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Guitar Technique: Finger Stretching Exercises

A guitar technique lesson by Jochen D'hondt

Here are some finger stretching exercises that will improve the reach and fluidity of your fingers.

Every guitarist, especially jazz guitarists, runs into chords or scales every now and then that take his fingers stretching ability to the limit. The exercises below will help you develop your stretching ability. If you practice them regularly, you will be able to stretch your fingers much further than you do now.

A word of warning and some advice before we get started:

  • Before attempting these exercises please warm up with some simple chromatic exercises like the first exercise in this lesson: Guitar Warm-Ups
  • Start at an easy tempo and gradually increase speed.
  • If at any time during the exercise you start to feel pain in your hand (fingers, wrist, …), stop doing the exercise and try a more simple one. The purpose of exercises like these is to stretch your fingers, not to damage them.
  • Don't practice these stretches too long at one time.
  • Practice with a metronome.

I will start all the exercises on the high E string but it’s free to choose on which string you start.

I also start from the 12th fret going up, but if this is too easy for you and you want the exercises to be harder, just move down on the neck (start on the 5th fret for example). The space between the frets increases as you move down the neck, so the closer you are to the nut, the harder it will be.

Make sure you keep your first finger fretted at all time, else there won't be a lot of stretching.


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Finger Naming

Guitar fingering

Exercise One: stretching space between fingers 1 & 2

Guitar technique exercise 1

Exercise Two: stretching space between fingers 2 & 3

Guitar finger exercise 2

Exercise Three: stretching space between fingers 3 & 4

Guitar technique exercise 3

Exercise Four: stretching space between all fingers

Guitar finger exercise 4

Exercise Five: diagonal stretching

I’ll give you the exercise for stretching diagonally between fingers 1 & 2. By now you get the idea and it’s up to you to work this exercise out for stretching the other fingers.

Guitar finger exercise 5

Again, if these exercises are to easy for you try playing them closer to the nut (for example starting on the 5th or 1st fret). There are many variations to these exercises, try finding some of your own.

That was it for my first lesson for Jazzguitar.be, I hope you enjoyed it and see you next time!

- Jochen D'hondt


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