How To Fix Guitar Playing Mistakes That Occur At Fast Speeds

By Tom Hess


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What do you do when your guitar playing starts to sound sloppy at faster speeds?
 
Here is what conventional guitar playing wisdom tells you to do:
 
“Practice very slowly, fix guitar playing mistakes at slow speeds and gradually play faster”.
 
This approach is useful sometimes
 
...but it’s not enough to help you fix guitar playing mistakes & master technique.
 
Here is why:

Many of your guitar playing mistakes only show up near your top speed.

At slow tempos, these mistakes disappear and become impossible to fix.

This means:

Slow practice isn't always the answer.

But there IS a better way...

This video shows how to fix guitar playing mistakes at faster speeds:
 


This free sweep picking eGuide shows 5 more guitar practice strategies that help you fix guitar playing mistakes to play fast and clean.


Action Steps That Fix Guitar Playing Mistakes At Fast Speeds:

Select any repeating exercise (a scale sequence, an arpeggio or a short lick) to practice.

Follow these steps to fix guitar playing mistakes fast:

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Step 1: Find the exact metronome tempo at which your mistakes first appear. Write down this tempo and keep track of it. As your playing improves, this metronome speed will get higher and higher.

Step 2: Set the metronome 5-8 beats per minute below that tempo.

Step 3: Pick one note to focus on in your exercise, as shown in the video. Let the other notes go by on autopilot. Do not worry if the other notes cause guitar playing mistakes! Stay focused only on the one note you should listen for (more on this below).

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Step 4: Repeat the  exercise over and over until the note you are focusing on is consistently clean (9 times out of 10). Fix guitar playing mistakes easily with every repetition.

Step 5: Rotate your focus to listen to the next note and repeat the previous step. At this point, you let the previous note you focused on go on autopilot. Focus only on the new note you should be listening for. Analyze your technique & make it perfect.

Step 6: Repeat steps 4-5 until every note in the exercise is clean.

Step 7: Increase the metronome tempo by 5-8 beats per minute and repeat the entire process.

Bonus Guitar Playing Tip: Occasionally practice these steps without distortion. This forces you to listen more carefully and refines your 2-hand synchronization.

This process works equally well for arpeggios, scales, scale sequences, licks and challenging parts of songs and solos. It also works for all techniques (directional picking, sweep picking, legato, etc.)

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What To Do If You Struggle To Focus On One Note During Your Guitar Playing:

(Temporarily) Reduce The Number Of Notes Being Played

Isolate 3-4 notes from your guitar playing item and repeat them over and over at a fast tempo (near your top speed). Pick one note to listen for and focus on it like a laser. Reducing the number of notes helps you do this more easily.

Gradually extend the isolated excerpt (one note at a time) until you are playing the entire exercise. Over time you learn to hear notes just as fast as you can play them. This is critical for fast and clean guitar playing.

Accent The Note You Are Focusing On

Articulate the note you are listening for with more power in your guitar playing. This makes it easier to hear sloppy notes. Every time your focus shifts to a new note, articulate that new note harder with the pick.

Important: keep the rhythm of the exercise the same! Don’t make the accented note last longer (or shorter) than the others.

Use Speed Bursts

Jake Melling, president of the American Academy Of Guitar Mastery says: "guitar lessons for improving speed should always involve speed bursts". Speed bursts make it easy to focus on each note and play near your top speed. You perform a fast flurry of notes during your guitar playing exercise, stop (rest) for 1-2 seconds, repeat the burst, stop again and repeat.

The silence between each speed burst is important. It allows your mind to replay the notes in your head and fix guitar playing mistakes more easily. As you repeat the speed burst, make the adjustments needed to articulate notes for cleaner guitar playing.

Practicing with speed bursts improves other aspects of your guitar playing. Here is how:

  • You are able to practice at faster tempos than the speeds at which you normally play. This makes fast guitar playing feel easier.
     
  • Speed bursts also help you relax tension in your body. The brief rest between bursts makes you aware of excess tension. This trains you to play consistently and fix guitar playing mistakes for smooth technique.

Apply these practice methods to fix guitar playing mistakes that happen at fast speeds. This makes your guitar playing more consistent and reliable and helps you have more fun making music.

This free eBook about sweep picking shows you 5 more ways to fix guitar playing mistakes & get faster.


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