Here's a good article with tips on how to develop guitar speed.
"Golden" exercise for the right hand.
By: Yuri Nikitin
This lesson can open for you a secret of high-speed guitar
playing. If take the given technique for 2-3 weeks you'll feel
progress in high-speed playing of complex passages. The given
principle of development of techniques "was tested" not by one
generation of guitarists and not only guitarists...
In this lesson we shall concern high-speed technics. Skilled
guitarists alredy know that the basic brake in development of
guitar high-speed technics is the right hand. Therefore when
playing the most ultra-high-speed passages for simplification
guitarists play legato (i.e. the right hand does not take some
notes, it is done with fingers of the left hand by receptions
How to achieve speed?
For this purpose it is necessary for guitarist to develop
technics of the right hand - fast alternation of pick stroke
upwards-downwards (a variable stroke). The more quickly the
right hand will make alternating strokes, the quicker the
playing will be.
It is necessary to begin from the most usual tremolo (fast
recurrence of one note). Triplets are the most effective way of
learning to play a tremolo. Try to begin each of your lessons
with a tremolo. It develops (and well warms up) the right hand.
The tremolo notes must sound dynamically equal (all sounding
notes of equal loudness) and with equal tempo.
For example, you wish to learn a high-speed passage. I offer the
following simple blues phrase in "A" as an example:
First you need to learn in slow tempo and in convenient key with
rational pick strokes. After you've done it, play a tremolo of
each note, i.e. each note in a passage it is necessary to take
three times (if it is the eighth) like this:
The tremolo should be loud (a silent tremolo does not make
effect). Play thus 10 - 15 minutes (with small breaks) up to
feeling of weariness in your right hand. The weariness speaks
that muscles work as they must do. In my experience each student
playing given technique, develops his own nuances. The right
hand as though itself finds the most convenient position while
playing, - it is only necessary " to force it to work". When you
are good at playing this passage with tremolo, try to play it in
I often hear a question: " How many it is necessary to be
engaged so that to come to high speed?" - It's individually. For
someone it's necessary 2 hours, for another 2 days, and for
someone it is not necessary at all (i'm kidding :-). Here
introspection is necessary, that is you should feel improvement
of technics. Clearly one, that the most effective way - "gold"
exercise for the right hand.
Play your own passages by this principle, solos,
improvizations, rock, jazz and blues phrases... If you have
great patience, you will see huge advantage of this technique
and feel the results. If you do not see any result most likely
you were engaged either incorrectly or insufficiently long.
Though it is possible to play legato or tapping, but it sounds
less brightly and energetically.
About the author:
Yuri Nikitin - guitar instructor, music writer and webmaster.
He recommends Jamorama for the ultimate guitar learning experience.