** As featured in issue 6 **
Playing guitar fast is quite often the thing that seems to grab most people's attention straight away, and done right can leave your audience baffled by your amazing agility on the guitar. Unfortunately this is not a skill any of us are born with - but it's one that everyone has the ability to posses if they are willing to put in a lot of hard dedication and a side order of practice, practice, practice!.
Playing fast and playing fast musically are very different things, and it’s the latter that often gets overlooked in the pursuit of breakneck speed. These examples are more like drills than musical exercises for one simple purpose and that is training. Training your brain to think faster, to the point where it becomes sub-conscious, is the key to playing long lines at a fast tempo without thinking about each individual note. It also trains your muscle stamina so you don’t get fatigued easily. This, you may have heard referred to as muscle memory. Like anything, it takes time to build muscle strength and you need to practice these examples over and over and over again. I cannot stress that enough! Familiarity is going to make your life a lot easier in the long run, and if you can spend as much time with the instrument as possible, you will greatly shorten the period in which you will see vast returns of speed and accuracy!
This is a simple legato lick that just needs to be practised slow and then sped-up gradually until you’re confident it's clean and smooth. Keeping the notes nice and even is especially important when it comes to speeding this up. Once you are comfortable with this, try to introduce alternate picking with the right hand, starting with a down stroke. Again practice it slowly and gradually speed up. When you feel you have mastered both techniques, try and alternate between the two techniques (see my video for an example of how to do this)
This lick is the extended version of lick one, where you are stretching to involve the 17th fret (this is more of a pentatonic approach). Like lick one, practice the legato first, then the alternate picking. Then when you have these down, alternate between the two techniques. Also try moving between lick one and lick two while practising both legato and alternate picking techniques. This is really good training, although the example is not the most enthralling - but it's training so no pain, no gain!
What this lick is expressing is the ability to just add a more usable sequenced pattern that, when used over a whole scale shape, can be very useful. Again, practice both legato and alternate picking and then alternate between the two (see the video for an example)
Using the same extension as lick two, just apply the new pattern to that shape and go through both techniques until you are firing on all cylinders. This may take a while but stick with it, you want to blow your audience away don’t you?…..
These next two licks are Yngwie Malmsteen inspired licks that are great for alternate picking and they all use just use the high E string. This is a descending version, which out of the two is the slightly easier. Remember to practice this slow and pay attention to your accuracy!
This is the other half of lick five -the slightly more awkward ascending version. This is using the same notes but you will have to pay attention to your co-ordination.
Until next time, keep rockin’