Playing fast, with feeling

I’ve always wanted to play with a lot of feel, AND play fast too.
I’m sure I’m not the only one 🙂

In my development as a guitarist, I’ve mostly focused on
playing with feeling, and it’s only been recently that I started concentrating
on developing some serious chops.

Playing fast and sound good at the same time can be challenging!
Not only do you have to build up your technique, but then you have to find
creative ways to make it musical or it just sounds like you’re playing an exercise.

What an anti-climactic feeling it can be to work really hard on mastering a technique
like alternate picking, finally being able to play fast, but it doesn’t sound good!

A really, really good player told me: First you have build the technique,
then you make it musical.

So here’s an example for you. Let’s take a simple 4 note “shred” pattern
“G A B A” on the B string. That’s (8th fret, 10th fret, 12th fret, 10th fret). You can repeat
this pattern over and over as it flows into itself. If you’re not used to playing this kind
of thing, here’s how its done:

Use your first finger, middle finger, and pinky. You won’t need your ring finger.
Don’t strain yourself. It should not be that much of a stretch. Keep your fingers close
to the fretboard when you’re not playing a note with any given finger — don’t let them fly up too high
because it will make it innefficient to hit the next note. Everything has to be tight with
economy of motion so you can build up speed.

Got the basic idea? Now, you can work this pattern up to speed with alternate picking.
It sounds cool, but it still sounds like an exercise.

What you want to do is try to combine a fast pattern like this (or any pattern
you want) with the more familiar bluesy type phrasing you probably already have…
With a little experimentation, you can probably create some very cool phrases.

Here’s a very simple example of what I came up with. Enjoy and don’t
forget to create your own magic!


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