#1
I've recently become very interested in developing my speed to give me another weapon while improvising (as of right now I can't really do 16th note runs or anything like that). I've been working on running up and down my scales of choice with a metronome, but I have two questions:

1) Is there any other exercises I should be doing other than running scales?

2) While doing this will make my fingers faster, what can I do to help me "think" faster while improvising? I guess what I mean by that is not falling into the same licks and runs over and over since they are what I practiced my speed with. Will building finger speed alone make me more comfortable at speed so I can be more spontaneous at speeds, or is there something else I should be working on as well.
#2
1. Exercises are not used to develop speed, they are used to fix isolated problems in your technique. If you are having specific problems with your technique, you should practice exercises that focus on that aspect of your playing.

2. Your ear.

Honestly, you should be practicing music you enjoy. No one will find it interesting to hear you play scales up and down, you should rather practice musical ideas in context. Also, the way to improve your speed is forgetting about it, yes i am serious. Focus on playing relaxed and accurately and speed comes naturally, given that you have the patience and time. The moment when i truly started improving the most was when i stopped caring about about speed and practiced stuff at a tempo were i was relaxed all of the time, and then i could focus on being musical instead.

Best Regards,
Sickz
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#3
Quote by Sickz

Honestly, you should be practicing music you enjoy. No one will find it interesting to hear you play scales up and down, you should rather practice musical ideas in context. Also, the way to improve your speed is forgetting about it, yes i am serious. Focus on playing relaxed and accurately and speed comes naturally, given that you have the patience and time. The moment when i truly started improving the most was when i stopped caring about about speed and practiced stuff at a tempo were i was relaxed all of the time, and then i could focus on being musical instead.

Best Regards,
Sickz


Thank you for your response. With regards to comfort though, if I am only comfortable playing 8th note rock lines, how will i get comfortable playing 16th note lines if I only stick to what is comfortable?
#4
Quote by ptnecniv
Thank you for your response. With regards to comfort though, if I am only comfortable playing 8th note rock lines, how will i get comfortable playing 16th note lines if I only stick to what is comfortable?


Because guitar is not like lifting weights. You are not making your muscles stronger, you are learning to use them more efficiently.

What you are essentially doing is programming your brain to be able to do the connections to your fingers faster. And your brain will make a habit out of everything you do. If you are tensed up and playing sloppy will your playing, your brain will remember that and always tense up and make sure you play sloppy. But if you focus on always being relaxed and playing things perfectly, your brain will make a habit out of that. The thing you have to do is make sure you are playing as relaxed as possible and don´t play faster than the speed you can play perfectly and relaxed at the same time.

You will get comfortable with 16th note lines when you have built muscle memory and technique. The argument of "this is comfortable for me now and how can i get to play that comfortably without playing outside my comfort zone?" does not apply. When you were a kid you didnt try to run before you could walk, right? No, you crawled. But as soon as you could walk properly, you could run aswell.

So bottom line of my advice is:
1. Practice stuff relaxed and accurately, even if that means playing it as quarter notes at 60 bpm to start with. (Believe me, i have done that too. It works)

2. Forget about speed, think about the quality of your playing instead.

3.Learn material and work on your ear, that is the two main things if you want to be good at improvisation.

4. Put in the time to practice this way, and have patience. Rome wasn´t built in a day, don´t be discouraged if you don´t see improvement in the first days, the real improvement comes to people who stick with what their practicing.

Best Regards,
Sickz
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#5
You can put some backing tracks in a DAW, set the tempo to whatever you like, and then concentrate on playing music. Slowly increase the tempo a bit each week, and once you get to the point where you can play eight notes at 120 bpm, well you can now play 16th notes at 60 bpm.

I always would find that for fast playing, the picking hand is the one that needed the most work, so I'd practice various alternate picking exercises as well. Pick up Speed Mechanics by Troy Stetina if you want, that book is entirely geared towards building speed. But that should be a supplement to your playing, to work on certain weaknesses in your technique - I think too many people mistake the exercises for the music itself.

I totally agree with Sickz's advice though - just practice playing music you enjoy and keep learning new songs. Speed will come as a natural byproduct of that. Probably just my personal preference, but I'd MUCH rather listen to somebody play some truly good music at 75 bpm than recite their scale exercises to me at 150 bpm.
#6
Thank you guys for the advice

Quote by gtc83

I totally agree with Sickz's advice though - just practice playing music you enjoy and keep learning new songs. Speed will come as a natural byproduct of that. Probably just my personal preference, but I'd MUCH rather listen to somebody play some truly good music at 75 bpm than recite their scale exercises to me at 150 bpm.


Of course, I was looking at building speed to use it as a dynamic for contrasting with slow lines and such.
#7
Metronome... Patience... Low action...practise alternate picking on one string ... Pick near the bridge to lesson string movement and build speed. Myself I like to practise a pattern to metronome and find my "failure speed" ie when I can't maintain technique then drop the BPM 5 or 10 and hammer at that to build up stamina.
#8
And of course proper posture and lubed strings. I remember the guitarist from Chickenshack would wipe his strings down with WD40 in between songs I'd recommend standard string cleaner though
#9
I divide fast playing into two categories, the first one is natural speed as players that fall into this category play fast what they play slow i.e. they do not adopt any special techniques to be able to play a fast passage. Eric Johnson is a great example of this, his fast playing is just as melodic and tasteful as his slow playing and indeed almost sounds like his slow playing speeded up. If you study sheer speed players, you’ll notice that their fast playing defies speed techniques. Their fast playing technique varies little from their slow playing technique leading me to the conclusion that natural speed comes naturally and is not forced in any way.

A way to develop natural speed is not to worry about playing fast but instead concentrare on playing as fast as you can without making the slightest mistake or clam. Your natural speed will increase over time because you are creating a solid base for it by developing control.
#10
I always try to mix scales when doing a run. It gives me a bunch of variations! You can practice scales but what's really worked for me is learning songs. That way I am adding different licks to my vocabulary and at the same time studying different guitar players and how they connect their scales. I usually just use those licks, mix em up and there you go nice unique runs

Speed will come with time but if you want to sound faster try sweep picking and alternate picking. Arpeggios will also make you sound faster.