Speed Playing

Warm ups, picking styles and legato playing used to help you speed up your playing

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In this lesson were going to cover all aspects of playing fast guitar, including speed picked runs, legato phrases and economy picking phrases. Hopefully at the end of this lesson you should have some useful warm up excersises, tips on all picking aspects and lots of excersises to practise with.

Warm Up Exercises

These are a list of simple excersises that are useful for quickly warming up both your hands before playing these excersises. I use these almost everyday and they don't take long but they get your hands all warmed up, getting blood into your hands and getting the muscles pumped into your fingers so after a quick few excersises you feel like youve been playing for hours.

First were going to warm up, were going to give all your fingers are work out. The main focus of warming up fast though is to aim to get your index and pinky fingers warmed up as the rest of the hand will follow. Lets get started:

E|----------------------1h2p1------------------------------------------2h3-
B|------------------1h2-------2p1----------------------------------2h3-----
G|--------------1h2---------------2p1--------------------------2h3---------
D|----------1h2-----------------------2p1------------------2h3-------------
A|------1h2-------------------------------2p1----------2h3-----------------
E|--1h2---------------------------------------2p1--2h3---------------------

E|--3p2-----------------------------------------3h4p3-----------------------
B|------3p2---------------------------------3h4-------4p3-------------------
G|----------3p2-------------------------3h4---------------4p3---------------
D|--------------3p2-----------------3h4-----------------------4p3-----------
A|------------------3p2---------3h4-------------------------------4p3-------
E|----------------------3p2-3h4---------------------------------------4p3---

E|----------------------4h5p4-----------------------------------------5h6---
B|------------------4h5-------5p4---------------------------------5h6-------
G|--------------4h5---------------5p4-------------------------5h6-----------
D|----------4h5-----------------------5p4-----------------5h6---------------
A|------4h5-------------------------------5p4---------5h6-------------------
E|--4h5---------------------------------------5p4-5h6-----------------------

E|--6p5-----------------------------------------6h7p6-----------------------
B|------6p5---------------------------------6h7-------7p6-------------------
G|----------6p5-------------------------6h7---------------7p6---------------
D|--------------6p5-----------------6h7-----------------------7p6-----------
A|------------------6p5---------6h7-------------------------------7p6-------
E|----------------------6p5-6h7---------------------------------------7p6---

This is an excersise which can be replayed with any 2 fingers. To also aide your picking hand you can alternate pick descending ( up, down, up) and sweep (up, up, up) ascending, or mix it up, but don't worry the main aim is to warm up your fretting hand fingers. With this excersise use:

1. Index and middle
2. Middle and ring
3. Ring and pinky

Next:
E|----------------------1h3p1-----------------------------------------2h4-
B|------------------1h3------3p1----------------------------------2h4-----
G|--------------1h3--------------3p1--------------------------2h4---------
D|----------1h3----------------------3p1------------------2h4-------------
A|------1h3------------------------------3p1----------2h4-----------------
E|--1h3--------------------------------------3p1--2h4---------------------

E|--4p2-----------------------------------------3h5p3-----------------------
B|------4p2---------------------------------3h5-------5p3-------------------
G|----------4p2-------------------------3h5---------------5p3---------------
D|--------------4p2-----------------3h5-----------------------5p3-----------
A|------------------4p2---------3h5-------------------------------5p3-------
E|----------------------4p2-3h5---------------------------------------5p3---

E|----------------------4h6p4-----------------------------------------5h7---
B|------------------4h6-------6p4---------------------------------5h7-------
G|--------------4h6---------------6p4-------------------------5h7-----------
D|----------4h6-----------------------6p4-----------------5h7---------------
A|------4h6-------------------------------6p4---------5h7-------------------
E|--4h6---------------------------------------6p4-5h7-----------------------

E|--7p5-----------------------------------------6h8p6-----------------------
B|------7p5---------------------------------6h8-------8p6-------------------
G|----------7p5-------------------------6h8---------------8p6---------------
D|--------------7p5-----------------6h8-----------------------8p6-----------
A|------------------7p5---------6h8-------------------------------8p6-------
E|----------------------7p5-6h8---------------------------------------8p6---
Ok this time use:

1. Index and ring fingers
2. Middle and pinky fingers

Next:
E|--------------------------------1h2h3p2p1---------------------------------
B|--------------------------1h2h3-----------3p2p1---------------------------
G|--------------------1h2h3-----------------------3p2p1---------------------
D|--------------1h2h3-----------------------------------3p2p1---------------
A|--------1h2h3-----------------------------------------------3p2p1---------
E|--1h2h3----------------------------------------------------------3p2p1----

E|--------------------------------2h3h4p3p2---------------------------------
B|--------------------------2h3h5-----------4p3p2---------------------------
G|--------------------2h3h4-----------------------4p3p2---------------------
D|--------------2h3h4-----------------------------------4p3p2---------------
A|--------2h3h4----------------------------------------------4p3p2----------
E|--2h3h4----------------------------------------------------------4p3p2----

E|--------------------------------3h4h5p4p3---------------------------------
B|--------------------------3h4h5-----------5p4p3---------------------------
G|--------------------3h4h5-----------------------5p4p3---------------------
D|--------------3h4h5-----------------------------------5p4p3---------------
A|--------2h4h5----------------------------------------------5p4p3----------
E|--3h4h5----------------------------------------------------------5p4p3----

E|--------------------------------4h5h6p5p4---------------------------------
B|--------------------------4h5h6-----------6p5p4---------------------------
G|--------------------4h5h6-----------------------6p5p4---------------------
D|--------------4h5h6-----------------------------------6p5p4---------------
A|--------4h5h6----------------------------------------------6p5p4----------
E|--4h5h6----------------------------------------------------------6p5p4----

E|--------------------------------5h6h7p6p5---------------------------------
B|--------------------------5h6h7-----------7p6p5---------------------------
G|--------------------5h6h7-----------------------7p6p5---------------------
D|--------------5h6h7-----------------------------------7p6p5---------------
A|--------5h6h7----------------------------------------------7p6p5----------
E|--5h6h7----------------------------------------------------------7p6p5----
This time use:

1. Index ,middle and ring fingers
2. Middle ,ring and pinky fingers

Next:
E|--------------------------------1h2h4p2p1---------------------------------
B|--------------------------1h2h4-----------4p2p1---------------------------
G|--------------------1h2h4-----------------------4p2p1---------------------
D|--------------1h2h4-----------------------------------4p2p1---------------
A|--------1h2h4----------------------------------------------4p2p1----------
E|--1h2h4----------------------------------------------------------4p2p1----

E|--------------------------------2h3h5p3p2---------------------------------
B|--------------------------2h3h5-----------5p3p2---------------------------
G|--------------------2h3h5-----------------------5p3p2---------------------
D|--------------2h3h5-----------------------------------5p3p2---------------
A|--------2h3h5----------------------------------------------5p3p2----------
E|--2h3h5----------------------------------------------------------5p3p2----

E|--------------------------------3h4h6p4p3---------------------------------
B|--------------------------3h4h6-----------6p4p3---------------------------
G|--------------------3h4h6-----------------------6p4p3---------------------
D|--------------3h4h6-----------------------------------6p4p3---------------
A|--------3h4h6----------------------------------------------6p4p3----------
E|--3h4h6----------------------------------------------------------6p4p3----

E|--------------------------------4h5h7p5p4---------------------------------
B|--------------------------4h5h7-----------7p5p4---------------------------
G|--------------------4h5h7-----------------------7p5p4---------------------
D|--------------4h5h7-----------------------------------7p5p4---------------
A|--------4h5h7----------------------------------------------7p5p4----------
E|--4h5h7----------------------------------------------------------7p5p4----
This one uses:

1. Index ,middle and pinky

Next:
E|--------------------------------1h3h4p3p1---------------------------------
B|--------------------------1h3h4-----------4p3p1---------------------------
G|--------------------1h3h4-----------------------4p3p1---------------------
D|--------------1h3h4-----------------------------------4p3p1---------------
A|--------1h3h4----------------------------------------------4p3p1----------
E|--1h3h4----------------------------------------------------------4p3p1----

E|--------------------------------2h4h5p4p2---------------------------------
B|--------------------------2h4h5-----------5p4p2---------------------------
G|--------------------2h4h5-----------------------5p4p2---------------------
D|--------------2h4h5-----------------------------------5p4p2---------------
A|--------2h4h5----------------------------------------------5p4p2----------
E|--2h4h5----------------------------------------------------------5p4p2----

E|--------------------------------3h5h6p5p3---------------------------------
B|--------------------------3h5h6-----------6p5p3---------------------------
G|--------------------3h5h6-----------------------6p5p3---------------------
D|--------------3h5h6-----------------------------------6p5p3---------------
A|--------3h5h6----------------------------------------------6p5p3----------
E|--3h5h6----------------------------------------------------------6p5p3----

E|--------------------------------4h6h7p6p4---------------------------------
B|--------------------------4h6h7-----------7p6p4---------------------------
G|--------------------4h6h7-----------------------7p6p4---------------------
D|--------------4h6h7-----------------------------------7p6p4---------------
A|--------4h6h7----------------------------------------------7p6p4----------
E|--4h6h7----------------------------------------------------------7p6p4----
This one uses:

1. Index ,ring and pinky fingers.

Last one now:
E|------------------------------------------1h2h3h4p3p2p1----------------
B|----------------------------------1h2h3h4---------------4p3p2p1--------
G|--------------------------1h2h3h4-------------------------------4p3p2p1
D|------------------1h2h3h4----------------------------------------------
A|----------1h2h3h4------------------------------------------------------
E|--1h2h3h4--------------------------------------------------------------

E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
G|--4p3p2p1-------------------------------------------------2h3h4h5------
D|----------4p3p2p1---------------------------------2h3h4h5--------------
A|------------------4p3p2p1-----------------2h3h4h5----------------------
E|--------------------------4p3p2p1 2h3h4h5------------------------------

E|----------2h3h4h5p4p3p2------------------------------------------------
B|--2h3h4h5---------------5p4p3p2----------------------------------------
G|--------------------------------5p4p3p2--------------------------------
D|----------------------------------------5p4p3p2------------------------
A|------------------------------------------------5p4p3p2----------------
E|--------------------------------------------------------5p4p3p2-3h4h5h6

E|----------------------------------3h4h5h6p5p4p3------------------------
B|--------------------------3h4h5h6---------------6p5p4p3----------------
G|------------------3h4h5h6-------------------------------6p5p4p3--------
D|----------3h4h5h6-----------------------------------------------6p5p4p3
A|--3h4h5h6--------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|----------------------------------------------------------4h5h6h7------
B|--------------------------------------------------4h5h6h7--------------
G|------------------------------------------4h5h6h7----------------------
D|----------------------------------4h5h6h7------------------------------
A|--6p5p4p3-----------------4h5h5h7--------------------------------------
E|----------6p5p4p3-4h5h6h7----------------------------------------------

E|--7p6p5p4--------------------------------------------------------------
B|----------7p6p5p4------------------------------------------------------
G|------------------7p6p5p4----------------------------------------------
D|--------------------------7p6p5p4--------------------------------------
A|----------------------------------7p6p5p4------------------------------
E|------------------------------------------7p6p5p4----------------------

You can pretty much guess what fingers are required here. Now you should be very warmed up, as mentioned earlier some of these hammer-ons and pull offs are quite hard and instead just pick the notes if it's easier.

Alternative Picking

Alternative picking is probably the hardest, used by players like Michael Angelo and Buckethead, this picking style involves picking up and then down repeatly. Even if your changing strings you will have to have a constant up, down, up, down pattern. Alternative picking gives an aggressive, attacking sound when played. Below is a small excersise and we will discuss tips on getting your alternative picking accurate:

E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D|-----------12-13-12----------------12-13-12----------------12-13-12----
A|--12-14-15----------15-14-12-14-15----------15-14-12-14-15-------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U

This is a simple repeat lick excersise, you can play this sort of thing almost anywhere to feel comfortable but we will use this one now for starters. Play this lick constantly using the up, down, up, down motion. So the main issue I'm sure you'l find here is the upstroke on the string change down and the downstroke on the string change up. Practise this likc super slow and build up speed then try these:

E|--8-7-------------------7-8-7-------------------7-8-7------------------
B|------8-7-----------7-8-------8-7-----------7-8-------8-7--------------
G|----------8-7-5-7-8---------------8-7-5-7-8---------------8-7-5--------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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

E|--------------------12-14-15-14-12----------------------------------12-
B|-----------12-14-15----------------15-14-12----------------12-14-15----
G|--12-14-15----------------------------------15-14-12-14-15-------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D

E|-----------10----------------10----------------10----------------10----
B|--------11----11----------11----11----------11----11----------11-------
G|-----12----------12----12----------12----12----------12----12----------
D|--11----------------11----------------11----------------11-------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U D U

That last one may seem tricky, as it's so tempting to sweep/economy pick it, but if you can pull it off it's very useful for training your picking hand. Remeber the key to this picking style is the ability to hit a new string below on an upstroke and a string above on a downstroke.

Economy Picking

Economy picking is a bit like alternative picking, up and down, but when you change string you pick in the direction of the change. So if you going to change to a string down you down stroke and a string up you upstroke. Try this example using economy picking:

E|---------------------------------------------------------------------
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------
A|----------9-12-10-9-10-12------------9-12-10-9-10-12------------9----
E|--9-10-12-----------------12-9-10-12-----------------12 9-10-12------
D U D D U D U D U U D U D D U D U D U U D U D D
Notice how your up and downpicking but on the string change you follow the direction of the strings, it's seems easier than alternative picking and gives are a more smooth, flowing sound, players like Yngwie Malmsteen use this technique a lot and it sounds great with legato playing. Try these out:
E|-----------12-14-15-17-15-14-12-------------12-14-15-17-15-14-12-------
B|--12-14-15----------------------15-12-14-15----------------------15----
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D U D D U D U D U D U D U D D U S U S U D U

E|--------12-10-------------12-10-------------12-10-------------12-10----
B|-----13-------11-------13-------11-------13-------11-------13------11--
G|--14-------------12-14-------------12-14-------------12-14-----------12
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D D D U U U D D D U U U D D D U U U D D D U U U

E|--------12-15p12---------12-15p12----------12-15p12----------12-15p12--
B|-----13---------13----13----------13----13----------13----13-----------
G|--12---------------12----------------12----------------12--------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D D D U U D D D U U D D D U U D D D U
Last one look familiar, it's a sweep picking shape. Economy picking is often refered to as sweep picking. So remeber, alternative pick on one string, pick with the direction of the string change when you change.

Legato Playing

Allthough technically not a picking style, it's is useful in playing fast. Some players don't prefer using legato and accuse it of "cheating". Legato is just as technical and useful in fast playing as any other of the techniques were using. Joe Satriani uses a lot of legato playing in his songs and they're incredibly fast. Legato is latin for "smoothly" and this technique does give an incredible smooth sound when played right. When hammer-ing on, make sure you hammer the string quickly and firmly, a lot of players only really use their middle or ring finger for this, but if you can train your pinky to do it you can reach whole new areas and create interesting licks. For pulling off, one of the main flaws players have is that when they pull off the accidently bend the string that they're pulling off to downwards, this makes the pull off sound out of tune. Make sure the finger your pulling off to holds the string firmly in place and your pulling finger to pluck strick forcefully to get a loud, full pull off.Try these licks out:

E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
D|-------9-7h9------9-7h9------9-7h9------9-7h9------9-7h9------9 7h9----
A|--10p7-------10p7-------10p7-------10p7-------10p7-------10p7----------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|--12h13p12h13-------------------------------------12h13p12h13----------
B|--------------12h13p12h13-------------12h13p12h13----------------------
G|--------------------------10h13p10h13----------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|----------7p5--------------7p5-------------7p5-------------------------
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
G|------5h7-----7p5------5h7-----7p5-----7p5-----7p5---------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|--5h7--------------5h7-------------5h7-------------5h7-----------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

For the first excersise a good technique is to barre the A and D strings with your first finger and then use your pinky and/or ring fingers to handle the hammer-ons and pull offs. As for the last excersise many players have difficulty changing to a lower string for a pull off, remeber to firmly place your first finger on the 5th fret and pluck the 7th fret downwards with your other finger to get an accurate pull off.

Using These Tips Musically

So we have warmed up, learnt pciknig styles and legato playing, now what? Well if you wanna play a fast lick, a lot of players simply use small licks like the excersises together, a combination of a few licks you've used can create a large, fast solo. As long as your playing is in key with the song you can make lots of speedy solo's using these small repeat excersises, like so:

E|--------------------12-14-15-14-12----------------------------------12-
B|-----------12-14-15----------------15-14-12----------------12-14-15----
G|--12-14-15----------------------------------15-14-12-14-15-------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|--14-15-14-12-------------------------------------14h15p14h15----17b(19)
B|--------------15-14-12-----------------12---------------------14-------
G|-----------------------15-14-12--12h14----15b(17)----------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|-----------17-15-14----------------------------------------------------
B|--17-15-14-------------------15-14-12----------------------------------
G|--------------------15-14-12-------------------14-12-10----------------
D|--------------------------------------14-12-10-----------------12-10-9-
A|--------------------------------------------------------12-10-9--------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------15p12-
G|-----------------------------------------------------------15p12-------
D|------------------------------------------------9-10-12-14-------------
A|----------------9-10-12-10-9------------9-10-12------------------------
E|--12-10-9-10-12--------------12-9-10-12--------------------------------

E|--15p12----------------------------------------------------------------
B|--------15b(17)--------------------------------------------------------
G|----------------9h12---------9h12---------9h12---------9h12---------9--
D|---------------------12-9h12------12-9h12------12-9h12------12-9h12----
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

E|-------9-12p9---------9-12p9---------9-12p9---------9-12p9-------------
B|----10--------10---10--------10---10--------10---10--------10b(12)-10--
G|--9--------------9--------------9--------------9-----------------------
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------

As you can see all I did was use small licks together to create a large solo, now make your own.

197 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    riffmerchant
    this was very helpful indeed, thanks mate really has improved my alternate picking, all along ive been economy picking thinking it was alternate lol well now i got to snap out of the bad habit of using economy all the time
    Dregen
    Good lesson, great exercises. I should probably work on those pull-off exercises. My hammer-ons are pretty solid, but every time I see a pull off that isn't on the high e string I run home crying.
    Tomeh Rampage
    oh mi god ive finaly reaslied how shocking my lil finger is it cant even like hit the string, it just flys in the general direction and smashes against the guitar, mabie after a bit of work
    clwnz
    nice lesson. seems i got alot of work on my pinky. never done anything like this, and when i got to the alternate picking sweep-like exercise i kept playing it like a regular sweep (downstrokes). frustrating, but i got it down.
    Kid Ares
    Nice just after the first exercise my fingers were already getting warmed uped and tired i didn't believe you when you said it'll feel like your playing for hours lol but it did thanks
    Nodnarbllah
    Was looking for some good stuff to practice. I found it. Thanks for the exercises.
    ian3fingers
    just a quick question for the shredders do you memorise pieces so that you can watch your fingers at work, or do you concentrate yours eyes on the tab and feel your way round the frets?
    quinlikesmetal
    tabs arent bad for this, but you realy have to get the technique down to be able to play fast
    Joe310707
    Erm well at first i tend to just read the tab and play without looking ,sometimes i dont even realise it. Then after ive got the section down as i have a pretty good memory i can just sit back and focus and getting the parts up to speed and stuff
    hobo slayr
    niice. but how come every time i take me finger off a fret it makes either a click sound or high pitched screeching and i cant hear the next notes...
    NanaimoGrrl
    Awesome lesson. I've been trying to learn with an instruction book, but your way of explaining is much more easier for me to grasp. Thanks for sharing!!
    Dorkino Slayer
    Just Keep practicing at least two hours daily, and you'll notice a great gap through your performance compared to before.
    Joe310707
    Cool thanks man Got a few blog lessons on my profile if you wanna check them out
    death eater
    Is it bad that the first thing I realise is that the first tab for warm ups look like fishies...
    RequiemofDemons
    dude i love your exercises...iv been playing for like 6 years and kind of just plateaued at speed skill..now im starting to actually make some noticable progress thanks!
    Explicit User
    i agree with the last three posts here lol. Are you guys trying to get this taken down or something? big ****ing deal that he used the lesson that a lot of people have apparently not seen and made it into something that helps a lot of struggling players. and he's said about 5 times now that it is indeed inspired by MA-mfin'-B, so there you go. Winrar.
    ariamirsh
    c'mon guys! give it a rest... He put this here to help u... if u don't like it it's ur problem... go find another lesson... Anyway... Thnx man... it's a great lesson... I really had problems with playing songs on a high tempo... after ur warm-up I finally played 11th Hour by Lamb Of God... You're a great teacher... keep up man!
    soapwarrior
    Yah it was a great lesson I agree people stop bitching, just trying to teach some of us newer ones some good stuff which he has taken the time to put up.
    Ben2908
    All u did was copy michael angelo batios lessons from speed kills part one and part one on learn shred guitar (Mab teaches)by guitar world...man...if you are going to teach this reccomend these dvds, cause this is an exact copy
    RuiNaTiioN
    Joe310707 wrote: Oh god give it a rest ,no-ones paying any attention to you
    I'm only talking to you.... clueless as usual
    mattheweight
    thanks very much for the lesson. i am a beginner and i've been practicing this daily and i have a question: is there a reason not to be hammering on and pulling off with the index finger? i've been starting the lesson openH1 instead of 1h2. am i stupid?
    mattheweight
    one more quickie: when i am pulling off i find that i can make the note ring a little louder by pushing the string forward a little as i pull off. is this a bad habit or is that how it is done?
    Joe310707
    Thanks for sticking up for me ,I wouldnt mind but its not like I said these are mine , I made them and most people dont actually know where the exact warm ups came from and its not like I watched any of the speed kills series and just copied down excersises ,I actually go through them and talk about them.
    Motosyko21
    Regardless of who actually wrote the lesson, its still a great lesson and has helped my playing (and typing speed too). Thanks for posting.
    Joe310707
    So you mean your pulling the string as you pull off ,this can be a bad habit because you may be causing the string to bend slightly out of tune as you pull off.
    toxicvoid
    Ben2908 wrote: you took this warmup from MAB's Ultimate Warmup so ppl dont think it is Original
    +1