Left Hand Strengthening – “6 Minute Trill Drill”
- Wednesday, July 22, 2009, 17:30
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A great guitar exercise for strengthening your fret hand.
Long-time GuitarTeacher.com reader Mike(MJK) asked (via Twitter) “What is a good lesson to strengthen the fretting hand?” Following is one of my favorites for increasing left hand stamina and strength. It is called the “6 Minute Trill Drill”. I believe I learned this at an open counseling session with guitar great Gary Hoey during my time at Guitar Institute of Technology (G.I.T.) It is the guitar player’s equivalent of some extreme, P90X workout routine so I sometimes call it the “6 Minutes of Pain”! Try it and find out why! Here’s how it goes, with tab and explanation:
Setup: Place your fret hand in the 5th position (1st finger at the 5th fret). Relax. BREATHE. Then begin.
Minute 1: Pick the 1st string at the 5th fret once. Now repeatedly hammer-on and pull-off (trill) between the 5th and 6th frets using fingers 1 &2. Try to maintain even volume throughout.
Minute 2: Now switch to trilling between fingers 1 & 3 at 5th and 7th frets.
Minute 3: Trill between fingers 1 & 4 – frets 5 & 8.
You think you are done. But think again!
Minute 4: Trill between fingers 2 & 3 – frets 6 & 7.
Minute 5: Trill between fingers 2 & 4 – frets 6 & 8.
Minute 6: Trill between fingers 3 & 4 – frets 7 & 8.
And, you’re spent!
Pace yourself until you can fill each of the six minutes with each finger combination. This may take some experimentation to find how fast you can trill before you fatigue. When I first worked on this exercise, I know my last hammer-on/pull-off combination of 3rd and 4th fingers were barely audible! If you a physically in pain, STOP! Shake your left hand (fret hand) out, relax, breathe, then try and continue.
Feel free to share this exercise with a guitar playing friend you hold a slight grudge against. Be sure to tease them with “Girly Man” taunts if they complain!
BTW, I will have news shortly of an upcoming eLesson series covering similar (but mostly less painful!) exercises to this designed to increase technique, coordination and strength for guitarists of all levels and styles. Hope this helps, Mike!