Guitar Speed-Building Strategies

How To Play Guitar Faster

Guitar Speed-Building Strategies

For anyone who has been playing guitar for a while, hitting a roadblock in your progress is an all-too-common occurrence. Whether you're struggling to get a particular solo lick, scale sequence, or lead guitar exercise up to speed, then today's lesson will feel like a breath of fresh air!

We're covering speed-building strategies to help you experience guitar-playing speed breakthroughs. 

When you first started out, the main advice was to build speed from the ground up, moving 1 bpm at a time. 

Even though this is sound advice at first, this is not always the answer because:
-You can still get stuck at a certain bpm.
-You may develop some bad habits that won't show up at slower speeds.

So, what we're doing in this lesson, is working on your elasticity, by going above and beyond your top speed, playing sloppy on purpose, to then going back and playing clean at higher speeds.

Disclaimer: For this to work you need to already know the exercise, lick, or whatever you're working on by heart. We are way past the reading the tabs stage, you should already have the exercise/solo/lick internalized.

Clean Speed Vs Dirty Speed:

I like to think that every guitar player has 2 different kinds of speeds:

1- Top dirty speed:
The true top speed at which you play the lick/exercise sounding bad/sloppy, but it is fast enough.

2- Top clean speed:
The top speed at which your notes are still played clearly without any sloppiness.

Your top clean speed is always slower than your top dirty speed, and what we're aiming to do with this lesson is to close the gap between those two.

Disclaimer: this never happens because as we keep pushing our clean speed closer and closer to the dirty speed, we inevitably increase our top dirty speed as well, meaning the sky is our limit.

How To Play Guitar Fast:

Guitar Speed Building Strategy #1 - Elasticity

First things first, select any exercise, scale sequence or lick you want to crush your speed limit on, for the sake of simplicity and to make sure everyone's on the same page I'll be playing the 3 notes per string C Major scale.
Disclaimer: Warm up really well before applying these concepts.

Step 1:
Figure out what your top clean speed is on your selected exercise; let's suppose I can only play 6 notes or 2 strings of the scale at 80 bpm.

Check out the video @ min 2:38 for the demonstration.

Step 2:
Now that we've established your top clean speed, you will attempt to go 10-15% faster, consequently tapping into your top dirty speed. So, for this exercise, I will jump from 80 bpm to 90 bpm. Practice your chosen exercise at that speed 10-15 times.

Note: Try your best to play in sync with the metronome and as cleanly as possible. (It will still sound sloppy, but you must try anyway)

Check out the video @ min 3:58 for the demonstration.

Step 3:
Bring the speed back down by 5%. This is faster than your original top clean speed (so around 85 for our example) play the exercise again 10-15 times.
You will notice an increase in your top clean speed and less sloppiness in your playing at that new speed.

Check out min @ 4:52 for the demonstration.

The idea here is to push you out of your comfort zone, forcing yourself to play something hard, and then when we bring things back down, the exercise will feel much easier by comparison. That's how you increase your top clean speed.

From 80 (initial top clean speed) to 85 (new top clean speed) in our example.

How To Play Guitar Fast:

Guitar Speed Building Strategy #2 - Articulation

Moving on to the second concept of the day, I'd like to introduce you to what I call the "articulation exercise". This exercise is designed to complement the first one we covered, and should be performed immediately after we've gained that new 5% top clean speed. In other words, we can consider this step 4 in our practice routine.

The idea here is to play hard on purpose, using a very strong articulation while trying your best not to tense up. Remember articulating hard does not mean more tension. Make sure your fretting hand is still smooth and relaxed.

Check out min @7:26 for a quick comparison between the two.

After playing really hard, we will revert back to playing "normal". This will help you gain even more clean speed. It will feel so much easier to play once you revert back to playing normal.

Disclaimer: Only do this for 2-3 minutes in a row, or you will get fatigued.
Final Words
To sum it up, increasing your guitar speed is a gradual process that requires dedication and patience. 

While starting slow and gradually increasing your speed is a solid foundation, it's essential to step out of your comfort zone, try new techniques and challenge yourself to help you break through any speed barriers.

Remember to always warm up properly and listen to your body to avoid injury.

By incorporating the elasticity and strong articulation exercises outlined in today's lesson, you can achieve your speed goals and elevate your guitar playing to new heights.

Want to play faster, smoother and with more precision? Are you tired of your solos and improvisation lacking and sounding sloppy? Do you want to master advanced techniques and shred like a pro? Check out our premium guitar training program "guitar elevation'', and unlock your full potential as a guitar player!

Author: Jack Haddad
Jack Haddad is an expert Guitar educator and teacher and has been helping guitarists, through his innovative methods, get incredible results on the guitar, whether they want to jam with friends or rock out on the big stage.

You can find out more about Jack Haddad's teaching here:
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