Metal Mike: A Sure-Fire Way to Improve Speed on the Guitar
I'm going to share a tip on how to quickly improve your speed and dexterity on the guitar.
Since obtaining speed seems to be a very common topic of discussion among guitarists, I want to give you some simple, proven advice.
The law of the guitar states that anything that gets repeated over and over again improves. So, if we take one lick and master it by playing it over and over and over again, any other lick that is remotely similar in structure and technique to the repeated lick will automatically improve.
Think about what this actually means.
If you want to master alternate picking, it is to your advantage to practice one alternate picking lick over and over, as opposed to jumping all over your guitar while you try to play every alternate picking lick you know. By jumping around, you are not really mastering anything, per se. You're basically playing a lick a few times, not getting much out of it, then moving on to another lick, repeating the same process, and so forth.
But if you loop and repeat the same lick countless times — as you watch and analyze your technique — you will see that your playing speed will improve.
I used to pick about 20 licks and play each one for five minutes non-stop before moving to another one. I did this while looking at a watch. Every time five minutes went by, I'd move onto another lick. It was a great way to spend solid time practicing and watching as my technique improved.
So, in short, I have used only a few essential licks to build up the main pillars of my technique.
Let me show you how this worked for someone else. There's a very famous alternate picking lick that Paul Gilbert is known for; you know, the one that, played at speed, should have sounded like a Popsicle stick stuck in your bicycle spokes. It's a simple Al Di Meola-style, repeated lick.
Now, if you think about what I mentioned above and listen to Gilbert's playing (especially the earlier stuff from Racer X), you can hear that a big part of his playing and other idea construction stemmed from that particular example. I'll bet anything that Gilbert practiced that one lick for days on end and has built an incredible technique because of it.
So in short, countless repetition of an exercise is the key to building great technique, fluidity, dexterity and speed! Good luck!
Polish-born Metal Mike Chlasciak has recorded or performed with heavy metal greats Rob Halford, Sebastian Bach, Bruce Dickinson and Axl Rose. Mike is the long-time guitarist for Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford's solo endeavor, Halford. Mike's new album, The Metalworker, is due in spring. For more info, check out his official website and visit him on Twitter.