How To Increase Your Guitar Speed The Easy Way (Without Moving Your Hands Faster)
by Tom Hess
Want an easy way to boost your guitar speed? Stop trying to increase the amount of potential guitar speed you have. Focus on raising your level of usable guitar speed instead.
This video shows the difference between potential speed and usable speed in your guitar playing:
Mastering 2-hand synchronization is key to increasing your usable guitar speed quickly. 2-hand synchronization is your ability to pick and fret every note you play at the same time with both hands.
You need specific guitar practice strategies that train your hands to stay in perfect sync when you play. You use them on as-needed basis to solve specific 2-hand synchronization challenges that hold you back from playing guitar faster and cleaner.
These guitar practice strategies develop tight 2-hand synchronization in your technique:
2-Hand Synchronization Guitar Practice Strategy #1: Double Picking
Practice all your scales and scale sequences by picking every note two times.
Example (regular scale):
Picking every note 2 times makes your 2-hand synchronization more difficult. Your picking hand is forced to move twice as fast as the fretting hand. This makes it hard to articulate every note clearly and makes any mistake more obvious. When you go back to normal playing, your picking feels much easier and your 2-hand synchronization becomes much tighter.
You can apply this strategy in 2 ways:
Replace your normal guitar warm up routine with double picking training. Play through your guitar technique exercises using double picking for 10-15 minutes. After the warm up time is done, go back to playing guitar as normal.
- Schedule specific time to apply this strategy in your guitar practice schedule. Select specific guitar technique exercises and practice them using double picking.
This guitar technique guide helps you integrate double picking into your guitar practice to improve your guitar speed faster.
2-Hand Synchronization Guitar Practice Strategy #2: Practice Guitar Unplugged
Spend some of your guitar practice time playing without your amplifier. Articulate the notes loudly enough to be heard acoustically.
Articulation inconsistency is a common cause of sloppy 2-hand synchronization. Playing guitar unplugged exposes inconsistencies in your picking articulation that cause your hands to get out of sync. Pay attention to the specific notes where your hands aren’t in sync. This helps you focus like a laser on specific problems that hold your guitar speed back.
2-Hand Synchronization Guitar Practice Strategy #3: Practice Single String Guitar Picking Licks
Picking cleanly and accurately on a single string is a key aspect of flawless 2-hand synchronization. Your hands must lock in perfectly tight for every single note. Practice guitar licks like this:
Set a goal to repeat this pattern a certain number of times before your hands get out of sync and use a metronome to track your progress.
Repeat the pattern over and over until you can cleanly play it 12-16 times in a row at a particular tempo. Increase the metronome tempo once this goal is achieved. Find the fastest metronome tempo at which you can play the pattern 12-16 times in a row.
2-Hand Synchronization Guitar Practice Strategy #4: Reverse The Picking
Practice single string fragments (from strategy #3) starting with an upstroke. Your goal is to make your playing sound and feel the same when you start on an upstroke as it does when you start with a downstroke. Maintain the same level of articulation, speed and 2-hand synchronization between your hands.
This variation feels challenging at first, but it becomes quite natural after a few practice sessions.
Note: this is a training exercise to be done during your guitar practice time. Do not adopt this as your permanent guitar playing style.
2-Hand Synchronization Guitar Practice Strategy #5: Isolate String Changes
Go back to strategy #3 and move it from string to string, ascending and descending. Repeat the pattern only once on each string before changing strings. Example:
Play the pattern ascending as well as descending.
Moving the same pattern from string to string trains you to keep your hands in sync as you change strings. You isolate another foundational element of 2-hand synchronization (string changes) and drill it until it is mastered.
2-Hand Synchronization Guitar Practice Strategy #6: Isolate Position Shifts
Go back to strategy #3 and move your single string pattern to other areas of the fretboard. This trains another element of 2-hand synchronization fluency: fretting hand position shifts.
Pay attention to:
Keeping your fretting hand shoulder relaxed when you change positions.
- Articulating the first note of each fragment hard. This helps reset your 2-hand synchronization as you repeat the pattern over and over.
Set a goal to repeat this pattern a certain number of times before your hands get out of sync. Use a metronome to practice this strategy at progressively higher tempos (as you did in strategy #3).
2-Hand Synchronization Guitar Practice Strategy #7: Track Your Progress
You must track your progress with 2-hand synchronization and all other areas of your guitar playing. Tracking your musical progress helps you to:
Identify specific weaknesses that hold back your progress.
Improve your guitar practice efforts and get faster results in your guitar playing.
- See undeniable proof of your progress. This increases your motivation to practice guitar and helps you reach your goals in less time.
Implement these strategies to close the gap between your potential guitar speed and your usable guitar speed.
This guitar speed guide gives you many more strategies for mastering your guitar technique and playing guitar fast.
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