How To Warm Up Before Playing Guitar

Whenever I play the guitar, I tend to warm up before playing. I have noticed over time that whenever I warm up, I get into my playing groove in 15-20 minutes. On days, I skip guitar warm-up exercises, it takes somewhere between 30-45 minutes. So I have made a guitar warm-up routine that I am sharing with you.

These guitar warm-up exercises can be done on any type of guitar — acoustic, electric, classical guitar or any other. It does not matter whether you are plugged into an amplifier or not

These warm-up exercises are designed to get the blood flowing in your hands and help your neural network get warmed up as well.

How To Do A Guitar Warm Up – Banner

Do Guitar Players Need To Warm Up?

Yes! Just like running and exercise, warming up before playing the guitar also helps stretch your muscles, get your blood flowing. This helps you play better and prevent injuries. When you warm up before playing the guitar, you achieve better hand coordination, dexterity, and speed. Most professional guitar players tend to give warming up a lot of importance. Legendary guitar players like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett and many others can be seen warming up on stage or even in some YouTube videos.

Why Guitar Warm Up Is Important?

 

Guitar warm-up exercises will help you in the following: -

  1. Get your blood flowing. This helps you play better guitar and make fewer mistakes.
  2. Warming up before playing the guitar helps cure cold hands. Warm-ups are a life save before gigs on a cold night. You do not want to go on stage with freezing hands.
  3. Guitar warm-up also helps prevent injuries. In research and survey by the European Journal of Molecular & Clinical Medicine regarding guitar soft tissue injuries. Injuries that include pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling sensations involving the muscles, ligaments, and tendons — can be prevented if you properly warm up every time and daily.

How To Warm Up Before Playing The Guitar

 

To warm up before you start playing the guitar:-

  1. Start with some simple warmup exercises like 123 finger exercise, 1-2-3-4 roll exercise, easy hammer-ons and pull-off exercises.
  2. Make sure you start at a slow pace and do not force it. Go slow and gradually increase speed — get your blood flowing. Be mindful while you do the exercises. Playing to a metronome always helps. 
  3. Next, do some easy left hand and right-hand warmup exercises. 
  4. Once you feel the stretch and your hands start to get in the groove, try some advanced warmup exercises like legato trills and string skipping.
  5. It is advised to warm up every time you practice, before performances, shows, studio sessions and gigs.

How Long Should You Do A Guitar Warmup?

 

Warm-up for 3-5 minutes every time before playing the guitar. This is more than sufficient and helps you play better. Your blood starts to flow. Hands and fingers also stretch out well and get warmed up in 3-5 minutes.

Guitar Warm Up Exercises For Beginners

 

The easiest guitar warm up exercises are 1-2-3 exercise, 1-2-3-4 roll and open string alternate picking. These exercises will help guitar beginners build finger strength, dexterity, and hand coordination. In 1-2-3 finger exercises, you use your first three fingers of the left hand. 1-2-3-4 exercise you use all four fingers which includes your pinky. In open string alternate picking, you alternate pick each string open.

1-2-3 Guitar Warm-Up Exercise

 

Start with playing the first fret on the sixth string with your index finger. Next play the second fret on the sixth string with your middle finger followed by the third fret on the sixth string with your ring finger. While playing, use only downstroke. Next, you repeat the fretting pattern on all the strings. If you are new to learning guitar, check out the free complete beginner guitar course here.

Beginner Guitar Warmup Exercise Tabs - 1-2-3 Exercise Page 1
Beginner Guitar Warmup Exercise Tabs - 1-2-3 Exercise Page 2
Beginner Guitar Warmup Exercise Tabs - 1-2-3 Exercise Page 3

1-2-3-4 Roll Guitar Warm-Up Exercise

 

 In the 1-2-3-4 Roll guitar exercise, you use all four fingers. This exercise is similar to 1-2-3 exercise but in this exercise, you do not lift your previous fretted fingers.

Start with fretting the first fret on the sixth string with your first finger. Without lifting your first finger, fret the second fret on the sixth string with your middle finger. Next fret, third fret on sixth string with your ring finger without lifting your first and second finger. Next fret the fourth fret on the sixth string with your pinky while you fret the first three frets with your first three fingers. Once you have fretted with all four fingers, now lift all your fingers and move down a string. Repeat this pattern on all the strings. 1-2-3-4 roll exercise strengthens your fingers, stretches them and builds coordination.

Guitar Warmup Exercise Tab - 1-2-3-4 Roll Page 1
Guitar Warmup Exercise Tab - 1-2-3-4 Roll Page 2
Guitar Warmup Exercise Tab - 1-2-3-4 Roll Page 3

Guitar Warm Up Exercises Intermediate And Advanced

 

Guitar Trills, String Skipping, Sweep Picking are some advanced guitar techniques that also serve as great warm-up exercises. Here is how you can do them.

Joe Satriani Guitar Warm-Up Exercise

 

Joe Satriani uses a great sweep warm-up exercise that I learnt 7-8 years back and have used ever since. Try this exercise, it is a killer.

Joe Satriani uses sweep picking and frets diagonally across the strings in groups of four. Here is how it goes.

Joe Satriani Warmup Exercise Tabs Page 1
Joe Satriani Warmup Exercise Tabs Page 2
Joe Satriani Warmup Exercise Tabs Page 3
Joe Satriani Warmup Exercise Tabs Page 4
Joe Satriani Warmup Exercise Tabs Page 5
Joe Satriani Warmup Exercise Tabs Page 6

Left-Hand Guitar Warm-Up Exercises

 

Here are some easy left-hand guitar warm-up exercises: -

Hammer-On and Pull Off

Hammer on and pull off are essential guitar playing techniques that also serve as great warm up exercises for the left hand. Start with a hammer-on and pull-offs. Try doing hammer-on and pull-off with all your fingers.

Hammer On Pull Off Exercise Page 1
Hammer On Pull Off Exercise Page 2

Legatos

A legato is a rapid repeating sequence of hammer-ons This is an advanced guitar technique and warm-up exercise. If you feel uncomfortable doing trills, skip this exercise and do only hammer-on and pull-offs.

Trills Warmup Guitar Exercise Tabs Page 1
Trills Warmup Guitar Exercise Tabs Page 2

 

Right-Hand Guitar Warm-Up Exercises

 

Here are some easy right-hand guitar warm-up exercises: -

Alternate Picking

Alternate picking is a guitar-playing technique that employs alternating downward and upward strokes continuously. Alternate picking also serves as a great warm-up exercise for the right hand or strumming hand. Start with open string alternate picking at a slow tempo.

Open String Alternate Picking Guitar Warm-Up Exercise

In open string alternate picking, you warm up by alternate picking between open strings. This exercise is for warming up the strumming hand and also helps develop the alternate picking technique.

Open String Alternate picking Warmup Exercise Guitar Tab

 

String Skipping

String skipping is a right-hand guitar playing technique in which you skip strings. Rather than play string to string, you focus on playing up and down patterns between two non-adjacent strings, using strict alternate picking as you go. This technique helps you improve picking proficiency on the guitar. String skipping also serves as a great warm-up exercise.

String Skipping Exercise Guitar Tabs Page 1


String Skipping Exercise Page 2

    If you are a left-handed guitar player, right-hand exercises will be your left-hand exercise and vice versa.

    Implement these guitar warm-up exercises to your practice routine and share your experiences in the comments sections below.

    If you wish to learn guitar, check out the free complete beginner guitar course here.

     


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    Udeeksh Sood Image

    Written By

    Udeeksh Sood on

    Udeeksh is an Audio Engineer and Co-Founder of learnmusicproduction.in. He loves to produce music, research music gear, play guitar, go on treks and road trips.