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Callus Development (Guitar Lesson)

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David Wallimann

Callus Development

David introduces some great exercises for callus development and finger independence.

Taught by David Wallimann in Basic Electric Guitar with David Wallimann seriesLength: 10:54Difficulty: 1.5 of 5

Scene 1: Callus Development

When you begin playing guitar, you will likely find your fingertips hurting frequently. It is important to develop calluses, or hardened skin, on the fingertips so that it doesn’t hurt to play the guitar. You will learn some exercises in this lesson that will help you build calluses.

Scene 2: Finger Exercises

Here is an exercise that will not only help you build calluses on your fingertips, but will help you with finger strength and coordination. Remember that it is normal for it to hurt in the beginning, and it's ok to take a break if you need to.

Start by assigning a fret to each finger of your left hand. The index finger will play the 1st fret, the middle finger will play the 2nd fret, the ring finger will play the 3rd fret, and the pinky will play the 4th fret. Start on the 6th string and play the pattern 1 2 3 4. Then play the same pattern on each string until you work your way to the 4th fret on the 1st string. Now do the same thing in reverse: start on the 1st string playing the pattern 4 3 2 1. Play that pattern down each string until you reach the 1st fret on the 6th string.

Focus on plucking the string with the right hand at the exact same time as you put your finger down with the left hand. Also, when you play a note, try to visualize the next note you are going to play on the fretboard.

Scene 3: Finger independence

The following exercise is similar to the last one, but will help you master controlling each finger independently.

Start by assigning the same fingers to the same frets as you did in the previous exercise. Play the pattern 1 2 on each string, starting at the 6th string going up to the 1st string. Then play the same pattern (1 2) in reverse: start at the 1st string and go down to the 6th string. Next, play the pattern 2 1 on each string from the 6th to the 1st. Then, play 2 1 on each string from the 1st to the 6th.

Try doing this exercise with every possible combination of two fingers. Don’t worry about going fast! Just make sure you are getting a good tone on every note that you play.

Scene 4: Final Thoughts

Since a major goal of these exercises is to promote callus development on the fingers, it is normal for it to be painful at first. There’s no need to overdo it; take a break if your fingers are in pain or you develop blisters. You are also trying to build the muscles in your hands and fingers, so drink some water and take a break if your muscles are feeling tense. They will get stronger with practice.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

BaileydawgBaileydawg replied

Trying to stretch my fingers to cover the frets. Hope they loosen up.

fatman1537fatman1537 replied

Hard exercise but it works thanks

luke117luke117 replied

i found 2 and 3 really odd, can get the finers far from each other.

hiphopguitarist.comhiphopguitarist.com replied

I've got calluses but from other activities... like weightlifting ;-)

Southern CashSouthern Cash replied

i've gotten the calluses and making good progress on finger independence, but that def takes time.

dan52dan52 replied

Has anyone ever seen a guitar instructor who does not have long telescopic bionic skeleton fingers? Just asking.

wv_wilsonwv_wilson replied

This is a great dexterity exercise. I think it should be part of the warmup every time you pick up the guitar. It is being added to my routine!

maxbugmaxbug replied

David, just wondering if I should be picking with down/up motion or down/down as I practice the drills. Does it matter?

majorskibummajorskibum replied

Loved this! Simple complexity. Great warm-ups anytime

panypany replied

I dont seem to be able to download the gp5 files. please help me out. Thanks

jessjammerjessjammer replied

Hi! I see links for the Guitar-Pro Tabs, but when I click on them the screen refreshes to a blank frame on the right, with only the title at the top. Usually there's a pop up that follows that click, allowing me to save to a directory on my computer. Any clues for me? As always, love your lessons, David! Take care...

lucretialucretia replied

David,I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to help open up my fingers when fretting. I can spredah by fingers quite far, but when fretting, the knuckles are curled so they refuse to open up as much, e.g. on the 1st string, 1st fret and then holding that, try to fret 2nd finger, it can't reach to just behind the fret wire, my index finger will then slide along the string when trying this. This gets worse as I keep down the fingers and fret the others. I know in the exercise you're not doing this, but it would be cool to work out how to get these fingers to 1) stay put and 2) stretch. Thanks.

lucretialucretia replied


eversouleversoul replied

is it ok to hammer on while doing the excercises

jam_play_guitarjam_play_guitar replied

very nice workout.....this is very good for finger independence that is needed to play the guitar. Great job of going through all the workout with us.....I could see some teacher just saying "and now do all the combinations "....but you did not...thank you.

eclipse31eclipse31 replied

very cool lesson. really helped me get used to using my pinky cause man that's awkward

belial19belial19 replied

Cool lesson man... here was me thinking i could play pretty ok, then you try a relatively simple lesson involving the pinky and hey... guess i aint that good!!

jefferson_onejefferson_one replied

Nice lessons! The GP5 downloads seem to be missing on my end ...

jdorsmanjdorsman replied

I'm also missing the supplemental content. Although luckily the exercise isn't too hard to spot from the video.

jboothjbooth replied

Oh guys I'm really sorry about this, I have been off filming for the past few days and didn't get the sup content up, tomorrow for sure. Thank you for the patience.

jdorsmanjdorsman replied

No problem Jeff, could happen to anyone in busy times. I see it's all there now, thanks for adding it :)

jdorsmanjdorsman replied

Oh I totally forgot to say that this is a nice lesson. The "think a note forward" tip actually helps me a lot to speed up my playing, thanks for that!

bela lugosibela lugosi replied

Thank you, David. As others have said, these are wonderful exercises, and it's great that they can be done up and down the neck. I'll have to drive my wife slightly mad practicing these!

oldrockeroldrocker replied

David, very good exercises. Like you say, this stuff is an absolute must. It's hard trying to master any technigue or playing if your fingers hurt or bleed. The pinky-ringer finger exercise is an excellent workout! :) Thanks...Gene

Bill CameronBill Cameron replied

This is a Great lesson, just waundering I dont see any tabs in the supplemental. I must have found this too early :). Thanks for this good info.

paceincpaceinc replied

David, very good lesson I love these. Kris norris did a finger independance lesson also and believe me all of these help. I wish there were more on here. I understand everyone wants to play songs but you can't play if the fingers don't cooperate..Thanks Michael

rich5150rich5150 replied

good lesson is that a V-Pick your using

Basic Electric Guitar with David Wallimann

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

David Wallimann will start you on your electric guitar playing journey in this Phase 1 series.

Series IntroductionLesson 1

Series Introduction

David Wallimann introduces himself, talks about his background, and offers advice to new players.

Length: 4:28 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Knowing Your GuitarLesson 2

Knowing Your Guitar

David introduces you to all the parts of your new instrument in this lesson.

Length: 11:18 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Reading TablatureLesson 3

Reading Tablature

This is a crucial lesson that explains tablature, how to read it, and why it's important.

Length: 7:03 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Callus DevelopmentLesson 4

Callus Development

David introduces some great exercises for callus development and finger independence.

Length: 10:54 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Learning ChordsLesson 5

Learning Chords

David Wallimann provides an introduction to chords. In this lesson, you will learn how to read chord charts. David also explains how to play your first eight chords.

Length: 17:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Barre ChordsLesson 6

Barre Chords

David Wallimann teaches six barre chords in this lesson beginning with F major. Get ready for a hand workout!

Length: 10:26 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Making MusicLesson 7

Making Music

David walks you through some easy chord progressions and encourages you to make up some of your own.

Length: 8:17 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Rhythm & TimingLesson 8

Rhythm & Timing

David Wallimann talks about the importance of rhythm and timing. You will learn the basics of notes, time signatures and measures in this lesson.

Length: 14:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Rock TechniqueLesson 9

Rock Technique

David Wallimann goes over some basic rock techniques in this lesson.

Length: 16:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Playing TechniqueLesson 10

Playing Technique

David Wallimann provides some tips that will improve both your right and left hand technique.

Length: 13:45 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Blues ScaleLesson 11

The Blues Scale

David Wallimann shows how adding one note to the minor pentatonic scale creates the minor blues scale.

Length: 10:54 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
David Wallimann

About David Wallimann View Full Biography David was born in Aix-en-Provence, South France in 1977. At the age of 15, he picked up the guitar and started developing a true love for instrumental music and composition.

In 1999 he was recognized by Ibanez for his promising musical achievements and received an artist endorsement. That early recognition in David's musical career encouraged him to consecrate more time on crafting his musical art and apply to the school of modern music Artist' in Cavaillon, France. He received a full scholarship there where he graduated with honors.

In 2001, David won first place for the Tal Farlow French national jazz contest which gave him a full paid scholarship to the CMA school of modern music in Valenciennes, France. He graduated specializing in advance guitar with honors.

Following his school years, David spent the next 5 years working with several bands recording, writing and playing shows in France and Belgium. It's during that time that Wallimann was exposed to the world of progressive rock which opened new doors to his musical creativity.

Deep inside the Mind is his first release as a solo artist in which he exposes his Christian faith. The album was well received in the specialized press and was compared several times to some of Frank Zappa's approach to music adding an element of humor to deep subjects.

In 2005 he joined the internationally renown progressive band Glass Hammer based in Chattanooga, TN. He released several studio albums and live DVDs with the band.

David is today working on his next upcoming solo release and is also spending quite a bit of time teaching guitar in his studio and online at JamPlay.

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