Nita Strauss: The Top Advice I Have for Guitarists Looking to Play Fast

"The most important thing and the most boring thing."

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Nita Strauss: The Top Advice I Have for Guitarists Looking to Play Fast
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Nita Strauss was asked on the Sixx Sense to single out her top word of advice for all the guitar folks looking to go fast, to which she replied (transcribed by UG):

"I think the most important thing - and it's the most boring thing, but the metronome is so important.

"And playing slow is so important. What I do is I play it five times perfectly and then move 5 bpm. So 60, 65, 70, and so forth.

"I've heard conflicting things about this. Nili Brosh, she's another great guitar player, I just did a clinic with her. I watched her clinic and she said, 'The correct speed to practice is the one at which you make no mistakes.'

"And I was like, 'Hm, that's the opposite of what I do.' Because I try to build up fast, fast, fast. But then she goes, 'Your muscle memory will always be there, so you should practice it slow as many times as you want as long as you're practicing correctly.'"

"I think increasing by 10 bpm is a little much - I do 5 bpm and each time has to be five times perfect.

"If there's a little grace note you're only cheating yourself. You have to start from the beginning again.

"And my little trick is once I get to the speed I wanted I actually will go 5 to 10 bpm faster and work it up to that speed so when I go back to the normal speed it's easier."

Remembering her own beginnings in the six-string domain, Nita said:

"When I started learning guitar I was watching VHS videos. I had Yngwie Malmsteen 'Play Loud' and Marty Friedman 'Melodic Control.'

"And I had Frank Gambale 'Modes: No More Mistery.' You can find these clips on YouTube, he's wearing these silly '80s pants, and he's got dancing girls around him, he's doing these scales. And it makes scales seem fun."

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Strauss also remembered bugging fellow guitarists to show her tips and tricks, saying:

"We were talking about never being done learning. When I was growing up, when I was playing shows when I was 13, 14, 15, I would go up to headlining band's dressing rooms and I'd knock on the door.

"I'd say, 'Hey I'm really sorry to bother you, we're playing before you guys. I know you're the guitar player, can I ask you a quick question? This tapping thing, could you show me how you do that?'

"And they would always be like, 'Yeah, come in!' I don't think it was much a chick thing because I was so young. I think it was more like, 'That's cool, you're taking initiative. Come on in, let's do it.'

"And I'd end up sitting down with the guys from Buckcherry and other bands we'd open up for, Skid Row... And just be like 'Hey, show me how you do that.'"

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    sh165876
    Nita Strauss is one of the best female guitarist. But I don't really like her songs that much.  She is a mostly technical player.
    GR84
    Yea, there's technical players, and there's soulful players, and every so often there's a player that is both ... but it's rare i think, John Mayer and Stevie Ray Vaughn would be the two that instantly come to mind at the moment that are both. John Petrucci is an anomaly for me, cause sometimes he is WAY too technical for my taste in albums and then there are times when he pulls that emotional element into a song's solo that is gut wrenching, he kind of takes on both extremes  
    DrJuice
    One thing David Gilmore has taught us is that playing slow can sometimes be reaaally hard to get right..
    JamesMc11
    I agree. Incredible how fast and technically brilliant people can play, and yet "Comfortably Numb" is often ranked as one of, if not the greatest solo
    HugoPan
    I play for 12 years now and have not managed to play the speed I wanted. by now I think it's not meant to be. but it's ok I guess, you can always explore other aspects of music, altough this will always be a little frustrating.
    thebluesguy86
    Just keep at it brotha. You can do anything you set your mind to with just a little effort. Why not try learning songs that will challenge you? Do that i am sure you will start progressing.
    DissonantTimbre
    Thanks to Nita now I know what vid Tosin was referring to when he was talking about "The Gambale video with the dancing girls."
    JamesMc11
    I have a habit of changing up the way I learn fast licks/phrases, and nothing has seemed to fail me yet, so I think it's more of a personal thing for everyone. But I agree with Nita, whether you increase by 5 bpm or 50, a metronome should ALWAYS be involved, and starting slow for longer periods (and patience) is only going to benefit you more in the long run.
    stefan_771
    I didn't have the patience to start slow. I started sweeping and speed picking at high speed and over time they improved to a clean sound. I want to get into tapping arpeggios and I will take it slow with those