I got a special request to write about my warmup techniques. I don't have a strict routine for warming up; I just combine my knowledge of what's good for me with whatever seems exciting on a given day. I go through phases of different warmup ideas. I might warm up on 7th arpeggios every day for a month and then switch to certain scales or difficult passages I'm working on at the time.

I don't fret over the material I use to warm up, I just know it needs to be done. I find that it takes me at least an hour of solid playing before I'm at my full potential. And I'm always better off during the rest of my practice session when I focus my warmup on playing things properly rather than building speed.

Most warmup ideas I've read are mindless runnings of chromatic shapes, sometimes scales or arpeggios. I try to keep my mind working by constantly switching scales or keys and thinking about what I'm playing. It's not enough to know the fretboard patterns; I need to make sense of it in order to apply it later.

The vast majority of my warmups are with diatonic scales, pentatonic scales, or arpeggios, often using sequences. If I'm practicing a diatonic scale, I might start at one end of the neck and shift the key up a perfect fourth each time I play the scale. Over time, this moves the position up or down the length of the neck, depending on whether I'm using CAGED or three-note-per-string positions. I try to keep track of what I'm playing from different perspectives. I'll think, "This is C major, D Dorian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian." After shifting up a fourth, I'll think, "This is F major, G Dorian, Bb Lydian, C Mixolydian." I decide what I want to identify before I start, then I don't permit myself to shift to the new key until I've identified it. It's often surprisingly difficult to figure it out without stopping.

Once in a while, I'll do a less thoughtful warmup just to isolate a certain technique. I might do single-string slides, outlining arpeggios. Sometimes I set the metronome to stupid-slow and pick notes between every two-finger combination. That helps synchronize hands. Legato trills between all fingers are helpful too.

Whatever I decide to play, I try to vary the tempo and use every string and every fret. I keep my brain working as often as possible; it needs warming too. But most importantly, I focus on playing how I want to play. If you want to be a super-clean player, you must exercise constant vigilance over your fingers. If you want to be a sloppy player, then don't worry about it. I want command over both directions, but I don't think sloppiness belongs in my warmups.