Wish you could tremolo pick with incredible speed, but are unable to do it no matter how hard you try? Chances are, you believe in the same myth as most guitarists - the myth that merely moving your hands quickly gives you the power to play faster. This is totally wrong, and I’ll tell you why...
A huge amount of guitarists already have the ability to play as fast as any virtuoso player. However, they (and you) are held back by the distance that the pick moves through the string whenever they pick a note. Unfortunately, many guitarists NEVER realize this and believe that their picking motions are already effective and their slow playing comes from not being able to move their hand faster (when in reality it’s the total opposite).
To develop insane tremolo picking speed, you must increase the frequency at which your pick comes into contact with the string (don’t confuse this with simply moving your hand faster). When you do this, you strike the string many more times and your tremolo picking speed shoots through the ceiling!
Before you continue reading the rest of this article, watch the guitar lesson video above to see exactly how this is done.
As you observed in the video demonstration above, you can quickly increase your tremolo picking speed x2 if you only cut your picking attack distance in half. Now that you have learned this idea, go through the exercise below to begin increasing your picking speed right away.
The first rule of building your tremolo picking speed: ALWAYS watch your picking hand during your picking technique practice! If you spend all your time staring at your fretting hand or don't watch your hands at all while practicing, you will never develop incredible picking speed.
To start developing faster picking speed on guitar, select an open string to play on with tremolo picking and do the following:
Step One: Pick non-stop using four notes per beat (sixteenth notes) at a very slow pace for around ten to fifteen seconds (you don’t need to use a metronome, just feel the beat for yourself). Make sure to turn your pick so that it is angled towards the end of your guitar where the tuning pegs are. While doing this, angle the pick at about 40 degrees. This will help you to greatly reduce picking motions without giving up dynamics or picking softer. For example:
Notice: You will produce much greater power in your pick attack while using much less effort if you play with a thick pick (around 1.50 mm and above) instead of a flexible one.
Step Two: Now, start playing a bit faster and keep picking for ten more seconds or so. Throughout this process, keep your eyes on your picking hand and closely monitor your picking motions to make sure they are just as tight as they were in the last step. This will guarantee that no extra movement is being used that would slow you down.
Step Three: Gradually raise the tempo you are picking at while still paying careful attention to your picking hand motions to reduce the distance between up/down strokes as much as you can. Additionally, pay attention to the following:
-Don’t ignore power and articulation whenever you are cutting down the distance in your pick attack. Keep a good amount of articulation in your attack by putting more of the pick in the string. This way you will be able to produce small picking motions while still maintaining a booming, powerful attack (instead of picking with the very tip of the pick like so many guitarists do - reducing their articulation).
-Your forearm and picking hand shoulder MUST be very relaxed whenever you are picking fast. It will not help you to tense up these muscles... it will only make you tired while increasing the chances of injury. Try to keep these muscles completely relaxed as you notice your speed increasing.
Keep raising your speed until you are tremolo picking at the maximum speed possible. Continue playing at this speed for an additional ten seconds or so.
Step Four: Now take a short break from playing for a minute before repeating the first three steps three more times. To improve your tremolo picking technique even more, switch between playing open strings and playing fretted notes (this will produce different levels of tension in the strings and challenge you to get better). Enter this exercise into your daily guitar practice routine and you will start seeing MASSIVE results in your picking speed in no time at all.
IMPORTANT: Don’t limit the application of these concepts to single string tremolo technique only! As you saw in the video above, you must also utilize this concept with licks on multiple strings, scales, etc. This will incorporate your speed picking skills into other aspects of your guitar soloing and make you a better overall player.
Next, use the exercise you went through above along with the lick below. When you do this, use your eyes to watch your picking hand and keep your pick attack as compact as possible (but keep picking with great power and volume).
Now that you have discovered how to greatly improve your tremolo picking, understand that this is only one piece of the puzzle for building tons of guitar speed. To get more information about the other factors that contribute to becoming a faster guitarist, take this mini course for developing guitar speed.
To not only increase your guitar speed to the highest level but also transform yourself into a much more creative musician, work with me by taking rock and metal guitar lessons.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and professional guitarist. He helps guitar players internationally to become better players with his customized guitar lessons. Check out free guitar playing videos and use a guitar practice guide on his website with effective guitar lessons to learn effective methods for improving your guitar playing.