finger dexterity

I often get asked about how to improve finger dexterity on guitar.

Paying Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy members get the perk of me giving them specific and, when needed, tailor-made advice on such matters…

…but as I get asked this a lot, here is what I would do if I wanted to improve my own finger dexterity.

Firstly, I would stop trying to use only the guitar to improve my dexterity.

You can, and should, improve your finger dexterity throughout the day too.


This brings to mind an image.

When I was a kid, I saw a scene in a movie where the actor, Jean-Claude Van Damme was resting one foot on a chair apiece while doing the splits.

His torso and mid-section were literally floating as his feet took all his weight.

It is an iconic image and I remember being mightily impressed.


Anyway, no doubt Jean-Claude didn’t think to himself, “I want to do the splits on a chair today” and he didn’t just get on a chair and start doing them.

If so, there could have been some damage done there!

He would have done other exercises away from the chair, and gradually worked up to this point, over time. No doubt increasing the complexity and stretch as he worked towards doing the splits on the chair.

You should do the same with the guitar.


In other words, try improving your dexterity when there is no guitar present as well as on the guitar.

Here are some examples of how:

  • Practise playing chords shapes in the air away from the guitar (try it – can your fretting hand make a C Major chord shape in the air right now?)
  • Throughout the day, gradually stretch your fingers by using your other hand to actually stretch the fingers.
  • Warm up your hands by rubbing them or washing them in warm water before touching the guitar or stretching them (injured hands can’t be stretched after all).
  • Lift your fretting hand in the air and move one finger back and forth at a time, while keeping all the others completely still.
  • Try “finger lifts” – this is where you place all your fingers on a table and lift them up one by one individually.


All these things are useful for improving your ability to control your fingers and get them dancing the way you want them to dance.

They can also be done anywhere, and with creativity, can be made to be more and more complicated as you improve your dexterity and finger agility.

Give these examples a try.


You may want more help with this sort of thing though and on a not-entirely unrelated note…

On January 1st, I will release a brand-new lesson on the 7 ways to improve finger dexterity.

This is what I teach all students in person.

It’s a brand-new video lesson that is pretty short, but very powerful.


Following the tips will improve your dexterity.

Just be aware, results don’t happen overnight (just ask Jean-Claude).


The good news is if you do these exercises, all your playing starts to become more comfortable, chords become easier to reach, scale notes less of a strain, and the melodies you play in songs become more and more doable.

You can do these exercises throughout the day too, such as when waiting around for the dinner to cook, the husband or wife to get ready or just when there is “downtime”.

Anyway, enough of me talking dexterity and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s mastery of the splits. The link to find out more about the membership is below…

The Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy


Have a fab day!

Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination



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