Shredding is a style of guitar playing that takes time and lots of practice to do well. Guitarists who shred use a variety of techniques that facilitate the ability to play fast. Two-handed tapping, pick sweeping, string skipping octave tapping, and patterns are some of the methods that can dramatically increase a player’s ability to burn up the fretboard.
Guitar shredding doesn’t mean just playing fast. Many shredding masters also incorporate melodic playing. Shred masters like Yngwie Malmsteen tend to lean toward classical guitar-type passages and free style time signatures. Some of the scales used in shredding include major, minor, blues, and major and minor pentatonic scales, in addition to the chromatic scale (all natural, sharp, and flat notes).
The first example below is a concerto passage played with a sweep picking style played legato in an open time signature. The second example, an excerpt from “Of Sin and Shadows,” is a sweep picking technique with heavy use of hammer-ons and pull-offs.
Guitar shredding for the beginner can be a challenge. Shredding requires strength, speed, and dexterity. If you want to shred like your heroes, you’ll need to commit to a regular practice regime that incorporates exercises for both your fret hand and your picking hand. Strong fingers, an economic picking technique, and extensive knowledge of the neck of your guitar are all essential to developing speed and fluidity.
Patience is also a virtue. You may want to burn up the fretboard, but you’re going to have to start off slow, playing simple exercises like the legato exercise and picking exercise shown below. Notice the picking gaps in the economy picking exercise. Begin slow and see if you can build the passage up to speed.
You can visit YouTube and find excellent videos that teach these shredding techniques. The good thing about the videos is that most of the instructors play them slowly and explain the techniques as they go, giving you the opportunity to absorb it. Watch these videos as many times as necessary to let it all sink in, then try to play along and see if you can leep up. With regular practice, you will be amazed how quickly your skills grow,