Increasing speed above 140 beats per min (4note pattern), was a great challenge for me. I just couldn't. My wrists just could take the pressure. I played wrong notes, and eventually lost control. That's when I started watching John Pettrucis Rock Disclipline carefully. The tips he gave were:
01. One should always start playing from 80 (or less). Then we should increase the tempo by 10 beats everytime (Depends on us). Only then will we able to get to our target speed.
02. Try playing something faster than your target speed, then try your target speed. This means if 150 beats per minute is your target. Try 160 first even if you cant. Then try 150, it will be a lot easier. You will feel more comfortable. (Keep in mind you are working your way up the metronome).
03. Play a pattern (In one string) at a slow speed a few times, then at a greater speed (The Fastest you can) the next few times, then again at a slow speed few times and then again at a fast tempo, and so on. You will find out your greater speed is increasing everytime you alternate. Keep in mind you dont need the metronome for this.
These tips were useful, but still I struggled. I remember I got to 146 after a lot of effort. But the next time I picked up a guitar I could even get to that. So I decided to look at my technique. I found several problems:
01. I was not holding the pick properly. I was holding it too straight, and my grip was too hard. So I held increased the angle with which I was holding the pick, and I loosened my grip.
02. I was also fretting notes quite tightly, and striking the strings with more intensity. So I was fretting more simply, and picking the strings as mildly as possible. (If you want to listen to your notes so carefully, why dont you just increase the volume).
03. I noticed when I picked a note I moved my right arm and wrist a bit. So I tried not moving my forearm and upper arms too much. I also tried to keep my pick as close as possible to the strings. So when I struck a second note it took less time to get to it.
04. My third finger and fourth finger were very weak. Whats more if I played a normal three note riff, with my second, third and fourth finger (pinky) I struggled. So I had to do many exercise to strenghten my muscles (below third and fourth finger). Exercises are given at the end.
05. Finally I changed my posture I. e. the way I was holding at guitar and the way I was sitting.
At the end all the changes did work. My speed increased all right, but not as much as I wanted! Thats probably because I did not practice as much as I needed to. To tell you the truth these are things you have to learn when you first pick up the instrument. For someone who has not been using these methods, it takes a while to get used to and overcome your bad habits. So beginners take notice. Watch your technique carefuly, its very difficult to change it after two or three years of playing. These exercises are very useful and give your left hand (right hand to lefties) a good workout.
After doing this several times, instead of picking all three notes, use hammer ons and pull off's. Play the 123 with hammer ons, and 432 with pull offs. You will not find it easy. This is the best exercise. If you need more, let me know.
- Jeeshan Mirza (firstname.lastname@example.org)