How To Quickly Build Speed In Your Tremolo Picking Guitar Technique

By Tom Hess

Are you still unable to tremolo pick with super fast speed? Most likely, you are making the same mistake as the majority of other guitarists… you associate quick hand speed with fast picking. These two things don’t necessarily go hand in hand, and I’ll tell you why…

Truth is, the majority of guitar players already have enough speed in their fingers to play at very high levels. The thing that prevents them (and you) from doing so is the length that the pick travels for each note being played on guitar. Most guitar players are oblivious to this and think their lack of speed has to do with not moving their hands quickly enough.

To develop insane tremolo picking speed, you must increase the frequency at which your pick comes into contact with the string (don’t confuse this with simply moving your hand faster). When you do this, you strike the string many more times and your tremolo picking speed shoots through the ceiling!

Before you continue reading the rest of this article, watch the following video to see exactly how this is done:

Like you saw in the video above, you will immediately play with two times the tremolo picking speed by merely splitting your pick attack distance in half. Now that you are familiar with this idea, begin picking faster using the exercise below:

The first rule of building your tremolo picking speed: ALWAYS watch your picking hand during your picking technique practice! If you spend all your time staring at your fretting hand or don’t watch your hands at all while practicing, you will never develop incredible picking speed.

To begin developing faster picking speed, select an open string to use tremolo picking on and go through the following steps:

Step One: Continually pick using sixteenth notes at a slower bpm for around 15 seconds. Angle your pick at about a 40 degree angle while facing it towards the headstock of the guitar. This will keep you from losing dynamics or picking lightly while reducing picking movements. Like this:

Note: You will also generate greater power in your picking attack while using less effort by playing with a thicker pick (1.50 mm or more) instead of a thin one.

Step Two: Next, play at about a 10% faster rate while continuing to pick for an additional 5-10 seconds. Remember to keep watching your picking hand and maintain compact picking motions. This will make sure that no unneeded movement is being used that would keep you from increasing speed.

Step Three: Gradually raise the tempo you are picking at while still paying careful attention to your picking hand motions to reduce the distance between up/down strokes as much as you can. Additionally, pay attention to the following:

-Don’t ignore power and articulation whenever you are cutting down the distance in your pick attack. Keep a good amount of articulation in your attack by putting more of the pick in the string. This way you will be able to produce small picking motions while still maintaining a booming, powerful attack (instead of picking with the very tip of the pick like so many guitarists do – reducing their articulation).

-Your forearm and picking hand shoulder MUST be very relaxed whenever you are picking fast. It will not help you to tense up these muscles… it will only make you tired while increasing the chances of injury. Try to keep these muscles completely relaxed as you notice your speed increasing.

Keep raising your speed until you are tremolo picking at the maximum speed possible. Continue playing at this speed for an additional ten seconds or so.

Step Four: Now take a short break from playing for a minute before repeating the first three steps three more times. To improve your tremolo picking technique even more, switch between playing open strings and playing fretted notes (this will produce different levels of tension in the strings and challenge you to get better). Utilize this exercise with an effective guitar practicing schedule and you will quickly begin seeing killer results in your speed picking technique.

IMPORTANT: This concept of shortening the distance in your picking attack can be used in other areas besides just tremolo picking! As demonstrated in the video above, you should also implement this idea into your playing while using multiple string guitar licks and scales. This will embed your tremolo picking skills into other aspects of your lead guitar soloing technique and build your overall speed.

Using the lick below together with the exercise above. While doing this, focus on your picking hand so that you keep your pick attack as tight as possible (while playing with plenty of power and loudness).


Now that you understand how to develop a lot of tremolo picking speed on guitar, realize that this is merely one aspect of becoming a much faster guitar player. To find out more about the other elements that go into increasing overall guitar speed, check out this mini course on how to play guitar fast.

To understand much more about how to not only develop insane guitar speed but also become a creative musician, take guitar lessons online.


About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional musician, composer, and highly successful guitar instructor who trains and mentors guitarists with online guitar tuition. Visit to get free guitar playing tipsguitar playing resources, mini courses and more guitar playing articles.

Make Your Fast Guitar Playing Effortless

by Tom Hess

What is the one thing that your favorite guitarists have in common when you see them playing fast? The answer is that all of them play in a manner that looks astonishingly easy. In fact, speed guitar playingnot only looks effortless – it IS effortless…or, more specifically, it BECOMES easy after you experience the process of training this skill correctly.

Sadly, nearly all guitar players can’t make their speed playing feel easy, and any effort to play guitar fast is a challenge. Reasons why this happens are plenty, but one of the most typical is pursuing the traditional practice mindset of beginning to practice slowly and building up speed little by little. Despite the fact that this approach DOES have a few of advantages, it also has many serious restrictions (when applied at the wrong time or mistakenly… as happens quite often).

The following factors are why the typical guitar speed developing strategy (practicing from slow to fast by increasing speed little by little) makes fast playing feel complicated:

  • It’s easy to become lazy and make entirely different movements at slow speeds in comparison to what you do when playing fast. Consequently, as soon as your speed improves past a particular point, your playing will become uncomfortable and hard, because now you will be using movements that you did not use in the past. I’ve already discussed this to a great extent in this article about how to practice to boost your guitar speed.
  • Releasing the excessive tension that usually builds up through faster playing is something that the traditional approach doesn’t allow you to practice. Therefore, as your speed grows, your guitar playing begins to become more and more like a challenge and you get fatigued fast.
  • You don’t practice for actual speed in your guitar playing (where you have to start playing without playing anything before). It’s much easier to play an exercise over and over, incrementally arriving at your peak speed and having the playing of that one exercise be great. However, when you must play the exact same exercise at your top speed IMMEDIATELY, with everything feeling effortless and sounding clean, the feeling is much different. Thus, traditional guitar speed building mindset doesn’t prepare you for playing in real life.
  • Ordinary guitar speed development methods force you to increase your speed with the full exercise all at once. In many instances this can cause mindless guitar practice(hoping to get faster by merely doing an exercise time and time again).

Note: the typical strategy of “start practicing slowly and speed up little by little” IS effective when you are practicing a new thing (and it’s also very useful for beginner – intermediate guitar players). However, the better of a guitar player you become (and the faster you wish to increase your speed in a specific exercise) the more you will need highly specific practice methods for overcoming your speed plateaus.

You now understand what the disadvantages are of the ordinary approach to building speed on guitar, so I will show you one of multiple approaches you can use to move beyond guitar speed plateaus and make your playing feel comfortable while playing fast. This strategy is one of many that I use with my electric guitar students to assist them in building higher levels of guitar speed.

Practicing Guitar With Speed Bursts

Rather than playing a whole phrase at a very slow tempo and incrementally increasing speed, split up that phrase into very small bursts (between 4-8 notes each) and practice every one of these at your TOP speed.

Watch this video to get a clear understanding of how to practice this concept:

When you implement speed bursts in your guitar practice, it will help you to develop your guitar speed easier and sooner. Below are the reasons why:


  • Your guitar speed will in fact come to be useful in real life playing (where you can’t play something time after time and rather must jump in and play something at your peak speed instantly).
  • You are able to use rests between the speed bursts to release tension from your hands and ensure that you use no more tension than necessary. This is a really effective approach to make your guitar playing feel extremely effortless and comfortable… exactly like your favorite guitar players.
  • You will teach your mind and your ears to become aware of notes at blistering speeds and hear/fix errors much more easily. This is CRUCIAL, because your playing will sound like a sloppy mess if you try to play guitar fast WITHOUT this skill.
  • You won’t be able to play guitar with lazy and slow movements – you are actually training them to do exactly what they should do when you are playing fast.
  • You will be able to instantly isolate portions from a larger exercise and concentrate on particular errors that prevent you from playing the full exercise at the speed you wish.

You have now discovered a noteworthy way of making fast guitar playing feel very effortless. The next action you must take is to learn all the other techniques that will help you to MULTIPLY your guitar speed while reducing your practice time by fifty percent (I will teach you how to do this for free). Discover how it’s done by reading this page about increasing your guitar speed.

About The Author: Tom Hess is a professional touring musician and guitar player. He also teaches and trains guitarists from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. On his website,, you can get additional free tips about guitar playingguitar playing resources, mini courses and surveys.