Have you thought about what is the specific thing that all of your favorite guitar players share in common when playing fast? The answer is that all of them play in a way that looks amazingly easy. Actually, speed guitar technique not only seems easy - it truly is easy, and to be exact, it only gets easier once you run through the whole process of developing this skill correctly.
Unfortunately, just about all guitar players fight to make their fast playing feel easy, and attempting to speed up their playing feels too hard. I can show you a lot of reasons why this happens, but the most classic one comes from following the general mindset of practicing at a low metronome tempo and gradually increasing it by a few beats per minute at a time. Despite the fact that this approach does have a few advantages, it also has many serious restrictions (when applied at the wrong time or mistakenly, as happens quite often).
The following factors are why the typical guitar speed developing strategy (practicing from slow to fast by increasing speed little by little) makes fast playing feel complicated.
You don't practice for actual speed in your guitar playing (where you have to start playing without playing anything before). It's much easier to play an exercise over and over, incrementally arriving at your peak speed and having the playing of that one exercise be great. However, when you must play the exact same exercise at your top speed immediately, with everything feeling effortless and sounding clean, the feeling is much different. Thus, traditional guitar speed building mindset doesn't prepare you for playing in real life.
Conventional guitar speed building strategy aims at speeding up the whole exercise all at once. Generally this leads to mindless guitar practice (playing an exercise again and again, merely wishing to get faster) rather than centering your attention on identifying the specific problems that restrain your speed. I talk about this concept in depth in this article on the secret to playing whatever you desire on guitar.
It's easy to become lazy and make entirely different movements at slow speeds in comparison to what you do when playing fast. Consequently, as soon as your speed improves past a particular point, your playing will become uncomfortable and hard, because now you will be using movements that you did not use in the past. I've already discussed this to a great extent in this article about how to practice to build insane guitar speed.
Note: the traditional approach of beginning to practice slowly and progressively increasing speed is effective when you are learning something new (and it's usually very helpful for guitar players at an intermediate - beginner levels). Nevertheless the more advanced you become as a guitarist (and the faster you want improve your speed in a certain practice exercise), the more you will need to get more specific practice procedures for overcoming your guitar speed plateaus.
Now that you are aware of the disadvantages of the average approach for building speed on guitar, I will teach you one of many strategies you can take to conquer guitar speed plateaus and make your playing feel easy. This is one of the tactics I implement with my guitar students to assist them in acquiring higher levels of guitar speed.
To effectively use the tactic below, you must choose an exercise that you can currently play effortlessly from start to finish without messing up (at a slow tempo at least). This guitar speed developing tactic works as follows.
Rather than playing a whole phrase at a very slow tempo and incrementally increasing speed, split up that phrase into very small bursts (between 4-8 notes each) and practice every one of these at your top speed.
Watch this video to get a clear understanding of how to practice this concept:
MP3 - Arpeggio Sequences - Example 2
Here are the reasons why practicing guitar in fast bursts will help you enhance your guitar speed quickly and easily:
You have now found a valuable way of making fast guitar playing feel very easy. The next step is find out all the other tactics that will enable you to double your guitar speed while lowering your practice time by half (I will reveal you how to do this for free). Find out how by reading this page about maximizing your guitar speed.
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world.