Welcome to our 'Techniques for building speed' course! During this course, we will be taking a closer look at a variety of techniques that will become crucial as you develop your lead guitar playing. Little things like how you hold the pick and left hand strength can make a huge difference to your overall speed and accuracy on the guitar. So, strap in, and get the drum machine ready as this course will really push your skills!
The first thing to be sure of is that you are holding the pick correctly, and using the best pick for the job! For developing speed in your picking, there are few ‘must haves’ in terms of technique and hardware! Firstly, the pick should be held as shown in the image below:
The angle of the pick when it hits the string is also a major factor when it comes to speed picking! Check out the images below and try to replicate the angle of the pick on the strings. The video talks you through this in even more detail.
A chromatic scale is the simplest scale there is, whilst at the same time, being one of the hardest to apply musically! Chromatic simply means every single note. A ‘C chromatic scale’ would be:
As you can see this scale has all 12 possible notes in it, making it a chromatic scale. Later on in the course, we will look at how to apply a chromatic scale, but for now, it is a great exercise to build up your speed, for both your left hand and for your right hand!
Legato is all about creating a smooth sound on the guitar, and this is achieved with hammer-ons and pull-offs, as well as slides. Legato can be a very physically demanding technique as it requires a lot more strength with your left hand, which is what we will be starting to develop today. We will use pentatonic shape one for this exercise, but you can do the same exercise on all 5 shapes if you want to!
A sequence is essentially a pattern that repeats through a scale. These patterns are typically used to create extended ‘runs’ on the guitar that, when played quickly, sound awesome! A typical rock solo would consist of a few of these sequenced runs to add some speed to the solo. Our first sequence is created in the pentatonic shape 1, but could easily be applied to all pentatonic shapes. The pattern essentially consists of playing through the first 3 strings of the shape, then going back a string and starting again. You then play through the next 3 strings, go back a string and start again... and this continues to create the sequence. The pentatonic shape can be found in the fretboard diagrams.
Practice, practice, practice! That is the only way all of these new techniques will settle into your playing. We recommend practicing each day for minimum 20 minutes. This little and often approach will work better than one big session at the weekend as you will develop muscle memory this way. If you want some guided practice, then please visit our guitar gym section for some fun, timed workouts!
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