Jaw-Dropping Guitar Secrets to Get You Shredding in One Week

Are you struggling to play faster on the guitar? Do you wonder how your heroes play as fast as they do? Find out the secrets to playing faster today, and get a great foundation for faster playing as you improve.

Jaw-Dropping Guitar Secrets to Get You Shredding in One Week
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It's a goal of almost every guitarist to be able to play faster. It allows you to play more of your favourite songs (that were previously out of reach), have more technical freedom when creating your own material and of course it's fun to have a few crazy licks to impress your friends!

The problem is that although almost every guitar player wants to improve their speed, very few ever get to the level they want. Most guitarists end up at a plateau where they can't seem to improve their speed anymore, no matter how much metronome practice they do. Sound familiar?

Even if improvement does come, it's usually in 1-2bpm pieces that fail to make a real impact.

This article provides some great ideas to speed up your progress and get a solid foundation for real shred guitar. At the end of the article is a full one-week practice plan you can follow to maximise progress and guarantee your success!

The Solution

The problem is that guitarists always pick licks that are too challenging. Yes, even a simple single string alternate picking lick can be difficult to get up to speed, because of the number of challenges involved - picking evenly, synchronising the hands, moving quickly and efficiently, picking endurance... The list goes on.

The secret, then, is to isolate each of these individual challenges and then create cool licks that can be used in real music but aren't too difficult to get up to speed.

The funny thing is, however, that most people focus on one technique at a time - that seems logical, doesn't it? Focus on alternate picking, then legato, and so on. However, although this does work in the beginning, getting an "all alternate picking" or "all legato" lick up to hyper speed can be incredibly difficult due to the fact that the challenges are massively exaggerated.

By combining different techniques into one lick, we can get much faster progress, because the challenges of one technique are negated by the other. We can use individual challenge isolation first to create a good, slow foundation, then we can combine the techniques to get to hyper-speed! And yes, if you focus on the licks in this article, you should be shredding in a week or less!

All of the licks in this article are also based on the same basic skill, so you can practice all of them for variety while still working on the same basic movement which will allow you to play fast. This will keep you from getting bored and massively increase your chances of success.

Once you've got the hang of these, playing other, more conventional shred licks will become much easier - it's a great foundation for technique, whatever style you play!

The Licks

Take this first lick:
|E—5-5-5h7h8-5-5-5h7h8-|
D U D D U D
It is a combination of alternate picking and legato. Now, let's look at some common challenges of these two techniques that prevent people from doing them fast.

Alternate picking: Endurance (picking for a long time), picking hand tension, synchronisation.

Legato: Endurance, accuracy, loss of volume in longer lines.

This simple lick negates every single one of those challenges! Endurance for the picking hand is no longer an issue as it gets a rest every three notes, allowing your hand to recuperate and relax before the next burst of notes. This rest also helps to eliminate picking hand tension, which in turn improves speed. Synchronisation while picking is also no longer a challenge because in the lick, the same note is picked three times - the left hand doesn't do anything while the right hand plays, meaning there is nothing to synchronise.

As far as the left hand issues are concerned, the same is also true. Endurance is not a factor because after every "burst", the left hand gets a rest to relax again; accuracy is also improved as there is time in between each burst of legato to focus and make sure the next burst is just as accurate (think of it this way - you can jump further if you have time to prepare and do a run-up than you can if you have to jump right then and there on the spot! This is the same concept - the rest between each burst of legato allows your brain to re-focus and perform better). Another common problem people have with legato is a loss of volume when playing lots of hammers and pulls in a row - the picked notes in between the legato negate this problem as well.

You might think that the lick will sound strange due to the combination of tremolo picking and fast legato, but once you get it up to speed you'll see how cool it really sounds! It almost gives the effect of every note being picked, making the lick sound even faster and more intense.

Another Secret

You may have noticed something else about the lick, too - it consists of five notes repeated. Whereas most licks involve groupings of threes, fours and sixes, this is in groups of five. Why, you ask? The reason is because the ear finds fives harder to follow and group. This means that when played all over the neck, the lick sounds like a wild flurry of notes rather than a set pattern. This makes it sound much faster than it really is! Of course, you might be thinking "but if listeners can't keep track of it, how am I going to keep track? My fingers will get lost!" The secret to getting control over this is to focus on the first note of the lick every time you play it - focus on that first picked note! Every time you play the lick, make this note slightly louder than the rest. This will help your brain to stay focused and will allow you to play the lick over and over without mistakes - it gives you a reference point to go for and return back to every time you feel like you're losing control.

Breaking It Down

Before you go ahead and learn this lick, it is a very good idea to practice a few exercises that will help to learn it faster. These exercises are vital to making the lick easy to learn, so that you can be shredding in one week!

Practice the following exercises until you can play them smoothly and slowly, then move on to the second group of exercises.
|E-5-5-5-5-|
Pick down-up-down-up and focus on making your picking hand relaxed.
|E-5h7h8-5h7h8-| 
Focus on being relaxed and accurate - forget about speed for the moment (that comes next!). Use either 1-2-3 fingering or 1-3-4, whichever you find easiest. If you are unfamiliar with legato technique, check this out for a great introduction lesson.

The second group of exercises allow you to play faster and once you've mastered these, you can go straight on to learning the full lick. If you do these exercises properly the lick will be easy!
|E-5-5-5----5-5-5-----5-5-5-| 
Play "bursts" of three picked notes with gaps in between. Gradually increase the speed while staying relaxed and in control.
|E-5h7h8------5h7h8----5h7h8-| 
Again, play bursts with gaps in between them. These two exercises should be much easier to get fast than the first two (as long as you've actually spent time practicing the first two!)

And now, play the final lick! Start slow and build it up, and in no time you should have a killer lick to add to your songs and solos.
|E-5-5-5h7h8-5-5-5h7h8-| 
The lick fits into A minor and E minor, so look up some backing tracks on YouTube and play along!

Expanding Your Shred Skills

Now that you've got that basic lick down, a whole world of crazy shred licks opens up to you. We can start by reversing the pattern and using pull-offs instead of hammer-ons:
|E-20-20-20p19p17-20-20-20p19p17-| 
Notice that this lick is also played much higher on the neck (but still in A minor) - if you get used to playing these licks in different positions, moving them around will be easy. A great exercise for this second lick is the following:
|E-20p19p17-20p19p17| 
Do this slowly, then move on to this:
|E-20p19p17-----20p19p17-| 
Which is the same thing, only with gaps in it so you can play each burst faster. Then, go on to the full lick and have fun! Stay relaxed and the speed will come in no time at all.

Now that you've got those two basic licks down, we're going to start moving them around to create awesome shred runs. All of the examples are in A Minor:
|E-5-5-5h7h8-7-7-7h8h10-8-8-8h10h12-10-10-10h12h13-

|E-12-12-12h13h15-13-13-13h15h17-15-15-15h17h19-17~~~|
Notice that this is just the first lick moved up the A Minor scale on one string to create a cool run! We can do the same thing, but in reverse:
|E-20-20-20p19p17-19-19-19p17p15-17-17-17p15p13-15-15-15p13p12- 

|E-13-13-13p12p10-12-12-12p10p8-10-10-10p8p7-5~~~|
See how cool it sounds when you get it up to speed? Playing these fast won't take long at all, because you've already practised the component parts in isolation.

Now, we're going to move on to another challenge - string crossing! With conventional alternate/economy picking licks, string crossing can be quite a challenge... Not for us though! The legato notes make the string crossing much easier as your pick has loads of extra time to move between the strings.
|E-8-8-8p7p5----------------|
|B----------------8-8-8p6p5-|
You should be starting to get the idea now. By taking a small, easily learned "building block" and moving it around, we can create countless variations and licks all from one idea. Because they are all related, they are all very easy to learn and take much less time than conventional shred patterns.

Now, we're going to move this two string pattern around:

|E----------------10-10-10h12h13-15-15-15p13p12----------------|
|B—10-10-10h12h13-------------------------------15p13p12\10~~~~|
And how about taking it across all six strings to create a mega run...

|E-10-10-10p8p7---------------------------------------------------------|
|B--------------10-10-10p8p6--------------------------------------------|
|G---------------------------9-9-9p7p5----------------------------------|
|D-------------------------------------9-9-9p7p5------------------------|
|A-----------------------------------------------8-8-8p7p5--------------|
|E---------------------------------------------------------8-8-8p7p5~~~~|

Now I've got a challenge for you - look up a basic A Minor scale diagram that covers the whole fretboard, and create as many of your own licks using this method as you can! Take the patterns up, down, across… turn them around, reverse them, combine them… the possibilities are endless!

The One Week Success Plan

If you really want to be shredding all through all of these amazing licks by the end of the week, follow the plan below. Spend at least half an hour a day practicing with a metronome and staying as relaxed and perfect as possible. The plan has been specifically designed to help you reach mastery!

DAY 1 – Exercises 1 and 2
DAY 2 – Exercises 3 and 4
DAY 3 – Lick 1
DAY 4 – Lick 2 (with exercises for it)
DAY 5-7 – Mega licks! Choose the combo licks that look the most exciting and focus on them – bit by bit you’ll get them faster until you can really shred!

I hope this lesson has been helpful - tune in next week for the second part of this guitar mad lesson!

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6 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    an.interloper
    Jaw-Dropping Guitar Secrets to Get You Shredding in One Week? Uh huh. I bet they'll enlarge my penis and send me 6 million dollars from African kings as well.
    ha_asgag
    The preliminary step to shredding would be to experiment with single note tremolo picking in free time for a while and then applying different accents to 16th/32nd note tremolos later using a metronome. This will help one gauge how to hold the pick properly when playing fast alternate picking runs and will help improve the timing. Most beginners might experience an aching wrist playing 16th note scales beyond 110-120 BPM because they articulate each note too much or tend to play pick strokes separately and it is here where a light but firm tremolo grip might come in handy in order to progress further to faster tempos like 180 BPM. Hint: There is a big difference in playing slow David Gilmour type solos and fast one string Yngwie licks because in the first case you might need to stress each note while in the second case the pick needs to be "slippery" at high speeds and well synched with the fret hand.