How to Build Speed On The Guitar
I’m going to show you some great ways to help you build speed on the guitar
First lets talk a little bit about correct practice.
Almost every guitarist I know would like to play the guitar faster.
Speed is something on many guitarists minds but if you want to play faster you need to practice correctly. Many guitarist try to play what they know as fast as possible and think that this alone will increase their speed. It helps, but this is not the only way to build finger speed on guitar.
This type of practicing does have it’s benefits but can also lead to you picking up some bad habits. Playing slowly and accurately is just as important so that you can get the technique just right.
No one likes a sloppy sounding guitar.
Having proper technique is very important, will you be able to play for longer without developing pain in your joints and muscles. This also means that you will be able to practice more so you can improve more quickly.
Famous guitarists pull off amazing shreds and make it look easy because to them it is effortless, not completely effortless but they are certainly relaxed. See Michael Angelo Batio from Nitro.
If all the muscles in your arms are tense because you are trying to play really fast then you will end up slowing yourself down, your muscles will wear out and cramp quickly and you will not be able to sustain the playing for very long. This is why it is always important to play accurately and deliberately yet in a calm and relaxed way.
Guitar speed building exercises
#1 Use a Metronome
A Metronome is a musician’s best friend.
Your local music store or smart device app store will have a fully functioning metronome, if you do not have one already then you should get one. There many different types of metronomes to suit different musicians needs, they all have the basic function of providing a sound or click to a tempo measured in BPM. (Beats per minute)
Practice to a metronome often so you can develop really good timing.
Good timing is really useful when you decide to get into studio and record your tracks, it will save you time and money because you will be able to lay down your tracks in very few takes.
How to practice with a metronome to improve your playing speed
Start the metronome at a very slow tempo where you feel very comfortable practicing at. Slowly increase the speed of the tempo by 5 or 10 bmp each time until you get to a point where it is really difficult and almost impossible to play in time, Drop the bpm by 10 and practice at this speed for as long as you like.
You might decide to up the tempo again after some more practice or even return tomorrow and try to increase the tempo past yesterdays high. This a really good way to practice that will consistently increase your speed, as well as ensure that you are using good timing and technique.
A great way to increase your playing speed is to do warm up exercises everyday before you start playing.
It may sound pointless but the simple addition of warm up exercises means that you will never neglect any of your fingers. Good warm-up exercises activate your entire wrist and hand which means all your joints get used. This is a very important part of playing guitar.
If you neglect a finger now it can make things very frustrating for you later on.
Many guitarist develop a lazy pinkie from incorrect practice. This not only slows down your playing but also limits the amount of things that you can physically play. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
A simple warm up exercise
Start by placing your index finger on the first fret of the top E string. Play fret 1 to 4 using each finger, switching to the next string after the fourth fret and repeating until you reach the bottom E string. Do the same in reverse until you reach the top E string and then then move your hand up the neck by one fret. Repeat this until you have played every fret on the guitar neck. Try to use alternate picking during this warm up to also increase your picking speed.
#3 Learn Guitar Scales
Learning scales by heart and practicing them over and over again is a fantastic way to increase your finger and fretboard speed.
The best way to practice scales is to learn the patterns by heart so you can practice without looking at the fretboard. I have practiced my scales for many hours while watching a movie or just sitting in bed. It is surprisingly relaxing and easy to do.
Scales are a musical combination of notes that sound good together, each scale has its own “mood” or “feeling”.
Once you learn a few different scales you will begin to understand how different notes relate to each other musically. Learning scales will not only increase your playing speed but also enable you to make good decisions while songwriting.
Your first Guitar Scale
This pattern is the Major scale, you can start playing the pattern at any position on the 6th string. The note that you start the pattern on is called the root note. In this example the root note is on the 8th fret which means it is a C, therefore we are playing a C major scale. If you started the pattern on the 10th fret then you would be playing a D major scale.
There are many different scales such as Major, Minor, Pentatonic and many others, each with their own pattern on the guitar. Learning a few of these patterns and practicing them everyday will build your playing speed and help you create your own tasty riffs and solos.
That’s it, I hope these tips have been useful and help you to increase your playing speed.
P.S. Practice often and remember to relax your shoulders, arms and fingers while practicing to ensure good posture and technique. Happy shredding!