How To Increase Your Guitar Speed The Easy Way (Without Moving Your Hands Faster)
by Tom Hess
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How do you close the gap between your potential and usable guitar speed? Watch this video to find out:
Mastering 2-hand synchronization is key to increasing your usable guitar speed. You practice for 2-hand synchronization much differently than you practice for top-end maximum guitar speed, integration of guitar techniques, real-life guitar playing, tension control or muting excess string noise.
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
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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.
Question: “Tom Hess, are there specific exercises that are best used with this double picking strategy?”
Answer: You can apply this strategy to anything you practice on guitar. The best exercises are any lead (and rhythm) guitar phrases you want to play faster and cleaner.
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.
Note: pay particular attention to articulation of your upstrokes. Articulation of upstrokes is usually much weaker than downstrokes (for most guitar players). This is particularly common for guitarists who play everything with strict alternate picking.
Use directional picking (not strict alternate picking) whenever possible on all your picking exercises. This article explains why directional picking is the best picking technique for guitar.
Tip: Alternate between strategy 1 and 2 during your guitar practice for best results. Play your exercise once using double picking, once unplugged and once using regular distortion. Continue this mini circuit for 5 minutes. This helps you confirm for yourself that your hands are really in sync on every single note and builds greater fluency in your guitar playing.
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.
Question: “Tom Hess, what if my top speeds is slower when picking on a single string starting with an upstroke?”
Answer: Keep practicing until the 2 speeds are identical :) Get feedback on your guitar playing from an expert guitar teacher to make your guitar practice more effective and speed up your progress.
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.
Tip: Accent the first note on each string to help your hands to stay in sync. Accenting the first note resets your 2-hand synchronization and helps you to play clean and fast.
Watch this video to see a demonstration of this:
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
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.
Want to learn even more simple ways to increase your guitar speed and impress your friends with your awesome guitar playing? Download this guitar speed guide & start playing guitar faster than you ever have before.
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.
Learn rock guitar with the best online electric guitar tutor.
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