The Guitar Shred Practice Master Plan
If names like Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Jeff Loomis and Michael Romeo make you all warm and fuzzy feeling inside; then you’re without a doubt a fan of shred guitar virtuosos and the rapid-fire, hot-like-lava, licks that they produce. You’re not alone.
Songs like Far Beyond The Sun, Miles Of Machines and Scarified can make any aspiring shredder want to throw their guitar into a garbage can. How do they do it? where is this creativity channeled from? how do they learn to play at lightening speeds and make it seem so effortless?
If you’re an experienced shred guitar player then this resource isn’t going to help you out much. However, if you aspire to play on a level that could melt the sun and are struggling to play guitar fast and clean then I put together this lesson just for you.
Here you will find a break down of shredder techniques and 3 assignments where we don’t just practice guitar shredding exercises, but actually do something cool with them. And finally we’ll put them all together to make a complete guitar shred lick. Will it turn you into a God over night? no! but it WILL get you started thinking and practicing like a real guitar shredder.
Ready? let’s begin!
Warning: It’s honestly best to read every section
Table Of Contents
- First: Understanding What Speed Is & Isn’t
- Choosing The Right Guitar Pick For Shred Playing
- Hand Stretches & Warmups
- Holding The Pick Properly
- Practicing With A Metronome
- Don’t Abandon Rhythm Guitar Playing
- Alternate Picking & 2 Must-have Exercises
- Assignment: A Melodic Passage To Tackle
- Arpeggios & Sweep Picking
- Assignment: A Melodic Sweep Pattern To Tackle
- How To Use Tapping For Guitar Shredding
- Assignment: A Melodic Tapping Pattern To Tackle
- Final Assignment: Putting It All Together
- How To Become An Incredible Shred Guitarist
- How Much Should I Practice Guitar
- Learn Your Guitar Modes!
- The Essential Guide To Guitar Virtuosity
When you decide that you want to advance your skills it’s important that you understand what you’re accomplishing and not what you’re TRYING to accomplish. You already know what you want to achieve.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably to master techniques like tapping and sweep picking. It’s probably to play like your favorite guitarists and maybe even to learn how to write your own shred guitar songs.
Point is….you ALREADY know what the end goal should sound like and be like, but you don’t yet know what it should FEEL like. That’s huge. You have examples in front of you. You know what awesome guitar shred sounds like. You don’t know what it feels like to play that way and that’s what we’re going to fix…hopefully 😉
Guitar Playing Is Nothing More Than Rhythm & Melody
I think Paul Gilbert said it best. Something along the lines of “the right hand is the gas. The left hand is the steering”.
- The picking hand is it’s own little metronome. It’s own little drum machine. It’s the gas. The driving beat. It needs to be accurate.
- The fretting hand is the melody. It’s the spider-like movements that tap out the notes or forge them together to produce chords.
Speed is NOT trying to get ahead of yourself. Trying to play faster than you actually can (although it’s OK to test the waters). It’s all rhythm, timing and melody.
There are a few options when it comes to guitar picks. The different thicknesses are as follows:
- Thin: .46mm
- Medium: .71mm
- Heavy: .96mm
- Extra-Heavy: 1.2mm – 2mm
The choice is yours, but I do not recommend extra heavies at all. The most popular choice is a heavy pick, although it’s not my preference anymore.
A heavy guitar pick is sort of capable of “bullying” it’s way through the strings. It’s thicker so the guitar strings present little resistance to it when it either strums or picks through.
My preference is a medium; which is admittedly more difficult to play at faster speeds with, but the sharpness and clarity of picking cannot be compared. It’s impossible to hide your mistakes with a medium-sized pick, but I find that the notes have a real snap to them and I think they are more rewarding to play with.
Not everyone does hand stretching or warms up before they practice guitar and I admit that it’s optional, but I do believe that it will make a difference if you can discipline yourself to do so.
In fact, if you can’t play guitar fast; taking the time to stretch and prime your hands before practicing the guitar I believe can greatly increase your chances of making real progress for the day.
Just like going to the gym, it can be important to warm up first.
The main 2 things we want to accomplish with this is as follows:
- Get our hands loosened up
- Massage the muscles to reduce tension from previous practice sessions
A big question I get asked a lot is “should I practice with a metronome”? My answer to that is a resounding YES! If you want to become a true shred guitar player then this is a must. I started out in my first 2 years of playing the guitar never working with a metronome. As a result, I was OK, but my playing was full of syncopation issues and more importantly — I wasted a lot of time.
Don’t do to yourself what I did…
I didn’t think so!
And if you’ve started playing without a metronome and have gotten ahead of yourself. Do this…
Take the time to start fresh and do it right, before you rack up too many bad guitar playing habits.
Earlier I mentioned that the picking hand is it’s own, little metronome. This is true so over time, sync it up to a digitally-precise metronome. This will improve your picking technique.
Gauging Metronome Speed
This really depends on where you’re at. I can’t be there to guide you one-on-one, so let me give you some guidelines.
Suggested B.P.M. Speeds For Beginners
Before you try to tackle to much shred guitar, I recommend testing the following tempos in your metronome. Keep in mind that it’s not a one-size-fits-all for the different types of techniques. Every guitar technique is certainly different.
- 40 – 50 bpm (for learning something completely new and especially if you are completely new to the guitar. BEGINNER)
- 80 bpm (work up to this as you need. Good for practicing an exercise accurately while testing a faster tempo. Also a good goal to work toward for 1/8th notes. INTERMEDIATE)
- 110 bpm (for 1/4 notes perfect for practicing string transitions, left hand and right hand technique. Work up to 1/8th notes to start to take your playing into the next threshold. INTERMEDIATE-ADVANCED)
- 120 – 180 bpm (In this range is where you will really be testing yourself. This is a good speed goal to work toward while testing your accuracy. ADVANCED)
You might think that rhythm guitar playing and lead guitar playing are two separate things, but nothing could be any further from the truth. As stated earlier, the picking hand is nothing but rhythm.
If you desire to improve speed and accuracy and pull off complex licks then you might have the urge to devote most of your time to lead practice. I would advise against this.
I would recommend that you practice rhythm guitar just as much as all of the lead work. By not neglecting chord rhythmic patterns you will actually become faster on the guitar sooner than later. Yes, they go hand-in-hand.
One of the most common for metal players is the Gallop technique, but I would challenge you to expand your horizons. Consider learning a little Funk and Latin guitar rhythms; two very rhythm-focused genres of music.
One suggestion that I can make is to start your practice sessions playing rhythm guitar. This will get your hands loosened up and help sync up your speed picking when you go to practice a technique like alternate picking; which is explained in detail just below.
What Is Alternate Picking?
Alternative picking is a type of economy picking. When picking a string out on your guitar there are typically 2 motions involved. A downward-picking-motion (which most beginners first learn) and then a small, upward motion to bring the pick back up and start again. A reset if you will.
The theory and application behind alternate picking says “why waste that 2nd movement? why not use it as well?”. And that’s exactly what alternate means in this technique. You are alternating between down-strokes and up-strokes (as you reset the pick for the next down-stroke).
It’s illustrated commonly as D-U-D, etc and if you notice that will loop…
D-U-D-U-D-U-D-U and so on.
It’s a very effective way to pick the strings AND it’s one of the little secrets behind shred guitar.
It’s also illustrated in guitar tab as ^ v.
^ = down-stroke
v = up-stroke
How To Do It
If this is completely new to you do this:
Try picking the G string open (unfretted) with a down-ward pick stroke. Then follow this with an upstroke. Take your time and make sure that you aren’t using too much of the guitar pick to accomplish this.
The 2 Best Exercises
**What’s really important: By the time you’ve picked out the 4th stroke (U) it sets your picking hand-position up to produce a down-stroke (D) on the next string. Very efficient and really good practice (with a metronome especially)
What Is Sweep Picking?
Guitar sweep picking is a brilliant technique for playing fluid arpeggios.
What is an arpeggio?
It’s when you take a chord shape and pick out the notes individually. Sweep patterns allow us to play interesting things that aren’t so “linear” like scales are. It’s an opportunity to achieve a really unique sound and reach for interesting melodies.
It is also probably the most challenging of techniques to master. Rather than picking the notes we actually “rake” through them if you will. What this means is that we use very little motion or pressure and allow the dead weight of our picking hand to PUSH the pick through each string in one direction (going down) and then PULL our hand back up toward us so that the pick drags through the strings.
There are no large, rotary motions. It’s not like alternate picking. It’s a controlled rake and it is very challenging to master.
How To Do Sweep Picking
I can’t stress what I’m about to say next ENOUGH. So really take this to heart.
When you first start practicing sweep picking arpeggios it is paramount that you go insanely slow. How slow? You should set your metronome so low that you have a good 1 second between each string. You may even want to go slower than this. In all honesty this could be too fast for you.
**Note: The last note is slid from the 10th fret to the 12th so that it can repeat (cycle over).
What Is Guitar Tapping?
Guitar tapping is a smart way to produce notes that would normally be impossible for the left hand to reach.
How the heck are you supposed to pick out the 5th fret, 7th and then somehow leap your left over to the 17th fret so quickly and then back down again? Well you really can’t; which is where tapping or “two-handed technique” comes in handy.
Imagine if we could take our right hand and have it literally TAP OUT some of those notes at the farther end of the fret-board? Well that’s exactly what this does.
How To Do Guitar Tapping
There are a LOT of different ways to do two-handed technique on the guitar. There is multi finger tapping (very advanced), chord tapping, harmonic tapping and so on. I’m going to just show you the most common and straight forward of these techniques.
Tapping consists of Tapping, Pulling Off, Hammering On, and so forth.This can be illustrated as:
To do this you’ll literally TAP a fret with your right hand (picking hand), release that note and allow a note that is ALREADY fretted with your left hand, sound. And then pull of that note to another one already fretted.
It sounds complicated, but it’s actually not. This pattern is your standard 3 note guitar tapping shred pattern. And here are the basic exercises…
The 2 Best Exercises
And one of my personal favorites/variations:
Rather than blab on and on and on, here is a list that I believe will serve you well.
It’s true that the more hours you can put into your playing the better you’ll get and the faster you’ll reach your goals, but there’s a more important concept than just how much time..
How you USE your time. If there’s a particular technique that you want to develop in your playing then definitely allocate the most amount of time to this.
If you only have 1 hour, then break it up evenly. Spend the 1st half hour warming up with some alternate picking exercises and patterns then the 2nd half hour focusing on something important to you (maybe sweep picking).
Ideally, if you really want to get good at this stuff, you would practice at least 2 hours. This is because it can take a whole hour of practicing guitar to get your hands really primed. It’s usually in the 2nd hour that things start to really take off.
Learn all 7 modes and try to take it upon yourself to learn all 7 patterns for each one. Not only will this expand your musical understanding, but you will also encounter some really great combinations of notes and interesting shapes to practice with.
These diverse set of patterns will help your picking hand and your fretting hand.
You will also be able to create your own cool shred guitar passages by learning how to combine guitar scales AND it will give you a better understanding of some of your favorite songs and how they are put together.
Here’s The Real Secret To Increasing Your Guitar Shredding Ability
And I’ll cut to the chase…
- You must learn how to hold the guitar pick just right
- You need to learn how to pick the strings with a precise set of motor skills
- You have to learn how to practice in a certain way every day for maximum efficiency
- You have to know when to push ahead and when to be patient
- You must have a diverse set of patterns and speed exercises (VERY important)
- You have to keep your hands guessing
- You must also focus on rhythm (which should be CRITICAL to all shred guitarists)
But the most important part is this…
- The book takes you through the mental prep work that you need first.
- It’s different than other technique guides or guitar shred resources in the sense that it doesn’t just say “hey, do this!”
- ….instead it prepares you, gives you things to keep in mind when you’re practicing, tells you what to be on the lookout for and how to gauge AND MAKE!!! progress.
Did You Know Any Of This?
- You can play something slow and make it actually sound faster than it really is by having impeccable timing and accuracy.
- Maybe you already knew that, but what a lot of people don’t understand is how to develop that kind of timing and accuracy. It starts with the right mental understanding.
- Did you also know, that by slightly adjusting the angle of the guitar pick, you can increase your speed by 50%? It’s true!
- If you didn’t know that, here’s something else – The tensions of each string and their gauge sizes also require just the slightest variation of that same angle, even as you are going from string to string.
- Did you know that by using a process called visual mapping, you can actually learn to solo without understanding theory, and even if you are just getting into theory – this can cut the learning time in half?
- Another tidbit – combining techniques can not only make your playing sound amazing, but cut the work load for either hand in half too!
- AND, training with odd combos of notes can take your picking hand to new heights.
- I bet you also didn’t know that its possible to do pinch harmonic chords, but I’m probably starting to wear you out, so let me move onto something even more exciting.
How it works…
The Essential Guide To Guitar Virtuosity is not your typical guitar instructional ebook. It is not a theory book, or how to build guitar solos from scales, rather it is a shred guitar exercise training ebook.
- The first 3 chapters deal with the mental preparation that is needed to make progress on the guitar.
- Chapters 4 – 7 deal with basic groupings of notes and how the picking hand reacts to certain sets of notes. If the first 3 chapters act as a mental primer, then chapters 4 – 7 certainly act as a physical primer
- Chapters 8 – 9 are more elaborate and contain increasingly tougher exercises and training.
- Chapters 10 – 12 deal with basic techniques like hammer-ons, pull offs, bends and vibrato. Most advanced guitar instructional materials fail to cover these smaller techniques, and yet they are very important for continuing on to the “true grit” material contained in the next chapters.
- Chapters 13 – 18 deal with advanced techniques, and as many scenarios as possible are given for these techniques. Some are simple, while others may be monstrously hard.
- Chapters 20 – 23 return to the more philosophical and mental aspects of guitar playing, and these chapters are saved for the end, because they will help you to carry your studies beyond this ebook. Finally The Essential Guide To Guitar Virtuosity is topped off with a bonus chapter entitled “Recording and the home studio”, which is a basic outline of what you may need to set up a cheap home recording studio so that you may put your musical ideas into action.
Why I Think This Book Will Serve You Well…
I sat down and made careful observations, and wrote EVERYTHING down, and before you knew it I had note pads filled from corner to corner. It wasn’t much longer after this that I had organized the information and got it to a point where I had a curriculum that I could share with others.
This allowed me to teach everyone how to play shred guitar much quicker and better. Over the years I’ve had many successful students to be proud of and I’ve shared what I’ve learned in person, through articles and even video. Now all that information is in a book and its called…The Essential Guide To Guitar Virtuosity – The Guitar Speed Training eBook.
I’ve had a few offers from publishing companies over the years to put it into print, but I think putting it online can reach and help more aspiring guitar players! That way everyone can find it! This is the same book that many of my past students have read. It contains just about all of my knowledge on speed picking, technique training and speed development; as well as my thoughts on improving the little things like hammer ons, bends, pull offs, slides and vibrato.
I think the reason that people have benefited from it so much is the fact that it isn’t just a bunch of exercises (though there are well over 100). I think its because of all of the diagrams, photos, and articles on getting into the mind of a true guitar wizard.There are 100 exercises (at least). Each one is designed to accomplish something different. Something that will improve your picking and coordination. I took the liberty of arranging them in a VERY important order for best results.The book also contains my thoughts on writing guitar solos, improvising, taking lessons vs self-taught, musical theory and recording.But have you ever noticed how weird some advanced guitar books can be? They’re always so vague, and kind of stale. I decided that my book, The essential guide to guitar to virtuosity would need to be inspirational. There isn’t a page that isn’t the world’s biggest pep talk. I believe in encouragement and reward.But then after a while I thought how can I improve this? So I decided to create some little things to add to it. You can take a look at them below, and below that are ALL of the details about the book.But first, let me tell you a little about myself – I can’t believe I forgot!!
My name is Tennyson Williams. I’m a musician and composer and I play all sorts of guitar styles. I’ve been playing for about 11 years now. When I first got started I wasn’t too bad, but the problem was that I was spending upwards of 12 hours a day practicing cluelessly.The reason that I was able to deliver on that night of the party was because of several hard years or practice and what I learned during that time.I’m going to talk about some of what I learned starting now, so grab a note book and get ready!
Again, I played ok, but my goals seemed out of reach. Getting faster, mastering tricky techniques and finding a creative style was just not happening any time soon, AND my picking hand was total garbage. My syncopation was horrible, I was putting stress on BOTH hands, and it was just absolute slop! It took me years of heartache to learn what I know now, and now I’m going to share it with you.
I’ll give you an example. Anyone can learn to become very professional sounding, but the difference between ordinary and excellence is AWARENESS.A master guitar player has a VERY keen mind. They notice everything that’s going on, and the things that they are monitoring you’ll hear very few of them talk about. Why is that? well I think that its because some of these things are tricky to explain. That’s why I have spent the last two years seriously thinking about what needs to be taught, and its not what you might expect.
Shred Guitar Players Of High Caliber Can Pick With Thins, Heavies, Mediums, Playing Cards & Coins
My philosophy on mastering guitar speed and becoming the best that you can, is based on training for different scenarios.This is EXACTLY how I trained myself to play at break-neck speedsLearning to play fast, develop speed picking and fretting hand grace is a science, but very few guitar players actually understand this science.If you DON’T understand this science, then keep reading – because I’m going to show YOU the secrets behind phenomenal speed development.
Repeat After Me – “Speed is a science” – I’ll Explain In Just A Sec
Remember when I said that its NOT the exercises that you are working with? – I lied!!Here is the formula:Mental understanding of the science + training that supports the science + Exercises that are designed for the science of speed picking.So here is exactly what you do – I’m going to give you the answers, because I want you to be a happy and successful guitar player – no matter what your style is.
- If you can take it upon to first educate yourself about how guitar speed ACTUALLY works..
- AND if you can commit to practicing 1 – 2 hours every day…
- And if you can be patient and NOT jump the gun at all…
- AND you can vow to try your best to honor the sciences 100% of the time
The Essential Guide To Guitar Virtuosity Is THE Shred Guitar Speed Training Ebook
Phrasing..And so much more!
Solid information containing over 100 exercises, images and diagrams, that will help you reach insane guitar speeds.
The Essential Guide to Guitar Virtuosity is a jam-packed Ebook that teaches everything that you could ever want to know about playing lightning fast guitar.
AND you’ll get these free bonuses!
Bonus #1 – The Art Of Soloing audio lecture.
30.00 – FREE
A special audio lecture on the more intellectual aspects of guitar playing that can seriously unlock YOUR playing. Join me and I’ll share with you my thoughts on all things musical.
Bonus #2 – 3 killer backing tracks to jam to
15.00 – FREE
3 one of a kind yet simple backing tracks that you can apply what you learn to. I’ve always believed that yee who jams – succeeds! use these to better your improvising skills, which you’ll learn a little about in the audio lecture.
Bonus #3 – The practice cheat sheet
10.00 – FREE
This POWERFUL practice cheat sheet is exactly how a guitar player sets and keeps track of their goals. Let me take the guess work out for you by providing you with a solid journal for everyday practice. Its simple yet necessary – you will be amazed when you look back over the results.
Bonus #4 – The fretting hand manual
25.00 – FREE
This is designed to be worked with everyday. Its a set of exercises that you can either pick and choose from OR work with them from start to finish everyday (recommended for best results). These are high-result, no B.S. left hand exercises that are geared for results.The best part about all of this is that you don’t have to twiddle your thumbs as you wait for shipping. This book is a direct download, which means that you buy it, you get it INSTANTLY and can start blazing through those licks right now! how cool is that?!
The Best Return Policy You May Ever Encounter
The Essential Guide To Guitar Virtuosity has sold many, many copies since 2009. I honestly wish I knew how many, but I made the mistake of not keeping track. Over this time I have issued refunds. They don’t happen very often. They really don’t, but every now-and-then this eBook is just not for someone. It happens. I’m human — hey, forgive me!
But what you can count on is I don’t ask questions. I don’t create a headache for you. I use ClickBank as a payment processor for this product. They allow a 60 day, full money-back guarantee; no questions asked!
I’ve occasionally had people request a refund and I push it through as soon as I get a notification. I don’t try to bargain. I don’t try to barter. I don’t plead-and-beg. I get it and I respect you. When your mind is made up — that’s it! I’m the same way.
I’m sure that there are people who may take advantage of this.
But I’m also aware that there are young kids who don’t have much money who are craving this kind of information, just like I did when I started playing (at 15….and a little late ;). I am also aware that money can be tight.
So I get it and I want you to know that I honor you, no matter what your decision is. But if I could offer to you one thought…just one! This package is thousands of hours of information for the price of 1, slightly-higher-priced lesson in real life.
That’s what I’ve put into it. That’s what I hope you get back. That’s how I end it.