Watch the Warm Up Scales online guitar lesson by Johnny Hiland from Ten Gallon Guitar
Now we are going to talk about some warm up exercises we do on the guitar. Before each show I like to do this exercise and I hope you enjoy this. It gets all your fingers moving and lets them know you are about to play a fun gig. We are going to start by placing all four fingers on the fret board, starting with the first finger on the first fret and we are going to walk down every string using all four fingers.
Now, once we hit the fourth fret we are going to slide up to the fifth fret and walk back down again. We are going to keep doing this all the way up until the G note, which is way up on the 15th fret of the high E string. I don’t do this with an amp on; usually I do this standing off the stage waiting to go on. I am more of a three-finger style player and most people have always wondered why. I want you do know, when I was coming back down the scale you saw me using three fingers instead of four. Sometimes you’ll see me break into that because when I was a young boy my dad always had me wear a slide on my pinky finger. I know a lot of guys usually wear slide on their third finger, but I wear mine on my pinky. So I became a three finger player because of the slide. I know that sounds a little weird, but it has worked for me over the years. We all pick up things that work well for us and it might not be necessary correct, but if it works for you… so be it. If you are a three-finger player like me – yeehaw - Let’s rock on! But if you are not, don’t worry about it, just use all four fingers and make sure you do it properly. What I can tell you from a standpoint of warming up, make sure that every note is clean and clear. If it is not, you have to make yourself go back and start that scale over again. I don’t know if you can hear this (I’m going to turn this down kinda low) but I would actually get it up to speed like this.
Now, you keep moving up so when you get back down to the second fret, go up to the third. And so on and so forth. You work all the way down to the high G note and then work back down. Again, the most important thing to know with this whole video is to remember cleanliness is everything. Notes are precious on the guitar and you don’t want to waste a note. It’s the most important thing to me and it should be to you.
Another exercise I use for my hybrid style of pickin’ and as a warm up exercise. I’m going to combine these two because it is essential and something I use to warm up. Now, I have two fake fingernails on my right hand. I have acrylic nails and I go to a nail salon to get these done. It’s funny since all the old ladies and I get to know each other on a first name basis and I get to know when all their husbands go out fishing – it works out nice. And the long fingernails are also great for scratching the wife’s back.
But, I use the hybrid style of pickin’ where I use a flat Dava pick, which are great rubber coated picks. So, I use a flat pick and pull up with my fingernails and that is what gives you the chicken pickin’ tone. When you pull up you can do the kinda chicken thing… when you are pulling the note. That is why I use these nails. The hybrid style of pickin’ is a lot of fun and I hope that if you haven’t tried it that you just give it a go. I think you’ll have a lot of fun with it.
There is an exercise that I warm up with that I want to show you for people just getting into the hybrid style. It goes like this… it’s going to work all 4 fingers on the left hand and the hybrid style on the right hand. What we are going to be doing is a hammer on pull-off, where you hammer-on and pull-off at the same time. You are going to start on the 4th fret on the low E, hammer-on to the 5th fret and use the finger on the right hand to pull on the A string. D string gets the pick, G string gets the fingernail, B string gets the pick, and then the fingernail gets the high E. What I like to do is coming back down; we will use the flat pick all the way back down. Now we will go to the first finger and third finger. We are on the 4th fret and the 6th fret and we are going to work all the way down again. Sometimes I will still use the middle finger on the right hand with the fingernail to go down again or if you want to be daring with the hybrid style you can play this section with your ring finger. I’m going to go ahead and use the middle finger and do it this way. Then you do 1 and 4. Then you use 2 and 4, so now you are on the 5th and 7th fret. If you really want to get daring, you can use the 3rd and 4th finger, which is very hard to do. With me being a 3-finger player, I avoid that. But if you want to try it you’re welcome to – yes, I did it! You can do it too, just practice, it is fun. That’s what it is all about – having fun. But you got to warm up properly, it is very important. If you run through this scale, and again I usually do this on the side of the stage waiting to preform or if I am backstage with a small practice amp I will run through these scales. So if I turn it down and I do it up to speed, it will sound like this.
What I am doing is warming up each finger on the left hand and incorporating the hybrid style on the right hand. This builds up my speed and builds up clarity with each note I am picking with my right hand. It is a fun exercise and will help you if you are just getting into the hybrid style. Use this exercise and I think you will find it will help.