How To Play Fast

author: Unregistered date: 11/22/2011 category: correct practice
rating: 9.4 / votes: 84 
How to Get A Faster Speed: This article is no BS. Skip to section IIB if you feel you have a good workflow on how to practice. -------------------------- I. Restating the Obvious - Metronomes must be used when practicing, otherwise you are not really practicing. They help you focus in addition to their intuitive benefits. Free Metronomes can be found with a Quick search on google. I recommend the first one. Do this now. - First of all, plan to practice the specific riff/lick/section/technique for multiple practice sessions, not just in one day but over a period of time of a few months. I don't mean plan mentally, I mean build it into your practice schedule. If you don't have a practice schedule, make one now. I guarentee it will help you improve at least 20% faster. Make sure to put the highest Beats per Minute you achieved in each day (AKA update it often). - Don't spend too long on one thing. Practice it (the riff/lick/technique) for 20 minutes at a time. You may go back to it immediately after. For example, for 20 minutes, practice the solo. Then the next 5 minutes practice the bridge to the solo, or whatever precedes getting into the solo. Then go back to practicing the solo for another 20 minutes if you wish. Playing an extremely difficult or fast section for too long will cause you to lose focus. - Always be relaxed when you play. If you are playing so fast that you feel tense, stop breathing, or make facial expressions, slow the metronome down a lot (50% of what it was) and then gradually raise it back up to that tempo, over a period of about 2-2.5 minutes. Make a conscious effort to stay relaxed during this time. This kills two birds with one stone. On one hand, it will ultimately help you be able to play faster. On the other hand, it will allow you to build muscle memory more efficiently. See next point... - Conciously try to remain relaxed when practicing. You should, optimally, be able to "watch TV" while playing the riff. If you can read, watch TV, sing, or talk while practicing it this means you are building it into muscle memory, instead of conscious effort. For example, to learn how to sing and play at the same time, try first watching TV while playing, then reading while playing, then talking while playing, then singing while playing. It works extremely well. - IMPORTANT ONE: Some people say to always play with a metronome while practicing. I think you should play with the metronome about 3/4 of the time. - Always warm up or stretch before practicing. Warm ups and stretches will really help you improve your technique. Take about 5-8 minutes to warm up before a practice session. These will help build immense, "popeye" forearm muscles and better timing. I will include a stretch technique exercise. Example 1: Max this out on the metronome every day as a warm up. By max out I mean to do exactly this: play it at the maximum speed you can while keeping all fingers on the fretboard before moving to the next position, moving one finger at a time. This will give you better finger control and efficiency of movement. This is THE guitar exercise to practice. Don' hesitate to customize it to your specific needs/goals. For example try going 1 3 1 4 1 2 or 1 4 1 4 3 2 1 or any other combination.
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================================================================== II. Proper Technique A. Alternate Picking or Sweep Picking - Alternate picking sounds more articulated, and sweep picking sounds more smooth/legato. - In other words, the experienced guitar player needs to make a conscious decision on which technique to use for each specific riff. IF YOU DO NOT DO THIS STEP YOU ARE HURTING YOURSELF IN THE LONG RUN. You MUST have a specific technique down you are going to use each and every time, otherwise you might not as well be practicing. If you don't practice something the same way each time, you are not practicing efficiently AT ALL. Think about it. - The experienced or professional guitar player will tell you that alternate picking is the industry standard; basically, most professional guitar players use alternate picking. What I really mean is that about 98% (literally) of your practicing and playing should be ALTERNATE PICKING ONLY. - Sweep picking can be useful to make things easier on yourself, for example when you are playing fast arpeggios, especially on the top 3 strings. Also, many common licks on the top 2 strings can be played much more easily this way. For example, the fast parts of the Freebird solo. Sweep picking can also be combined with hammer-ons and pull offs very effectively, as you actually continue to "stay in time" in the alternate picking fashion. - Example 1: This lick is easier to play using sweep picking. However, you would still use alternate picking if you wanted to achieve a more articulated sound. So you must make a conscious decision as to which one, depending on the context.
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This is a common rock and metal lick (or the many variations thereof) which I usually play using hammer ons, pull offs, and sweep. Try it out with sweep and h/o p/o and see if you can play it faster and more cleanly than alternate, I bet many intermdiate guitar players will be surprised. This is meant to show that there are some applications of sweep picking which you must consider. Note that Sweep picking this while using h/o & p/o will still allow you to stay in time with the consistent up-down motion of alternate picking. - Example 2: Depends
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For this type of riff/lick/whatever, it is up to you to decide how to play it. Once again, if you want it sounding super smooth/legato, use sweeping and hammer ons/pull offs. If you want it sounding articulated, use alternate picking. 98% of the time you would use alternate, simply because articulated notes are much more common! (And by the way, you can still achieve a smooth tone when using alternate picking, you just angle the pick in a different way). - Example 3: Don't Sweep
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Seriously, don't sweep or "economy pick" this kind of thing. Use strict alternate picking. This means that you are always downpicking on an on beat and up picking on an off beat, to create a consistent up/down motion. This kind of picking will help you get faster, get better rhythm, get better timing, and muscle memorize the distances in between the strings. HOWEVER, if you wanted legato on this section you might consider hammer on and pull offs. Notice that if you did use hammer ons and pull offs, most of it would be played as a "sweep" anyway, even when using alternate picking. - Example 4: Consider A Sweep
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At higher tempos with straight sixteenth notes or sixteenth note triplets, I would sweep this sort of shape. Still, I would alternate pick it at lower tempos, or if I wanted it to ring out, or if it was a non-straight rhythm, or if I really didn't want a legato sound. ***SO IN CONCLUSION, SWEEPING AND HAMMER ONS AND PULL OFFS ARE USED TO ACHIEVE A LEGATO SOUND, AND SHOULD BE USED ACCORDINGLY. THIS MEANS YOU MUST LEARN HOW AND WHEN TO USE BOTH ALTERNATE PICKING AND SWEEP PICKING. ==================================================================== B. Technique Exercises Here are some technique exercises to help you get faster. When practicing them, play at the maximum possible speed at which you can hit every note with an even, consistent volume and tone. Play along with a metronome and record your maximum, relaxed, perfectly played speed in BPM. Example 1) The Ultimate Finger Workout This one will work out every finger and fretting combination possible and can be used to practice either alternate picking or h/o & p/o style. This one will take some time, so only do it every so often. In this excercise, you will use all finger combinations possible for each variation, going all the way up the neck. It's a very intense workout so much sure to take breaks. Figure i) Play this first with index and middle, then middle and ring, then ring and pinky.
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I think you get the idea, all the way up the neck and back down again, 3 times (one for each finger combination). So you first play it using index/middle, then middle/ring, then ring/pinky. Figure ii.) Variation Now, instead of playing the minor second interval, you will play the major second interval.
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Hopefully you get the idea, same deal as before but with a different fret distance in between the fingers. This one will be hard but rewarding to play with the ring and pinky. Great stretch exercise, just don't push yourself too hard. Figure iii) Variation 2
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Make sure to go back down as well as going up, I didn't draw it out but it's equally as important, it sucks to be really good at going up the neck and have no way of coming back down. I wouldn't play this one using ring and pinky on the lower frets, but you may try it if you wish. Example 2) Modes/Scales - No handout for this one, because it can already be found on Ultimate Guitar. It's a Power Tab file called Modes and Scales. It starts at the Fifth Fret Low A and runs thru all the modes starting from this root. Use strict alternate picking. After 3-4 months hopefully you've memorized all of them, if not, still really solid practice. Really useful little file. Thanks to whoever made it. Example 3) ThunderStruck Timing Exercise
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This is a cool type of lick to learn how to play really fast, but it is also a great timing practice tool. Try doing this one with hammer ons and pull offs as well as strict alternate picking. It is meant to exercise your left hand right hand timing coordination. Always use a metronome for this one. Example 4) Position Movement on One String
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Keep all fingers on the fretboard after placement, before a position change. So, all four fingers should be down when you reach fret 4. Then position change as fast as possible to having index on fret 5. Make sure not to squeel/scratch on the string with your hand, bad technique, you're going too fast. Play on all strings, up as well as down, etc etc... Try it with and without the metronome. Example 5) Right Hand Workout: Do this for 5 minutes every day. Metronome only. Eighth notes, if they are too slow raise the metronome rate, instead of going to sixteenths (double met rate instead of halfing note length). This will help timing more accurately.
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This one is pretty obvious, you've got to have a killer right hand, period. Try palm muting on and off, accenting certain notes, down picking only, triplets, sixteenth note triplets, multiple string skips, etc. Example 6) String Skipping
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Do this one with a metronome to practice string skipping. Plus it sounds cool once you can do it fast. I didn't draw it in fully, but please make sure to come back down as well as going up. It's much much harder, especially on the lower strings. Example 7) Hammer on Pull Off With Pinky Diminished Run
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This is a cool metal lick that is also a great pinky workout. If you enjoyed this lesson please check me out on Youtube. Username: coolbian57
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