How To Play Guitar Fast - Avoiding Critical Mistakes In Learning To Increase Your Guitar Speed
By Tom Hess - 12/22/2010 - 06:42 PM EST
Do you struggle with playing guitar fast? Is your lack of guitar
speed making it difficult for you to express yourself fully as a
musician? Although playing guitar fast is not every guitarist's most
significant goal, those who do want to improve their guitar speed
desire this skill very much and are often frustrated with being unable
to develop this part of their guitar playing. If this describes you, I
want to share with you several important insights about building guitar
speed that will greatly help you to develop this skill.
Good news and bad news:
The good news is that virtually anyone can learn to play guitar fast.
In addition, you can directly control the practicing process to make
it more effective and achieve your guitar speed goals in a lot less
time than it takes an average guitar player.
The bad news is that most guitar players (those who can't yet play
guitar fast) are totally on the wrong track in their approach to
increasing guitar speed. I see this all the time when working with new
guitar students who come to me wanting to improve their guitar
playing. The typical path to increasing one’s guitar speed is usually
limited to “starting to practice slowly with a metronome and gradually
increasing speed in small increments”. Such a tactic can be effective
early on in the process of learning new guitar exercises, but if you
rely on it exclusively to develop your maximum guitar speed it will lead
to plateaus and frustration. Here are a few reasons why:
- This approach shifts most of your focus on trying to “move
your hands/fingers faster”. However, the concept of moving your
fingers faster is a tiny, insignificant part of the big picture of what
it takes to improve in order to build guitar speed. The
most important elements of guitar speed remain neglected and under
practiced with this guitar practice method. As a result, the practice
sessions often turn into a series of impatient attempts to break
through a current guitar speed plateau.
- There is a large number of different elements that must be
trained in order to learn to play guitar fast, including: 2 hand
synchronization, picking articulation, tension control, mental
processing speed, hand endurance at fast tempos, guitar speed with a
single technique vs. guitar speed with integrating a variety of
guitar techniques and many more. Each of these 'guitar speed
components' need unique practice strategies in order to be mastered
effectively. Relying exclusively on 'any single' guitar
speed practicing strategy (such as the most common one described
above) is not going to help you improve all of the guitar technique
elements that are needed to build guitar speed.
Great guitar players who can play guitar fast were able to
successfully master all of the above mentioned elements of guitar speed
whether they consciously realized it or not. You need to do the same
in order to increase your guitar speed to your maximum speed
potential. If you do not know how to begin the process of practicing
these skills in the most effective ways, check out this free mini
course about learning to play guitar fast.
To help you expand and improve upon the conventional approach for
building guitar speed, here are several guidelines to follow
Get specific about what problems you are having with trying to increase your guitar speed.
Simply saying "I can't play guitar fast" is NOT specific enough.
Being unable to play guitar fast is only a symptom of a more complex
problem that usually has several causes. As you have seen above, the
root of your guitar speed limitations can exist in any or all of the
specific technical elements that make up the multidimensional skill of
"playing guitar fast". Knowing exactly what is causing your problem is
the first step to solving it. When you learn exactly what is holding
you back, you can focus your guitar practice sessions on the specific
problems that needs to be overcome. Having your guitar playing
analyzed by an expert guitar teacher is the fastest way to get this
required level of clarity.
Use a variety of practice strategies for increasing your guitar speed.
As your guitar playing skill level evolves, so will your specific
guitar technique challenges. Therefore, the practice techniques you
use at each stage of your guitar playing must evolve as well in order
to be effective. There is no such thing as 'one' ultimate guitar
practice routine for increasing your guitar speed. Of course there
are approaches to practicing guitar that are far more effective than
others, but the way you organize your guitar speed training routines
should be unique to your specific guitar technique and guitar speed
challenges at any given time. You can see many examples of effective
guitar speed building strategies that I use with my students by
studying this free mini course on how to build guitar speed.
Practice integrating your guitar techniques together to avoid sounding like a ‘guitar speed robot’.
Over the years of teaching hundreds of guitar players to improve
their guitar technique (as well as other musical skills), I have found
that most guitarists spend very little time applying and integrating
their musical skills and guitar techniques in particular. This results
in lack of musical freedom to express yourself completely and fully in
any musical context.
When it comes to increasing your guitar speed, most guitarists
typically focus on becoming faster with only one technique at a time.
For example, you may practice your sweep picking for 15 minutes, then
move on to 15 minutes of legato, followed by 15 minutes of 2 hand
tapping. Although this approach will help you to improve at these
techniques in isolation, you also need to specifically practice using
all of these techniques 'together' in the same way that you will find
these techniques used in real guitar solos. Neglecting to do this
will make your guitar playing sound unnatural and rather 'robotic' as
you will struggle to play consistently well with using a variety of
guitar techniques at once.
Although 'guitar speed' is clearly only one out of many musical areas
that must be mastered in order to become a truly expressive and
creative musician, it is a highly desired skill that most guitar
players do not have. Applying the suggestions above during your guitar
practice sessions and following the guidelines from this free guitar speed training mini course will help you greatly to build as much guitar speed as you desire for your specific guitar playing goals.
About the author:
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches guitar players around the world via online guitar lessons. Visit http://www.tomhess.net to get free guitar playing tips, assessments, surveys, mini courses, and to read more guitar playing articles.
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