What It Takes To Master Guitar Technique And Play Guitar Fast And Clean

By Tom Hess


 
What does it take to master guitar technique and speed? Hint: the answer has little to do with how much time you practice. Mastering guitar technique is about focusing on the right things, at the right time and in the right way. Doing this makes mastering the guitar easy. Practicing the wrong things, practicing incorrectly or practicing things out of order makes your progress slow and frustrating.

This video shows how to identify things that hold back your guitar technique:

Guitar Playing Element #1: Fretting Hand Efficiency - You must train your fingers to fret notes on the fingertips, while staying as close to the frets as possible. This helps your fretting hand to play with the least amount of effort and keep the fingers closer to the strings.

Guitar Playing Element #2: Fretting Hand Finger Independence - You must minimize excessive motion from the fingers that aren’t being used to play notes. Example: when you fret a note with the middle finger, your 4th finger must not flinch up away from the strings.

Guitar Playing Element #3: Picking Hand Articulation - Your pick attack must allow you to play guitar with total conviction. This means your upstrokes must have the same power and articulation as your downstrokes.

Important: Pay attention to muscle tension when you work on your picking hand articulation (more on this below).

How To Master Guitar Technique

Guitar Playing Element #4: Picking Hand Efficiency - Your pick must stop between strings after each note, without making unnecessary motions to leave the string trench. (The string trench is the space between strings.) This keeps your motions efficient and helps you play faster with less effort.

Guitar Playing Element #5: 2-hand Synchronization - You must train both hands to move in perfect sync for every note.

Your hands must always move quickly to fret and pick each note, no matter if you are playing slowly or fast. The duration of notes you play will vary, but the speed at which your hands move must remain constant. This is key to mastering 2-hand synchronization on guitar.

This guitar speed guide helps you master 2-hand synchronization, double your guitar speed and cut your practice time in half.

Guitar Playing Element #6: Cleanliness Of Playing - You must eliminate excess string noise from your guitar playing and keep notes from bleeding together. String noise consists of:
  • Noise from the lower (in pitch) strings. This noise is best muted with your picking hand’s thumb.
     
  • Noise from the higher (in pitch) strings. This noise is best muted by the ring and pinkie fingers of your picking hand.
     
  • Bleeding (ringing) of notes together. This noise is caused by sloppy release of the string after a note is played. It is best muted by practicing with distortion and paying attention to how the finger releases each note.
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Tip: Using higher string action on your guitar helps to avoid the notes bleeding together.

Guitar Playing Element #7: Consistency Of Playing - You must learn to play at (or very near) your best every single time you pick up your guitar. This skill is very different from the ability to nail something once or twice under ideal guitar practice conditions. Developing guitar playing consistency makes it easy to play guitar in front of others without mistakes. This article explains how to practice guitar to play at your best consistently.

Guitar Playing Element #8: Effective Metronome Practice Strategies - The metronome helps integrate your guitar technique fundamentals into every aspect of guitar playing. It tests how well you have mastered your guitar technique and points out weaknesses that hold back your progress.

Guitar Playing Element #9: Excessive Tension Control - To control excessive tension in your guitar playing, you must:

  1. Eliminate excess tension in the parts of your body that aren’t used to play guitar. This includes your jaw, your shoulders, your upper arms, your feet and your stomach.
     
  2. Relax all tension in your hands between notes to avoid buildup of fatigue.

These 2 areas make your guitar playing feel very easy (even when you play fast).

Guitar Playing Element #10: Mental Processing At Fast Speeds - Your brain must hear notes as fast as your hands can play them. This helps you to:

  1. Identify which notes in your playing are not clean.
     
  2. Evaluate the results of your guitar practice. You must be able to hear when your guitar playing becomes cleaner as a result of your practicing. This tells you if you are on the right track to mastering guitar technique or if your guitar practice needs to become more effective.

Question: “Tom Hess, what does it mean to practice the right things “at the right time”? Do I need to master each element in isolation before moving on to the next one?”

Answer: “Right time” does NOT mean to follow a specific linear order. The order in which guitar playing elements need to be learned depends on:

  • Your current strengths and weaknesses as a guitarist
     
  • Your musical goals
     
  • Your personality and learning style

An expert guitar teacher can analyze your guitar technique and tell you exactly what to practice next to improve your guitar playing.

This guitar speed guide helps you to master the guitar playing elements needed to play guitar fast.



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