Being able to play fast runs on the guitar has its advantages, and not simply for shredding or showing how many notes you can play per second. Building picking and fret-hand speed makes it possible for you to solo and play licks effortlessly in fast songs, and gives you yet another way to express yourself on guitar.
But developing speed takes time, in part because you have to build up the stamina and mental energy necessary to perform fast.
Ben Higgins thinks he’s found a better way. In his “Badass Guitar Tips with Ben Higgins” video, he teaches you how to use speed bursts—that is, playing a short repetition of a lick and pausing between repetitions. The pause, Higgins, notes, lets you “recover physically and mentally” from the burst.
Unlike other speed methods, this one doesn’t use a metronome.
“I think people get confused with playing to a metronome,” Higgins explains. “They set it to low-to-moderate tempo, go at it for three to five minutes, put it up one notch and do the same thing again.”
Higgins thinks metronomes are good for working on timing and stamina but won’t necessarily help with speed.
"You have to remember what metronomes were initially created for,” he says. “They are instruments to help people work on their timing. And we kind of adopted it as a speed-building instrument. A metronome won’t give you speed. It can help you, but you have to know how to do that.”
We previously featured Higgins’ videos, including his clip “30 Shredders in One Solo,” featuring the styles of Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai and others, and “Another 30 Shredders,” in which he tackles the styles of players like Nuno Bettencourt, Guthrie Govan, Eric Johnson and John 5.
Take a look at this video for “Fastest Way to Build Guitar Picking Speed,” and when you’re done, check out more of his videos on his YouTube channel.