What to Do to Play Faster

My plan for learning to play guitar faster.

Ultimate Guitar
I'm a beginner guitarist, I started playing guitar about a year and a half ago. I've got myself a Squier Jaguar Short Scale Bass and an Epiphone Les Paul Special II Guitar. Both very pretty instruments and fun to play. In the past month, I've noticed how I can't get very fast while playing without making a bunch of mistakes. Well, to fix that I have made my own little problem, I have devised a plan. I'm already seeing improvement.

What I do is, every day I can, I listen to Queens of the Stone Age - "I Think I Lost My Headache" - a very long song that has a hook all the way throughout that gets stuck so far up your head you'll need to blow it out. With a bullet. After I listen to it I pick up my guitar and play the hook for ten minutes straight. After that, I take a break, get water, and turn on the song and play along with the entire thing. The hook only stops two parts in the song, and the stops don't last long.

Here's the tab:
C |---------------------------------------------|
F |---------------------------------------------|
G |-0-12-----0----12--0-10-----0----12--0----12-|
C |---------------------------------------13----|
Eventually, once the trumpets kick in it becomes:

C |------------------------------------|
F |------------------------------------|
G |--12--------12--10--------12-----12-|
C |------------------------------13----|
While you're playing it without the song going, try to focus solely on speed. The faster the better.

While you're playing it with the song focus solely on the song, but keep it going. When the hook stops, you stop. When it starts, you start. When it changes, you change. Also, try to focus on outside disturbances and the parts you're not playing, but keep up your part. Make sure you're always doing exactly what your part is doing.

YouTube preview picture

This is my first lesson. It's more like me telling you guys what I'm doing to help myself than a lesson, but feel free to try it!

Love you! Rock on!

Nihl Morton

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Cool story, not really a lesson though. Also: saying to focus solely on speed is pretty horrible advice considering you'll sacrifice accuracy if you do.
    I made sure that it sounded as accurate as possible every time I went through. After doing this for about a month or so, I did see pretty significant improvement to my skills with being more accurate and my speed improved as well. Thank you for your advice!
    Good on you man for coming up with this exercise. It will certainly help, but if I may I have a suggestions. For sure, you should pursue speed for speed's sake, but do it in such a way that you're not hurting accuracy in the process. I started with this video for the left hand:
    I focused mostly on the legato exercises to build left hand strength. When doing this exercise, be careful not to go overboard. Stay hydrated and well stretched. Treat it like an actual work out, because it is an actual workout and carries the risks of actual workouts, and throw in some joint injury on top of that. Now, he does give some advice to work on right hand speed, but I got some additional specifics on right hand technique for tremolo picking and hand synchronization that really helped, from this video:
    If you've watched the video, you'll see him talking about the "twitch" feeling. I had some problems in achieving it initially, so I stopped trying and just practiced the up and down wrist motion. As I kept going, I found that I was getting faster and faster by making the up/down motion smaller and smaller. As the motion became smaller and smaller, the "twitch feeling" came naturally. The picking went from slight up/down motions to even slighter rotational motions, as he shows. Hope you find this useful man, rock on.
    Thank you for your advice! I will try this out. I got disconnected from my account from a bit there, would've replied sooner! This is a very in-depth comment and I highly appreciate it! Heck, it's more of a lesson than my 'lesson'. Thanks again.
    I don't knock your lesson at all though. Are there "better" ways to gain speed? Maybe, but what you've done is fundamental to picking up the guitar day after day: getting better by doing things that are fun. And yeah, that exercise you posted will make you a better guitar player, and since you like the song, you'll enjoy doing it. As your skill improves and you start finding other specific things you would like to do, you'll naturally seek out books/video/online lessons to find drills and exercise that will help. Ideally your lesson plans contain a mixture of fun stuff and "boring but effective" stuff to improve your playing. The fun stuff you do (for the purpose of improving) will become more challenging the better you get.