your metronome goes... then take it back down to 50bpm and start plucking 8th notes. when you finish with the 8th notes... go for the 16th notes.

A couple months of this and you'll be a little speed demon.

A variation for string accruacy is to alternate strings while doing this... it might seem like you are spending a half hour working on a boring and seemingly pointless exercise while practicing, but in the end it is well worth it.

Also, remember.. there is good pain and there is bad pain. If you feel tingling, pins and needles, numbness, or coldness in your hands or fingers, its time to stop because you are damaging a nerve somewhere. Also do be a hero and do it to the point where your fingers and hands will no longer move..... I have herniated a muscle in my left hand doing that **** and it took me over a year to regain the strength in that hand.... and i had to wear a wrist brace for 3 months. avoid injury at all cost.


04-22-2004, 06:49 PM
Originally posted by misplaced
heather, as you know i've had thumb problems lately and i wanted to know if you had any fretting hand thumb exercises that help just to loosen it up. thanx.

I can do more than that. I can give you several thumb exercises to stretch, increase mobility and strengthen the thumb muscle. :)

Here we go.

Exercise #1
-Relieves sores and tension in the thumb
-Helps restore full range of motion
-Helps relieve stress in the thumb

Hold your right hand in front of your body, fingers spread wide apart. Place the first and second fingers of your left hand in the space between the thumb and forefinger of your right hand. Holding this position, press with the left hand. Slowly close your right hand until you have a tightly closed fist. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds. Release your grip and shake out both hands throughly. Reverse and repeat for the other hand.

Exercise #2
-Reduces tension in the thumb
-Increases range of motion
-Helps relieve tension in the palm

Grasp the flesh between the thumb and forfinger of your right hand with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand. Gently squeeze this tissue while closing your fingers and thumb. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds. While continueing to squeeze the fleshy tissue, slowly open the fingers and thumb of your right hand until they are spread apart. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Reverse and repeat for other hand.

Exercise #3
-Stretches thumb muscles at the back of the hand.
-Increases range of motion

With your hand held in front of you body, wrist straight, gently pulll the thumb straight in the front of your plam. Hold the stretch point until you feel release. (its not really pulling, you are taking the index finger and pushing the thumb to point straight ahead.... the original position before pushing the thumb is the "Hi" hand wave with space between the fingers) Then, Gently pull your thum toward the center of your palm. Keep your thumb striaght. Hold the stretch point until you feel release.

The more slowly and gently you perform this stretch, the most benefit you'll see from this stretch.

Exercise #4
-Releases tension at the base of thumb
-Stretches deep muscle of the thumb, palm-side

Place your hand flat on a table, wrist straight. Gently pull thumb away from the forefinger, creating as much distance between them as possible. Your other fingers should remain relaxed. Pause at the stretch point and wait for the release. Keeping other parts of your hand and arm relaxed, gently lift you thumb upward with the other hand. Never lift more than two inches. Hold the stretch point until you feel release.

Again, the more slowly you do this exercise, the more benefit there is.

-Stretches thumb muscle near wrist
-Increases thumb flexability and range of motion
-Stretches wrist tissue at the base of the thumb

Extend your arm straight in front of you on a table. Turn your wrist outward and tuck your thumb under your hand. Keeping your thumb tucked under, and with the shoulders level, begin the draw back of your wrist toward the center of your body, keeping thumb tucked and fingers relaxed. Hold position and wait till you feel release.

Exercise #6
-Stretches deep thumb muscle
-Helps keep the thumb joint flexable
-Mobilizes the thumb joint at the wrist

Place your left hand on your left thigh with your fingers and thumb pointing toward the inside of your leg. Bend elbow out to the side, keep your fingers relaxed. Your wrist should be comfortably bent. Slowly begin to shrug your left shoulder. This will cause your elbow to straighten. Allow the muscle of your palm to roll up and away from the surface of your leg. The base of your thumb will be pressed into your leg. Pause at the stretch point and wait for the release. Repeat with other hand. BE VERY gentle with this exercise.

Exercise #7
-restores fluid movement to thumb muscle as they pass through the wrist
-Helps restore the wrist to full range of motion

Place your thumb inside your closed fist. Slowly rotate your fist in the widest circle possible. Take 15 to 20 seconds to complete one circle. Do two circles, first in one direction, then in the other. Repeate with other hand.

For an altered exercise, do the same thing, but pause every time you feel a stretch point in your thumb or wrist.

Ok... that is every thumb exercise I know.

Have fun, and be careful to not over stretch the thumbs.


04-22-2004, 06:51 PM
Well, alot of the exercises that I posted are finger strengtheners as well as making fingers independant....

But somethings just came to mind.

If any of you know about strength training... you know that flying through a set of weight training is pointless... and can lead to some lovely injuries. When people are doing strength training, you'll notice they do things in a very slow and controlled motion. This is actually the best way to get results from weight lifting and strength training.... and it can apply to the finger exercises (like the patterns I posted on the first page) as well.

Yep, we all want to be fast, and the purpose of the 1,2,3,4 patterns is to eventually do them relatively fast without hesitation, pausing between strings, and getting every single note out... no dead notes. The exercise is normally used to form the motor function skills needed to play an instrument, finger independance, and yes, even strength... but the strength part applies mainly to beginners of string instruments, etc who aren't used to pushing down strings, and for people who got stuck playing with only one or two fingers, who are trying to implement using all four fingers... like you are supposed to.

But once that finger coordination is there, and hard wiring the brain to be able to fire when needed (muscle memory)... the next step would be to go back and do these exercises a different way. In a slow controlled motion.

It would probably take you about a half hour or so to go through all the 1,2,3,4 patterns that were posted in a slow controlled manner... which is good, it is building up more finger strength as you are playing longer, holding notes longer, and builds hand and arm strength this was as well. Playing the patterns this way is also an endurance builder. Your hand and arm will become fatigued very quickly with this...you might have to take breaks in between every few patterns completed. Sort of like repetitions of exercises. Eventually it will take longer and longer for your hand and arm to get tired... less breaks inbetween sets of patterns due to fatigue.

I'm going to give you this very simple warning though... I've done all this, the slow controlled thing with a different type of exercise that is similar to the patterns on the first page, but geared towards the Double bass. I was forced by a very bad teacher to play and play these exercises to the point of extreme exhaustion of my hand... to the point where my brain was telling my hand to do things, and eventually my hand just dropped to my side... unable to move, severely cramped... etc. And because of this... I ended up with a hurneated muscle in my left hand (bad spelling.. sorry.) The muscle was litterally protruding out of the side of my hand. And left me unable to seriously play. I had to wear ace bandages around the hand to keep the muscle from protruding and was on major anti inflamitories... it sucked. And I lost ALOT of strength in that hand because I had to limit the time I played.

There is a difference between good pain and bad pain.. a difference between good fatigue and bad.... You must be aware of the differences! I've posted it in this thread many times what the differences are... it is important to take care of your hands... if you don't, and you continually push too hard... you'll end up like me... after I recovered from the hurnieated muscle... I got carpel tunnel..

There is life with carpel tunnel.. don't think that it is the end of your music career... But I had to stop playing for about 4 months inorder for the carpel tunnel to heal properly, so that I can still play. But its not gone... It pops up from time to time... and I have to be aware of it so that I can cut it off before it gets worse. Be aware of your hands and body at all times. Please!

Another finger strengthening thing... start playing piano... especially wide spread chords. :D Piano playing is helpful for finger coordination, strength and independance for both left and right hand.

I hope this helps...


05-07-2004, 06:04 PM
do u think u could post anything to help the pinkys i have a lot of trouble using my fretting pinky

05-09-2004, 11:45 AM
The 1234 patterns will work.


07-26-2004, 08:03 PM
Bumping to ensure view on main page


07-28-2004, 10:13 AM
Thanks for the great lessons, i can now use all my fretting fingers properly, Thanks :thumb:

07-28-2004, 11:04 PM
Np :)


09-18-2004, 02:54 PM
Nice lesson mate!

I fell while I was skating (really it was my first day skating). All my body fell over my right hand arm and it was so painful. It was 4 years ago but my thumb and my wrist arent the same since then. They havent recovered yet and Im rpetty sure they wont.

My thumb usually gets so hurt when I put so much effort keeping it resting on the pickup.

My wrist sometimes gets hurt when I have to strech to play G string while ersting my thumb that way.

You know, It feels so weak and its quite annoying cause Im always messing arround with it, trying to preserve it from possible damages.

Ill try this exercises for some time and Ill tell you. If this helps, Ill love you. ;)
You were so helpful.

P.S. take care of your carpel tunnel, hope it gets better...

12-24-2004, 09:47 PM
i havent read any of this yet. but it looks great! ive copied it all to notepads so i can read them later. thanks a lot. reps for this for sure.

01-01-2005, 07:46 PM
:thumb: Hey what's up man?!? Nothing much here just chilling! Anywayz I was just wondering if you knew of any other websites to go to get bass lessons for free. If you do know email it to me pleaze, I'm trying to teach a friend how to play bass, and I've gotta learn it to, which I already know how to play guitar, so it shouldn't be that hard. My email address is metalguit04@aol.com or metalguit04@yahoo.com, well thanx. hope to get them soon. buh-bye~~~Ryan~~~