You are on page 1of 22

8 Steps To Slaying The

Speed Demon:
Speed Picking Secrets
For Jazz Guitar

by Stuart King and


Greg ORourke
fretdojo.com

Greg ORourke 2016. All rights reserved.


AboutTheAuthors:

StuartKing
Stuartisaguitaristwithover20yearsexperienceasaperformerinmany
variedcontexts,rangingfromclassicalthroughtocontemporarystyles,
musicaltheater,andjazz.

In2005StuartgraduatedfromtheCanberraSchoolofMusic,Australian
NationalUniversitywithaBachelorofMusicasajazzperformancemajor.

ThesedaysStuartperformsregularlyaroundCanberraasabandleader,
sideman,sessionguitaristandsolojazzandacousticguitarist.Stuarthas
performedwiththeCanberraSymphonyOrchestraonvariousoccasions
andhasperformedwithmanynotableAustralianjazzmusiciansincluding
MikePrice,BenHauptmann,CarlDewhurst,LucindaPeters,andLuke
Sweeting.FindoutmoreaboutStuartatwww.stuartkingmusic.com

GregORourke
AwardwinningAustralianguitaristGregORourkereceivedhisBachelor
OfMusicHonoursdegreein2006,andwasascholarshipholderatthe
AustralianNationalUniversitySchoolOfMusic.Gregsmainspecialityis
jazzguitar,whichheteachesaboutonhiswebsitewww.FretDojo.com.

Gregsversatileabilityontheguitariscredittoseveralteachershehas
studiedwithovertheyears,includingMikePriceandDonAndrews,well
knownperformersandteachersintheAustralianjazzguitarscene,as
wellasmorerecentlystudyingwithinternationallyacclaimedjazzguitarist
andteacherMattWarnock.GregalsoundertookextensivestudywithTim
Kain,oneofAustraliasleadingclassicalguitarperformersandteachers.

GreghasgivenprizewinningperformancesattheAustralianNational
UniversityChamberMusicCompetition,andwasawarded1stprizeintheChamberMusicdivisionofthe
2004AustralianInternationalGuitarCompetition.Gregcurrentlyenjoysabusycareer,comprisingof
teachingonlineandoffline,performingandcollaboratingwithotherAustralianartists.

Introduction
Hi,Greghere!Imprettyexcitedtoday.

Theresagoodreasonforthis:

IwasluckytopindownmygoodfriendandvirtuosoguitaristStuartKing

torecordalessononhowjazzguitaristscanbuildtheirspeedpicking.

WhydidIpickthistopic?

Becauselearningtoplaylinesfastisacriticalskillforanyjazzguitarist.

Besidesbeingagreatallroundmusicianandatopjazzguitarist(anda

nicebloketoboot),Stuartisendowedwithincrediblechops.

HessimplythefastestguitaristIveplayedwithtodate.

Atthetimeofwriting,StuartandIhadhavebeenbusyworkingonStuarts

debutjazzguitaralbumQualia.

Duringourmixingsession,IwasabletonabStuartforafewhoursinthe

videostudio,andImsogladIdid.

Asyoullseeinthelessonvideo(linkbelow),itsresultedinasensational

howtoguideonbuildingspeedyouregoingtoenjoythisone.


3
ItturnsoutStuartisoneofthosehiddenguitaryogis,whohasquietly

workedoutanincredibleshortcuttoboostingyourspeedandaccuracyon

theguitar.

Sincerecordingthevideo,IvebeenpracticingStuartsapproachesdaily.

Afteroneweekoffollowingthestepbystepprocessinthislesson,Ive

noticedasignificantboostinmymaximumspeed,andmyspeed

pickingaccuracyhasincreasedaswell.

Withoutfurtherado,letsgetintoit!

Clickheretoviewthevideolesson>>

WhyDoIWantToLearnToPlaySoFast
Anyway?
Theresnodoubtaboutit:

Whetheryouareinterestedinshreddingitupornot,anyseriousstudyof

jazzguitarrequiresanabilitytoplayfasttempos.

Why?

Themajorityofsinglelinesolosbythejazzguitargreatsarestuffedfullof

doubletimerunsthatareoftentrickytoplay.

So,ifyourchopsarentuptothejob,youremissingoutonbeingableto

incorporatecriticallyimportantjazzguitarvocabularyintoyourplaying.

Thatsnotall:

Ifyoucanplayquickly,youllbeabletothinkmorequicklywhenyou

improvise.

Thismeansthatyoullhaveagreaterabilitytobemorecreativewhenyou

solo,regardlessofthetempo,asyourmindwillbeworkingfaster.

NowthatIveconvincedyouwhyyouneedtogetyourspeedpickingupto

scratch,hereswhatnottodo

TheWRONGApproach

LikewhatStuartmentionedinthevideoabove,Imyselfhavealwayshad

issueswithbuildingspeed.

Heresthetypicalapproachwhenitcomestoguitarspeedexercises:

Takeapassageandpracticeitoverandover,bumpingupthemetronome

1to5bpmatatime,graduallyincreasingthespeeduntilyoureachyour

desiredtempo.

ButItdoesntwork.

MostofmycolleaguesandstudentsIvetalkedtoaboutthisapproach

describeathresholdthat,uponreachingit,isimpossibletogetpast.

Buttheresanotherway.

Initially,Stuartwasunwillingtopartwithhishiddensecretsaboutspeed

pickingbutIgotthemoutofhimeventually.

Readonforhismethodinallitsglory!

(Hint:Fastforwardthevideotothetimecode(ingreen)togettothespotin

thelessonvideothatdemonstratesthestepsbelow.)

Step1:PresentingTheSprinting

Technique(4:04)

Togetstarted,choosealickthatyouwanttopracticebuildingyourspeed

pickingwith.Ideally,alongerlinewillbethemostusefultostudy.Tryto

stickwithjustonelickinitiallyyoullseewhylater.

HerestheonethatStuartwasusinginthevideoabove:

AsStuartdescribesinthevideo,asprintis:ashortburstoffastnotes,

interspersedbyslowernoteseitherside.

TostartbuildingyourchopswiththeSprintingTechnique,takethefirst5

notesoutofthislickandisolateit:


7
Why5notes?

Thereason:

Youwantthecelltostartandendonadownbeat.

Practicethisshortcellofnotesataslowtempoafewtimesuntilyouget

thehangofitbeforemovingtothenextstep.

Step2:ChooseYourTargetTempo
(5:55)

Whatyouneedtodonowischooseafasttempothatyoudideallyliketo

becomecomfortableat.

Stuartreferstothisasyourtargettempo.

Wearenttalkingaboutbumpingyourtempouponly10bpm.

YouwantatempowhereyoucouldkeepupwithPatMartinoatleast:

Stuartchose150bpmasthetargettempointhisvideo,becauseyouwont

oftenfinddoubletimelicksplayedmuchfasterthanthatinjazz.

Ifyoucanplay16thnotesat150bpm,youshouldbeprettycomfortable

withmosttunesandtranscriptions.

Ok,letsnotmessaround:

Youregoingtolearntoplayatthistemporightnow.

Whaaaat?!?ButIcouldneverplaythatfast!

Neverfearmyfriend.


9
Attheendofthislesson,youllbecarvingitupliketheresnotomorrow.

Letstaketheseguitarspeedexercisesstepbystep.

AsStuartdemonstratesinthelessonvideoabove,firstpracticesprinting

atyourtargettempowithtremolospeedpickingonjustthefirstnoteof

the5notecell,alongwithametronome.

HereareafewexercisestoshowyouwhatImean:


10
Speedbuildingisntsomuchaboutbuildingmusclesasitisaboutbeing

abletohearfasttempos.

Theaboveexercisesareprettystraightforward,butmakesurethatyoure

nailingthenotesoneachdownbeatpreciselyalongwithametronome.

Thesearereallyeartrainingexercisestogetyoufamiliarwithmovingata

fasttempo.

Noticehowoneithersideofthe16thnotesprintsineachexercise,you

playsimplequarternotesoneachdownbeat.

Thishelpsyouverifyyouactuallydid,infact,nailthesprintwithrhythmic

accuracy.

Itseasytothinkthatyouveplayedasprintrhythmicallyintime,but

youcanmakesubtleerrorsthatwill,whenitcomestoplayingalonger

sprint,starttoskewyouawayfromthemetronome.

Playingquarternoteseithersideofthesprinthelpsyouavoidthisproblem,

forcingyoutozeroinonthebeat.

OnwardstoStep3


11

Step3:SprintontheFirst5NoteCellAt
YourTargetTempo(8:12)

Nowthatyouvegottenusedtothetargettempoof150bpmonasingle
note,thenextstepistotakethe5notecellweisolatedandusethe
SprintingTechniqueonthat.

Remembertopumpoutthosequarternotesbeforeandaftereachsprint.

Thiswillhelpyoucheckifyouregettingthesprintsrhythmicallyintime.

Heresanexample:

Ifyouarentsureyoureplayingthesprintsexactlyintimewiththe

metronome,recordyourselfusinganaudiorecorderorsmartphoneand

checkhowaccurateyourrhythmis.

Animportantpointtomentionhere:Dontworryifyouretechniqueisabit

messy,i.e.missingstringsorhittingwrongstringswithyourpickasyou

playthesprint.Ignoreallthatfornow,wellcleanituplater.

Justfocusondevelopingyourrhythmicawarenessofthetargettempo,

regardlessofanytechnicalflaws.


12

Step4:IsolateTheNext5NoteCell

RinseAndRepeat(8:35)

NowthatyouveusedtheSprintingTechniqueonthefirstcell,isolatethe

nextcellofthelickandrepeattheprocess:

Hereshowyouwouldpracticeasprintwiththiscell:


13

Step5:StarttoGlueTheCellsTogether
(9:08)

Nowwehavetwochunksoutofthelickthatyoucanplayprettyquickly.I

wantyoutonowgluethemtogether,tomakealongersprint:

Thisiswherethingscangettricky.Itcanbeastruggletobeabletoplaya

longersprintlikethisatafasttempolike150bpm.

Butifyoucantplaythemtogetherdontslowdownthemetronome!

Instead,takeacoupleofnotestemporarilyofftheendofthesprintandtry

again:


14
Onceyoucanplaythisshorterversionofthesprint,addthenotesbackon

thatyouremovedanditshouldstarttoworkforyou.

Inthisway,workthroughthelick,one5notecellatatime.

Then,graduallycombinethemuntilyouhavecobbledtogethertheentire

lickatthetargettempo.

Heresthething:

Yourelikelygoingtofindthatthelickstillwontsoundthatgoodandyou

aredroppingnotes,playingmessyandgenerallystruggling.

Dontstressthepointofthisexercisesofarisnottohavecleanspeed

pickingyet.

Wellsortthatoutlater.

Fornow,yourejusttryingtotrainyourearstohearthatfasttargettempo

of150bpm.

Readon,becauseStuarthasagreattrickherewhenyougettothispoint,

andthingsstarttogetmindbendinglyinteresting

Step6:DroptheTempoto80%OfYour

TargetTempo(10:54)


15
Atthispoint,noticehowStuartonthelessonvideotookthetempodown

from150bpmto140bpm.

Hewasabletoplaythelickprettycleanlyatthatslowertempo.Inhisown

words,itwaslikehewas:

onlyplayingat80%ofmyability.

Nowheresthething:

Whatifyoucanmakeyourtargettempo(inthiscase150bpm),80%of

yourability?

Youcan.

Youjustneedtotrainyourearstohearatempomuchfasterthan150bpm,

whichiswhatyouregoingtodonext.

Step7:RampUpTheTempoBeyond
YourWildestDreams(12:46)

190bpm?Areyoumad??

Trustme,itsgoingtowork.


16
Attempttoeitherplaythefulllickorsome5notesprintsat190bpmorata

similar,incrediblyunrealistic,fasttempo.Goto150%ofyourabilityat

least.

Asyoucanseeinthevideo,Stuartfailedmiserablyat190bpm,butthats

notthepoint.

Whatyourereallydoinghereistrickingyourmindintothinkingthat150

bpmisactuallyaprettyreasonabletempo.

Spendsometimewiththis.Putyouregoasideandbepreparedtobomb

outatthisinsanespeed.Ignoreyourlackofaccuracyornotbeingableto

playthewholelick.

Justkeepfocusingonthosemetronomeclicksandseeifyoucangenerally

approximatethatstupidlyfasttempo.

Ontothefinalstep

Step8:NowGoBackToYourTarget

Tempo(14:06)

Onceyouvesufferedforawhileat190bpm,itstimetochillout.

Windthemetronomebackdowntoaneasygoing150bpm.


17
Ahluxury!

Seehowmuchmorecomfortable150bpmfeelsthenthecrazytempowe

attemptedinthelaststep.

Youmightsurpriseyourselfatthispointhoweasyitwillfeeltoplayata

tempowhichwas,justminutesbefore,arealstruggle.

IcouldntbelieveitwhenItriedStuartsapproachthisweek,aspriortothis

140bpmwasprettymuchmy100%tempoonagoodday.

Tohave150bpmfeelrelativelycomfortablewasunbelievable.

Ok,SoHowTheHeckDidThatWork?

Thepointoftheseguitarspeedexerciseswasnottodevelopfinger

dexterity,fasttwitchmuscles,pickingtechniquesoranythinglikethat.


18
Theyweresimpleexercisesintrainingthemindtoperceiveanincredibly

fasttempo(inthiscase190bpm),evenifyoucantplayitcleanlyyet.

Bydoingthis,youarespeedingupyourmentalawareness,whichseemsto

bethecruxofthewholespeeddevelopmentissueonguitar.

Interestingly,whenyouthengobacktoyourslowertargettempo(e.g

goingbackdownfrom190bpmto150bpm),itfeelsmuchslowerthanit

actuallyis.

Youvetrickedyourmindintothinkingthatthetargettempoisonly80%of

yourability.

Rhythmawarenessandrhythmicaccuracy,nottechnicalaccuracy,isthe

keytounlockingtheabilitytoplayfastontheguitar.Regardlessofyour

lackofaccuracywithyourspeedpicking,throughfollowingthisapproach

younowhavethatrawspeedunderyourfingerstoworkwith.

Bepatient:thetechnicalaccuracywillcomeovertime,asyourfingersget

usedtoplayingatthesefastertempos.


19

AGroundbreakingApproach

WhatIfoundmostinterestingabouttryingoutStuartsapproachishow

quicklyitworkedtobuildspeed.

Thisindicatestomethattheabilitytoplayfastisntreallytodowith

buildingmusclesinyourfingers.Ifyouvebeenplayingguitarforawhile,

thisshouldhavealreadybeendevelopedlongago.Speedbuildingismore

ofamentaltrainingissue.

Heresanotherfascinatingoutcome:

Throughpracticingthisapproach,ithasntjustbeenthelickIvebeenusing

thathashadaspeedboost.

Everythingelsehasfeltmucheasiertoplayasaresultoftheseguitar

speedexercises.

Itseemsasthoughlearninghowtoplayjustonelickfastgivesyouthe

abilitytoplayotherlicksfasttoo.

Plus,Ivefoundmypickingaccuracyhasincreasedatslowertempos

andmyhandsaremorerelaxed.

ItappearsthatStuartmayhaveindeedslainthespeeddemon,aferocious

beastthathastormentedguitaristsforgenerations.


20

FurtherResources

Ifyouneedametronome,IuseTempoPerfect,afreesoftware

metronome.Prettybasicbutdoesthejob.

OnStuartsrecommendationcheckoutguitaristTroyGradyswebsite

attroygrady.com.Althoughgearedmoretowardsrockplayers,Troy

hasexcellenttipsforimprovingyourspeedpickingaccuracy,

regardlessofwhatstyleofguitaryouplay.Troyhasanexcellent

onlinecourseyoumightliketocheckoutcalledPickslantingPrimer,

whichisadetailedguidetoguitarpickingtechniquethatIhighly

recommend.Clickthislinkformoreinfo


21

ThankYou!

AspecialthankstoStuartKingfortakingthetimeoutofhisbusyschedule

torecordthisgreatvideolessonforyou.

Givethistechniqueatryforafewweeks,andletusknowwhatyouthink!

Didyoufindthisapproachworkedforyou?Leaveacommentbelowto

shareyourthoughts.

Ifyouenjoyedthisspeedpickinglesson,pleaseshareitwithyour

friendsitwouldmeantheworldtous.

Maytheforcebewithyou,

GregORourke&StuartKing