#2
Buy a metronome

/thread

But seriously there's so much material out there online about increasing your speed; your question is a little too vague. What kind of speed are you talking about? Alternate picking, legato, fretting hand speed, picking hand speed, sweeping speed.... all of the above?

The first thing I would say is get your guitar set up as well as possible with strings heavy enough to handle the drop tuning you like (probably 11s for drop C, but that's a preference thing). If you lived near Baltimore I'd do it for free. Then, start by chilling out and remembering that speed comes almost exclusively from three things: 1) synchronization of left and right hands 2) economy of motion from both hands 3) near-total relaxation of most of your body, especially back/neck, shoulders, elbow, hands and fingers etc. If you're tense you will never play as fast as you could relaxed. The amount of force required to depress a string and pick it is so incredibly tiny compared to the vice grip most people are crushing their fretboards with.

If you're not practicing with a metronome start now. It's the fastest and most efficient way to sync up your left/right hands. Pick something you want to play and can actually use in music, like licks/riffs/scales/chords or better yet parts of songs you want to learn, and play them at a tempo slow enough that you can play them flawlessly and work up from there *slowly*. Don't practice mistakes by practicing at tempos that are too fast for your ability level; practice perfection and you will (eventually) achieve it.

Other than that you need to be patient. Getting good/fast/articulate/precise on the guitar is just like any other thing that's worthwhile; everyone wants a shortcut and lots of people are promising them that, but the reality is that no such thing exists. If you want to be alternate picking, sweeping, etc at 180bpm you need to clock years of practice. If you can and *want* to, practice more than an hour a day. Try breaking it up: an hour in the morning, an hour in the evening, or 30 mins, or whatever you have time for. I remember playing for 3-4 hours a day in highschool, but that was a decade ago and now I barely squeeze in a half hour, more often none. But because of all that practice I'm playing better now than I would have ever imagined back then.

Anyways, just don't lose hope. Your mindset is the most important feature of this equation. Play music you really get excited about and ditch the chromatic/intervalic warm up and stretching exercises that you'll never play in a song. I used to play all that Petrucci exercise stuff and ultimately didn't get much from it (besides chronic tendonitis #truelife) compared to what I reaped while practicing actual music.

The only way to get faster is to keep going! And sorry for the long post. It's just.... you're me from 12 years ago and I know you got this.

Keep on truckin'
#3
Quote by lumberjack
Buy a metronome

/thread

But seriously there's so much material out there online about increasing your speed; your question is a little too vague. What kind of speed are you talking about? Alternate picking, legato, fretting hand speed, picking hand speed, sweeping speed.... all of the above?

The first thing I would say is get your guitar set up as well as possible with strings heavy enough to handle the drop tuning you like (probably 11s for drop C, but that's a preference thing). If you lived near Baltimore I'd do it for free. Then, start by chilling out and remembering that speed comes almost exclusively from three things: 1) synchronization of left and right hands 2) economy of motion from both hands 3) near-total relaxation of most of your body, especially back/neck, shoulders, elbow, hands and fingers etc. If you're tense you will never play as fast as you could relaxed. The amount of force required to depress a string and pick it is so incredibly tiny compared to the vice grip most people are crushing their fretboards with.

If you're not practicing with a metronome start now. It's the fastest and most efficient way to sync up your left/right hands. Pick something you want to play and can actually use in music, like licks/riffs/scales/chords or better yet parts of songs you want to learn, and play them at a tempo slow enough that you can play them flawlessly and work up from there *slowly*. Don't practice mistakes by practicing at tempos that are too fast for your ability level; practice perfection and you will (eventually) achieve it.

Other than that you need to be patient. Getting good/fast/articulate/precise on the guitar is just like any other thing that's worthwhile; everyone wants a shortcut and lots of people are promising them that, but the reality is that no such thing exists. If you want to be alternate picking, sweeping, etc at 180bpm you need to clock years of practice. If you can and *want* to, practice more than an hour a day. Try breaking it up: an hour in the morning, an hour in the evening, or 30 mins, or whatever you have time for. I remember playing for 3-4 hours a day in highschool, but that was a decade ago and now I barely squeeze in a half hour, more often none. But because of all that practice I'm playing better now than I would have ever imagined back then.

Anyways, just don't lose hope. Your mindset is the most important feature of this equation. Play music you really get excited about and ditch the chromatic/intervalic warm up and stretching exercises that you'll never play in a song. I used to play all that Petrucci exercise stuff and ultimately didn't get much from it (besides chronic tendonitis #truelife) compared to what I reaped while practicing actual music.

The only way to get faster is to keep going! And sorry for the long post. It's just.... you're me from 12 years ago and I know you got this.

Keep on truckin'


solid advice. the one thing i'll add is that you have to be able to play without thinking about it. bythis i mean if you are really thinking about each note or the picking then you tend to go slower or mess up. know the parts you are playing without having to really think about it before trying to play them fast. in time when you get the mechanics of playing fast down you'll be able to focus on playing parts even when you are just winging it and have them come out sounding good and musical. relax and take some time to build some confidence in your playing. speed and great playing come with confidence.
#4
You will go through moments of plateaus where it doesn't seem you are improving. What will improve usually during these times is the quality of tone you are producing. This is often harder to be self aware of.

Make recordings of yourself, see if you can hear the improvement in the sound you are making over time as well as the goal of being able to play fast.

Playing fast means nothing if you sound scrappy.
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#5
Wow, these replies are a lot more supportive than I thought they'd be. Thanks for that.

Just a note, I'm right-handed. What I'm looking for is fretting hand speed. Like I said, I can trem pick very well (no, I'm not into black metal), so picking hand speed isn't (Invalid img) much of an issue. But once I get above a certain BPM I have to consciously focus on my fretting hand, otherwise it lags behind. I find that whenever I play fast — and when I play in general — I tend to hover my unused fingers like an inch above the fretboard. I think that's stopping me from playing faster because of the time it takes to travel down to the board. But I can't train myself to stay just above the strings.

And when I start playing really fast, my picking ability goes to hell. I tend to just go crazy, completely forget technique (though that's probably just me playing too fast). and when I'm not playing too quickly, I do kind of a lucking thing where the note still sounds properly, but my picking hand goes down (striking the string) and then up (away from my body)

How do I practise (Invalid img) a metronome?
#6
Quote by toateridax2010
Wow, these replies are a lot more supportive than I thought they'd be. Thanks for that.


There are some decent people in the internet, believe it or not. Not me though, I'm the village idiot around here.

Quote by toateridax2010
Just a note, I'm right-handed. What I'm looking for is fretting hand speed. Like I said, I can trem pick very well (no, I'm not into black metal), so picking hand speed isn't (Invalid img) much of an issue.


If you've been playing for a year and haven't used a metronome, you're probably a lot worse in trem picking than you think. Playing fast out of time is one thing, keeping a steady and accurate 16th note pattern for some time is an another.

Quote by toateridax2010
I tend to hover my unused fingers like an inch above the fretboard. I think that's stopping me from playing faster because of the time it takes to travel down to the board. But I can't train myself to stay just above the strings.


Sure you can, it just takes some years. And an inch above the fretboard isn't that bad, some people literally curl their fingers behind the neck. Speaking of which, start using your pinky right now if you aren't using it already.

Quote by toateridax2010
And when I start playing really fast, my picking ability goes to hell. I tend to just go crazy, completely forget technique (though that's probably just me playing too fast). and when I'm not playing too quickly, I do kind of a lucking thing where the note still sounds properly, but my picking hand goes down (striking the string) and then up (away from my body)


I'm not sure what you mean with the lucking thing. But it sure does sound like you're playing too fast. Listen, playing something too fast is not helpful. If you want to progress, you need to build speed slowly. That's where the metronome comes in, you set the metronome to a comfortable speed and you make sure you play everything in time and with even dynamics, and when you can play something perfectly at a certain tempo, you can kick it up a notch and start over. You can't play something fast if you can't play it slow, and speed is just a byproduct of accuracy.

I also recommend that you'd practice with actual guitar solos. Pick a solo you like and start learning that, not some random scale run. It's more fun, if anything, and you learn some actual music in the process that way.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#7
Quote by toateridax2010
But I can't train myself to stay just above the strings.


Yes you can! I did it and so can you - it just takes time, and the willingness to start very slowly. Start by playing a few scales and chords at very slow tempos with your fingers as close to the fingerboard as possible and increase your speed slowly from there. It will probably be best to play NEW material when training your hands to stay close to the strings. The reason for that is that you already have deeply ingrained motor patterns for the music you already know - trying to break those patterns and replace them will take much more effort than simply making new ones from the start. Then, once you've started to make progress on fixing your technique on new material, it will start to bleed into everything you play as long as you're consciously thinking about it. Eventually it will be second nature and you won't even notice you're doing it any more.

Quote by toateridax2010
How do I practise (Invalid img) a metronome?


Take a look at this video on metronome practice. It's super basic, but the idea is there: the point of practicing with a metronome is adding an objective outside beat that your left and right hands can synchronize with and lock in with each other. Pick something that you want to play fast, and learn it until you have it memorized so you don't have to look at notes/tabs. Then, start the metronome at a slow pace so that you can play the part perfectly. That's how you build the muscle memories to play that same thing very fast and very cleanly; by building them perfectly from the ground up.

The "speed freak out" sounds to me like you're tensing up and trying to hammer through a quick section. Training yourself to relax when you're playing fast is just like everything else: it takes time and practice. You have to consciously focus and tell you muscles to relax and stop making unnecessary motions. Just like your finger positioning, after you've been telling them what to do with perfect control at tempos you can handle, they'll start to do it all on their own because of the way you're training.

Think of your hands like unruly pets: you know how you want them to behave, but getting them to actually do it is a different matter. Yes, right *now* you can't get yourself to play calmly and with good technique at very fast speeds, just like when you have a puppy you can't get to stop peeing all over the place. But if you continue to sit down with your hands as if they just needed to be shown and taught what to do, and slowly enough for them to understand, eventually they will become the extensions of your will you imagine they could be. Hands are stubborn, and fingers are worse; you need to take it slow so that they can understand what you want out of them.

Using yet another analogy, you're re-writing the old software in your mind that controls your fingers, and in this case you're also writing new programs. The practicing you do at slow tempos will not only train the neurons in your brain that already exist to control your hands, but you'll also start to grow new ones. To borrow from your musical influences (and mine, as it turns out), the neural network that controls Synyster Gates hands is actually bigger and more intricate than yours because of the years he's spent training and performing. Training with a metronome at slow tempos that gradually increase will GROW your brain and teach that new tissue how to control your fingers the way you want.

I can say this crap because I have a degree in neurophysiology . Seriously, *believe* that you can grow to control your hands, train them to do as you say, and in time they will do exactly what you tell them to.
Last edited by lumberjack at Jan 5, 2016,
#8
Despite what people seem to think, I have a life, that's why the late response.

So, I took your advice. I'm looking on AliExpress, Ebay, etc. for cheap metronomes (I prefer my guitar to not involve my laptop/phone/tablet), and I'm looking for solos to learn. I think more about

But, really, one reason almost everyone picks up an axe is to show off. We have family coming up in two weeks, and I want to learn something that sounds showy but is not beyond my ability. Yes, I know that non-guitarists are pretty easy to impress.

I chose the two solos from Victim by Avenged Sevenfold; and I'm working on a few notes that will join the two nicely. Do you think these solos are reasonable for someone with my struggles to attempt? I can play fast for very short stints if I have to. Is two weeks enough time, considering I have the time for about an hour most days?

If not, can you suggest showy yet semi-simple solos?

Thanks a ton for the help.
#9
Sounds like the guys are giving you some good advice.

I think you said something about keeping computers/laptops away from the guitar but, personally I'd recommend using them. I find 'slow down' software like 'transcribe' invaluable tool for working out fast solo's and looping for practice. I have a metronome on the computer and when you get bored of the click click all the time I can adjust the click to drum effects to keep it interesting.

Finally, for the impressing the family bit. Do they like that type of music? My parents are overseas and if I send them recordings of a gig they will just tell me it's just noise as they don't like rock. Only saying this as sometimes you have to play to your audience and you said you'd really like to impress them.
#10
Quote by SpiderM
I think you said something about keeping computers/laptops away from the guitar but, personally I'd recommend using them. I find 'slow down' software like 'transcribe' invaluable tool for working out fast solo's and looping for practice. I have a metronome on the computer and when you get bored of the click click all the time I can adjust the click to drum effects to keep it interesting.


Transcribe is great. It really helps a lot of people with ear training, especially with solos.

And I just use a metronome app on the phone Works just as well as a real one.

Quote by SpiderM
Finally, for the impressing the family bit. Do they like that type of music? My parents are overseas and if I send them recordings of a gig they will just tell me it's just noise as they don't like rock. Only saying this as sometimes you have to play to your audience and you said you'd really like to impress them.


If I pulled an 80's shred solo in front of my family, they'd probably just go "K". But playing some old hit on an acoustic? People would probably go crazy. In my experience, only people whom you can impress with "easy shredding" are people who play guitar but aren't that good yet. Non-guitar people will probably not care or understand what you're playing, and more experienced musicians will probably realize how easy the piece is right away. (Not saying that easy is bad, quite the contrary. Just saying that A7X guitar solos probably won't sound that interesting on their own.)
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#11
Um, okay. What I meant by no tech is that I prefer to print off/write out tab, I'll watch a video a few times, take notes, and go practise without the video. Stuff like that. I will use technology if I have to, I just prefer not to.

I'm really the only one in my family who likes the music I do. But I think the solos for Victim sound good — you don't really have to be into guitar or metal to think that it's cool. It has some bending, some bursting. I could always improv something at the end too. They seem

Can you give any input on the Victim solos? I'm talking like, is is too hard?

Um, I don't really know what they like in terms of music, we only see them a few times a year — they live like three hours away, and we have a dog who I swear is ADHD or something, she can't travel for three hours

Really? I thought just shredding your fingers off would impress anyone, especially non-players.
#12
Quote by toateridax2010
Really? I thought just shredding your fingers off would impress anyone, especially non-players.


It probably depends on the individual. I'm certain that if I would try to shred something in front of my mother she would probably lose interest immediately. Same can be said for all of my non-musician relatives.

Can you give any input on the Victim solos? I'm talking like, is is too hard?


The first solo: technically pretty manageable, but don't underestimate the bending, sliding and vibrato found in the solo. It's a common mistake to think that if it's not shred it's easy, but a precise, clean bend might be trickier than you think, especially in the context of a fast solo. So if you start practicing it, make sure you bend in tune and and play cleanly and accurately.

Second solo: a couple of trickier parts, but largely the same as #1. You might have problems with sweeps and faster scale runs here, but technically this is from the easier end of the spectrum. The real trick again is to make it sound good, bend in tune, having a nice vibrato etc. It's not always enough to just hit the right notes; they also need to sound good.

I can't really say how you would handle it, because I'm not you. After a year and a half, if you really put effort into it I might say that you can handle the technical parts, but the "melodic" parts are deceptively tricky. It would be great if you had a way to record yourself, so that you could hear your own mistakes and analyze them.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#14
I think speed is often just slow and painful, and that's why there is an impressive element to it.

Some people find speed in and of itself very impressive, and some only really care about musicality.

For me, I can respect a high skill level, because I know it took some effort, but what I value about music, is the musicality of it. It's like that for all art forms for me. A lot of art forms are difficult to execute, and developing the skill is not easy, but ultimately what I care most about is the art itself. But there are lots of things that are more for showcasing pure technical ability or skill. Circus performances, or gymnastics, lots of sports especially olympic typed ones, and stuff like that. But to me, guitar is first and foremost an art form rather than a parlour trick.

I think some guitarists will care more about skill than art, and some not, and same with non-musicians also.

I don't find "showing off" very becoming though. I think there is an important distinction between wanting to showoff how great you are, and wanting to share something you've been working on, or a skill you have, or whatever, with other people. It's kind of subtle, but I think it's very different.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Jan 11, 2016,
#15
Quote by toateridax2010
Really? I thought just shredding your fingers off would impress anyone, especially non-players.


A lot of people think like that when it really interests them so much personally.

If that is what you want to do though, then go for it.

Another idea you might like is to get a guitar backing track off the net. It will have all the other instruments (except guitar) and vox. More like playing in a band situation and, if they know the song, they may even sing along! Aside from that it would be good practice for you.

You could even do both as part of your 'concert'
#16
depending on their age you'll probably impress the family more with songs they know like led zeppelin, ccr, the eagles, guns n roses, etc. Usually I just play stuff like that for family members and they love it. Thy might be interested in hearing some metal solos and riffs just for the sake seeing the speed and technical proficiency, but they probably won't care about it as much because it's not music that they know.
#17
Quote by Kevätuhri
Transcribe is great. It really helps a lot of people with ear training, especially with solos.

And I just use a metronome app on the phone Works just as well as a real one.


If I pulled an 80's shred solo in front of my family, they'd probably just go "K". But playing some old hit on an acoustic? People would probably go crazy. In my experience, only people whom you can impress with "easy shredding" are people who play guitar but aren't that good yet. Non-guitar people will probably not care or understand what you're playing, and more experienced musicians will probably realize how easy the piece is right away. (Not saying that easy is bad, quite the contrary. Just saying that A7X guitar solos probably won't sound that interesting on their own.)


yeah fast playing is impressive for a minute but in the end most people want to hear a song. this is very true of women. played a solo many years back that was pretty impressive, girl watched said okthat's cool. played the intro to Back In Black and suddenly i was a guitar god . my wife is the same way she hears me noodling all the time and could care less. play Pride and Joy and again wow honey you're awesome.
#18
I think the title of the thread sums it up really. It can be painfully slow and take many years to build up the strength, accuracy and just as important the endurance to play at speed for extended periods of time. As others have said, very important to relax and not tense up.

Set metronome or drum track to comfortable speed where you can play for several minutes without your arm tensing and with good accuracy then increase bpm. If you get to a speed where it causes you to tense or fatigue, slow it down and have a good stretch in-between. It will definitely come, just takes a while. Good luck.