how to play fast

We know it’s not all about speed - but if you’re wanting to impress with that face-melting solo you’ll want to have those parts down and your playing speed is a very important factor. We run through some tricks and tips to get you playing faster.

Posted: 21st September 2021

Play slow to play fast

It seems counter-intuitive, but when learning a riff you’ll find yourself racing through it (with a lot of buzzing and fumbling!) as you’re wanting to get the part played. It’s actually just as hard to play very slowly! Try slowing down your riff to an almost-boring BPM. You’ll find that you build up a much better understanding of where each note is and will help with ensuring each note ring out as well as possible. This also helps establish your dynamics throughout the riff and drills the visual identification of each note.

Build up speed - Metronome

Following that, start building up speed. We suggest grabbing a metronome and if the riff is 120BPM - Drop it right down to 60/70BPM and work up in 5BPM measures until you’re playing at speed, you’ll find that you reach a few hurdles, but all of a sudden, the riff will ‘click’ and you’ll be surprised by how fast you’re playing! The metronome also helps you build that ‘internal metronome’.

Hand strength & Warmups

Ever played a riff and just felt that your fingers can’t get there fast enough? Wrist ache when playing a barre chord? You might need to work on your hand strength. There’s a bunch of hand exercises online as well as adjustable hand exerciser tools that you can use to improve strength and dexterity. Also it’s important to remember you shouldn’t jump into playing a riff cold, run some playing exercises before attempting that solo. Another useful tip is to try to avoid playing guitar with cold hands, you’ll find that you struggle to move your fingers as fast!

Practice, Practice, Practice

This goes without saying, but if you really want to play fast you should be practising as much as possible. A lot of guitar playing is all based on muscle memory and the best way to achieve this is by consistent practice. Set yourself a goal for 15 minutes every day (or every other day) to run through some hand exercises, playing exercises and practice with a metronome. A few weeks of this will level up a player of any skill!