In most single-note situations, guitarists find themselves playing one note with one finger and then another note with another finger. What better way to prepare yourself for any situation than by getting those fingers ready? 

The following two exercises are designed to improve finger agility getting from one note from any finger to the next note on any other finger.

Two-Finger Combinations:

There are six two-finger combinations. They are:

Half Step

1 – 2   2 – 3   3-4

Whole Step

1 – 3   2 – 4

Minor 3rd

1 – 4

In these exercises, we will approach them working across the neck.

Exercise 1

The first way will be to take our combination 1 – 2 and go across the neck from the low E to the high E string and back again, playing just our first finger and then our second.

 1-2 Finger CombinationsNotice the blue arrows: These refer to the approach of playing the notes 1 – 2 in that order from the low E string to the high E string and then 1 – 2 from the high E string back to the low E string. 


Exercise 2

Next, we are going to reverse the exercise by playing the same notes, but now in reverse order 2 – 1:


  This time the blue arrows refer to the approach of playing the notes 2 – 1 from the low E string to the high E string and then 2 – 1 from the high E string back to the low E string. 

Now try doing these exercises with the other two-finger combinations of 2-3, 3-4, 1-3, 2-4, and 1-4. 

About the Author

Russ Spiegel is a commissioned composer and arranger as well as a highly respected guitarist, producer, bandleader, writer, musicologist, and award-winning sound engineer. He received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and continued his studies in Jazz Performance, Composition, and Arranging at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Afterwards, Russ spent more than a decade living and performing in Europe, recording a number of albums, performing at numerous jazz festivals, receiving the city of Frankfurt, Germany’s prestigious Jazz Stipendium award (1999). In 2001 he returned to the US, settling in country’s jazz capital of New York City, quickly becoming an established part of the music scene. Russ earned his master’s degree in Jazz Performance at City College of New York on a Barbash scholarship (2004-06) before going on to receive his doctorate in Jazz Composition at the University of Miami Frost School of Music as a Henry Mancini Institute Fellow (2013-16).