Invigorate your chops!
Jacob Quistgaard has four genre-based warm-up exercises, designed to boost your technique, spark fresh ideas, and make your practice sessions way more musical - and much more fun!
Over the following pages we will explore four warm-up exercises, drawn from four different musical genres that are all popular in GT: rock, blues, jazz and classical. The idea here is that while the chromatic ‘spider’ warm-up is and always has been a solid warm-up exercise, there’s no saying we can’t use more musical patterns to create much more interesting work-outs. Using cool licks or musical ideas and concepts as warm-ups will not only gain us new playing vocabulary; but stepping up the level of effort you put into your warm-ups and workouts will also bring several other benefits.
First of all, warming up properly is a really, really great way to prevent ailments, whether from sudden odd movements or repetitive strain when playing. Warming up helps guard you against that kind of extremely annoying and regrettable situation, especially if you also remember to stretch. I’ve been an avid stretching fanatic for years and I very much owe my having had no playing ailments to that fact - despite the fact that playing guitar has been my job, my passion and my hobby for two decades. Warming up regularly with inspiring and challenging exercises will work wonders for your overall technique, as well as opening doors to things you may have thought you’d never attain.
Warming up regularly wi th inspiring and challenging exercises is going to work wonders for your technique
Over the past years of touring the main, proper, focused practice time I get is my pre-soundcheck and pre-show warm-ups. But if you get a great warm-up exercise or two in, that time may be worth as much as, or even more than anything else technique related you might spend time working on in a full-length practice session.
Even though it’s ‘just’ a warm-up, the key is to make it something you look forward to rather than dreading. And this means taking it seriously and paying attention to what you’re doing. And remember, just as a blues intro can also be used as a turnaround or ending, as these warm-up exercises are musical and not just scale bashing, they’ll double beautifully as your regular technique builder or ‘guitar gym’.
Here’s some important stuff. Playing brand new ideas at a slow tempo at first is key, in order to allow your brain to programme correct fingerings, picking patterns and so forth, rather than allowing bad habits to form; it’s been said many times in these pages that sloppy technique is usually the bi-product of playing everything too fast at first.
And here’s another important point: the metronome... it’s your friend... it will help you so much if you let it. Use it to build that all-important sense of time (another thing we repeatedly talk about) and to help you work towards specific playing goals, no matter how small or large. It’s a cliché I know, but even the longest journey starts with a single step.
In the following examples we’ll encounter some fairly advanced ideas, including speedy legato work featuring fast combinations of hammer-ons and pull-offs, as well as passages that will test your picking accuracy. This is when it’s super important to remember that practising at slow tempos and working your way up is always the surest way to really nail any lick or exercise. So make sure you have your metronome at hand, and don’t be afraid to start super-slow at first. It’s not a race!
Finally, remember the GT audio is there for you as a reference and a guide, as well as to practise along with when you feel ready. All the examples go through all 12 keys (so you’re
Eb Bb well prepared for those and moments), and are played at 100 BPM. Good luck!
Even though these examples work with a fairly driven tone (Exercise 1 and 2 have more drive), I urge you to try them all with a fairly clean tone at first, adding just a bit of reverb. There’s great value in practicing with a clean tone, to prevent unwanted errors and bad habits from hiding behind the distortion or effects! I used a Strat into an Axe FXII XL+ by Fractal Audio.