Looking for a good method, course, book, etc, to improve my guitar technique!

Good people from this forum,

I’m looking for a good course or method to develop a good technique and to improve my speed. I`ve used some of the classic methods but I haven’t obtained the results that I wanted.

I don’t want to make these extent to read, so let me put this in perspective:

  • I’ve been playing electric guitar for at least 12 years, but I’m still an beginner - intermediate guitarist.

  • These last two years I’ve used two methods that helped me alot (Speed mechanics by Troy Stetina and Chop Builder by Frank Gambale). The problem is that I can’t still play the exercises of these methods at their real speed.

  • I discovered cracking the code the last year and I watched all the Pickslanting Primer videos. These videos helped me to improve my technique but I can’t still reach the speed of Frank Gambale or Troy Stetina.

  • Right now I’m studyng with the method “Rock Discipline by John Petrucci”, although this method is a classic among guitarists I feel that it lacks of some information or exercises to develop a good technique. Since the first time this method was published guitar instruction have evolved a lot .

My question:

What method or course do you recommend? there are a lot of books and courses out there but I’ve realized that some of them are better than others. Is out there a good method that goes from basic to advance? For example, Mel Bay has good material to learn how to play classic guitar, but I haven’t found still good material to learn to play the electric guitar.

I’ll appreciate your help.

There is no method that compares to having an actual human being coaching you one on one in my opinion. I would suggest finding a guitar teacher that can play at the level you want to achieve. These days we are spoilt for choice since even guys like Greg Koch and Teemu are available for lessons, among the dozens of YT and IG shredders. A good teacher will put you on the right path addressing the issues of your right hand AND left hand (which is seldom talked about), plus the most effective way of practicing. Just my 2cts. Cheers.

Thanks for your advice man.

I thought about that, but in this moment, my job, family, among other things won’t allow me to hire a teacher.

In the past, I had some teachers, but the problem was that many of them didn’t have a good technique, didn’t know how to teach or just gave me the exercerises found in “Speed mechanics” or “Chop Builder”.

It sounds like you have studied quite a lot of “methods” already, and that you already have plenty technical knowledge.

You could try to spend some time just practicing the songs you want to play. You can invent your own exercises to help you tackle the difficult parts of the songs.

Anyway just an idea from a guy* that in the past spent waaay too much time doing exercises, and way too little playing real music.


You found it!
I’ve been playing guitar for 30+ years, I’ve attended Five Towns College, put in countless hours of practice, took private lessons for years. (With some great players… Greg Koch, Jack Wilkins, and German Schauss to name but a few!) And I can tell you (IMHO) nobody breaks down the mechanics of guitar playing/picking like Troy and the folks here at CTC! So my advice would be:
#1) Sign up for a CTC membership (If you haven’t already) and work on the material you find interesting. (There’s a ton of great stuff! So many amazing lessons and interviews… Andy Wood, Yngwie, Martin Miller, Gambale, MAB, Marshall Harrison, Eric Johnson, etc., these guys are some of the finest players and teachers on the planet!)
#2) Spend time learning songs that you find inspiring. (Free Tabs are available all over the net.)
Following these 2 steps will surely help you achieve your guitar goals!
Good luck!

1 Like

Hi Tommo!

Thanks for your reply.

You’re right about not focus only in playing exercises, instead in playing music, but the problem is what to do if you don’t have the enough technique?. Many music educators argue that practicing a complex song without the required skills can be a waste of time and effort.

Troy did a great job in revealing the secrets of many great players but I think that this information needs to be complemented with some extra material, like exercises, songs by levels, studies, etc. Such material can help the student to develop a good technique and not internalize bad habits. The problem is that many books, methods, courses, videos, etc, don’t go step by step, they start with basic exercises and then surprise the student with complex exercises.

In my own experience, when I wanted to learn how to play fingerpicking guitar I found a lot of books about this topic, but few of them were well designed. At the end, the Classic Guitar Method by Mel Bay helped me to achive my goal. These books were well structured and presented exercises and songs by levels.

To summirze this, I’m looking for progessive material to apply the things that I learned here.

Hi Bob,

I’ve already signed for a CTC membership, but I’m looking for extra material to apply the things that I learned here in CTC.

Try Chris Brooks, neoclassical speed strategies.

Compliments the Volcano program.

Also, his video program. The Yng-Way

I think others have already pointed out how important it is to focus on playing more music and fewer exercises.

It’s important to develop a strong sense of self-awareness. Where are you in your journey? What can you play? What is completely out of reach? What is challenging but doable?

What used to work for me was to get a list of songs that I wanted to learn and then split them into three categories:

  1. Songs within my level - no technical challenge.
  2. Challenging songs - mostly within my level but some fragments require extra work or are beyond my current skill.
  3. Final bosses - Most of the song is beyond my current skill.

Next step, I would plan out what I was going to learn:

  • Most of my time would be spent working on challenging songs. The most challenging bits, I would work on conscientiously and zoom in on what was holding me back. This helps build self-awareness: it helps you understand what’s not clicking in general and work on specific issues (sweeping, string-skipping, alternate picking ,etc). These helped me build up my skills in general.

  • A small part of the time would be spent on “easy” or “regular” songs. Sometimes one is overconfident and realises that easy song has some challenging bits and it helps to build more self-awareness as well as hone other skills (articulation, non-speed relating phrasing, tone, etc.). It’s important to mix up your practice to keep it varied and motivating.

  • Finally, I would break the final boss down into manageable chunks and start working on it slowly a few times a week, as if this was an exercise more than a song, and very slowly start putting this together. I always set myself a deadline and revise my progress against that deadline if necessary (never, never lie to yourself, it’s not a competition).

Surprisingly enough, this has always helped me take it up an extra notch. Bear in mind the law of diminishing returns as well. As you gradually improve, the next level is always les noticeable.

What I would also say to wrap up my droning post is to ask yourself what your motivations are. If you’ve been playing for 12 years and haven’t had it in you to work on harder pieces then maybe it’s more motivation than skill -I’m assuming you don’t have any physical impairement-. If you can’t come up with a list of 12 songs to be split into those categories then go back to the drawing board and work on your motivation.

Methods, books, etc. are good with guidance and in a certain context. On your own they risk becoming too boring and put you off playing altogether. If you feel you really want to do this I’d strongly suggest looking for a competent coach.



I read good reviews about his books. I’ll buy them this next week.

Thanks for your reply Jl Lopez, it was a complete and well structured answer. Man, what songs would you classify by level?

I went through the same thing. I am currently taking Paul Gilberts on line lessons and starting from scratch. I have found that I was missing the whole left hand muting while playing lead. So much harder than I thought it would be. I am very slowly catching on and just keep chipping away and praying I get it one day. We are on the right track, hang in there.

For an overall approach, I’d recommend the Creative Guitar series of books authored by Guthrie Govan. For speed/shred and workouts, German Schauss has written several books.

Hi mate,

It’s hard to say - it depends a lot on where you are-. What is hard to me might be a breeze for you.

Just a few examples off the top my head:

  1. Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits -> I’d say this is easy-to-medium for me. I can learn it in a sitting or two and on the face of it it’s easy enough. All of a sudden, I realise that speed is not a problem but I’m far from nailing all the little nuances in those solos. That’s why learning this song also helps me. I don’t set my bar too high lest I forget there’s alwasy something else to learn and perfect.

  2. Cliffs of Dover -> To me this is final boss! Fast patterns, a mix of techniques that I can’t fully perform, speed, etc. I’d put it in the very-hard box and work on small chunks in a puzzle-like approach until I can put everything together.

  3. Vivaldi’s’ winter concerto -> Same as above, very hard for me.

  4. Most of Metallica’s songs -> Some solos and fragments will stump me and require further work. I’d put them in box 2.

That’s me, it depends a lot on your experience, tastes and where you are on your journey. I think it’s good that you mix it up with a bit of everything. It helps build vocabulary as well for improvisation.

I hope this makes some sense!

(Sorry for my english i’m french)

I think like Bob !
Troy did it … he is now my God. I learned everyting, just with 3 épisodes:

Episode 9 : After 5 week i was yelling《ho my God !》
Episode 10 : after 3 week i got the sweep mix whit DWPS

Episode 12: after 3 week i got the antigravity
1 week later i got the harmonic scale everywhere…

After 3 month doing ONLY CtC, 45 minute every days, i took the key of the Lamborgini…

Today, after almost 5 month i play a mix of DWPS UWPS SWEEP and Antigravity. All of this whit extreme economic picking (now, only my 2 fingers are moving !)

Ty Troy :blush: you changed my life.

Now, the question his:

Did you did it blackguitar ?

How much serious you was whit CtC ?

Because now, i dont want any other technic, any other teacher !

N.B.: i play whit a cheap guitare very very used frettboard: Hondo Formula 1990
plywood… no amply…


The same happened to me when I was learning fingerpicking guitar. Due to bad habits I had to study the basics again. Something that I discovered is that when you have a good base (good fundamentals), exercises and songs, are easy to play.

I bought some Chris Brooks’ material (The Yn Way and Neoclassical Speed Strategies for Guitar). Both show how to develop speed and talk about the importance of pickslanting to develop speed and accuracy. Chris talks about the Troy’s work and how this helped him to develop his material.

@ jllopez
Thans man, you’re right, those are goods songs by level to practice.

@ Ben_Scott
Hi Ben, I practice one hour per day and yes I applied what Troy taught us about pickslanting.

The problem is that I need some extra material to develop a good technique. There are still advance songs and exercises that I can`t play. My goal for this next year is at least to play some Eric Johnson and Malsteen songs decently.