Precision Versus Speed in development of speed


You can try rhythmic variations to practice both speed and accuracy.

So you keep alternating between 1 short note and 1 long note.

For example, say your lick is ABCDEFGA. You play it like:
AB…CD…EF…GA… (as well as A…BC…DE…FG…).

When you can do that, progress to 2 short + 1 long:

And then 3 short + 1 long:

The short notes are to be played as fast and smooth as possible, as if you’re executing them with one movement (kinda like chunking).

This video describes it better. He calls it Grouping Notes. It’s violin, but you can apply the same concept to guitar:


There is no point in comparing the technical challenges of high level guitar playing, and the features of someone like Usain Bolt.

The level of difficulty and the necessity of a really good hand in your genes is much more important in profesional sports than on the guitar.

Some people simply overestimate a lot what it takes to be an accomplished technical player. Even kids can do it.

To put an example closer to what it really takes, it might be as difficult as earning a black belt in martial arts, judo for example. Everybody that puts their minds into it, takes good teaching, and make their practice can do it. EVERYBODY.

Then, you can always work to be more refined, more precise, or for those who have the technical part pretty covered, more musical.

But no, playing Paul Gilbert, Yngwie, Dream Theater, or Guthrie songs is not in the same realm of difficulty than running 100 m under 9,7 seconds or jumping more than 8,5m. Not even close.


This probably happens a lot at the lowest levels of “amateur” guitar playing (people who are not really that interested), but I don’t think this is the case for most members of the forum. I think most of us are willing (or even happy!) to put in the hours but are trying to figure out how to practice to actually improve. I am sure that I have wasted many a 3+hours session because I was working on the wrong things.

About speed training I can only share my own experience: I recall that I could easily reach a 12-13 notes per second picking speed on a single string within my first year of playing. Of course I had no idea about string-changing techniques a la CTC - so the multi-string stuff was a mixed bag. But this base speed happened without any specific physical training, so I expect the key was just to figure out a picking mechanics that worked for me.

To go beyond these “regular” shred speeds, maybe some kind of “sport science” is needed - but I have this suspicion that it shouldn’t be necessary for speeds below the “Technical Death Metal” threshold :slight_smile: I’d bet it is just about sorting out the coordination of the movements as I think @Prlgmnr was suggesting (PS: you come up with the best analogies :smiley: ).

EDIT: for sorting out the precision / hand sync I think practicing exactly at the “breaking point speed” is very beneficial.


I think you need to actively practice both.

Practicing in shorts bursts of sloppy speed is actually quite valuable… since it kinda teaches your muscles how it feels to play quickly. And playing moderate speeds but super-precisely is really important since you can really hone-in on the sound, dynamics, intonation, etc.

I think you gotta go back and forth… and eventually, the two skill-sets kinda meet in the middle.

btw, on a somewhat related note… regardless of your precision… you tend to get ‘diminishing returns’ at outrageously fast speeds. So even if there is someone out there that can play precisely at 280 bpms… it’s really tough to even hear that it’s being played well. But if your playing at~ 190 bpms… extra precision makes a HUGE impact on the how ‘virtuosic’ it sounds. (yes, I know thats not a real word)

#25 :stuck_out_tongue: