There’s the old joke if you want to get a guitar player to stop playing put a piece of sheet music in front of him. And I won't get into the reasons why you should or shouldn’t learn to read music but I remember the first time someone put a piece of music in front of me it was funny to watch.

In recent years, it seems like guitar players have become obsessed with playing faster and faster and faster what we know as "shred" guitar. While I love that style of guitar playing I grew up listening to it I do hate the word "shred" it just sounds a little cheesy and degrading to most guitar players but that's just my opinion. While playing fast is certainly something cool to achieve and it makes a solo exciting if done well at the end of the day it's not the be-all end all everyone thinks it is. 

Playing fast is just one tool in the arsenal of a guitar player. You see many videos on YouTube with players measuring how fast they can play with metronomes and people write in and say oh you're cheating; the video is altered or some inane or derogatory comment but I wrote this article for the players who make the comments "I'll never be that good " etc. You can be that good. When you watch some of these players you begin to realize just playing fast isn't really that hard when you look at what they're playing.

I witnessed a video the other day on YouTube where they had a player at some University with electrodes all over his arms and muscles trying to see why he can play as fast as he can Now I get it that stuff like that is interesting, at the end of the day he's only playing certain things that fast. Nothing against him as a player but at the end of the day what is really going to prove.

If you were to take a major scale and play it as fast as you could and you were literally known as the fastest guitar player in the world I'm going to explain to you why it isn't necessarily true because if you were to take that same scale and play it with  intervals of 3rds fourths or fifths or sixths etc. you would realize that suddenly playing that same scale as fast as you could become much, much harder simply because the jumps between the notes the interval skips and what your guitar pick has to do to play those notes drastically changes so at the end of the day it becomes a moot point. You would physically have to slow down simply because the spaces between the notes and the time between the notes becomes longer even though by small amounts. So, at the end of the day it’s like chasing your tail

I mention things like this because I hate to see someone who is just starting out playing the guitar to watch these videos and you'll see the comments all the time “I could never play like that” or whatever the comment maybe most players get defeated before they even begin, they must realize that playing fast can involve many different techniques and facets of guitar playing and that some of the players you see in the videos may only be good at certain things fast. I thought I was a pretty hip fast guitar player when I started taking lessons and then I sat down and watched my jazz  teacher play chords and chord progressions  that I had never even heard before suddenly playing a scale fast just didn't seem that hard anymore and I realized that just being technically faster playing scales didn't make me a great guitar player it was a lot more to it than that so before you get caught up in the need for speed these are just some things I wanted to mention to put some ideas in your head that yes it's one goal to achieve speed but again it's not everything, not even close. You’ll find creating your own style and character as much or maybe more of a fulfilling challenge. 

If you practice correctly speed will come weather you want it to or not

For more info go to NewHavenGuitarLessons

© 2017   Mike Gayda


Does your strumming currently sound the same all the time? Would you like to know how to add some variety and interest to it? Do you want to know how to add more of a melodic touch so you can express your emotions more?

Why is strumming well so necessary to rhythm guitar? 

Playing rhythm is a big part of playing the guitar. It’s an essential skill for beginner guitarists to learn. A lot of the music that you will be playing will involve you strumming in it and you can think of your right hand is the hand expressing your emotions. 

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In this video, you can see me demonstrate what I mean so that you can replicate it. Once you’ve got the chords strumming now, then your guitar playing will sound so much better. You’ve spent all that time learning your chords, make that time worth it by making them sound awesome! 

The most common mistake beginners make when they strum 

When beginners strum the guitar, they treat it like a light switch. 

The strum up and down, like an on-off switch. The lack of variety is contributed from lack of dynamics and speed of the fingers or pick moving through the strings.  

If you are playing a rocky punk song, this type of playing is much more suitable. 

However, for a nice melodic song, we want to include a more melodic tone to the strumming to accompany the song. 

First off, let’s pretend the guitar strings is a cat, and we are going to be stroking it. So you want to start off slow and firm, and then speed up. So reproducing this with the guitar, you want to have the bass string emphasized by playing it slower than the other strings. As you strum down, the rest of the guitar strings are picked through quicker. 

How to work on this? 

Focus on just practicing strumming down strokes first using this method. And then repeat the progress for up strokes. When you are doing upstrokes, it is the highest string that will be the ones emphasised.

Once you are confident with both up and down strokes, then put it to a strumming pattern that includes both and practice that together. 

Make sure when your pick is traveling through the strings, it almost bounces off each string, rather than a forceful push through the strings. 

Another simple technique to take this further

Another way you can make your strumming more interesting is actually dividing the strings into two. 

When you strum on the first beat on the bar. Or perhaps the first and third beat of the bar. 

Strum only the lowest string, the bass string. And then strum the other strings for the rest of the beats. Like the following diagram: 

This takes the first technique even further by emphasizing the bass string of the chord. The higher strings will sound like the melodic accompaniments to the chord as well. 

You can combine both the techniques together so you can do more expressive with your strumming. Having the ability to be more creative will make your strumming sound a lot more professional. 

You can now use these new techniques to impress friends and families, even when you are playing exactly the same chords. 

I hope this article has helped you with your guitar playing and improve your strumming. Practise the two techniques until you can comfortably swipe between the different styles to bring variety to your playing. 

About the author: Darryl Powis is a guitar teacher and guitar school owner in London. 

If you are interested in electric guitar lessons East London then find out more by visiting his website. 


Does practicing guitar feel like a burden for you? Playing guitar should be fun, so you think there must be something wrong with your approach or you even doubt that the guitar is the right thing for you to learn. Believe me, we all have been there. This is normal sometimes. And there is the keyword. SOMETIMES. It should not be like that regularly, but there might be times, where you just have to punch through something. Maybe you have a difficult exercise on your list, that you simply cannot find anything exciting about and it messes with your motivation when you even think of it. You feel like avoiding your important practice time and spend your time that you DO practice doing things that are just a waste of time and not necessary for your progress. 

How do you know it is a waste of time? Simple, if you study with a great teacher: It is not something he told you to practice. If you do not have a teacher and you are on your own, it is much more difficult. Ask yourself this question:

“Does this exercise do anything to free me of my limitations?”

If the answer is “No”, or not a fully convinced “Yes”, very often your gut feeling is right.

So there is a difference between what you WANT to practice in that one particular moment and what you SHOULD be practicing instead.

When you feel overburdened with what you SHOULD be practicing, here is some advice on how to make practicing fun.

Vary the exercises

This also works splendid, when you combine this method with the two previously mentioned.

Don’t spend your whole practice session just working on only ONE topic.

Mix it and bring variation into your practice routine. In consequence, your practice sessions will be much less boring and a lot more exciting!

When you have been practicing with a dry sound for a long time, it will bring in some spice to add some effects on your amp to play with more confidence and for a change lets you see past the little mistakes that might occur.

Apply what you are learning to real context

To give the things that you are doing a greater sense, start applying them to real context as soon as you got a grasp on the overall concept. Start using the new scale sequence, implement it into a little solo, try out things with the new arpeggio you just learned, put your new chord in context with other chords and listen to how it sounds, experiment, be curious, be like an explorer!

How to get even more motivation out of this:

Create your own backing tracks with the new concepts you just learned and do not judge your work at all. Just do it, nobody has to hear it. A lot of great musicians and composers wrote a lot of stuff, that they would never present to anyone, and that is perfectly fine, because it helped them to learn how to compose better material.

When you made several of your own backing tracks, solo over them or integrate the new skill you just started to learn.

Track your progress

One of the most important things to do to feed your motivation.

Try tracking everything you are doing in your practice sessions. Either by the value on the metronome, or write down new musical theory concepts that you just learned about, list them up, look at them from time to time, so you can feel proud after just one week already and see directly, how much you have achieved already and see what it does for your confidence with your instrument.

About the Author: Michael Korte is a professional musician and guitar instructor from Germany and owner of http://www.gitarrenakademie-hagen.de/