Scales for Warm Up

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Warm Up Correctly & Shoot 100%

As I shot baskets at 24-Hour Fitness recently, I was thinking about my old coach’s advice about warming up and shooting accurately, and how his advice might pertain to guitarists.

He said to start by shooting easy shots – close-in layups – to get your mechanics going, your muscles loose, and your confidence level up. You should shoot these at close to 100%.

Then gradually increase the distance from the basket, shooting easily, being as relaxed as you can.

His comment: If you can’t make the easy close-in shots, you won’t make the long ones. So, ease into the harder ones.

I suggest guitarists take this advice to heart. Develop a warm-up routine that starts easily and slowly. Warm up your hands. Play perfectly – very relaxed, at a slow tempo and low volume – so that your confidence level is high from the first note.

That confidence will carry with you as you gradually increase your speed and power with more challenging music.

At the top of this post, I’ve included an end-of-the-neck-scales exercise PDF, using the five common guitar keys: C-A-G-E-D. You may download it, and use these scales as your “layups,” starting slowly and quietly.


3 thoughts on “Scales for Warm Up

  1. Great stuff Mark. As an electric pick player making the transition to fingerstyle using Beyond Basics and Art of CTP (when it arrives) my first instinct was to flatpick these scales. Hoping those books will make clear which fingers are the best way to fingerpick these single note scales. Thumb on the E A D seems straightforward but several notes on a treble string are a bit fuzzy.

    1. Thanks, John. The common classical approach to playing scales is to alternate middle-index. I do this when my thumb is involved playing bass notes underneath the scale. Generally, the way I pick scales is to “Travis Pick” them, that is, to pick consecutive notes with my thumb and index finger (sometimes thumb and middle). Since I have Travis picked for eons, this is easy for me. Start by picking the On-the-beat notes with your thin, and Off-the-beat notes with the index. When you can do that successfully, reverse them so your finger picks On the beat and your thumb picks Off the beat. Picking with two fingers (m-i or thumb-index) is akin to picking with both sides of a flatpick.

      1. Understood. Art of CTP just arrived a few minutes ago so will begin after Beyond Basics is mostly finished. When I’m a bit further along will book a Skype lesson as I hadn’t considered the possibility of alternating thumb and index on a run of single notes on the bass strings.

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