January 25, 2012

How to build guitar playing speed quickly and efficiently

There are many musical pieces that seem almost impossible to play because they may be too fast and/or technical at your current stage of guitar skill development. I used to become frustrated whenever I tried to play my fastest because it would only be a little more than half the speed of the song I was covering. Little did I know that I was doing it all wrong. Guitar speed is not something you could gain overnight, nor after a long day's practice. Building speed takes a lot of time and even more patience. Follow the steps correctly and you WILL be playing much faster by the end of the week.

A metronome is not required but is highly recommended.

STEP 1. Determine what you will be playing

STEP 2. Play it as slow as humanly possible. 
SLOW. Very slowly. So slow that it doesn't even make sense anymore. Play it as comfortably and smoothly as possible, utilizing hammer-ons, pull-offs, and proper picking technique. Be sure to keep your left hand (if you are a right handed guitar player) as close to the strings as possible when playing. THERE SHOULD BE NO PAIN WHATSOEVER. About 20% of the song's bpm should do.
Step 2 is crucial because you are building muscle memory for your hands. For this step to work to it's maximum effect, you must practice this step for about 5-6 hours and play nothing else in between. I know...patience...It doesn't have to be all in one day. I spanned the 6 hours over a week.

STEP 3. Evaluate your playing. If you are playing at the slowest speed PERFECTLY, then you can move on. For step 3, you can play at about 25%-40% faster. For example, if you were playing at about 50 bpm before, 65-70 bpm is where you want to be playing for this step. Practice this for about 3-4 hours, with complete relaxation and economy of motion.

STEP 4. If you can play step 3 perfectly and smoothly, without pain, begin to play at about 50%-65% of the speed of the song. For a 250 bpm song, you should play around 125-165. It is okay to slowly build your speed from 125-165 bpm (just an example). Practice this for 3 hours.

STEP 5. After you mastered step 4, play at about 75%-80% of the song's speed. If you can't, continue practicing step 4. THERE SHOULDN'T BE ANY PAIN. DO this for 5 hours.

STEP 6. 85% speed for one hour.

STEP 7. 95% speed for 10 HOURS! I know. Hard work.

Step 8. 100% speed for an entire week. Kill it.

Although long and challenging, this is a promising way to increase your guitar speed. Even if you can't reach the later steps, you'll find that whatever you were playing should feel much more natural than before. I hope I help some of you.

January 23, 2012

Catching Up Pt..2 - This time, it's personal

Okay... I guess I haven't been very good at posting new content recently. I apologize. Between my demanding college and work schedule, and my studies, I simply forgot I even kept a blog. I have set my schedule for my second semester to be much less rigid, which allows me more free time to post. Again, I apologize to those who may actually have cared about the lessons I was posting. I will be posting more soon.

August 14, 2011

Catching up

I know I haven't been on schedule with my posts so I apologize for that. I've been reading some of the comments and I'm gonna answer some questions.

Q: Can you detail the difference between the harmonic / melodic scales, and maybe link to some audio?
A: The harmonic scale is a 1 2 3b 4,5 6b 7 scale pattern while the melodic minor scale (ascending) is 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7. The reason I say ascending is to avoid confusion. It is often believed that the melodic minor scale has two patterns: ascending and descending. The descending pattern, however, is actually just a natural minor scale ( 1 2 3b 4 5 6b 7b ). As for links, I found this useful, but long video on YouTube. You could start the video around 3:10 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMs6DXDpBHk

Q: Any tips for tuning a guitar without a tuner?
A: The best option would be to look for an online guitar tuner and try your best to carefully listen to the pitch difference. Otherwise, there really isn't much else you could do :/

Again, I'm really sorry I haven't been posting lessons. I should be free for the majority of this week so I'll be writing, attempting to teach, and posting videos of some ideas I came up with. See you then!