There are a lot of theories floating around in the guitar player community about the techniques to improving your guitar playing speed. Most of these theories are based on some sort of half truth, but a good part of the time these theories are nothing more than myths and really offer no help to truly improving a guitarist playing ability or their speed and style. One of the biggest myths, discussed heavily at times out there about achieving faster playing speed is that you cannot play fast with thick strings and high action. Most of the proponents of this particular guitar playing myth say that in order to be able to make your fingers fly across the fretboard, your strings have to be thin, as thin as possible and the action in the strings needs to be ultra low.
The reason this is a myth is because in reality, thinner strings and lower action do not at all make it easier for you to play faster, or better. Thin strings and lower action simply reduces the amount of finger and string resistance you get when you play. It does not imply you are playing faster. This makes the notes easier to hit, but does nothing for the quality of your tone, nor for your speed and skill. In actual fact, it just makes making noise easier and faster.
Playing with thin strings doesn’t take an individual who is still an amateur and make them into a guitar master, even if they play faster. What it really takes to be able to play faster isn’t lightning quick fingers, at least not at first. The key to successfully mastering speed and any part of guitar playing is accuracy and clarity. Let me repeat this once again. The key to successfully mastering speed and any part of guitar playing is accuracy and clarity.
A lot of people who get into playing the guitar immediately want to jump into learning how to play fast, and forget all about accuracy. It doesn’t matter how fast you play if you always hit the wrong notes and play sloppily. The problem is people tend to put a higher value on how fast you play, rather than on how well you sound when you play. Accuracy is the key to developing fast fingers. Learn how to play all your scales and chords, master them and their positions on the fretboard, slowly at first. Then after you have them committed to memory, start working on speed. By doing this you will develop into a very well rounded player and will be able to play lightning fast solos with pinpoint accuracy and clarity.
Another great tip for aspiring guitarists to improve accuracy and speed is to use guitar backing tracks. Practicing your solos and your speed techniques can be made even more beneficial when you can play along with an entire band of musicians. Guitar backing tracks provide you with a whole band to back you up while you play and help you to develop your skills while learning how to play with other musicians.
E Walker is contributes regular to guitar publications worldwide. He is the founder of Planet of Rock. See how guitar backing tracks makes guitar practice more enjoyable! Jam to over 1000 professional tracks including 100s of backing tracks