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Old 07-06-2013, 03:52 AM   #1
jayhawk22
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How do I build "left hand" speed?

I've been playing for about 2 1/2 years, self taught, and if I had to judge myself, I'd say that i'm decent at guitar (for what I play). I don't know any scales, most of the songs I play are with power chords, and the solos I do know are very basic and minimal, or they are just easy enough for me. How do I build more speed so I can tackle faster solos? I want to get better at guitar, but I don't really want to take lessons.....don't judge me . Anyway, the stuff I'm playing right now is mostly Alternative Rock and a touch of metal. Mainly Breaking Benjamin, a few Bullet For My Valentine Songs along with many others, and some more Pop/Alternative stuff like the All American Rejects, Panic! at the Disco. etc. I would like to be able to play faster, and more complex stuff, and I know learning scales is involved somehow, but I don't know where to start , A lot of this comes from the music I listen to, since I listen to the grungier, darker, stuff, obviously Breaking Benjamin, but also Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, and Five Finger Death Punch. I know it will take a LONG time for me to get to that point, but for me, this is a good place to start. Any advice is appreciated, as well as videos or just regular text links. Thanks!
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:31 AM   #2
JimDawson
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There is the standard advice:

Play slowly to a metronome, or some other click, so you can play it absolutely perfect. When you can play something absolutely perfectly like 5-10 times in a row, then up the tempo a little. Rinse and repeat.

Then something I saw in a Shawn Lane video awhile back:

He said that it's good to do the whole metronome idea I wrote above, but every once in awhile you want to turn the tempo way up to a point where you can't play cleanly at all. You want it so fast that your fingers really have to fly across the frets- even if you can't do it perfectly. His reasoning for this, I believe, is that he thought that practicing slowly with a metronome kind of gets that slow speed stuck in your head to the point where it actually makes it harder to get faster.

Shawn Lane was a ridiculously fast, legendary guitarist who could shred cleanly while mixing in a bunch of different bracketed notes; his advice on speed building is probably legit.
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Old 07-06-2013, 06:13 AM   #3
steven seagull
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I wouldn't follow Shawn Lane's advice there, the problem with it is that he was one of those rare freakishly talented players and a lot of what he did was quite unorthodox...stuff that worked for him isn't going to necessarily work for mortals.
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Old 07-06-2013, 06:27 AM   #4
JimDawson
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Yeah... as you may have gathered from my post, I'm kind of on the fence about Shawn Lane's advice.

The thing is, he really was freakishly talented and I haven't really heard anyone else (an average guitarist) second his advice while confidently stating that it worked for them.

It makes sense to me why it COULD work, but at the same time it makes me wonder what kind of horrible habits one could develop through doing too much "hyperspeed practice". It's something to look into at least.
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Old 07-06-2013, 06:36 AM   #5
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The whole Shawn Lane speed burst idea is a bit of a strange one but I think in some situations there might be some merit to it.

The idea is obviously that you don't do it regularly or even particularly often, it's more about breaking out of the slow mentality than anything else and getting yourself used to the idea that playing fast is a thing that can happen.

I really can't stress enough though that you shouldn't do it often or for very large amounts of time. It's not a practice regime so much as it is a routine breaker.
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Old 07-06-2013, 08:12 AM   #6
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I think it's good practice to occasionally attempt to play something faster than you *think* you can play it, because quite often you don't necessarily realise the benefit of all that work at slower speeds. So pushing yourself past your comfort zone can often result in a pleasant surprise when you realise that your comfort zone has actually moved and you've been playing well within it.

I don't think there's any real benefit in trying to play as fast as you can though, the thing is that fast playing shouldn't really feel any different to slow playing. There's no differencing in your picking or fretting actions, it's just that you've got very good at executing them in an efficient and controlled manner. There's not going to be any drastic changes or lightbulb moments, it's a gradual progression so you're not suddenly going to wake up one day and be able to play lightning fast, but with diligent practice you'll improve gradually over time...just keep in mind that were talking months and years here when it comes to noticeable progress, not days or weeks.
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Old 07-06-2013, 10:46 AM   #7
sw4l
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what has worked for me and given me and increase in speed has been slow practice and toward the end of the practice session i bump up the tempo until i can play it as fast as i can and cleanly when i get to where i cant play it clean i stop write it down and come back to it the next session i am doing my speed drills and try to top it. did this for around 3-4 weeks and my speed has increased a good deal. Also focus on making the position shifts fluid and keeping your fingers close to the fretboard and keep both your fretting hand and picking hand relaxed. im by no means a shredder yet but this is what broke me through my barrier.
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:03 AM   #8
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Practice slowly, but sometimes play above your speed just to see where your weaknesses are and get your brain a little more comfortable with the idea, but never practice over and over too fast
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:30 AM   #9
cdgraves
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I've been building "speed" (coordination) with bursts. Set the metronome to a speed where you can do 16ths cleanly on one string, for four bars straight. Then raise the BPM a few and try it again. Do that until you reach the tempo where you just can't hold it together for all four bars.

Then do this: 3 beats of 8ths, 1 beat of 16ths. Do that for four bars.

If you can do that one beat of 16ths cleanly, alternate 1 beat of 8ths and 1 beat of 16ths (8th-16th-8th-16th) again for four bars.

Then do consecutive beats of 16ths, etc. Or alternate bar of 16ths, one of 8ths

Basically you find the tempo where you can start the exercise but not finish it, then only do the fast picking for a couple of beats at a time until you've got the coordination to sustain the tempo.
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