This Killer Speed Picking Guitar Exercise Gets Great Results & Makes Playing Fast Easier Than Ever
One of the coolest skills to have on guitar is the ability to pick with impressive speed. Problem is, it’s not always clear what the best way to practice speed picking really is. Many guitarists have no idea how to practice this and make very slow progress.
Good news: developing excellent speed picking guitar technique happens quickly when you use effective and efficient practice methods like the one in this article.
Use the speed picking guitar exercise below to learn the right things to work on to pick faster and cleaner than ever before:
Climb The Ladder To Reach Higher Guitar Speed Than Ever Before
Practicing using a “ladder” approach refers to practicing at increasingly faster speeds in a short period of time. This pushes you to experience what it is like playing at speeds you aren’t used to in order to begin programming your mind to process notes much faster.
Before you learn the ladder, read the points below to learn the skills you will practice with it:
Improve Your Mental Processing To Follow Your Hands More Easily At Faster Speeds
Building speed in your picking technique doesn’t require long note patterns. Practicing a short lick has the power to help you process notes faster and play cleaner in no time.
Repeat the short arpeggio lick below several times while listening closely for any mistakes:
By isolating just 3 notes (instead of playing a larger arpeggio pattern), it’s less overwhelming to make corrections and play the notes perfectly.
Focus on playing it just two notes at a time, while making those notes as perfect as possible before adding the next one.
This practice approach is an excellent way to master any lick or exercise.
Lock Your Hands Together At Fast Speeds Using Double Picking
One of the main struggles guitarists have while trying to pick fast is not being able to fret notes at the exact moment they pick the string. This leads to frustrating, sloppy playing.
You overcome this problem by practicing in a way that helps your fretting hand “catch-up” to your picking hand.
See the single string scale lick below:
Playing this at a fast speed may be difficult at first, because it requires very precise two hand synchronization.
Using double picking and breaking the tab into smaller patterns helps you clean it up fast.
Here’s how to do it:
- Choose 3-5 notes from the lick and play them continuously while picking each one twice.
- After you are able to do this cleanly, add another note and repeat.
- Continue like this until you are able to double pick the entire pattern.
Now play it like normal (you can break it into smaller patterns this way too) and it feels much easier to keep your hands together.
Develop Insane Speed Picking Using Tremolo Technique
Having amazing tremolo picking technique is one of the most common ways to showcase your guitar playing speed. Many guitarists learn how to use tremolo picking, but most do not actually practice it. Practicing this technique consistently makes your picking speed more consistent and clean.
One great way to practice tremolo picking is to pay close attention to every pick stroke you make. This is done easily by setting a number and picking that exact amount.
- Determine the note you want to use tremolo on.
- Pick it slowly at first for a total of 6 pick strokes, while paying attention to the motion of each one (upstroke or downstroke).
- Next, tremolo pick the note at a fast speed 6 times. Maintain the same consistent pick strokes as you used while picking slowly.
A great lick to use for this is the single string lick from above:
Repeat this process while determining different numbers for the second step. This links your mind together with your picking hand to make speed picking feel easier.
Pick With A Heavy Picking Attack To Make Fast Playing More Effortless
Don’t make the common mistake of picking strings too lightly. This sacrifices articulation and even slows you down. Using a heavier pick attack causes the pick to slice through the string, so it spends less time in contact with it.
Playing guitar fast and effortless becomes MUCH easier after using a heavy speed picking attack consistently.
Good news is, it only takes a little bit of time to get used to this approach.
First, watch this video to learn how to use efficient picking movement:
Now, play the Locrian scale below using a heavy picking attack with the efficient guitar picking technique you just learned about:
After practicing in this manner, your speed picking sounds much clearer and better than before.
Pick With Specific Pick Strokes To Take Your Playing To A New Level
It’s common to struggle with speed picking when you use the exact same picking approach all the time. Adding variety to your picking attack helps you grow as a guitarist and adapt to any situation without sacrificing accuracy while playing fast.
In addition to practicing with the picking approach in the previous point, practice using as many different picking combinations as you can think of.
For example, play the Locrian scale using the following approaches:
- All upstrokes
- All downstrokes
- 2 upstrokes + 1 downstrokes
- Alternate picking
- Picking approach from the video in the previous point
- Any combination of the above.
You’d be surprised by just how much your overall picking technique improves when you practice in ways that you’re not used to.
Improve Your Guitar Speed With The Ladder Approach While Using The Skills You Learned
Now it’s time to practice what you’ve learned and bring everything together to improve your overall guitar picking speed.
- Choose any guitar lick you want to improve and break it down into 3-5 note segments.
- Determine the fastest speed at which you can play the lick and set your metronome for a speed that is 15 beats per minute faster.
- Play the first segment for 1 minute (keep going even if you make mistakes) and pay close attention to the biggest mistakes you are making.
- Double pick the notes for 1 minute continuously.
- Tremolo pick the notes (6 times each) for 1 minute continuously.
- Play the notes with extra heavy picking power for 1 minute continuously.
- Now set your metronome for 20 beats per minute above your max speed and repeat the process.
- Now set your metronome for 30 beats per minute above your max speed and repeat the process.
- Finally, set the metronome to only 5 beats per minute above your max speed and play it normally for 1 minute.
Result: you’ve made progress because you’ve improved your mental processing and it feels so much easier than picking at the other faster speeds. Training like this takes your picking speed to the next level in no time!
Learn more ways to become a super-fast guitarist by taking this free 14-day guitar speed mini course.