Last Updated on July 28, 2020 by Klaus Crow
Practicing speed building exercises on your guitar will improve your technique tremendously. The speed exercises will not just make you play faster, but also your dexterity will advance. Dexterity will create flow, easiness and flexibility on all fronts of your guitar playing.
When you practice the exercises for a while you will find that your fingers will feel lighter and move more fluently across the strings and fretboard as you solo or switch between chords. Guitar playing becomes more effortless.
The exercises in this post all have their own challenges that will develop and improve different parts of your technique. Exercise #1 and #5 are your typical 3 notes-per-string super fast lick that sound really awesome once you get them up to speed, but they’re just as nice to practice slowly or at mid tempo, exercise #4 is a nice blues lick, and others will serve different purposes to enhance your skills. Just try each one of them and explore.
Take it easy, take your time, and as always, enjoy the process!
SPEED BUILDING EXERCISE #1 ( A minor )
Below is a nice fast A minor lick scale run that you can play over an A minor chord or harmony / progression (Am – Bdim – C – D – Em – F – G – Am). Start slow, play every single note clean and clear and only increase your speed when you feel comfortable playing at a slow tempo.
SPEED BUILDING EXERCISE #2 ( E minor )
The E minor lick below can be played over an E minor chord or harmony / chord progression (Em – F#dim – G – A – Bm – C – D – Em). The upstroke on the high e-string can be tricky, that’s why it’s so important to practice this lick in a loop on repeat. Practice the lick in different positions on the neck. Move the entire lick 5 frets up or 5 frets down. Feel the difference as you go up or down the fingerboard, and overcome the challenges that come with it.
SPEED BUILDING EXERCISE #3 ( D major )
This D major lick can be played over a D major chord or harmony / chord progression in the key of D ( D – Em – F#m – G – A – Bm – C#dim – D). I will repeat this over and over again: Start slow and make sure the notes keep sounding neat, clean, clear and tidy as you increase speed.
SPEED BUILDING EXERCISE #4 ( A Blues )
The sweet nice blues lick can be played over a A blues shuffle or A blues chord progression. For more awesome blues licks check out 50CoolBluesLicks.com
SPEED BUILDING EXERCISE #5 ( B Phrygian / G major )
The following speed monster lick can be played over a Bm7 chord or a B Phrygian chord harmony / progression (Bm7 – Cmaj7 – D7 – Em7 – F#m7b5 – Gmaj7 – Am7 – Bm7).
SPEED BUILDING EXERCISE #6
Many riffs, chops and monster licks start right from the Lower E-string. Starting a speed lick from 6th string can be a tough thing, because your picking hand can’t get support from an upper string (there are no strings above the 6th string), so you got to find that support somewhere else depending on your picking technique. You got to be spot on right away to nail that riff. The exercise below will help you to overcome that obstacle.
SPEED BUILDING EXERCISE #7
The lick below contains 3 bars (measures 1 till 3) and goes ascending from the Low E-string all the way up to the high e-string. In the next 3 bars (measures 4 till 6) the same lick will move up 1 fret and now goes descending from the high e-string all the way down to the low E-string. Then it moves up again 1 fret and goes ascending again (measures 7 till 9). This repeats on and on until you can’t go further on the guitar neck. A beautiful 3 notes-per-string guitar workout to exercise your guitar speed.
GUITAR SPEED BUILDING TIPS
- Practice, memorize and play the exercise with focus and dedication.
- Practice the exercises with alternate picking technique. (down-up-down-up). Start each exercise with a down stroke.
- Practice with a metronome. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed.
- Don’t rush. Always start slow and make sure as you slowly increase speed the notes always stay clean and clear every step of the way.
- Play the lick slow a couple of times until you feel comfortable with the tempo, then speed up, play slow again, speed up again, go faster, go all the way slow again, go like a rocket but keep it clean and clear.
- Don’t just randomly play, but focus on your picking technique, on your right hand and left hand. Observe your playing. Where can you do better? How do you hold your pick? What happens when you change the way you hold your pick? Do you play neat or sloppy? Make small improvements every time.
- Don’t strain your shoulders, your arms or your wrist. Release any tension or tightness and try to relax while practicing.
- Practice the exercises daily, don’t get frustrated, it’s a process of two steps forward and one step back. Be patient, fast playing takes time, dexterity will come sooner. Practice the exercises and it will pay off!