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, tomhess.net, you can get additional free tips about guitar playing, guitar playing resources, mini courses and surveys.