Shredding thoughts?


So we’ve all heard it, we’ve all seen it. But what is it? And how do we learn it?
It’s obviously far more than running up n down a scale.

I’d love to read your opinions.


Pretty fundamental question.

Concerning the semantics, as far as i am concerned, shredding is the display of virtuosic guitar technique in an agressive and in-your-face kind of way. But that might just be me. I’ve heard the term used to descibe black-metal riffing and more.

I feel on most boards, this would trigger the old “speed vs feel”-discussion. Personally i hope we are beyond this now :smiley:

But without going too deep into the implications and questionable justification of the term, i ll just try to be straightforward and give shredding a big YES !

I love virtuosity and in the right scenarios even the often looked down upon “just play as many notes as possible” can sound great (see most slayer solos).


The definition I would go by is that shredding requires a high number of picked notes per second. I don’t know how many, that could be up for discussion.

So anything picked, including sweeps, counts, but legato, including tapping, does not. As an example, EVH’s Eruption contains, imo, very little shredding. Steve Vai rarely does much shredding.

I would go so far as to say that shredding means rapidly wearing out (shredding) a guitar pick.


I don’t know how many, that could be up for discussion

It’s exactly 11,34 Nps.

I am trying to be funny, obviously.

Agreed that the mechanical interpretation of shredding a pick plays a role, which is also why we are sharing the term with skaters, bodybuilders and others.


What it is: The shredding sound to me has always been around the 150+ range for 16th notes. Of course this is contingent upon the pattern you’re playing. I’d say 40-80 is beginner territory, 80-120 intermediate, and 120 BPM - 150 early advanced, everything beyond 150 with a variety of more complex TWPS patterns is squarely in advanced/virtuosic territory. The scary stuff at 200-220 BPM is almost always super simple linear patterns like the Pop Tarts Lick or the four note ascending sequence from the Volcano pack.

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I’ve always thought shredding = speed + intensity. Yeah, I know… totally subjective.


If it makes someone say “yeah but BB King had feeeeeeeel” in a tone that calls for a sharp hit with a brick.

Then it’s shredding.


To answer your Q: how do we learn it?

Understand the basics of Pickslanting, how to chain Down+Up strokes in a continuous even loop: Tremolo Picking. Approach Tremolo in DPS across strings, and UPS across strings. This is the basis of all types of picking patterns in Alternate or Economy.

Then develop an approach to Alternate Picking, String Skipping, Economy Picking, Sweep Picking, Legato, Hybrid and Tapping. That’s basically all the essential techniques. Some players specialize or have strong abilities in one or several. A few are masters of all of them.

Further, explore and discover Left Hand Shapes that create rhythmic or melodic patterns. Scales, Modes, Chords + Arpeggios, Chord Progressions, Riffs, Melodic Lines over Changes.

Play with a metronome or a drum track. Increase the speed.

Prioritize accuracy, in tone, pitch, and rhythm - over pure speed and aggression. Of course, some players shred with a lot of speed and aggression, once they’ve mastered the technique.

Speed isn’t everything, Expression is more important - Shred is more about Virtuosity and Skill then pure Technique.


This will be the epitaph of every Boomer guitarist who didn’t learn how to shred in the 80s and is now bitter.

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