Guitar Drills, for One String: The Pogo

The Pogo

This is one of those finger motions that has always been tricky for me, and it's the simplest thing! Everybody's got a couple of those, I'm sure; simple fingerings that don't sink in so easily.

At any rate, I'm making this the first finger pattern in my guitar exercise routine. The complete routine will eventually include a comprehensive set of finger patterns and picking combinations. They can then be used to build more melodic runs and will provide more options while improvising.

The point of this guitar exercise is to improve finger speed, picking speed, and timing accuracy between them. Any of my guitar exercises have those goals, but the one-string exercises are focused on coordination and timing of fingers and pick, which is crucial at high speeds. Limiting the exercise to one string removes the added variable of transitions from one string to another, which can (and sometimes should) be an exercise of its own!

Speed and accuracy on guitar cannot be achieved on 6 strings unless it can be achieved on 1!

I call this the pogo, cause at the right tempo, it sounds kinda bouncy.

Notation:

Emphasis  : ^
Pick Up   : u
Pick Down : d
Sweep Pick: / or \

Picking Pattern

Okay, when it comes to a single string drill, there's not much to the picking pattern, right? Well, the problem lies in where we place emphasis. It's easy and natural to place the emphasis on the down-stroke. But it can get trickier when the picking emphasis alternates between down-stroke and up-stroke.

When mastering this exercise, the best place to start is the picking pattern. Pick any note, on any string, and repeat the following picking pattern. Remember that the key here is to properly place the emphasis. In this case, the first and fourth notes are emphasized.

  ^     ^
|-x-x-x-x-x-x-| (repeat)
  d u d u d u


Get comfortable with the picking pattern, especially with the emphasis alternating between down-stroke and up-stroke. The above exercise should be done on all strings at different locations on the guitar neck. Once the alternating picking emphasis comes easily, it's time to add the finger patterns.

The Finger Pattern

Now add some finger patterns. Here's an example; you can try this with any combination of notes within reach on a single string. But for this drill, this is one of the more common ones.

Repeat indefinitely with alternate picking and without pause between repetitions:

   ^        ^
|--5--6--8--5--6--8-| (repeat)
   d  u  d  u  d  u


At first, do this a dozen times or so on all strings at different locations on the neck, since your picking will be affected by the weights of the different strings and the varying action at the different positions of the neck.

The idea is to do this as quickly as can be done cleanly. If your accuracy isn't right on, and the notes aren't coming out cleanly, then slow it down. The speed will come.

Stay relaxed. After some time, your hand will likely stiffen up. Go as slow as you need to for your hand to stay relaxed. And take five if you get really stiff.

Primary one-string patterns for the Pogo

Pattern 1: 1-2-4 This version uses the 1st, 2nd, and 4th fingers:

   ^        ^
|--5--6--8--5--6--8-| (repeat)
   d  u  d  u  d  u


Pattern 2: 1-3-4 This version uses the 1st, 3rd (ring), and 4th fingers:

   ^        ^
|--5--7--8--5--7--8-| (repeat)
   d  u  d  u  d  u


Pattern 3: 1-2-4 stretch This version uses the 1st, 2nd, and 4th fingers again, but with a bit of stretch for the 2nd finger:

   ^        ^
|--5--7--9--5--7--9-| (repeat)
   d  u  d  u  d  u


Once you are comfortable with all of these finger patterns, move to the next step: string transitions.

 
 
 

String Transitions

Once you've got this down, and you can play it comfortably and accurately, take the plunge! Transitions between strings adds another aspect to this exercise that can pose a challenge.

One of the challenges in designing a guitar exercise is obtaining full coverage. That's covering all strings, all areas of the neck, and variations in picking. In general, moving from one string to another presents two options for picking: strict alternate picking transition, and a "sweep" pick transition.

Here's an example of this exercise using an alternate picking transition:

     ^        ^        ^        ^
g |--------------------2--4--5--2--4--5-------------------|
d |--2--3--5--2--3--5-------------------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u

 

Here's an example of this exercise using a sweep pick:

     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
a |-----------------------------2--3--5--2--3--5--2--3--5-|
e |--1--3--5--1--3--5--1--3--5----------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/ d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d


You may have noticed the primary difference here. Repeating the pattern 3 times before moving to the next string results in a sweep pick, while repeating it 2 times results in an alternate pick transition. So, if you want a sweep pick, repeat an odd number of times, or an even number of times for an alternating pick transition.

These can be put together in any combination to either give you a sound you want or the coverage you want. For the purposes of this guitar exercise, the point is full coverage of the options, so we will move across all strings, over all scale patterns.

Ascending the Scale

Here's the drill extended to the whole fretboard. Note the picking on the string transitions. The number of repetitions per string are designed to create a mix of alternate picking and sweep picking.

Here's the complete exercise:

Position 1


     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-----------------------------2--3--5--2--3--5--2--3--5-|
e |--1--3--5--1--3--5--1--3--5----------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/ d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/
 
 
     ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |--------------------2--4--5--2--4--5-------------------|
d |--2--3--5--2--3--5-------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-----------------------------3--5--7--3--5--7--3--5--7-|
b |--3--5--6--3--5--6--3--5--6----------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/ d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d   
 
 
Position 2

     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |--5--7--8--5--7--8--5--7--8----------------------------|
b |-----------------------------5--6--8--5--6--8--5--6--8-|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|

     u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u\ u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u\
 
 
     ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |--4--5--7--4--5--7-------------------------------------|
d |--------------------3--5--7--3--5--7-------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d


     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |--3--5--7--3--5--7--3--5--7----------------------------|
e |-----------------------------3--5--7--3--5--7--3--5--7-|
     u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u\ u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


Position 3

     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-----------------------------5--7--8--5--7--8--5--7--8-|
e |--5--7--8--5--7--8--5--7--8----------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/ d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/


     ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |--------------------5--7--9--5--7--9-------------------|
d |--5--7--9--5--7--9-------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-----------------------------7--8-10--7--8-10--7--8-10-|
b |--6--8-10--6--8-10--6--8-10----------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/ d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d


Position 4

     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |--8-10-12--8-10-12--8-10-12----------------------------|
b |-----------------------------8-10-12--8-10-12--8-10-12-|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u\ u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u\ 


     ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |--7--9-10--7--9-10-------------------------------------|
d |--------------------7--9-10--7--9-10-------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d


     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |--7--8-10--7--8-10--7--8-10----------------------------|
e |-----------------------------7--8-10--7--8-10--7--8-10-|
     u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u\ u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


Position 5

     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-----------------------------8-10-12--8-10-12--8-10-12-|
e |--8-10-12--8-10-12--8-10-12----------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/ d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/


     ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |--------------------9-10-12--9-10-12-------------------|
d |--9-10-12--9-10-12-------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |----------------------------10-12-13-10-12-13-10-12-13-|
b |-10-12-13-10-12-13-10-12-13----------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/ d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d 


Position 6

     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-12-13-15-12-13-15-12-13-15----------------------------|
b |----------------------------12-13-15-12-13-15-12-13-15-|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u\ u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u\


     ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |-10-12-14-10-12-14-------------------------------------|
d |-------------------10-12-14-10-12-14-------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d



     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-10-12-14-10-12-14-10-12-14----------------------------|
e |----------------------------10-12-13-10-12-13-10-12-13-|
     u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u\ u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


Position 7

     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |----------------------------12-14-15-12-14-15-12-14-15-|
e |-12-13-15-12-13-15-12-13-15----------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/ d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/


     ^        ^        ^        ^
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
b |-------------------------------------------------------|
g |-------------------12-14-16-12-14-16-------------------|
d |-12-14-15-12-14-15-------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u 


     ^        ^        ^        ^        ^        ^
e |----------------------------13-15-17-13-15-17-13-15-17-|
b |-13-15-17-13-15-17-13-15-17----------------------------|
g |-------------------------------------------------------|
d |-------------------------------------------------------|
a |-------------------------------------------------------|
e |-------------------------------------------------------|
     d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d/ d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d
 
 

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Comments 2 comments

ryankett 6 years ago

Hi mate, have been offline for a few days, so thought i would reply on one of your hubs. RE: Snipsly.... Indeed, Snipsly is set up to cater for articles. At the moment it probably isnt worth writing an article on there, instead using an authority site such as hubpages. It does however allow posts of just 2 sentences in length, making it the ideal place for a two or three line hyperlinked backlink to your hubpages. The backlinks are dofollow, meaning that it could aid your search engine placement within google for the long run. I focused on bookmarks because that is the only genuine benefit from that site for hubbers at current. Regards,

Ry.

ps. good hub, did you upload those guitar tabs as images?


droj profile image

droj 6 years ago from CNY Author

Thanks for the info Ry. Nope, I typed all of those in; they are original.

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