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Lesson Series

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Andy James - Metal Edge Part 8: How to Play Fast Part 3

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 9 **

Hello and welcome to the final part of how to play fast. In this guitar lesson we are going to look at playing and memorising the seven positions of the major scale on the guitar, using alternate picking and a combination of legato and alternate picking techniques.

First off, I want to show you the first position and all the variations so that when we move through the positions you will be able to apply these variations to the different scale shapes once you have learnt each position. For example, first you will play the first position G major straight up and down using a combination of picking and legato playing. How you will do this is to pick the first note on the low E string and hammer on the next two, then on each string after that, pick the first two notes and hammer on the last note (as each string contains three notes) and so on.

Coming back down the scale just do the same but in reverse! Once you’ve mastered that combination and scale shape, play the same shape using strict alternate picking starting with a down stroke. This pattern will start by ascending in groups of six notes then the last three notes repeat to become the first three notes of the next six note sequence.

Repeat this throughout the scale then coming down, do the same but in reverse. It’s one thing to be able to play up and down scales but a great way to break out of that is the play the first six notes of each positions and play them up in octaves. That means you play the same six notes three times moving diagonally up the guitar neck covering more ground. You can also apply the two sequences that we looked at. The alternate picking sequence and the combination of legato and alternate picking. Now you have all that knowledge, try it through all the positions of the major scale up and down. After a while you will really start memorising these positions and in turn will also develop your fast playing, but in a musical and usable application.

As I always say, application is key with this stuff. Try using it in different keys to backing tracks, or when you write solos or jam with your band. Whatever the scenario, the more you use what you have learned, the easier it will be to store in your subconscious so you can express yourself the way you want to without having to think about every single note you play. There is always a trial and error process involved in building technique. You may find yourself becoming better at some techniques than others. You may find you’re equally as good at every technique. Over the years, I’ve found what I’m comfortable with and what I’m not and I’ve focused on what works. If you can do that you can consistently be good every time you pick up the guitar. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t work on what you find difficult though. For me I’m always working on things I find difficult in the hope that one day that part of my playing will match up to other, more polished, areas of my playing. I hope that this look into how to play fast has given you some good ammunition to speed-up your playing effectively. These examples have helped me greatly in building up my speed and accuracy over time and it should help you out too. That concludes out look at playing fast. Just remember to practice everything slow and evenly and gradually increase speed to the desired tempo and once you’ve done, get out there and melt some faces.

Until the next lesson, Keep Rockin’!

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