Basic Speed Building Exercises

author: TMF128 date: 04/02/2009 category: guitar techniques
rating: 7.3 / votes: 24 
Building speed is one of the hardest parts of learning how to play guitar. These are some basic patterns to help you work on building speed. These involve doing hammer-ons and pull-offs, so make sure you can do them well enough. You can do these on any string you want, how fast you get is what's important. 1.) The easiest one you can do is just playing 1 note, and hammer-on or pull off the two next to it. You can do it in one spot and repeat, or you can go in a pattern up the neck. You can do this in any spot you want.
e|-------------------------------|--------------------------------|
B|-------------------------------|--------------------------------|
G|-------------------------------|--------------------------------|
D|-------------------------------|--------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------|--------------------------------|
E|1h2h3-2h3h4-3h4h5-4h5h6-5h6h7--|-7p6p5-6p5p4-5p4p3-4p3p2-3p2p1--|
  Go up the neck,                 and back down, fret by fret.
Just keep on trying this, and make sure you start out slow. Keep a slow pace at first, and then build up speed as you go along. If you can do this well, everything else will be a little bit easier. 2.) Try repeating these techniques to help you get used to playing hammer-ons and pull-offs with the open string.
e|-------------------|-------------------|
B|-------------------|-------------------|
G|-------------------|-------------------|
D|-------------------|-------------------|
A|-------------------|-------------------|
E|0h2h3-0h2h3-0h2h3--|3p2p0-3p2p0-3p2p0--|
This is probably the easiest way to practice using the open string. When doing the hammer-ons, do not strum the second 2 notes. Only strum the open string, and then hammer-on the next two notes like you would normally, but don't strum. For the pull-offs, when you are pulling off to the open string, make sure you pull your finger backwards and up, that is what makes the note audible. 3.) This will help you work on moving around on the strings. It uses the patterns used in the exercise above but moves between strings.
e|-------------------------0h2h3--|3p2p0---------------------------|
B|--------------------0h2h3-------|-----3p2p0----------------------|
G|---------------0h2h3------------|----------3p2p0-----------------|
D|----------0h2h3-----------------|---------------3p2p0------------|
A|-----0h2h3----------------------|--------------------3p2p0-------|
E|0h2h3---------------------------|-------------------------3p2p0--|
  Play each different string with each beat. 
Using a metronome will help a lot with this. Strum each string with each beat and play the other notes in between. Remember, start out slow, and go faster once you are comfortable with playing it at a differnet speed. 4.) This technique is harder than the others. You need very fast fingers to play it well, and it takes a lot of practice to get your fingers used to it.
e|--------------------------|
B|--------------------------|
G|5h7h5-5h7h5-5h7h5-5h7h5---|
D|-----7-----7-----7-----7--|
A|--------------------------|
E|--------------------------|
Strum the first note, hammer-on the next, pull-off the one after, and strum the note on the string below. It takes a lot of time to get used to this. I would reccommend getting used to the string picking pattern, and then working on the finger movements while still strumming. Just keep playing and experimenting. Keep playing the finger pattern even if you are messing up, keep the beat up and keep on trying different things with your fingers. This is the starting point of fast playing and improvisation, patterns like this are used a lot. 5.) This is something to practice that can be used in songs and in improvisation, and involves moving up and down the strings and using hammer-ons and pull-offs.
e|-------------------15h18p17p15------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------17-----------19p17p16----------------------------------|
G|------------15h18---------------------18p17p15--------------------------|
D|----------17----------------------------------19p18p16------------------|
A|-----16h19--------------------------------------------18p16p15----------|
E|15h18---------------------------------------------------------18p17p15--|
This takes a long time to get used to. The fingering in the beginning takes awhile to get used to, and remembering what to play around the end takes awhile to remember. Take your time though, start out slow and build speed. Just keep on trying this, but don't try too much and get frustrated. When going up the next, I reccommend using your middle finger to play the 17's, and using your pointer and ring finger to play the hammer-ons. When played fast, this sounds great. A metronome helps with this also. ----------- Practice these exercises, and try gradually moving faster each time. I would reccomend trying these in the order I put them in, the first ones are easier. You can use these when improvising, or use them in solos, it's all up to you. Practice each one, and eventually you will be able to play more fast licks and play faster. Good luck, rock hard.
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