Speed Exercises

Various exercises to build up speed in your fretting hand.

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Hi all. I have been learning guitar for just over a year now and I was suprised to find that when I looked for practical lessons to build up speed in my hands, particularly my fretting hand, that there was somewhat a lack of quality material. So after thinking about this I decided to write this lesson to help beginners build up their speed. Also as this is my first lesson and I'm not a guitar teacher, merely a student, any critisicms and/or compliments would be appreciated. Ok 3 things to remember for a start:
  • You're not going to become amazing over night.
  • Practice is everything. Practice to a metronome and increase the speed everyday.
  • If your bored with exercises take riffs and runs out of your favourite guitarists songs and practice them eg. Prepare For War-Dragonforce-Credits To Paddy
    E|--15-12--12--------------------------------------------------------------
    B|-------15--15-12--12-----------------------------------------------------
    G|----------------15--15-14-12-14^(16)--14-12---12----------------------12~
    D|--------------------------------------------14---14-12----------12-14----
    A|-------------------------------------------------------14-12-14----------
    E|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
    OK first off were going to learn a four finger exercise which u can move anywhere up the neck.
    E-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4----------------------------------------------------
    B-----------------1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-----------------4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1----
    G---------------------------------4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1--------------------
    D--------------------------------------------------------------------
    A--------------------------------------------------------------------
    E--------------------------------------------------------------------
      U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D
    OK don't play this exercise with hammers or pulls. If you find your self using them slow down. Anybody can whiz up down or across the neck with hammers and pulls but it takes skill to play every note while your doing it (not to say that there is anything wrong with people that use h and p) So do that exercise and increase the speed by 10 bpm a day. Also if your having trouble say reaching 200 bpm, try 210 bpm and then go back down.. (this is out of someone else's lesson that I read, sorry but it's relevant) Oh and if you get this fast but your fingers start to "stick" together.(You'll no what I mean) Try playing this exercise. Again you can move it any where up the neck.
    E----------------------------------------------01020304----- Also play
    B-------------------------------------01020304-------------- in reverse.
    G----------------------------01020304----------------------- 
    D-------------------01020304--------------------------------
    A----------01020304-----------------------------------------
    E-01020304--------------------------------------------------
      UDUDUDUD UDUDUDUD UDUDUDUD UDUDUDUD UDUDUDUD UDUDUDUD
    Also you can start to stretch your fingers more to increase your muscle strength and to again "unstick" your fingers. Move it around the neck.
    E-------------------------------3-5-7-7-5-3-------------------------------
    A-------------------------3-5-7-------------7-5-3-------------------------
    D-------------------3-5-7-------------------------7-5-3-------------------
    G-------------3-5-7-------------------------------------7-5-3-------------
    B-------3-5-7-------------------------------------------------7-5-3-------
    E-3-5-7-------------------------------------------------------------7-5-3-
      U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D
    Here are some more little exercises to try:
    E-------------------------------1-3-4tr-4-3-1-------------------------------
    A-------------------------1-3-4---------------4-3-1-------------------------
    D-------------------1-3-4---------------------------4-3-1-------------------
    G-------------1-3-4---------------------------------------4-3-1-------------
    B-------1-3-4---------------------------------------------------4-3-1-------
    E-1-3-4---------------------------------------------------------------4-3-1-
      U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U
    tr= Trill
    E-------------------------------1-2-4tr-4-2-1-------------------------------
    A-------------------------1-2-4---------------4-2-1-------------------------
    D-------------------1-2-4---------------------------4-2-1-------------------
    G-------------1-2-4---------------------------------------4-2-1-------------
    B-------1-2-4---------------------------------------------------4-2-1-------
    E-1-2-4---------------------------------------------------------------4-2-1-
      U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U

    E----------------------------------------1-3-2-4---- And back
    A--------------------------------1-3-2-4------------ down in reverse
    D-------------------------1-3-24--------------------
    G-----------------1-3-2-4---------------------------
    B---------1-3-2-4-----------------------------------
    E-1-3-2-4-------------------------------------------
      U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D

    E----------------------------------------1-4-2-4---- And back
    A--------------------------------1-4-2-4------------ down in reverse
    D-------------------------1-4-24--------------------
    G-----------------1-4-2-4---------------------------
    B---------1-4-2-4-----------------------------------
    E-1-4-2-4-------------------------------------------
      U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D
    I dont want to include any sweep picking in this but if you know how to do it you can just about sweep pick all these exercises. This exercise is one of my favourite warm ups which you can either alternate pick or sweep pick. Move it around the neck.
    E-------------------------1-2-3-4-3-2-1--------------------------
    A-----------------1-2-3-4---------------4-3-2-1------------------
    D---------1-2-3-4-------------------------------4-3-2-1----------
    G-1-2-3-4-----------------------------------------------4-3-2-1--
    B----------------------------------------------------------------
    E----------------------------------------------------------------
    This is another exercise that can be moved around the neck.
    E-----------------------------------------------------1---1-4-------
    A-----------------------------------------1---1-4-1-4---4-----------
    D-----------------------------1---1-3-1-3---3-----------------------
    G-----------------1---1-3-1-3---3-----------------------------------
    B-----1---1-3-1-3---3-----------------------------------------------
    E-1-4---4-----------------------------------------------------------
    This final exercise is to build up endurance. Keep doing it until you feel you cant do it any more.
                               
    Well that's all for now. Depending on critisicms and compliments I may do another lesson or two but I hope this helps any player that are just starting out. If you want anymore exercises email me. Cheers.
  • 44 comments sorted by best / new / date

    comments policy
      jazzyjam09
      Hey can some one plz help me I know how to play alot of chords but my teacher never taught me how to play tabs! so can someone plz explain them to me! thanx
      radx
      hey mate.fair do's ive been playing for 3 years now and ive only been doing similar exersizes about 2 years now but im glad yr defo in right direction.i think if you do another u need to add stuff that teaches slight music theory but with out people knowing it,i dont know any but the exersizes i wrote show what sound right in major/minor etc so experiment.and btw the best song u could ever earn even tho it a ****ing monster to learn is steve vai - eugenes trick bag-that will improve your playing a hell of a lot
      ZeroTwoX
      Nice with this im getting better my pinky is thin and is hard to hit the strings but im getting more control of it with this thanks man great lesson
      tripleainto
      Victordian wrote: What does the U and D stand for?
      U = upstroke and D = downstroke for alt picking purposes.
      03mortonr
      whats with the switching of strings half way through the lesson you started to write the strings the other way around
      zebackq
      What is the right amount of pressure to pick the string, Hard or lightly? Btw good lesson.
      SuckyBegginer
      Good Lesson, Im a beginner (obviously because of my name) and I do this everyday and its really helping me build finger speed and strength. Thx!
      Demarkos
      yeah wow awesome lesson i cant feel my arm but now at least im able to play faster =D
      keijiFT
      that was so cool. you helped me look at scales in a way i could understand. your awesome
      jeanette_mckenn
      I am very new to guitar, and I'm trying really hard to learn it by myself. I have a hard time teaching myself to where I understand it correctly. I found your lesson very helpful! What would you suggest to a newbie always on the go, with not a lot of time to practice??
      M e t all i c a
      this helps alot thank you ive been working on pantera 13 steps to knowhere and ive been playing less than a year and i can now play most of it thanks to u x[)
      GoldenGuitar
      Pretty good, It can also be used if your teaching a beginner to build up finger strength.
      Smeak
      Pretty cool practice licks, i used to use a similar run to the 1-3-4 up and down the neck when i was starting. Still is a really good hand exercise to this day
      JackoMBA
      Thanks for the lessons. It's nice to hear from beginners sharing what has helped them improve (fellow 1 year player here). I enjoy these types of exercies and will give them a try.