How To Economically Control Your Fret Hand

Using basic changes, you can drastically alter your playing speed and control.

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The first thing to do when learning to control your fret hand is to get your fundamentals down cold. Without this step, soloing is 10 times harder than it should be. Those fundamentals are as follows:

1. Tightening your movements down to almost nothing

Crucial! On the path to perfecting this skill is to try playing songs and scales using all your fingers, but arching them and moving one finger immediately after you are done with the note. A good pattern for this method is:
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------5-6-7-5-6-7-5-6-7-5-6-7-|
|-------------------------5-6-7-5-6-7-5-6-7-5-6-7-------------------------|
|-5-6-7-5-6-7-5-6-7-5-6-7-------------------------------------------------|
Then, learn to this backwards. Then forwards and backwards. Then forwards and backwards repeatedly until you can do it several times with blinding speed. To put this method to use, play Walk This Way by Aerosmith.
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------| Repeat times 4 for verse
|----------------------------|
|-------7-------7------------|
|-5-6-7---5-6-7---0----------|
You just got a free tab. Happy birthday!

2. Switching strings fluidly without losing time or skipping a beat

Another biggie. Keeping rhythm while moving around the fretboard is almost necessary for any style of soloing. A good song to practice is Fur Elise. Yes, the classical one.
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-9-8-9-8-9---7--------------------------9-8-9-8-9---7----------------------|
|-----------9---10-7---6-7-9----7-9-10------------9---10-7---6-7-9---10-9-7-|
|---------------------7--------7----------------------------7-------7-------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Another free tab! It's your lucky day!

3. Breathing with the band and being loose

No fancy exercises for this one, but just as important as the rest. Take deep (but not too deep) breaths and exhale slowly (but not to slowly). Be loose. If your all tense and tight, you will screw up almost every time. Holding your breath does the same thing to your playing. The only time you can practice this one is at a band practice or rehearsal. Breath to the beat, but don't hyperventilate. It kills a song if all you hear is "HEE-HUH, HEE-HUH, HEE-HUH!"

On that note, I say goodbye. Practice these things and you'll solo like a pro.

32 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Oli_
    Nice article. I must say I agree totally with number 3. I find that if I just relax and play the song (Hell, I've been practicing it for days anyway!) then it all goes well. As soon as I start thinking about where my fingers go I screw up!
    munchkin001
    nice article....but wtf is up with the "HEE-HUU, HEE-HUU, HEE-HUU"...almost pissed my pants laughing so hard
    Evan Rambo
    that helps alot!!! i was lurning that on the keybored and i was thinking how cool would it be if i could play that on guitar!
    Guitar Z
    Right now I'm trying to learn how to solo and I can up-pick and down-pick fine but my frethand is raelly having trouble keeping in time with my strumhand. Does anyone have any tips they could give me?
    sam_fraihat
    awesome tips, i have a major problem with breathing i take a deep breath and just cant let it go working on that but breaking bad habbits is really hard
    Metallicuh
    Nice lesson but if you want to play faster you also need to know how to get faster with their right hand. Economic Picking goes Upstroke, Downstroke, and Upstroke Pretty Much Alternate picking will increase your speed.
    JazzyNutter
    jebbe9696 wrote: anyone else laughed at the HEE-HUH HEE-HUH part?
    YES lol. and this has helped loads, thanks
    DaltonACDC1995
    i love playing the fur elise tab. it sounds pretty cool if you add things to make it sound heavy metal lol
    munchkin001
    jebbe9696 wrote: great, 5/5 anyone else laughed at the HEE-HUH HEE-HUH part?
    yes and as noted i almost pissed my pants
    jbeckforever
    izzizz wrote: oh, no wonder i suck. i sometimes hold my breath subconsciously. weird =\
    Actually, that's quite normal. Everyone does it, even the big names. When your playing rhythmically, you tend to breathe with the beat in a way. Its not a problem, unless your playing is out of time or it causes you to tense up somehow.
    D3th_H34d
    Oli_ wrote: Nice article. I must say I agree totally with number 3. I find that if I just relax and play the song (Hell, I've been practicing it for days anyway!) then it all goes well. As soon as I start thinking about where my fingers go I screw up!
    you know, that reminds me of a stephen king quote "If you feel that sexual Intercourse is the most important thing on this earth, the chance of you coming up with a limp penis is increased ten to a hundredfold" Good article, pretty professional tips, and thx for the free tabs lol. 5*
    JohnMayer4Mayor
    Invokke_Havokk wrote: No matter how well you fret, if you can't attack (pick) the strings correctly, you won't be getting much faster.
    True, but this lesson is called "How To Economically control your FRET hand" so yeah.
    Invokke_Havokk
    No matter how well you fret, if you can't attack (pick) the strings correctly, you won't be getting much faster.
    izzizz
    oh, no wonder i suck. i sometimes hold my breath subconsciously. weird =\
    rockman84
    this is a really great article. ive been playing for awhile and ive never seen this before
    49er man
    I am just learning to play tabs and guitar and this is really helpful, thanks. I've learned a llittle bit of acdc and green day already, great bands with simple tabs.
    zman#1
    I loved the HEE-HUH part I had to try not to laugh during school.