By: Laurie Lea
A lot of guitarists long to be able to play blazing fast or
"shred" guitar and we all know it's no easy task. Not many
beginner players (or even many advanced guitarists) can just sit
down and play smoking fast lead lines that tear up the fretboard
and sound really impressive.
If you've ever tried to play fast and you just weren't ready, it
would have been very obvious right from the start as all the
notes would sound jumbled together and just sound like a
What you are thinking right now is most likely "Well, then how
do I get to play fast too?" You've heard the saying "you've got
to walk before you can run" Well, like it or not that is true in
this case too, but there are a couple of little shortcuts for
you to take to help you get shredding sooner rather than later.
The first thing you need is a metronome. They come in various
styles but the simplest one to use is the simple electronic one
with a small built in speaker, whose speed or BPM (beats per
minute) can be increased and decreased one BPM at a time.
The next thing is you'll take a super simple exercise like the
standard 1234 warm up exercise, where the 1234 represents
playing the first, then second, then third and then forth note
on each string starting with the 6th string and then moving onto
the 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd and finally the first.
Now, instead of playing this exercise using all down strokes of
the pick, you'll want to incorporate alternate picking. As you
may recall, alternate picking is where you pick one note using a
down stroke and then the next with an upstroke and then you just
alternate back and forth. This is a very efficient picking
method and it is essential to master it if you want to play fast.
Begin with a slow metronome setting like 80 BPM or so and see
how it feels and work your way up from there.
You should be picking a note every time the metronome ticks. Do
this perfectly and adhere strictly to the alternate
picking...down-up-down-up-down-up etc., making sure to stay
exactly in time and being careful to avoid playing sloppily.
When you feel comfortable that you can easily pick every note
clearly and perfectly at that speed, write it in a notebook and
increase the metronome BPM slightly. Keep repeating this process
and before long, you'll notice you're ripping up the notes at a
high rate of speed of 150 BPM or more!
Repeat exactly the same exercise on any scales you may know as
well as the 7 modes. Clean, deliberate alternate picking is the
thing that will help you become a fast player that people want
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