You’ve probably been playing guitar for some time now and have a few favorite “shredders” like Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert and the late, great Shawn Lane. Have you ever wondered how those guys are able to rip through a series of 30 notes or more in a split second? Well, if you have – then I’m going to give you some secret tips to improving your speed now so that you can play guitar solos fast!
A Steady Plan Of Action
We all know that speed does not come over night, and that mastering tricky techniques can take years to accomplish, but it doesn’t have to be that hard or challenging. I wish that someone had told me what I’m about to share with you years ago, because it would have taken me a lesser amount of time to shred through beautifully orchestrated guitar solos.
The first thing that took me so long to realize is that you need a real plan of action with real goals and exercises that will help you reach those dream sounds. Even a simple 1 hour a day practice routine can turn you into a guitar shredding god, but the secret is to make the best use of this time.
I highly recommend that you break down your practice time and allot so many minutes to working on each technique. Not only is this obviously good for developing certain guitar techniques, but here’s another secret – when you use your hands in different ways during one practice session, they get a maximized workout that grows their skill evenly.
Step 1: Determine your current speed with a particular technique like alternate picking using a metronome.
Step 2:Use no more than 3 – 5 exercises for that technique that target key problem areas in your playing, and grow them in speed with a metronome, slowly.
Although some guitar players get frustrated, because they must start out so slow — the more that you heed this rule the faster that you will develop your technique and be able to play fast guitar solos.
Working On A Solo Right Now?
You might have a guitar solo that is supposed to be played fast, and it’s a challenge for you at this point in time. Here’s what I suggest you do.
Break the solo down into little sections, and practice them separately before trying to string them together. Treat each section as an exercise and work it up to speed with a metronome. Even if the guitar solo has bends, pinch harmonics, slides, etc — these all require precision and good timing as well.
That’s another MAJOR secret that I can offer. You see, most people focus on picking exercises only, but taking the time to develop the timing and pitch of things like guitar bends, slides and simple hammer-on/pull-offs will actually grow the more advanced techniques.
Think of it this way – you want to expand your response time, so that something that might take a few seconds to do normally (a bend) can be done split-second by choice.
Rhythm Guitar Warmups
Don’t solely focus on single note action. I know that learning how to play guitar solos fast might be your main goal right now, but strengthening your rhythm guitar strongly benefits soloing too.
I personally always warm up with rhythm and chords. I’ll take something simple, like one guitar chord, and I will play it using different musical rhythm styles (Latin, Reggae, Funk).
The main focus here is to get your picking hand nice and lose and faster in response, but all the time keeping it relaxed. Also, when you first sit down to practice, your hands will naturally be tense. Warming up for about 20 minutes with some simple chords and chord changes gives both hands a chance to adjust.
It’s like trying to jump out of bed in the morning and solve a huge math equation. You need caffeine, so give your hands that nice attention before trying to play fast.
This tip alone will dramatically increase your speed – I promise.
Come Up With Your Own Licks
I know what you’re thinking – “Tennyson! Not EVERYONE is creative, and I don’t know how to write my own guitar parts”….
Well, I didn’t either and now I compose music without thought. How? I just started. That’s what it takes. Think about it – in theory, how can you write guitar music if you don’t have the dexterity to begin with, right?
So, I had to just start and piece together some notes to see what would happen, but coming up with your own licks does something fantastic to your playing – know what it is?
It grows YOUR technique. Every guitar player plays things just a little bit differently, so spend some time working on unleashing your approach to technique.
Tip: A good place to start is to take a solo you are working on and just work with a small passage. Can you rework the notes into something original for yourself? I bet if you spent some time then you would find out that indeed you can!