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 tomhess.net to get free guitar playing tips, guitar playing resources, mini courses and more guitar playing articles.