By Dylan Andrews

A common question I get as a guitar teacher is how to build speed on the guitar. And unfortunately the answer to that question is a little too big to go through in just one article. 

This of speed building exercises like a tool belt. 

Each tool has a specific use to tackle a specific problem. So each speed exercise is another tool to put on the tool belt to fix a certain issue. 

And in this article, I want to give you one on my bets practice methods on how to build speed that works every. single. time.

Let's go!

Step 1: Choose one small item you want to build your guitar speed on

This could be a lick, melody, riff or chord progression. It can be anything you want to be faster at but it must be reasonable in length. 

For instance, don't choose a full Dream Theater solo as your item. Choose a small piece that is slow and need to be improved. 

Step 2: Play the item at 50%

Playing at 50% speed achieves two things

  1. It allows your fingers to warm up
  2. It gives your brain a chance to memorize the movements in detail, building the neural pathway. 

The majority of your guitar play progress happens in your brain, not your fingers. If you can move as fast as you like it is because your briain cannot tell your muscles fast enough what to do. 

This is due to a lack of memorization. But if you do it at 50% it gives your brain a chance to see the item in slow motion and memorize it deeper. 

Plus, you can be 100% you are playing the item correctly. Every time you play it correctly it builds the correct neural pathway.

And the opposite it true as well. Every time you do it wrong it is building the wrong neural pathway. 

Step 3: Play at 90% speed. 

To know what 90% speed is for you, you need to know what 100% speed is. And to know this you need to practice to a metronome. 

This will tell you your top speed so you can play at exactly 90% and 50%. 

If you cant play with a metronome then make your best guess. 

Step 4: Play at 110%

Everyone who tries to build speed slowly raises the bpm. You start slow and you slowly build. This can work but it is the slowest method you can use. 

Instead shoot past your top speed by 10% - 20%. 

This is the same principle baseball players use. 

Right before a baseball player is going to bat, they put weights on their bat and take some practice swings. The allows them to get used to the new weight. 

And when they take off the weight the bat feels light and easier to swing. 

This is exactly what happens when you play at 10% - 20% faster thn your top speed. 

When you go back to 100% it will feel much easier and you can probably move the speed up. 

I also have people do this because what they think is 100% usually isnt. 

When a student tells me they can only play at 100 bpm, I do a little trick. 

I play the metronome at 90bpm (hiding the metronome) and ask them to play. 

Then I move it up to 92, 95, 105, 110 without telling them what the tru bpm is. And like magic they can almost always play faster than 100 bpm. 

We put ceilings on ourselves that don't really exist. 

Step 5: Play at 100%

See how it feel now. If its too easy you now have a new 100% speed. If its not then repeat the process. 

But there is a key element I left out of this article that will massively help you buyild speed much faster. 

Watch the video below to find out what it is. 

So now you know how to build your speed on the guitar. What if you have a trained teacher who could coach you and guide you to become the player you want to be? I train students on methods like this all the time and I am proud to say my students progress very quickly. To see if these lessons are the right fit, I offer a free introductory lesson. 

Click here to book your spot.