5 Tips For Building Guitar Speed

Lead Guitar

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In this lead guitar lesson, we'll cover 5 tips for building speed on the guitar. As we move through this lesson, there are three things I'd really like you to focus on. The first thing is to relax. You don't want any extra tension that can potentially lead to bad habits or injuries. Number two is to always focus on accuracy. And number three is to be really consistent with your practice.

1. Train Each Hand On It's Own

Your guitar playing is only as fast as your slowest hand. If you find that one lags behind the other, then you'll have to work on building up it's speed so that it can catch up.

Fretting Hand Exercises: You can trill between different fingering combinations. Start off by trilling between your 1st and 2nd finger, then 1st and 3rd, then 1st and 4th. After that, start with your 2nd finger and do 2nd and 3rd, then 2nd and 4th. Finally, try doing your 3rd and 4th.

Pro Tip: A trill is when you hammer-on and pull-off quickly over and over again.

Another thing you could do is run through a scale using hammer-ons and pull-offs while not worrying too much about your picking hand. For example, we could go through an A minor scale.

A Minor Scale

A metronome is a great tool that you can use once you're starting to get the technique down. Start off with setting it slowly and focus on playing cleanly. Increase the tempo over time while still focusing on playing each technique as cleanly as possible.

Picking Hand Exercises: Work on alternate picking on just one string. Start off slowly, and increase your speed as you get more comfortable. Incorporate the use of a metronome once you've got the technique down. Remember to focus on playing cleanly.

2. Synchronize Your Hands

This comes after you've got some initial technique down. You'll want to work on getting your picking hand and your fretting hand to sync up. A very easy way to do this is to practice scales with a metronome. You can try this with the A minor scale. Work on picking every note in the scale. Start off slowly, and gradually increase the speed with a metronome.

3. Rev Your Speed

This is the next step after you've got your hands synced up. Try this with a small scale fragment on one string. Start slow, then increase the speed, then bring it back down, then back up, etc. Try this with different fingering combinations. It works well with a fragment of a 3 note-per-string scale.

4. Set Realistic Goals & Track Them

It's important to set realistic and achievable goals for your guitar playing. Try not to think too far into the future, and focus on setting goals that you know you can reach.

Once you've got the techniques down, you can incorporate the use of a metronome. It's a great tool for tracking your speed and your progress. It allows you to see where you've started, and how far you've come.

Another great tool is just keeping a simple log. It can help you track something like a simple lick or scale that you're trying to increase your speed on. Here's a simple tracking sheet that you can download or print out and use to track your progress. It's got the days of the month on the bottom, and on the left you can fill in the BPMs you're working on.

Progress Tracking Sheet

5. Apply Everything To Music

A lot of guitar players get stuck in the trap of building speed for speed's sake, and once they're in a musical setting, they don't really know how to apply it. There are a lot of different ways you can do this. You can jam with your friends or play along to a jam track. Start off by working on the techniques and using a metronome to build up your speed, and once you're comfortable, find a viable mode of application.