How to Get Your Hands In Sync For Guitar And Build Guitar Speed
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If you want to increase your guitar speed...
... the first step is to improve one key area of your guitar technique.
The area that most guitarists (who want more guitar speed) rarely develop.
What is that area of guitar technique?
I'm talking about 2-hand synchronization.
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... but your overall guitar technique becomes cleaner, more accurate and more effortless.
So, how do you get your hands in sync for guitar?
Well, that’s exactly what the rest of this guitar speed article is about!
... check out this 2-hand synchronization video that helps you master this element of guitar technique:
Now that you know the basics of how to get your hands in sync for guitar, here are a few more advanced tips for how to play guitar fast with better guitar technique:
2-Hand Synchronization Tip #1: Practice Double Picking
This is a very simple and very effective way to get your hands in sync for guitar and make it easier to play guitar fast.
As the name implies, what you do is pick every note of your guitar technique exercises 2 times.
“How does doing this help your guitar technique and allow you to play guitar fast”, you ask?
Simple: double picking exaggerates the difficulty of 2-hand synchronization. Normally, when you pick each note once – you are playing with a 1:1 ratio. (1 action happens in the fretting hand for every 1 action in the picking hand.) This makes it relatively easy to get your hands in sync for guitar.
But when you pick every note 2 times? This disrupts the usual 1:1 ratio and forces 2 actions in your picking hand to happen for every 1 action in your fretting hand. This is a unique challenge for your guitar technique and 2-hand synchronization.
It also means that when, after you practice double picking even for a few minutes…… going back to picking each note only once will feel easier (and you’ll get your hands in sync for guitar faster too).
Question: “Tom Hess, what’s the best way to incorporate double picking into my guitar technique and guitar speed practice routine?”
This idea is a great illustration of an important warm up principle: challenge your brain more than your hands.
Watch this video to learn more about the best guitar warm up drills:
Another option is to simply carve out part of your practice time (the time you reserve for learning to play guitar fast) and do double picking guitar technique practice during that time.
Question: “Tom Hess what about sweep picking arpeggios? Can I get my hands in sync for sweep picking using this double picking 2-hand synchronization strategy?”
Answer: Yes. Although for sweep picking – use triple picking instead of double picking. This allows your picking hand to keep moving in the same direction as you do during regular sweep picking arpeggios. That said, with triple picking you get all the benefits (for your ability to play guitar fast) as you do with double picking.
2-Hand Synchronization Tip #2: Practice Licks On A Single String
If I were to pick just 1 drill to help you get your hands in sync for guitar and build more guitar speed…
… practicing guitar licks on a single string would probably be it. Why? Because playing guitar licks on a single string increases the demand for ultra-tight 2-hand synchronization.
And unlike guitar technique runs (where you have a chance to reset your 2-hand synchronization every time you change strings), there is no room to hide when you are trying to get your hands in sync on one string.
On a single string - either your hands are in sync when you play guitar fast or they are not.
How do you practice 2-hand synchronization guitar licks on one string? Simply take any scale you know (for example: A natural minor) and find its fingerings on one string.
Then practice playing it (as a scale sequence) up and down that string to get your hands in sync for guitar.
Practice single-string guitar technique licks at the fastest speed where you can maintain tight 2-hand synchronization. Your guitar speed should be fast enough to be challenging and require your full concentration, but slow enough for you to maintain flawless guitar technique.
Here is a video demonstration of how to find this tempo during your guitar technique and guitar speed practice time:
Similar to the double picking 2-hand synchronization strategy, you can get your hands in sync for guitar by using single-string guitar licks either as warm ups or as dedicated guitar practice items.
Question: “Tom Hess, is it a good idea to combine double picking with single-string guitar licks when you want to get your hands in sync for guitar?”
Answer: Yes, of course. That would be a fantastic way to build 2-hand synchronization and increase your guitar speed. In fact, doing this (combining double picking and single string guitar licks to get your hands in sync for guitar) is more challenging than doing either guitar technique on its own.
Here is how you can make single-string guitar technique practice even harder:
Idea #1: start your single string guitar licks with an upstroke instead of a downstroke. This makes it harder to get your hands in sync for guitar (by forcing you to accent notes with an upstroke).
Once you are able to play single-string guitar licks equally well starting with either an up or a downstroke, you’ll have a much easier time building your guitar speed and learning to play guitar fast.
Idea #2: Alternate open strings and fretted notes as you try to play guitar fast on one string. For example: play the first note of every 4th beat of your single-string scale sequence as an open string. This makes it even harder to get your hands in sync for guitar, because you have to deal with a difference in tension between the fretted notes and the open string. But as you improve this element of your guitar technique, your 2-hand synchronization will become much cleaner and tighter.
2-Hand Synchronization Tip #3: Practice Playing Guitar Unplugged
Playing guitar unplugged forces you to articulate the notes with more volume and power.
You don’t need any special 2-hand synchronization exercises to get your hands in sync for guitar with this strategy. Simply choose anything you want to play, unplug your guitar and GO!
Also, here is an interesting side benefit from practicing unplugged: it makes it impossible to play without your hands being in sync. Fact is, impossible to pick loudly without good 2-hand synchronization. So, if your 2-hand synchronization ever starts to fall apart, you simply won’t be able to continue playing.
You can do entire guitar practice sessions playing guitar unplugged (this can be especially useful you practice your guitar technique in the morning when your family and neighbors are asleep).
That said: you will very likely be playing at much slower tempos while playing unplugged than you are used to for normal guitar technique and guitar speed practicing. This is normal, because playing without an amp takes a lot more strength and power from your picking hand. But once you turn your regular amp sound back on – you’ll have an even easier time using your improved guitar technique to play guitar faster than you could before.
Also note: you need to balance practicing unplugged (and your need to get your hands in sync for guitar) with learning to control excess string noise when you play with distortion.
As such, spend some of your guitar practice time (that you allocate to learning to play guitar fast) practicing guitar technique with your regular amp tone.
When you do, focus on controlling string noise in 3 ways:
- from the lower (in pitch) strings, which you mute using your picking hand’s thumb.
- from the higher (in pitch) strings, which you mute using your fretting hand’s index finger and the unused fingers of your picking hand (ring and/or pinkie fingers).- while doing finger rolling (the motion where you fret several notes on the same fret across several strings with the same finger), like this:
When you combine practicing guitar technique unplugged to get your hands in sync for guitar with cleaning up sloppy string noise, you not only build a lot of guitar speed…
… but you ensure that your guitar speed actually sounds good and clean.
Question: “But Tom Hess, I feel tension in my fretting hand when I try to play guitar fast unplugged. What should I do?”
Answer: Simply slow down a bit more. Find the guitar sped where you can maintain tight 2-hand synchronization and have your fretting hand be unaffected by what the picking hand is doing. Increase the speed as your guitar technique improves.
2-Hand Synchronization Tip #4: Do Picking Hand Trills
You probably already know what trills are. They are a rapid alternation of hammer ons and pull offs on 2 notes. Well, picking hand trills are the same thing, only you pick every note.
Picking hand trills exaggerate the difficulty of 2-hand synchronization, making it a very useful drill when you want to get your hands in sync for guitar. To practice them, simply choose any 2 notes on guitar and play them over and over – picking each one.
As you do, focus on maintaining clarity and separation between notes. And be prepared to play quite a bit slower than you play your normal guitar technique exercises. The good news is, after practicing picking hand trills, your regular guitar speed exercises will become easier to play and your 2-hand synchronization will become a lot tighter.
You can combine picking hand trills with practicing unplugged or with double picking (described above) for maximum effect.
Practice picking hand trills as a warm up during your guitar technique guitar practice time (you don’t need to spend more than a few minutes per day on this drill to see results from it).
2-Hand Synchronization Tip #5: Focus On The Feeling Of The Hands Being In Sync
When you practice to get your hands in sync for guitar using the methods in this article, you’ll notice something specific about you your guitar technique.
And that is: when your 2-hand synchronization is spot-on, your guitar playing begins to feel a certain unmistakable way. Specifically, you’ll feel the string slapping against your fretting hand fingers for each note you play. That feeling - more than anything - is a good indicator of how well you are able to get your hands in sync for guitar.
When you play guitar fast, you often cannot ‘hear’ when the hands are in sync or when they are not. But you can always feel that sensation when it is there.
Focus on it when you practice and remember what it feels like.Watch this guitar technique video where I explain that feeling in greater detail:
You now know the best ways to improve your 2-hand synchronization for guitar. The next step is to master all other elements of guitar speed, so you can learn to play guitar as fast, as clean and as accurately as you want – without practicing for 8 hours per day. I can help you with this in my free eGuide called Double Your Guitar Speed While Cutting Your Practice Time In Half. Download it today and discover guitar speed building secrets most guitarists don’t know.
Want to get real breakthroughs in your guitar playing? Learn how by studying with the best guitar teacher online.
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