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 » Home » Guitar Lessons » Technique » Building Dexterity (The Spider Technique)
By ThickSkind

One of the biggest problems facing guitarists of all skill level is fret hand dexterity. The ability to to utilize all four of the fret hand fingers to their utmost potential is key in becoming a better player as well as being able to play those "crazy licks" that you hear your favorite guitarits doing.

The best way to acheive dexterity is by excercising your fingers and playing the guitar at the same time. This helps acheive dexterity and helps you with becoming more familiar with your instrument. There are many exercises available for building dexterity, but this lesson will focus on "The Spider Technique".

The Spider Technique was developed as a single position exercise (using one position on the neck or 4 consecutive frets...one fret per finger) to build dexterity in the individual fingers as well as to help with moving from string to string. It is very simple in its composition, but can be very complicated in its execution. When first attempting this techinque you should hold the guitar and play in a mannor which is comfortable. For example if it is painful for you to play the exercise as it is written out here, then just move up the fretboard a little bit.

It is imperitive that the rules laid out for this exercise are strictly adhered to in order for you to gain maximum benifit.

We will start out with this exercise in the 5th position. Use the chart below to understand which fingers to use for which frets:

FINGERING PATTERN

5th fret: Index finger 6th fret: Middle finger 7th fret: Ring finger 8th fret: Pinky finger

PICKING PATTERN

"D" = Down Pick "U" = UP Pick

As you can see, each fret has its own finger asigned to it. If you are playing further up on the fretboard than the 5th position, just substitute the lowest fret number for the Index finger, and the subsequent fret numbers for the rest of the fingers. So lets get started:

Pattern 1) Pinky to Index Movement Training

    D  U  U  D  U  D  D  U
|--8--7--------------6--5--|
|--------6--5--8--7--------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
» Listen to Pattern 1 (179KB)

This patter helps you build dexterity and train movement from the Pinky finger to the Index finger. Repeat this pattern over and over until you are able to play it fairly quickly. Make sure that there is no pause in between the notes. Use a metronome if possible to help you.

Pattern 2) Index to Pinky Movement Training

    D  U  U  D  U  D  D  U
|--5--6--------------7--8--|
|--------7--8--5--6--------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
» Listen to Pattern 2 (198KB)

In this pattern the fingers move the opposite direction from which they did in Pattern 1. This helps you build dexterity and train movement form the Index finger to the Pinky finger. Repeat this patter in the same way described for Pattern 1.

Pattern 3) Complete Position Usage Pinky to Index

Now we are taking this exercise to the next level. In this exercise you start out on the top E and end up on the low E. Remember to pay attention to the picking pattern as well as the fingering.

    D  U  U  D  U  D  D  U   U  D  U  D  U  D  D  U  U  D  U  D
|--8--7--------------6--5---------------------------------------|
|--------6--5--8--7---------8--7--------------6--5--------------|
|---------------------------------6--5--8--7--------8--7--------|
|---------------------------------------------------------6--5--|
|---------------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------|

U D D U U D U D U D D U U D U D U D D U |---------------------------------------------------------------| |---------------------------------------------------------------| |--------6--5---------------------------------------------------| |--8--7--------8--7--------------6--5---------------------------| |--------------------6--5--8--7--------8--7--------------6--5---| |--------------------------------------------6--5--8--7---------|

» Listen to Pattern 3 (116KB)

This exercise should be repeated until the changing of the strings becomes a fluid motion and you become fairly quick at it. Make sure that you use proper fingering and picking patterns. Becoming diciplined in proper fingering and picking patters at the early stages of guitar playing will help greatly in the future.

Pattern 4) Complete Position Usage Index to Pinky

This exercise is the exact opposite of Pattern 3. We start out low and end up high. Once again, pay attention to picking and fingering patterns.

    D  U  U  D  U  D  D  U  D  U  U  D  U  D  D  U  D  U  U  D
|---------------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------5--6---------|
|--------------------------5--6--------------7--8--------7--8---|
|--5--6--------------7--8--------7--8--5--6---------------------|
|--------7--8--5--6---------------------------------------------|

U D D U D U U D U D D U D U U D U D D U |--------------------------------------5--6--------------7--8---| |--------------5--6--------------7--8--------7--8--5--6---------| |--------7--8--------7--8--5--6---------------------------------| |--5--6---------------------------------------------------------| |---------------------------------------------------------------| |---------------------------------------------------------------|

» Listen to Pattern 4 (122KB)

This exercise, just like the others, should be repeated until it becomes a fluid motion. This pattern can also be combined with Pattern 3 to become a forward and backward pattern. Mastering of this technique will help you play chords and scales much eaiser. It is also a good warm up practice for when your getting ready to play. Good Luck!!!

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 » Review posted by SlowFingers on Sunday, Mar. 20, 2005 @ 9:47 PM
General thoughts on this lesson:
N/A

What was the best part about this lesson:
N/A

Is there anything you disagree with?
N/A

Recommended: Yes

0 1 2 3 4 5
Accuracy:  
Quality:  
Understandable:  
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Overall Rating:  
Note: 5 = Excellent, 0 = Not My Taste

 » Review posted by hendrixkingofrock on Thursday, May. 22, 2003 @ 1:44 AM
General thoughts on this lesson:
This lesson is excellent if your in the beginning stages of
building the strength in your fingers and familierizing
yourself with the fretboard.

What was the best part about this lesson:
N/A

Is there anything you disagree with?
N/A

Recommended: Yes

0 1 2 3 4 5
Accuracy:  
Quality:  
Understandable:  
Relative:  
Overall Rating:  
Note: 5 = Excellent, 0 = Not My Taste



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