Lesson 12 – 12 Notes: Speed Drill


This was originally posted on ”12 notes”, a page on this website dedicated to guitar music and lessons.  So, for the more musically inclined, here is my twelfth guitar lesson to you:   Speed drills.  If you run into any problems, drop me a line and let me know, and thanks for reading! 

Enjoy!

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Lesson 12:  Speed drills.  Speed is crucial to all guitar players, Jazz guitarists, death metal guitarists, all guitarists, we are all in the same boat.  Playing fast is necessary, but playing fast and precisely is difficult, there are things you can do to play fast, and the exercises are relatively easy.

The things you should do are 1) alternate picking  2) synchronize your hands, making sure playing is precise and all notes are crisp 3) increase speed(DUH) to maximum on one string 4)  go from playing one string to several. Pretty damn obvious, but here obvious works. 

For a few alternate picking exercises, click here for lesson 7, alt. picking exercises

I generally start out using a metronome (click here to go to metronomeonline.com)  and start playing with a moderate tempo, 100 Beats per minute or so, (you can go slower if you need to, and faster if you please) and I increase my speed incrementally, while playing four notes per beat, until I hit top speed (or what passes for top speed).  After you are comfortable with your speed, increase the speed of the metronome until you can no longer play four notes per beat and play precisely.  Remember, the best way to go is start slow and get faster gradually. 

Part I:  Single string exercise.  Here I am playing a simple 3 note repeater riff. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0 -2 -3 -1 -3 -4 -2 -4 -5 -3 -5 -6 -4 -6 -7 -5 -7 -8 -6 -8 -9 -7 -9 -10 -8 -10 -11 -9 -11 -12
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – …etc, etc, etc

Continue the exercise all the way up the neck and then play the exact same 3 note repeater riff all the way back down the neck, and on all six strings.  If you can get to the 24th fret, take it that high.  If you’re on an acoustic and can only reach up to the 18th fret or whatever, go that high, but play it as far as you can up the neck.

Part II:  Two string exercise.  Similar in scope to the first exercise, but different in that it is in Lydian mode and is an eight note pattern

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – -2 -3 -2 – – – – – – – – – – -3 -4 -3 – – – – – – – – – – -4 -5 -4 – – – – –
– – -1 -3 -5 – – – – – – -5 -3 -2 -4 -6 – – – – – – -6 -4 -3 -5 -7 – – – – – – -7 -5 –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – -5 -6 -5 – – – – – – – – – – -6 -7 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – 7-8 -7 – – – – 
– – – – -4 -6 -8 – – – – – – -8 -6 -5 -7 -9 – – – – – – -9 -7 -6 -8 -10 – – – – – – -10 -8
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – …etc

Play this like the first exercise, as far up the neck as you can go and play all the 2 adjacent string combinations. Remember to play using the metronome, and playing 4 notes per beat.

Part III: Multi string exercise.  This one I do a little differently that the other two, in that I don’t do this bit on every string combination (though you could) or do this up and down the fretboard (again, you could), and that there are 4 notes per string unlike the others.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -12 -13 -14 -15 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – 12- 13- 14- 15- – – – – – – – – – – – -12 -13 -14 -15 – – – – – – – – – – – –
-12 -13 -14 -15 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – | 
  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -13 -14 -15 -16 – – – – – – – – – – – -|
– – – – – – – – – – – – -13 -14 -15 -16 – – – – – – – – – – – – -13 -14 -15 -16 |
-13 -14 -15 -16 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – |
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -| 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – |

Part IV:  Go nuts. Seriously, go nuts.  The other exercises always feel controlled.  This one, for me at least, never does.  It has to do with the rapid, long position changes.  That gives this particular exercise a very frenetic feel.  Despite that feel it is actually a pretty easy exercise.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -1 -2 -3 -4 –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 5-6 -7 -8 – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 9- 10-11 -12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -9 -10 -11 -12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – -5 -6 -7 -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-1 -2 -3 -4 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 5-6 -7 -8
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 9- 10- 11- 12- – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 12- 13- 14- 15- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -12 -13 -14 -15 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – -9 -10 -11-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-5 -6 -7 -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Perhaps the best piece of advice I can give is to be patient and controlled speed will come.  And speed needs to be controlled, if it isn’t it becomes indistinct, crappy sounding noise, and that is not the point of playing fast. 

Sometimes, when I begin playing speed exercises I’ll match the speed of the metronome, but only play the first note, and only one note per click for a 4 or 8 count, then I’ll double up and play that same single note at 2 notes per click for the same 4 or 8 count, and then double that again and play that same single note at 4 notes per click.  Call it shifting into gear.  It helps when trying to play fast to warm up like that, especially when pushing the envelope, going all out speed wise. 

Playing these exercises , and other like them, will only make you faster if you push outside of your comfort zone and try to play faster than you think you are capable, and leave it all on the fretboard.  You know your doing it right when you feel like you just worked out when you are done.

Now I am not super fast, never have been, but when I play fast every day, I do notice my speed does increase.  I’ve been going at the speed exercises every day for a while, and I am faster because of it.  Not gonna say how fast mind you, don’t wanna embarrass myself.

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That’s it for this weeks installment.  Hope you have fun ripping up the fretboard, I know I did.  Enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Lesson 12 – 12 Notes: Speed Drill

  1. Spacing issues on exercises 3 and 4 fixed. My apologies for the issue there, Sometimes spacing looks perfect in writing, and turns out to be a real mess after publishing.

  2. Oh my goodness! an incredible article dude. Thanks Nonetheless I’m experiencing issue with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting an identical rss problem? Anyone who is aware of kindly respond. Thnkx

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