There are numerous books out with countless guitar speed drills and an abundance of exercises on the internet to improve your guitar technique.
I figured: if I’m going to write a blog about guitar technique, it needs to add something of value to the overabundance of information that is already out there.
It’s always been my impression, that most guitar players discuss technical facility as if it was merely a physical skill. I always found that interesting as it always seemed to me that gaining speed and technical proficiency is more a mental process than physical.
I will talk more about this later.
Before we go into that, let’s first discuss the most common approach to building technique: practicing with a metronome.
Short Melodic Bursts
One of the efficient ways to enhance your hand coordination, speed and dexterity, is by practicing short bursts of notes with a metronome.
Here’s a couple of examples.
Here’s a couple more to have fun with:
What most technique books who list those exercise (and pretty much all those books do), don’t touch upon, is how cool it sounds when you connect those short bursts into longer melody lines.
Here’s a couple of examples:
And you can of course move the short bursts horizontally through a scale, as in following example:
The Schools of Guitar Technique Practice.
- With A Metronome
You start with the metronome at a very slow bpm (beats per minute)
You play along with the metronome: focusing on playing every note clean, even, and relaxed.
When you feel completely comfortable and relaxed, you speed the metronome up with only 3 to 5 bpm.
You practice the same line at this new tempo, till it feels totally relaxed, clean and easy.
You keep raising the tempo on the metronome with a couple of bpm at a time.
At some point, you will have a hard time keeping up.
You then either focus on relaxing your hand and keep up, or if the playing gets too sloppy, drop the metronome 20-30 bpm and slowly build it up again with small increments of a couple bpm at a time.
This is slow, but efficient practice: where you slowly but gradually, over weeks, see your picking speed improve.
- The John Petrucci Way
John Petrucci has a book out with all guitar technique exercises.
He advocates, besides practicing with a metronome, to also occasionally do following exercise:
Play a short musical phrase, as slowly as you possibly can.
Very very slowly and gradually speed up…
till you are playing so unbelievably fast that everything gets sloppy.
Keep moving that super fast for a couple of seconds,
then very slowly and gradually, slow down again
till you are back at your starting speed.
Then without stopping, do this whole cycle over again.
Do this a couple of times.
This is a great way to speed up the development of coordination between both hands.
- The Shawn Lane Way.
Shawn passed away way too soon.
He’s always been one of my all time favorite guitar players.
His coordination, speed, agility and dexterity have been unmatched since.
Shawn talks in an interview, how he never really practice with a metronome or practiced things slowly.
He just right of the bat tried to play as fast as he possible could move, and then tried to clean it up as he was going.
It’s an unusual approach to building technical facility, but hey: apparently it worked for him. 🙂
- The Victor Wooten Way.
World renowned bassist Victor Wooten wrote a book titled “The Music Lesson”.
In his book, he touched upon the spiritual and mental aspects of musicianship.
You can find the book here:
Click HEREif you want to read “The Music Lesson”.
He explains in his book how there are certain mental tricks and techniques you can use, to improve your speed and coordination in unbelievable ways, without extra practice.
No matter how “spiritual mumbo-jumbo” the book might seem, he is really dead on and this stuff really works.
Not enough guitar players pursue and utilize the powers of their mind in accomplishing better results with lesser effort.
I wrote a must-read blog in the past about how those meditation techniques boosted my picking technique, speed and coordination in ways I could not imagine.
Click HEREto read how I boosted my picking speed beyond what I had ever been capable off before, with no effort”.
Ideally: you want to combine the different practice techniques.
You could spend 60% of your practice time with the metronome, 20% using John Petrucci’s approach, 10% Shawn Lane approach, and 10% meditation and visualization.
One thing is for sure:
If you combine these 4 approaches and practice this on a daily basis, you should see stellar results in your guitar technique.
Meanwhile: be on the look out for more blogs about guitar technique.
Do tell me in the comments section below if you see things I missed, or if you have questions, or need further info about all this, or if you have any feedback. I believe everything can always be improved, and I gladly would implement your suggestions and ideas into the blogs.