Fastest Way to Boost Your Guitar Playing Speed
I want to share you a speed training method that I got from some guitar lessons and my own experience. The most important thing to have in speed training, is a metronome (beside of the guitar and the pick, of course). Without metronome, you will waste more time, since you can’t keep track of your own progress. Before starting to do anything, keep in mind that it will take time for you to be as fast as you want to be, don’t rush things, you will only accumulate bad habits and having more weaknesses than you should be, and believe me, changing a bad habit is a lot of works. Be modest, and know your current ability, it doesn’t matter if your friends or band-mate can go twice as fast as you, just accept it, that is the first step of improvement. And hey, if playing guitar were that easy, anybody can do it, and there will be no point on learning it at all, since every guitarist started playing guitar because they want to look cool and outstanding, right? And also, keep your picking hand to always do the ‘alternate picking’ (means up-stroke and down-stroke alternately), it will save you from bad habit that can reduce your speed later.
First of all, do some stretching (i’m serious), stretch you shoulder, forearm, and your fingers, this may sound stupid, i also thought so until i strain my shoulder later in the training. When you’re ready and warmed up, set the metronome to a slow 4/4 tempo first (the easiest to keep up), let’s say about 80 bpm (beats per minute), then try to play ‘quarter notes’ (means you play 4 notes for every beat of the metronome) along with the metronome. As for the notes, you can play scales that you’ve already familiar with, or just do a chromatic run starting from the 5th fret, 6th, 7th, and then 8th fret from the low e string to the high e string and vice versa (the reason why I tell you to start from the 5th fret is because of the fret width, notice that if you start from the 1st fret, it will be harder because the gap between frets is to wide for your hand to play with comfort). Once you’ve been comfortable with the pace (note that being comfortable here means that you can play every note clearly, and not slacking of the tempo), try to raise the tempo to 85 bpm, and do the same thing. Keep doing this until you reach the speed you desire (John Petrucci can reach more than 200 bpm, you can literally see his picking hand blurring out). Once again, don’t rush things, the concept of this training is to mould your picking hand technique while playing in a slow tempo, so the technique that you do in a slow tempo should be the exact same of what you do in a fast tempo, that way you will gain ‘true speed’ instead of ending up looking like a speed-freak wannabe.
The problem is, sometimes you will stuck at some point, and can’t play cleanly no matter how hard you try. If that happens, try raising the metronome’s tempo a bit, for example : let’s say you got stuck on 110 bpm, then set the tempo to 115, and like John Petrucci said: ‘go kill yourself’, just try to keep up with the tempo, no matter how sloppy or dirty you play. Keep doing this for about 5 minutes, then set the metronome back to 110. It will feel much easier. Another problem is, this training is quite boring, so try to play different scales to deal with that, doing so can also improve your scale knowledge. And the last but the most important thing is to keep your motivation up, it requires a lot of works to be a good guitarist, moreover an outstanding one, so keep watching those guitar-gods in action, I personally got a new dose of motivation injection every time I do that. Good luck with the training, and always keep in mind that every single day you train, even just for a bit, you are faster than yesterday.