How to shred guitar is a wisdom that many eager players want to obtain, but unfortunately many don’t get very far when going down this path. The reason for this is quite understandable. Anything can be extremely challenging, and when you take guitar playing at its fullest, you know that the journey to reach that level of performance is very unforeseen. The reason most fail to learn how to shred guitar is because of what i believe to be one reason, and one reason only. They just give up. Not to be mean but if you give up, that kind of shows that you didn’t really care about it to begin with. Remember, the destination isn’t the fun part – its the road up the mountain that’s exciting. Rather than leave you with some philosophical, meditative cop-out, I’ll give you some real world advice to prepare you instead.
1. Know your mentors
Its important to have heroes, and if you have heroes then you should be copying them. Do what they do, and see if you can’t do it a little bit better. Learn to become a total sponge for information and especially for sounds. I truly believe that I was able to learn how to shred guitar because I made myself a pupil of my heroes, even if I never met them face to face.
Study every note, try to stay away from tabs as much as possible, and work with developing your own style based on what you have learned from the greats. Basically, they can give you the skeleton, and you can put the skin on it.
2. Your own style
I feel that this is very important. By nurturing your own sense of musical self, it makes the trip a lot easier. This way you can learn to do things your way, which is not a bad thing at all. You’ll develop your own tricks, learn new ways of producing notes, develop your own takes on technique, learn to express yourself better, and finding your own voice makes practicing a lot more fun.
Speaking of which, don’t ever let anyone put you down for the way you like to do things. There is a limit when you are just making things hard for yourself, so proper guidance is a must, but be careful who you listen to. If you can play something just as well as an expert, doing it your own way – then this translates to me as “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it!”.
3. The knowledge of practice could be its own college course – become a student of it!
This is a huge one right here. Practice is very important, but knowing how, what and when to practice is a big piece of the puzzle. There is almost such an artistic science to training to learn how to shred guitar that it really requires a lot of thinking about.
Instead of just going in blind, take a break and really think about what you could do to make real progress. A lot of people say “how am I supposed to know that?”, but if you really just let the ideas flow into your mind, you’ll get it, and here’s how…
4. The game plan
You’ve got to have a game plan and you’ve got to stick to it. Define on a piece of paper what it is that you wish to accomplish, and there is your blue print. Now you can develop a sub-plan with specific actions, like what you need to work on in terms of picking, or left hand strength, or arpeggios, chords, theory – whatever!
Take one of those things, whether it be a mental problem or a physical issue that you need to resolve, and find a couple of mental or physical exercises to focus on. Focus is key, because you’ve got to stick it out with your sweeps, tapping, and general training. Don’t just keep picking up new exercises, however I will say that constantly trying to work on new songs when it comes to just the rhythm guitar, can be quite beneficial to your playing.
5. Listen to ALL types of music
This is one of the biggest disciplinary problems that people have when learning how to shred guitar. Suck it up and listen to music from the farthest reaches of the universe, because when you do so – you start to absorb the vibrations, and then your body kind of aligns with the time signatures, rhythms, accents, nuances, and techniques.
It can take some time, but over time – you become a very free player, and it doesn’t matter what your genre of choice is, you will be a more creative player. Remember, learning how to shred guitar isn’t just about playing fast, its also about becoming a virtuoso and developing killer licks that make people have “guitar-gasms” 😉
What’s playing fast if it doesn’t sound cool?
In conclusion, my final bit of advice for this entry would be to start thinking of yourself as musically worldly, and then the answer will be revealed to you. Plus you’ll have a better game plan an a lot more options to choose from for learning how to shred guitar.