First post since Lunar New Year! Before I get to how much fat I gained lets talk about gaining single note speed on the guitar! Alternate picking, sweep picking, hammer-ons and pull-offs, toe tapping, teeth shredding, let’s do this!

The 1-2-3-4 exercise (and scales)

The infamous 1-2-3-4 or chromatic scale exercise. Since it’s not really chromatic scale theoretically I call it the 1-2-3-4 exercise like how Kiko Loureiro would. I hope everyone knows what this is because I’m not putting out tabs for this! The 1-2-3-4 exercise doesn’t sound particularly cool but it’s a good way to work out the synchronization between the 2 hands. Come out with different fingerings and note groupings to spice things up! 1-3-2-4, 1-3-2, 1-4-3-2-3 etc. well I’m making numbers out. We can even mix different string sets for different groupings to really keep things burning! We should be working on scales more but since the topic is speed, lets just ignore the theory side shall we!

Potential speed

Now the point of this post isn’t on the 1-2-3-4 exercise but on how to make sure we’re doing the right thing. I like the ‘Potential Picking Speed’ idea by Michael Angelo Batio. In this case lets call it ‘Potential Speed’ as we’re not only dealing with picking. Pick any grouping of notes, lets say 4-1-2-4-2-1 (an all time favorite by many!) and play it as fast as we can on 1 string because that’s when we can play the fastest. Pick all or pick some or not pick is ok. That is our potential speed. With more practice it increases but if we practice less it decreases. I can’t pick as fast as I could few years before because I had been working on other techniques. Okay I was lazy!

Clean up the mess

Once we’re on our top speed, we’re really pushing the limits and things get messy generally (for me anyway). Now it’s time to slow down and work out the fastest and cleanest speed (lets call it clean speed). Once we get our clean speed, we’ll have to work it up little by little. It’s highly recommended to practice with a metronome so we know our speed by numbers. Play at the clean speed for a moment and boost the metronome a little faster and see if we’re still playing clean. If yes, that’s our new clean speed (for the moment)! If no, well, work a little more. Ideally, we should work towards clean speed = potential speed so we don’t mess things up when we get really high at a gig shredding at top speed! For me, I haven’t been practicing speed for quite a while so my clean speed is a little lower than my potential speed so I have to control myself more while performing or else things would be messy…

Top speed, slow down, speed up

This whole post can be summarized like this, first we check our potential speed, then we slow down to clean things up and gradually work towards faster clean speed. This is how I work on my speed and I hope it helps!


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