Though these tips won’t bless you with the power of the shredding Miyagi, or help you to channel the late and great Shawn Lane, they may certainly help to take the work load off a bit. I mean, playing guitar fast can be difficult enough. right? Basically, these 4 tips are little ways that you may be able to “cheat” at playing fast guitar, but I wouldn’t put all my money on them, even though a lot of well established guitar shredders do these things as well. In other words, these following 4 tips for guitar shredom can make up a small part of the equation, but are by far NOT the equation.
1. Tune it all out!
The standard tuning for the guitar has always been E Standard, and its a very shred-worthy tuning, but it does tend to make for some really taught strings. If you are absolutely sick of the insane tension in your guitar strings, consider tuning down a half step to D flat, or even to a complete whole D tuning. Hell, you may even want to take it a step further and tune down to something like C, A-la Corrosion of Conformity, or C.O.C. I personally tend to stick with the old standard E, or drop D, but I am starting to consider playing in full D tuning, but mainly because I like the sound better. In fact a lot of famous axe men play in full D, which is becoming the new standard.
No, no, I’m not talking about Jackson guitars or that stupid thing that Jon Stewart said, I’m talking about adjusting the action of your strings. To me, this is not a trick nor cheating – this is an absolute must! I had this incredible Ibanez when I was a kid, but I could do anything on it because the action was awful. We’re talkin’ strings like a half inch off of the fret board, but I didn’t know any better till I got a newer guitar that had proper action. Getting the action lower to the fret board means that your fretting hand fingers can travel better, and it may do wonders for string tension problems.
Be careful. If you don’t feel up to the task, have a profession do it instead. Resetting the action can be tedious and frustrating, and you can really mess things up if you aren’t careful. However, if you suspect that your strings may be a little on the high side, then you’d be amazed at how this little tweak can drastically improve your guitar performance. Just make sure that you don’t get it solo that you get any buzz – like that? so-lo? eh? eh?
3. Use a thicker pick
Using a thicker pick is preferred by most professional shredders, because using a thicker pick can give those pesky strings and areas of string tension a run for their money. As always, I recommend that you switch it up every now and again. Doing so is very good for the picking hand, and learning to pick with other in-animate objects is always helpful training (a quarter, poker card, poker chip, washer).
4. Get the right strap height
I hate to tell ya if you’re one of those guys, but the days of Nirvana and low slung guitars are over (for now). Anyways, point is, its never been cool to have your guitar gracing the stage, and everyone knows it, but I want to take this thing a step further. I’m sure that if and when you play standing up that you have your strap set at a reasonable length, but there is nothing wrong with a little refinement.
Test different lengths, because the slightest lowering or raising of even a quarter of an inch can do wonders for your wrists, and your hand’s response time.
In conclusion, some of if not all of these techniques may be greatly beneficial to your playing, and if you have never thought about doing any of these things before, I highly recommend that you try at least one, if not all! However, it would probably be best just to start with one and see if it helps your playing, that way you can know for sure exactly which tip helped improve your picking and fretting performance.