3 Guitar Speed Exercises

Guitar Speed ExercisesA few of you have asked me about how you can play faster, so this video on guitar speed exercises is in response to that. I realize I'm not a string shredding speed demon from Mars like some of the guys you'll find online, but at the same time, I can play fast enough when the circumstance requires. In this video I cover a few of the basic techniques you'll need to start boosting your speed.

First off, the most important thing to know is that you're never going to be a fast and accurate guitar player without lots and lots of practice. (I mean ANYONE can be fast, but you want to be fast AND accurate, while sounding good, right? We're not just talking about gluing six picks to your cordless drill and playing one note 943 times per second!)

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So you might as well get used to the fact right now that you're going to have to practice lots to get fast. But don't let that be a downer. Done right, practicing can be a lot of fun. Just make sure you're getting familiar with your scales.

Secondly, the 'down-up' technique I mentioned in the video is ultra important. As far as guitar speed exercises go, this one is super important. If you can't get this technique down, it WILL be a glass ceiling in your playing, and it will be hard to ever break through that without correcting bad habits.

Thirdly, if you want to sound faster than you actually are, trying using hammer-ons as I demonstrated, and use those to boost your speed, if only until you can actually catch up with your normal picking speed.

Video Trouble? Watch Guitar Speed Exercises on Youtube

If you've got other guitar speed exercises that work well, please leave a comment below and tell us about them!

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22 Responses to “3 Guitar Speed Exercises”

  1. bob January 4, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    Jonathon, Really like this one. It's kind of how I've been practicing and this reinforced my method. Thanks

    • Jonathan January 4, 2010 at 9:16 am #

      Cool - glad to hear it!

    • travy katt December 23, 2011 at 11:31 am #

      Johnathan, brother your the smoothest ever .i was injured in carcrash and substaind very hardcore injurys.sci and brain also .stoke this is very helpful. ps maybe some open with a few barre chords .like jovi gnr type era .my woman said thanks ..k from Katt to cat. thankyou!!

  2. Mike C. January 6, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    Jonathan,
    I totally agree with your comment about practicing scales to improve speed. I go through the entire fretboard and back with all five pentatonic forms nightly. I also do the sets of 3 and sets of 4 which I'm sure you're aware. I usually do those with at least one of the 5 forms again, up and back. I have seen a dramatic improvement in my speed and my mistakes are rare even at the quicker tempo.

    • Jonathan January 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

      Mike - now you're showing me up! LOL. That's a great practice routine you've got going... keep with it!

  3. carl February 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm #

    thanks for the routines im including them in my practice sessions from now on

  4. Don May 21, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    Thanks for the chromatics idea, Jonathan.
    The "Down-Up" picking is also called "alternate" picking.
    Your Christian musician e-mail newsletter subscriber,Don.

    PS Check out my Artist/Band page on Facebook,"Only One Way".

  5. Bob Shannon May 23, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    The challenge is learning to practice BEFORE playing. Most evenings I just start right in with my tunes. This is a great method to learn discipline and to become proficient with the fret board.

    Please keep these great tips coming.

  6. Jonathan Boettcher May 23, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    Good point Bob - I know personally I always play much better when I've taken the time to practice / warm up before hand.

  7. Fred July 14, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    Thanks Jonathan - that's useful stuff. Do you have any tips for people who want to practice scales without a flat pick - a finger-picking equivalent to your "down/up" picking advice?

  8. Sean July 16, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    Anywhere I can get these 'Speed-Demon Pills' you speak of?
    Haha only joking. I'll eat my veg.

  9. Barry Little Sr. July 26, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    You have made me realize its the quality of a pratice session with a target goal instead of playing the same old rut! Thanks for setting me free. Barry

  10. x-ray January 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    very cool sir..God bless..

  11. Justin February 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Great video. I need to keep practicing my scales. But, I don't really know how to use a metronome while practicing. Maybe you could do a video on that sometime.
    Thanks again for all your help. I've been getting a lot better because of your tips!

  12. Ron Snodgrass May 9, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Great video thanks for hammering home that practice practice your scales is the key to getting faster and better, as you stated there is no special pill or trick that can make you faster or better it just takes practice, thank I look forward to your next lesson.

    Ron

  13. Cleophas Mc Donald December 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I was really looking forward for another exercise in speed, and i just got one,Thanks to you.

  14. Erdoganessat897 May 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    thanks jonuthan

  15. Jason June 5, 2012 at 2:45 am #

    Great video!! You know I actually play the pentatonic scale with alternate picking but I start with an upstroke and do up down up down... Is that improper? I do go down up down up when I play three note per string scales though, I'm weird 😛 Should I be able to do both up then down and down then up or am I fine how I'm doing it already?

    • Jonathan June 5, 2012 at 8:06 am #

      Hi Jason, you can start on either an up or downstroke, doesn't really matter, though in certain situations, one will be better than the other, depending on what you're doing. Therefore, it is best to practice both.

  16. Tenodogblue August 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Thank you, I always find your tuition worthwhile and I do actually go away and practice these skills. much appreciated.

  17. Smurfinmaui January 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    ANOTHER AWESOME LESSON!   Other ideas... 1234 on 6 string(F)  1234 5 string all the way down to 1 string, then 5432 1st string 5432 2nd string...3456 on 6th string cover the whole board. Also 1,3,4 on string 6 then 124 string 5, 134 string 4.... after string 1 scoot up 1 fret and come back down 542, 532...Then try finger combinations 1234,1243, 1324, 1342,1423,1432,2134,2143,2314,2341,....... I do 1234 down each string same frets then change to next pattern 1243 up .....practice hammeron pulloffs finger 1,2 for 20 seconds,  then finger 1,3 then 1,4, then 2,3 then 2,4 then finger 3,4 for 20 seconds each combo that is a killer burn. also try 1234 diagonally going up a string each time. And the greatest speed tip I've ever used: set your metronome for say 120 bpm then play 3 notes of a diatonic scale  1 note per beat, then double it to two notes per beat 2x then back to 1 note per beat, then 2x two notes per beat. find the speed that pushes you. This really has helped my poor timing alot I've benn playing 2 1/2 years. Also try 1234321  1 note per beat on 1 string then immediately play it 2 or 3 times 2 notes per beat.  Thanks for reading. If you read all this writing ad nauseaum you are as hooked as I am. Pull up Mattrach how to play fast on you tube. He is not a teacher but an amazing player. Sponsored by Fender at 15, now he is 30? My point is he plays that 1234 on each string so fast it will blow your mind! Someday!!!!!

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