5 Tips to Playing Guitar Faster

New Year’s Resolution

by: Marlene Hutchinson

Playing songs quickly can feel like a real accomplishment, but getting there can be a challenge. In fact, the best way to master the skills of any song is to play it slowly, very slowly, then increase the speed (or tempo) of the song once you’ve mastered the skills.

So often we want to play a song exactly as we know it, in the fast manner of the original artist. But trying to play quickly from the first strum or note is generally unrealistic and will usually produce a poor sound quality, plus your confidence may wane. That’s why you want to give yourself ample time and several strategies to improve the song as you improve on the tempo. Here are five strategies to help you increase the tempo without giving up on the sound and quality of the song.


5 Tips to Playing Guitar Faster

1. Start out by playing each chord in sequence or each note in sequence, slowly and clearly to be sure you understand the mechanics of each chord or the order of the notes.

2. Try playing the chord sequence/note sequence a little faster each time, but not so fast that you have major bloopers ~ just push yourself a little bit.

3. If you notice that you are stumbling with a certain chord or note, try to figure out what is tripping you up and then address that specific need (i.e. your finger may want to go to the 6th string and it needs to go to the 5th string).

4. Use a timer as a gauge to measure how quickly you’re able to accurately complete the song or riff you’re working on and then try to improve on that time without giving up quality.

5. Record yourself playing the song/riff and then re-record yourself a while later (days, weeks, etc.) you’ll likely hear the difference right away ~ Important: be sure to enjoy/appreciate/applaud your improvement and accomplishments.

Remember, you’re looking for progress.  Speeding up slowly can be just the right way to get you there!

About the Author:

Marlene Hutchinson lives and teaches guitar in Orange County, California and teaches her “Learn to Play Guitar in a Day!” workshop at colleges, universities and other locations around the United States. Her DVD airs on PBS stations and she has been featured on CBS 2, KCal9, NBC 9News, NPR (National Public Radio), Acoustic Guitar, the Women’s International Music Network and several newspapers including the Orange County Register. “Learn to Play Guitar in a Day!”  is a 2014 Player’s Choice Award nominee and Marlene is a spokesperson/clinician for GAMA (Guitar & Accessories Marketing Association). Visit Marlene at her website www.marlenesmusic.com


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Hi, big thanks for the video and post. I’ve been practicing to play guitar faster for some times now, and I have to say it is quite challenging. I agree that starting slow and working your way up is the way to go. Having a timer does help with measuring my progress. Cheers!

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