11 Guitar Tips That Will Increase Your Speed

There are no secrets that will make  you a guitar virtuoso over night.  Developing speed on guitar takes time, commitment and lots of practice.  That being said, there are lots of things you can do that will bring about considerable results in a short amount of time.

Practice Slow
When practicing a speed exercise you want to start as slowly as you need to in order to play cleanly, with no mistakes.  If you play a scale or exercise sloppily when you play it slow, it will only get more sloppy as you play it fast.  If after increasing the speed a bit and are having trouble playing the exercise cleanly,  don’t be afraid to slow the metronome down a bit and start again.  It can be tough, but fight the urge to speed up the metronome before you are ready

Use a Metronome
Once you get an exercise memorized so that you can play it without thinking about which notes to play, use a metronome.  Start off slow and when you can play the exercise cleanly increase the speed by one or two beats per minute.

Pay Attention to Tension
Tension in your fingers, arms, and other parts of you body can drastically affect your playing speed, and can also lead over time to injuries.  Try to relax as much as possible.  Make sure you have a good sitting position, and pay attention to the tension in your fingers, arms, and face.

Dial Down the Pressure
Only use as much pressure in your fretting hand, as is needed in order to make each note ring out.  Using too much pressure will also cause unnecessary tension.  One good exercise is to pick a single fretted note and slowly decrease the amount of pressure until the note is muted.  At that point, increase the pressure a little, just until the note rings out.  This will give you the amount of pressure that we want to play with.

Use Small Movements
Try to economize, by using small movements, both in your fretting hand and in your picking hand.  Any unnecessary movement means lost speed.

Fretting Hand Position
Keep your the fingers on your fretting hand close as possible to the strings.  The farther your fingers have to move in order to fret a note the more speed is lost.

Picking: From the Wrist or Arm?
The picking movement should come from your wrist only, but use your arm to move from string to string.

Play Both With and Without Distortion
When practicing, it is often a good idea to practice without distortion as distortion can  mask sloppy notes. One drawback to practicing with a clean guitar tone is that, there can be unnecessary noise that is not noticeable until we add distortion.  For that reason my recommendation is to practice both ways, with a clean tone to assure that each note is fretted cleanly and with distortion to minimize noise from the strings we aren’t playing.

Practice Both Hands Separately
It is sometimes a good idea when building speed to practice our picking speed and  fretting speed separately.  That way we can really focus our full attention on the area we are working on.  Once you build up some speed in both areas, put them together and practice them that way.

To Anchor or Not to Anchor
There are different ways of positioning your picking hand some people prefer to anchor their picking hand with pinky and or ring finger on the body of the guitar below the strings.  Personally I don’t anchor my hand, as I find that I can play faster and with less tension that way, but there are many players who do and can play with amazing speed.  So go with what feels best and is most comfortable for you.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Be consistent in your practice, inconsistent practice is probably the main reason why most people who take up guitar fail to achieve their goals.  But to just put in time practicing isn’t enough, you also have to learn to practice effectively.