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Further Instruction in Guitar

David Raleigh Arnold

Bar Chords

Bar Chord Charts

The bar chords chart is a very straightforward business. If it won’t print, this text version will. You can’t get along much longer without barring more strings.[1]

The CAGED system


Bar Chord Exercises

[article with links to music]

Dynamic Guitar Technique

No instrument rewards the practice of scales, arpeggios, and chords more than the guitar. Scales are the most important part of technique, or tech for short, but probably not the place to start.

See a comparison chart.

Read all about DGT (Dynamic Guitar Technique} and download it.

Segovia’s scales were very good for 13 years old, not so good for 30, or 40, or 50, or 60, or 70, or 80.

Read essay.

Power Slurs: (Hammering On, Pulling Off, Ligados)

As soon as you can get one slur to be audible, you can build on that. Start slowly. Don’t even think about trying to get any speed. I’m sorry that the text is so long. I’m trying to pound home the point that the books of slurs by Segovia, Pujol, Shearer, et al., are worthless. Throw them out, make a great effort with these six little exercises, and see real progress in a real hurry. Take your slurs to the limit possible.

Study Pieces

Style-free Guitar Pieces and Etudes

Whether you play classical or with a pick, you will find these style-free study pieces very helpful.

Other easy pieces

These easy pieces are a hair more advanced than the very easy pieces you did before, but that is not to say that they are difficult to play.

Easy Pieces for the Intermediate Player

Ramoology gets you up the neck a bit. It may not be easy, but it’s certainly not difficult either. I made a raw midi file for this one.

Slur Etude III in G does not have to rip quite like the raw midi file. I made the midi file with a fast but possible tempo so that you can clearly hear the muting of open strings, which is absolutely essential. The tempo is not the main problem in playing this.

Introductory or Specialized Exercises

Be aware that while all of this can be very helpful, many of these exercises can be overdone. This is much more of a danger to the advanced or intermediate player than to the beginner, because the beginner is more likely to know when to quit. An aching hand means to slow down and practice with more legato and with more control. Find the middle path here: When you get to the point where the fingers are becoming less responsive, it’s almost time to stop, but if the fingers can only be moved with difficulty, you have probably overdone it. Be sensible. Know your limitations. If the fingers won’t move at all, you have messed up and hurt yourself for sure.

The Scales of Carcassi

This has never been replaced by more “modern” material. It builds a very important skill set.[2] Get it.

Chromatic Octaves

Chromatic octaves are a very good strength builder, especially for beginners. This exercise is more Legnani’s than Tarrega’s, and much better than Tarrega’s in my opinion.

Apoyando Speed Studies

These you can push a bit. They lean toward flamenco a little. Get it.

Chromatic Scale Exercise

This exercise is a quasi etude.

Particularly Jazz Oriented

All Purpose Blues Run

The first two lines and the last are the blues run itself. The rest are a pentatonic scale run varied with chromatic fill-ins. A pentatonic scale is better thought of as an arpeggio in jazz improvisation, and this one is a Gm chord. Consequently, the arpeggio might also be used against a G major, B-flat or C7 chord. Get the first three lines of this and the rest is simplicity itself.

Get it.

✍ Music Theory

Of course music theory is not theory, but a traditional set of music writing exercises. It was not about rhythm at all, but that is slowly changing. This page is not completed, but there is enough here to be useful.


§1 Again, don’t hesitate to get lighter guage strings if your strings have too high a tension.

§2 The LilyPond source of the notation in the document (not the lytex part) serves as an example of slyce format.

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©2011, 2007 David Raleigh Arnold - http://www.openguitar.com