5 Ways to Play Faster On The Guitar

Want to play faster? Build speed? Want to shred your guitar? Are you frustrated because you cant play as fast as your buddy or the guitar hero you look up to?

Here are five tips to help you play guitar faster.


  1. Develop Muscle Memory – With a new piece of music, we have not taught our fingers the series of movements necessary to play it at a high tempo (or any tempo, for that matter), so our fingers try to move in many directions at the same time. Slow down and allow your fingers to build the muscle memory required.
  2. Free, authoritative motion – Your movements should be both free and authoritative. Free motion is an absolute necessity for getting faster. Think about great athletes and the movements they make: swinging, kicking, throwing, etc. Do any of these motions look small and tense? NO! They look free and easy. The other half of this equation is authority of motion. Free motion can tend to get “floppy,” which we don’t want. Floppy motions can work at slower tempos, but not at higher tempos because they aren’t fast enough or precise enough. Play each note like you mean it. Free motion and authoritative motion can be difficult to practice at the same time at first. Get too free (floppy) and you’ll lose your authority. Get too authoritative and you’ll lose freedom of motion. Practice them each individually at first. Focus on just free motion for a while, then focus on just authoritative motion, then try to put them together.
  3. Bite Size Pieces – Dont try and learn all 36 measures of a solo all at once.  Break things down in to individual phrases and master that phrase before moving on to the next one.  Learning too much at once will only lead to frustration.
  4. Weights and balances – Your arms and hands have weight. Use that weight to your advantage instead of working against it. When you fret a note, you’re balancing the weight of your arm on the tip of your finger. Feel the weight and the balance. Get comfortable with it. When you switch from note to note you are shifting the balance of your arm from the tip of one finger to the tip of another finger. Feel the shift and get comfortable with it. Feel the weight of your arm move through the string as you pick the note. When you pick an upstroke, you’re moving against gravity. Feel that too. Feel your hand and arm move upward through the string against gravity.
  5. Hand/Finger independence and Synchronization – Can each of your hands play through the passage without adversely affecting the other and at the same time, work together? I see this in beginner students all the time.  They struggle with coordinating their fretting hand with their picking hand.  Find some good exercises that help your hands work independently but sync with each other.  This goes for single note lines where the pick needs to move strings according to the fretted notes and even with chord shapes and changes as each finger needs to act on its own.