This Simple Guitar Exercise Will Give Your Greater Finger Dexterity And Develop Faster Guitar Speed In No Time At All
When I first started learning guitar I was inspired by the hard rock and heavy metal guitar heroes of the late 70’s and early 80’s.
I looked up to guitarists like Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde and dozens of other legendary guitar players from their era.
All I wanted to do was shred, and learning how to play the guitar faster so that I could tackle some of the amazing guitar solos I was listening to was pretty high on my priority.
I used to take a weekly guitar lesson with my guitar teacher Dave at school, and would practice guitar religiously for at least four hours per day and I got very good, very quickly…
But something was missing, and I didn’t quite have the edge that my favourite guitar players had.
How To Practice Guitar For Speed
I didn’t know it at the time, but there were specific exercises that could be done to help improve one’s speed.
All I used to do was learn songs believing that if I learned the guitar solos and licks from my favourite players I would eventually absorb what they knew and master their technique.
While this was very beneficial from a music theory point of view, I developed a lot of bad habits with my technique. This was only made worst by the fact I practised guitar so much.
That might not make sense, but If I taught myself a lick and didn’t use the right technique, I would practice it the wrong way for a few hours and over a period of several years, I had developed and strongly reinforced some really bad habits.
Even at university where I studied with some of Melbourne’s Best Guitar Teachers I would be told I had bad technique and needed to fix it… but I was never told what to fix and how to go about it.
Speed Building Exercises For Guitar
It wasn’t until I started taking online guitar lessons from a heavy metal guitar teacher who lived in the USA, was I exposed to a number of specific speed-building exercises for guitar.
Most of these guitar exercises involved identifying a specific problem in my guitar playing and then coming up with an exercise or drill that would help me correct the problem and reinforce better movements.
After all, most speed problems are a result of excess movement causing your hands to fall out of sync with each other, rather than not being able to move fast enough.
One of the best speed-building guitar exercises involved simply building up the control and coordination of my fretting hand fingers without any picking whatsoever.
It’s a tricky exercise, but is hands down the best exercise any aspiring guitar player can use to improve their speed.
The Best Exercise For Improving Your Fretting Hand Finger Speed (For Beginners)
To perform this exercise do the following:
- rest your four fretting hand fingers along string 3 at frets 5-8 (one finger per fret)
- without squeezing, move your first finger from string 1 to string 6 over and over while keeping your other three fingers touching the 3rd string (without squeezing)
- repeat this movement slowly 10-20 times
- once you have completed this movement, complete the same exercise with your second finger.
- You can complete this same exercise with the middle and fourth fingers.
You can watch a video of this process below:
It’s important to only do this exercise for 10-20 reps when first starting out. It will feel very tense and maybe even painful. The aim is to try and stay as relaxed as possible so that when you’re playing the guitar you are relaxed and controlled in every movement.
If you do this exercise every day for a week you will be able to move your fingers considerably faster and will have a much easier time playing guitar.
Additional Guitar Speed Building Exercises For Intermediate Guitar Players
In the guitar lesson video above we introduced a simple single-finger guitar exercise to help you build speed.
You can take it one step further and repeat the same exercise on your guitar but this time use two fingers.
Each of your fingers is to move in the opposite direction. For example, you would have your first finger move up to string 6 while your second finger moves down to string 1 (while your 3rd and 4th fingers remain on string 3).
Here are all the different finger combinations you can use for this guitar exercise:
- 1 & 2
- 1 & 3
- 1 & 4
- 2 & 3
- 2& 4
- 3 & 4
It’s a tricky exercise but start slow and focus on smooth movements.
How Long Does It Take To Play Guitar Fast?
Everyone improves at different rates and there is no easy way to calculate how long it takes to become a faster guitar player.
You can however take these steps to ensure that you maximise your progress and improve your guitar speed at a faster rate:
- Set goals for your guitar playing and plan each practice session so that what you are working on helps you move closer to your goals
- Track your progress and measure your speed so that you know how fast you are playing and how much improvement you are making each practice session
- Record yourself playing and watch for mistakes – If you are practising while unaware of a problem you are only reinforcing that problem. Record yourself and monitor for mistakes so that you know what to fix in future practice sessions
- Get help from an expert teacher – A great guitar teacher will identify what you need to fix and give you the best drills and practice plans to help you improve quickly.
If you’re serious about improving your guitar speed then I recommend getting in touch with us to book a free guitar lesson. That way we can assess your current guitar speed and any bad habits that are holding you back and give you the exercises you need to improve your technique and start playing guitar faster!
About The Author – Melbourne’s Best Guitar Teacher Michael Gumley
Michael Gumley is the owner and founder of Melbourne Guitar Academy – (Melbourne’s highest-rated guitar school) as well as the author of over 12 books and over 40 online courses on how to learn guitar.
Since 2015 Melbourne Guitar Academy has been helping guitar students all around Melbourne improve their guitar speed and play faster with personalised guitar lesson plans and high-quality lessons that are guaranteed to get results. If you’re looking for guitar lessons in Melbourne look no further than studying at Melbourne Guitar Academy. Get in touch to book a free guitar lesson with one of our teachers.
Find out the Melbourne Guitar Academy difference by booking a lesson with Michael now!