Doing This Will Make You Play Faster

Do you want to play scales, licks and runs faster, but yet still maintain the same good control over all of your ideas like you have when they're played slower? Then you're in luck... In this video, I’m going to show you the best way to do that... 

When you perform your licks or runs fast, they generally work out better when they are;
  • across multiple positions
  • have well planned fingerings
  • applying repetitive phrasing techniques
In this lesson, I’m going to break out two “example methods to play faster" using Pentatonic and Natural Minor scales - putting them head to head so you don’t waste any time learning this.


In this lesson I want to help you determine how you should be approaching your scales so that you can increase your speed.

A lot of times, students of guitar want to increase their speed but they’ll end up feeling like they’ve got two left hands.

The flow of notes won’t feel smooth, the way their lines come across won’t feel very organized (and all this confusion) will create a poor performance.

So, in getting started, I want to begin by showing you a great way to connect scales along the neck for playing faster.

There are a lot of different ways we can play a scale and there’s a lot of different types of scales, but for playing fast, one of the best scale layouts to start with are shapes that relate to the “Multi-Position Pentatonic” layouts.

In my first example, I’ve taken an “A Minor” Pentatonic and placed it on the neck from the 6th string root at the 5th fret. Here’s how it’s laid-out on the guitar...

In the pattern above, we’ve got the sale laid out as 3rd position into 5th and then up higher into 7th. And, from this layout, we can start applying ideas that will help us move through this shape faster.

One the easiest is sliding. We can make the position shifts faster by simply applying a couple of position slides on the 5th and 3rd strings.

We can also double up on some of the notes located at the central region of our pattern to produce more activity within the pattern, making the same group of notes sound more busy.

Phrasing scales so they get stretched out more (laterally) will offer us a chance to rapidly shift along the neck using slides as well as, other techniques.

Connecting scales laterally builds fast sounding phrases. So, let’s try this idea one more time by taking a layout for the Natural Minor Scale and applying this concept with a seven tone scale crossing through multiple positions on the guitar neck.

"A" Natural Minor Scale:

The pattern above moves from the 6th to the 3rd strings shifting from the 5th-Position all the way up to the 12th-Position.

Next, by applying slides, we can increase the speed and the fluid sound of the scale.

We can also try a similar approach (like we had used with our last phrase), by focusing-in on the central area of the scale shape and doubling up on tones in order to spice up our part.

Here’s an example of how to enhance this, key of "A" Natural Minor scale pattern, through the addition of some doubled up scale tones using hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Notice how we are once more focused upon the central core scale tones (as seen in our Pentatonic example). This area of the scale layout can be used to zero in on tones that could operate as repetitive phrases.

Spend time organizing notes more laterally along and across the fingerboard from both the Pentatonic and from the full 7-tone scales. Create some of your own patterns that can be effective for speed studies (as shown within this lesson plan).

When it comes down to playing "fast scale runs" these ideas are not like playing regular scales that you’d learn out of a guitar scales text-book. You need to plan these differently.

You have to understand how these scales will sit on the neck and how you’ll organize the notes over the neck for the speed you want to have involved with playing the patterns.

If you don’t understand the;
  • goals you have for the scale
  • how you want to achieve the speed
  • how you’re going to organize the scale on the neck 
  • how to develop the best fingerings 

Speed is not about just moving from point A to point B of a scale. It’s about the set-up of the notes and the way you plan out playing through all of the notes that you select. That’s how you achieve speed. 

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