Top 10 Guitar Lessons Myths #2:  Playing Fast is the Hardest Thing to Learn | FALSE!

Top 10 guitar lesson myths number two:  playing fast is the hardest thing to learn and that’s where I should spend most of my time. This is actually false: learning the correct technique in guitar lessons slowly is where you spend most of your time and scale it up from there.

Practicing the wrong technique may get you playing initially somewhat faster than you could if you were to play correctly however you will hit a glass ceiling with speed very quickly. When this happens, you won’t be able to play any faster, and won’t be able to play up the tempo of the song you’re trying to do… and then you will have to start over and retroactively work backwards.  Undoing bad technique is way way harder – 10 times harder – than doing it correctly the first time. Believe me I know I’ve had to retroactively reproduce songs that were done badly by EDM producers with outdated sound design!

As a guitar teacher in the early 2000s, I would get a lot of classic rock and blues players in successful cover bands who would come to me because the 80s metal tunes were beginning to hit the twenty-year nostalgia point and audiences were requesting them.  And so the classic rock blues bands are starting to get a lot of requests for Van Halen and Randy Rhodes and Ratt lot of the technical bands of that era.

These were very, very good, very accomplished blues players but they were three finger players and they didn’t know that in order to play these artists that I just mentioned they would need four finger technique because a lot of the 80s solos were based on seven notes scales.  So I would have to tell these very accomplished players that their technique was actually all wrong for what they were trying to do.   It was great for a play minor Pentatonics but not effective for playing seven note diatonic or melodic scales such as the major and minor scale.  I watched very accomplished players in the classic rock and blues domain have to start from scratch in guitar instruction and undo all of these things and then start back over.  Not a very fun place to be!  You want to learn how to do this right the first time and play the correct technique.

One artist who has a lot to say about this in interviews this Kirk Hammet who is really adamant about playing slow and also playing clean for metal players.  They want to turn up the gain and the delay and the reverb and those are really cool sounds, I use them all the time.  But you don’t want to learn to play that way! One of the best things that happened to me was when my whammy bar system on my Steinberger Epiphone spotlight broke I had to convert it to a fixed bridge.  And that’s what made me really a good guitar player was not being able to hide behind the whammy bar or effects.  One of the things I stress in metal guitar lessons :If you do play distorted, play completely dry: no reverb, no delay, nothing really. So you can hear how you really sound.  As the saying goes: “garbage in, garbage out” and you want to understand the correct technique to use from the very beginning.

Play it right, play it slow.  The speed will come and often quite easily!

Rock on – Jimmy Cypher