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Take any four-note chord. Place it high on the neck, say around the 12th fret.


Here’s mine. This is a major 9 chord. The numbers under the diagram indicate which fingers to use. Add the open strings to give it a fuller sound.



stretching chord


Strum slowly through the chord, letting each note ring. Make sure that no strings buzz. Move the fingers toward the nut in this order:


  • First finger
  • Second finger
  • Third finger
  • Fourth finger



If you use the open strings, you’ll move through some fairly dissonant chords. These will alternate with chords that sound pretty good. This allows you to get comfortable with dissonance, and to get experience playing with tension and resolution. This is a really important aspect of music in general.


Doing this allows you to find some new chords you might like, and you get to warm up your fingers in the process.


Don’t hurt yourself

Don’t go any further than is comfortable. If you make it from the 12th fret to the 10th fret, and it starts to feel uncomfortable, stop. You could injure yourself. Do it every day and after a couple of weeks (maybe sooner) you’ll see a noticeable difference in your stretching ability.


Now invent your own four-note chords. Then use those chords as a stretching exercise like I did above. Invention works your creative muscles and gives you new resources for doing the exercise.


It might even give you ideas for new pieces.


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