For Older Guitar Players with Stiff Fingers - Riff Ninja Guitar

For Older Guitar Players With Stiff Fingers!

If you’re here, it’s because you’re struggling with trying to get your fingers moving. This lesson has a couple of tips that will really help you relax your stiff fingers. If you practice these faithfully, you will see an improvement.

The first one has nothing to do with the guitar – just your hands. Playing guitar requires you to always use the outside tendons on your wrist, and never your inside tendons. The inside tendons are the ones that tighten up from not being used. This exercise is not only for guitar players, but is also good for someone who has tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Place your hands palms together, and spread your fingers out as far as you can. You can do this sitting or standing. Raise your arms, elbows out, and rotate your hands so the fingers are pointing towards your face. Now push out, keeping your fingers touching. Don’t hold it for longer than five seconds. Be careful that you don’t strain your hands. You’ll probably feel it up in your shoulders as well, but the most important thing is that you feel it in your inner tendons. Do three of those, three times a day. This alone will feel better.

The second exercise is to simply do the cheater chromatic scale. Don’t worry about speed – just use it to exercise your fingers. It will train your muscles and loosen them up. Use your first finger to cover all the notes on the first fret, your second for the second fret, third on the third fret, and pinkie for the fourth fret. Move up and down the whole fretboard – one note at a time. If you want to increase your ability with your right hand, practice alternate picking – down up down up at all times. When you get to the highest note, don’t repeat – just come back down. Not only are you learning the chromatic scale, you are learning the basis for soloing in jazz music.

These two simple exercises work extremely well at increasing the strength in your fingers. But give it time – the results aren’t instantaneous.

Good luck, and if you like this lesson, checkout the other courses we have to offer!

Watch on Youtube

Leave a Reply 8 comments

David G Hope Reply

Hi Colin.

At 59 years of age and 2 years of guitar playing, I recently followed your video lesson to help build strength for bar chords AND help with the Tendonitis problem in my left (fretting) hand.

As you can see in the email I sent my online teacher, Jonathan Boettcher, it has been a great success, and I want you to write to say thank you for helping me with my guitar playing and my life in general.

I’ll never forget the help you’ve been in allowing me to not only play better but to play relatively pain free.

PS. My e-mail to Jonathan follows.

Sincerely yours
David G. Hope

Hi Jonathan.
I just wanted to let you know that I followed your advice re the strengthening exercises for bar chords and help with my tendonitis problem, and checked out the video exercises by Colin Daniel.
After religiously following the exercises described for just 2 days, I was able to remove the wrist support I’d had to wear on my left arm for the past year or so and haven’t needed it since as the time in my wrist is now minimal.
Because of this and your strengthening exercises, I can also now include bar chords in my playing even though my change speed is still not all it should be with bar chords, this too will improve with practice edited with open chords. I’ll carry on with the Colin Daniel exercises daily and expect a full recovery from my tendonitis problem.
Thank you so much for your advice.
It’s made such I huge difference to not only my guitar playing but my everyday life, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to help an online student on the other side of the world.
With gratitude,
Dave Hope

Ray Reply

Like the vid and it does help but I have a question. Being 66 and getting back into playing after a many years. Having stiff fingers and a old broken wrist, I have no problem with the single notes or power cords, but some bars are really rough.
Now would a different radius neck make those easier. I play on a 12″ radius neck would not a 7.5 or a 9.5 help??

    Jonathan Reply

    Everyone’s fingers react to the fretboard a little differently -- changing the radius might help in your case. The easiest way to find out is to head down to your local music store and play a few different necks for half an hour or so, and see if you notice any difference between them.

Cliff Moore Reply

Thanks for the exercises as they will help. I usually do scales to begin my playing but the one you suggested is a good addition. I also like the hand exercise and I sure felt it the first couple of times. Keep up the good work.

Izzy Reply


I wanted to come back to this blog and print it out for sharing with my other “aged” bandmates but all I got when I returned to this site was replys from other folks. That’s all well and good, however I would like to get a copy of the original post.


    Jonathan Reply

    Hi Izzy -- it’s all here -- it is possible that the link you followed zipped you straight down to the comments section. Try this:

    Or, try scrolling up on the link you used before…

John Reply

I practice yoga and I said to myself, that looks like yoga! I’m 48 and my barre index finger has been getting really stiff. I’m going to practice these techniques. Just following your video on the first watch has helped. Last night I iced it before playing and that seemed to help too. Thank you!

Teds-list Reply

Effective guide on finger exercises for the guitar. It is highly essential to warm up the hands before each session of practice with the guitar. Not only will it help to promote finger strength, but it could also reduce the pain when playing extensively, whilst conveniently acting as a warm up. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through your guide. If you have the time, please don’t hesitate to check out some of our posts and tutorials around the guitar.

Thank you for reading


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