Hi guys, I've been playing guitar off and on for around 10 years now. However, I have a lot of holes in my learning because I was more focused on drums for those 10 years. Now I wanna hop back onto guitar. One problem, I can't pick very fast! The music I like to play requires a lot of precise fast picking. I'm using a Dunlop Tortex Jazz III pick that is 1.14mm. It's not at all a flimsy pick. Can you guys point me to some lessons or tips for building up my picking speed?
Hail is spot on here, if you want to build speed there is only a few things you have to do.

1) Slow down. Technique is purely physical, you don't get better by making mistakes. Muscle memory and repetition is king.

2) Minimize tension. If you are tense you are making it really hard for yourself to achieve any speed at all. Kind of running with a cramp, it is really hard and not really pleasant. Check out how hard you are fretting/holding the pick, look for tension in your wrist/elbow/shoulders and try to eliminate it as best as possible.

3) Minimize motions. The smaller the motions the faster you can get from point A to point B. Small efficient motions will save you a lot of energy while also allowing you to go faster.

4) Metronome or slow downed recording. You need to be spot on with timing to build any speed worth while, so either practice it to a metronome, or slow the passage you are working on down and play along with the recording.

5) Patience, patience and patience. You should really forget about speed and just focus on points 1 - 4 i mentioned anyways. Speed will come, but if you try to chase it you will most likely be frustrated. Because just like working out at the gym it takes quite some time to see results in regards to speed, it is better to focus on improving the factors that lead to speed than speed itself.

Regarding exercises to practice, practice what you like! EVERYTHING can be used to improve your playing, songs, scales, arpeggios, whatever you like. I'd advice you to go to songs you like, but the choice is yours.
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."
-be loose. move from the wrist.
-down up, down up, down up with the pick, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 with the fretting hand in time with the pick.
-down up, down up, down up with the pick using open strings as well.
-start slow, go for accuracy, try it unplugged for maximum clean notes.
-gotta work both hands together.
-get a heavy pick. i'm like dick dale. my picks get hot. i use 2mm dunlop tortex and i still wear them down pretty fast. ime thin picks waste valuable energy and motion flexing out of the way. fwiw, i don't like hard plastic picks they make more noise. go for acetal, or glass filled nylon. the choice is of course yours.
-economy of movement. use only what is necessary.

that whole thing about which hand is in the lead does make sense and i remember in my first couple of years i had that problem too. my solution was to just pound it out until i had at least one thing right at the end of every time i would play. when you get better you can switch which hand is in the lead back and forth like when hammering and pulling or legato or just straight up grinding. when you learn speed flexibility and freedom is the result and it can open up a lot of doors.

string tension. fwiw, if your strings are loose and floppy from down tuning and thin gages you will be slower. for me i down tune a whole step on every stringed instrument in the house but i adjust the gages to suit the scales of the guitars. heavier on the shorter ones and lighter on the longer ones.

when you advance, you can add palm mutting and various rhythmic picking patterns to the mix.
Last edited by ad_works at Jul 29, 2015,