Developing Strength & Reach


This is a useful exercise which helps to develop both strength and reach in the left hand.

Starting with a major seventh chord, you drop each chord tone down by a semitone (one chord tone at a time) until you arrive at a major 7th chord with the root a semitone lower than the chord you started with.

Clear as mud? Thought so. Have a look at the chord sequence below:

Start off with your index finger at the 12th fret on the first string - this means that your little finger will be at the 15th fret on the fourth string (playing a G). This chord shape is a G Maj7 (G-B-D-F). The chords that you're moving through are G7, G7(b5) and Gm7b5, before arriving at F# Maj7. Don't worry too much about the chords names and notes though - the important thing here is getting the playing side right.

Play these as arpeggios (one note at a time, not strummed as a full chord) making sure that the strings are not being dampened by fingers stretching over them. Once you have gone through this sequence and come back to the original chord shape, repeat the pattern, moving down the neck until your index finger is at the 4th fret on the fourth string. At this point you'll run out of neck, so you'll know where to stop.

If you're not used to playing big stretches, then you might find this a bit of a strain, especially near the lower end of the neck. If you find yourself struggling, stop. Don't over-stretch yourself. It's better to take it easy and build up strength more slowly, than to rush at this and end up pulling a muscle and hurting yourself.

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