The 2 Fret Stretch - advice wanted

Continuing the discussion from Californication Riff:

First, I’d like to say thank you to Justin and his team for producing these lessons! You’re the best!

Now, regarding this 2 fret stretch for fingers 1 & 3 that is such a struggle for beginners like me- what is the most efficient way to stretch my fingers? Should I continually practice songs requiring this ability or should I do stretching exercises? For those who have acquired this skill, how did you do it? Also, how long does it take to finally get fingers that can do the seemingly impossible like Justin’s?



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there was this exercice in grade 1


You can certainly get there as long as you don’t have severe trouble from old injuries, like deformation from a break. Even with that, you can usually figure a way around the problem. It just takes giving your body time to react.

Here is a list of answers I left to other topics that are quite similar:

Thanks for tips and insight. It’s a real help to see how fellow journeyers have fared.
For a while I was wondering if I had bought the wrong guitar. I have a Jazzmaster and was thinking that I should have started out with a Jaguar. Or maybe a ukulele. LOL


yeah, it doesn’t matter which guitar - you will have trouble on both sides of the problem - getting fingers crammed into a fret, and stretching to get no buzzing WAYYYY over there… :slight_smile:

Hi Al, my fingers were very inflexible when I started too. I’ve made a lot of progress with hand flexibility but am not as flexible as Justin.

There is so much in here, not sure I have the energy for a long post now - but yes, you can increase your finger flexibility. It is a long, slow process. Might take months or years.

It might pain you to hear - that the Californication riff is not really very stretchy at all compared to many guitar riffs.

I use this finger stretching routine: I generally go through periods where I do it every day for 6-8 weeks then don’t for a couple of weeks.

Stretching for warmup is different than stretching to increase range of motion (ROM). Increasing usable ROM also means increasing the strength of the fingers at full ROM. Which is what that routine above does and it causes slight discomfort. Also, after doing static ROM stretches, your accuracy - finger/brain connection - decreases for the remainder of the session. Years ago I read this book (which does not cover finger stretching btw, I read it for martial arts).

As part of a practice routine, with the aim to increase finger flexibility, what I did was:

  • Warm up (songs, scales) - 5 min (gets your fingers ready)
  • Practice the hard riff/song requiring flexibility - 5 min
  • … rest of practice routine…
  • Towards the end: finger stretching routine (to increase ROM) - 5 min

Good luck. It’s a slow and steady thing.

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Hi Al -

You’ve already got some great advice and ideas here, but another thought is you might try a capo. This will allow you to scale the problem … maybe you can play the riff with the capo on the 4th or 5th fret, and over time move the capo back until you can play it in the open position.

Hi Al,
I’m new here, but I might be of some help. Is it possible for you to make a short video of your troubles with this stretch?


JK, Thanks for bullet 4. I have been doing it near the beginning, after hammer ons.

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Thanks, JK. The decrease in finger/brain coordination is fascinating. It makes sense when you think about it- good to know.

Yes! Thank you!

Hi, Alexey. A video? Hmm, that might be a stretch (couldn’t resist the pun- sorry).

Since I’ve been at it a few days now, I seem to be making some progress. With this riff there are two challenges- (1) making the stretch with fingers 1&3 and then (2) moving the 2nd finger over to the G string without lifting up fingers 1&3. For me, moving the 2nd finger has been the the hardest of the two.

I have found that if I don’t stretch 1&3 as far as I should then I can get my 2nd finger to cooperate. So now I’ll work on slowly increasing the stretch. It’s a process.



Are you familiar with “spider” exercises? There are several, with the main principle - keep 3 fingers pressing strings while moving the 4th one and making a sound with it. For example:

@AlinFlorida Al I’d certainly agree with JK and use Justin’s Finger Stretching Exercise, especially Ex 3 and 4. I do general 4 fret chromatic runs E to e to E from 7th to 1st fret but also on each string horizontally but that is more about coordination than stretching. Ex3 and 4 really open up the finger span and I use this to increase flexibility.

Another no-guitar exercise is to put your left and right hand finger tips together, fingers apart, I guess like an open prayer position, And then press the hands together keeping both forearms in line at chest height. Again this opens up the span and can be done anywhere anytime. You can gently pulse to start then press and hold, the more pressure the wider the span but start slowly.


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I use quite a tough one for stretching which when I first started I couldn’t get the notes to ring out due to adjacent string muting, over time it really works.

Pinky finger on D string 12th fret, ring finger on G string 11th fret, middle finger on B string 10th fret and index finger on e string 9th fret, now play all four fretted notes cleanly.

Now move your index finger down a fret (to e fret 8) keeping others fingers unmoved and play those four strings again. Then move middle finger down a fret, then ring and finally the pinky down a fret. Now you are in the starting position again but each finger is a fret lower. Rinse and repeat with a target of reaching the first four frets !


Tough ?? It’s impossible!

That - or one of us has weird hands or a weird guitar. :astonished:

Agreed. Unless I reading that wrong my picky will not get anywhere close to the 9th fret!

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It’s also very unnatural, isn’t it? I mean, you would never use those fingers to fret those strings. Seems to me an exercise, even if focused on stretching, should have fingerings that make some sort of sense.

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Are you left handed or do you play the guitar upside down. This would be impossible for anyone fretting with their left hand unless they dislocated their wrist first. :thinking:

I know this is a typo but an apt description of how the fingers would appear.


Oops :joy: no I’m right handed and I got my fingers mixed up, so pinky on d string and index on e :rofl:

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