Five Reusable Hard Rock Chord Progressions

If you've dug into rock songs and chord progressions for any length of time, you'll know that many of them are exactly the same. Most genres of music are defined by their most commonly used chord progressions, so it shouldn't be surprising to us...


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4.16.2014

Speed Building Drill Sheet: Part II

drills
















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We don't have a great deal of need for introduction if you've already covered the first part of the speed building series.

Check it out for a refresh if you want to be chronological about things.

Here we'll focus on strengthening the following areas.

  1. Stretching Ability

  2. Coordination When Moving your Hand

We'll try and get away from camping out on a few different frets and instead work on jumping around the fretboard, stretching our fingers and getting used to moving our hands

Build Out of the Major Second

Most of the movement that occurs when playing at high speeds involves a lot of the major second intervals.

On the guitar this is a simple jump from one fret, to two frets up or down. For example, moving from the third fret to the fifth or C to D on the fifth string would be considered a major second.

In our first drill sheet most of the exercises where based off of that model, similar to this tab.

E|--------------------------------3--6--
B|--------------------------3--6--------
G|--------------------3--5--------------
D|--------------3--5--------------------
A|--------3--5--------------------------
E|--3--5--------------------------------


Aside from the last two strings, these are all the same interval. What we need to do now, is start combining intervals and get away from simple, two-fret jumps that don't really require us to move our entire hand.

We'll do that by intentionally covering chunks or portions of the fretboard; say a span of six to eight frets.

Two Major Second Intervals

E|--------------------------------------------
B|--------------------------------------------
G|--------------------------------3--5--7--8--
D|--------------------2--3--5--7--------------
A|-----------3--5--7--------------------------
E|--3--5--7-----------------------------------


We're connecting an interval from the third and fifth fret to the fifth and seventh fret. The real benefit here is the stretch, since you'll need to get your fourth finger involved to hit all three notes.

Adding Half Steps

E|------------------------------------------
B|------------------------------------------
G|--------------------------------7--8--10--
D|-----------------------5--7--8------------
A|-----------3--5--7--8---------------------
E|--3--5--7---------------------------------


There were two half steps in the previous tab; from two to three and seven to eight. In this instance, we've added three total, moving you from the third to the tenth fret.

Intervals on the Fifth and Sixth Strings

E|------------------------------------------------
B|------------------------------------------------
G|------------------------------------------------
D|------------------------------------------------
A|-------------10--12--14--------------9--10--12--
E|--9--10--12--------------10--12--14-------------


The concept here is similar, except we're bouncing back and forth between the sixth and fifth strings.

Combining Half Steps and Major Seconds

E|--------------------------------------
B|--------------------------------------
G|-----------------------------5--7--9--
D|--------------------4--5--7-----------
A|-----------3--5--7--------------------
E|--2--3--5-----------------------------


This isn't going to sound pretty, but the goal is to get your hand moving and changing positions while you're having to progress up the fretboard.

Two Major Second Intervals

E|-----------------------|-----------------------
B|-----------------------|-----------------------
G|-----------------------|-----------------------
D|-----------------------|-----------------------
A|-----------------------|--1--3--5--10--12--14--
E|--1--3--5--10--12--14--|-----------------------


See how quickly you can get from the pattern starting on the first fret to then restarting the pattern on the tenth. I've included two strings here, but you can do more at your own discretion.

Jumping Strings

E|-----------------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------------
G|-----------------------------------------
D|--------7--------9--------11---------13--
A|-----5--------7--------9---------11------
E|--3--------5--------7---------9----------


In this case we're still linking up major second intervals, but jumping up one string each time.

Jumping Strings: Inverted

E|--------------------------------------------
B|--------------------------------------------
G|--------------------------------------------
D|--------7--------3----------14----------10--
A|-----5--------5---------12----------12------
E|--3--------7--------10----------14----------


Each pattern gets repeated in reverse, walking backwards and starting with your fourth finger. It's a pretty long stretch and won't feel natural at first because of the weird angle. Stick with it and go slow the first few times.

Jumping Strings: Inverted with Chords

E|--------|----------
B|--------|----------
G|--------|----------
D|--7--3--|--14--10--
A|--5--5--|--12--12--
E|--3--7--|--10--14--


We're taking the same notes and using them as a chord to bounce back and fourth between the backwards and forwards version of the pattern. Try to make the switch quick and add more locations on the fretboard if you want to up the difficulty level.

Jumping Strings: Cascading

E|--1-----------------------------------
B|-----3-----1--------------------------
G|--------5-----3-----1-----------------
D|-----------------5-----3-----1--------
A|--------------------------5-----3-----
E|-----------------------------------5--


This movement will curl our fingers in the opposite direction and continue to stretch our fourth finger.

Jumping Strings: Cascading and Lines

E|--1--------------------------------------------------------------
B|-----3-----1--3--5--1--------------------------------------------
G|--------5--------------3-----1--3--5--1--------------------------
D|--------------------------5--------------3-----1--3--5--1--------
A|--------------------------------------------5--------------3-----
E|--------------------------------------------------------------5--


We're continuing the up and down movement here by jumping strings between straight lines.

Jumping Strings: Cascading Lateral Movement

E|--1-----------------------------------
B|-----3-----2--------------------------
G|--------5-----4-----3-----------------
D|-----------------6-----5-----4--------
A|--------------------------7-----6-----
E|-----------------------------------8--


Now in addition to moving up through the strings, we're moving up the fretboard.

Straight Lines: Cascading Lateral Movement


E|--1--3--5------------------------------------------------
B|-----------2--4--6---------------------------------------
G|--------------------3--5--7------------------------------
D|-----------------------------4--6--8---------------------
A|--------------------------------------5--7--9------------
E|-----------------------------------------------6--8--10--


This is the same as before but with each pattern of three notes falling on one string.

Moving your Hands

The goal here to get your hands moving on the fretboard. It's one thing to camp out at one spot, but once you start moving your hands and developing some mobility, you can really start to speed things up and open up your soloing technique.

In fact, that's as much a part of your speed as what you can do with your fingers.

Being able to play fast means you need to be able to play with touch and if your notes are getting chaotic every time you have to switch frets than you're not playing with touch yet.

If that's not happening, it's time to slow down and develop your abilities a little more patiently.

Once you free up your hands and fingers to attack the fretboard with a little more confidence, faster playing won't seem quite so daunting.

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Recommended Reading and Resources



Pat Metheny Guitar Etudes: Warm Up Exercises for the Guitar by Pat Metheny






About Robert Kittleberger

Robert is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in
touch with him here, or via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.




4.14.2014

Speed Building Drill Sheet: Part I

Guitar Speed Building Drills
















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Building speed on the guitar is boring.


At least it should be, if you do it right.

If we think about it, the way we play guitar when we're practicing or building skills is a lot different than the way we play when we're performing or writing a song.

They're two different disciplines and it's a balancing act to avoid spending too much time in one or the other.

Think of it in the same way that athletes practice and use drills to improve. The coach doesn't just send them all out there onto the field to scrimmage; that is unless the coach is incredibly lazy and unmotivated. Instead, practice is an even mix of drills, exercise and the occasional exhibition game.

That's how our guitar playing should be developed as well; especially when it comes to building speed.

So this will be the first of a three-part collection of speed drills.

These absolutely will make you a better guitarist, help you play faster and make you more comfortable while doing so. As far as practice scheduling goes, we'll cover that in the closing paragraphs.

Half Steps

E|--------------------------------------
B|--------------------------------------
G|-----------------------------3--4--5--
D|--------------------3--4--5-----------
A|-----------3--4--5--------------------
E|--3--4--5-----------------------------


These should be played with your pointer, middle and ring finger in a kind of quick run. Pick the first note (on the 3rd fret) and let the other two ring with hammer-ons.

Basic Scale Shape

E|-----------------------------------------------3--5--6--
B|--------------------------------------3--5--6-----------
G|-----------------------------3--4--5--------------------
D|--------------------3--4--5-----------------------------
A|-----------3--4--5--------------------------------------
E|--3--4--5-----------------------------------------------


This exercise is based on a simple scale shape, which climbs through all six strings in a bluesy sounding major key. You'll stretch with your ring and pinky finger to grab the notes on the fifth and sixth frets.

Basic Scale Shape: Expanded

E|--------------------------------------------------------5--7--8--
B|-----------------------------------------------5--7--8-----------
G|--------------------------------------5--6--7--------------------
D|-----------------------------5--6--7-----------------------------
A|-----------3--4--5--5--6--7--------------------------------------
E|--3--4--5--------------------------------------------------------


In this case we move the shape up a whole step after finishing the run on the second fret.

Chromatic Climb Down: Four Fret Span

E|--12--11--10--9--------------------------------
B|-----------------12--11--10--9-----------------
G|--------------------------------12--11--10--9--
D|-----------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------


A chromatic scale is one of the simplest, but is also quite boring in an exercise context. As much as you might be tempted to move onto more interesting patterns, stick this one out if you can and experiment by moving it to different parts of the fretboard. It's great for limbering up all four of your fingers and building quickness.

Chromatic Climb Down: Five Fret Span

E|--13--12--11--10--9----------------------------------------
B|---------------------13--12--11--10--9---------------------
G|----------------------------------------13--12--11--10--9--
D|-----------------------------------------------------------
A|-----------------------------------------------------------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------


Adding the fifth string provides the additional difficulty of having to shift the position of your entire hand and grab two notes with one finger. You can either use your pinky at the beginning of the run, of your pointer finger at the end to grab the extra note.

String Jumping Pattern: Three Notes

E|--3-----------------------------------
B|-----4-----3--------------------------
G|--------5-----4-----3-----------------
D|-----------------5-----4-----3--------
A|--------------------------5-----4-----
E|-----------------------------------5--


You'll end up curling your fingers like you would when playing an open C chord, which should feel significantly different than the previous patterns. If you can't do this quickly at first, take it slow and build up speed when your hands get used to the movement.

String Jumping Pattern: Four Notes

E|--3-----------------------------------
B|-----4--------3-----------------------
G|--------5--------4--------3-----------
D|-----------6--------5--------4--------
A|-----------------------6--------5-----
E|-----------------------------------6--


Difficulty is increased by adding a fourth note in each run which will need to be picked up with the fourth finger.

Staggered Intervals I

E|---------------------
B|-----------5--8--10--
G|--5--7--8------------
D|---------------------
A|---------------------
E|---------------------[Repeat]


We have two different sets of intervals that both start on the fifth fret and end on the eighth and tenth respectively. You can move this one around, though it sounds best if you always start it on the fourth string because of the fifth string being tuned to B.

Staggered Intervals II

E|-----------|-----------
B|-----------|-----------
G|-----------|-----------
D|-----------|-----------
A|-----------|-----------
E|--2--3--5--|--3--5--7--[Repeat]


Here we have the intervals broken up, but still being played on the same string.

Staggered Intervals III (Multiple Strings)

E|-----------|--------------------|--------------------|-----------
B|-----------|--------------------|--------------------|-----------
G|-----------|--------------------|--------------------|-----------
D|-----------|--------------------|-----------2--3--5--|--3--5--7--
A|-----------|-----------2--3--5--|--3--5--7-----------|-----------
E|--2--3--5--|--3--5--7-----------|--------------------|-----------


We've simply continued with the same pattern on the next two strings.

Best Practices for these Exercises

One thing that I've found to really augment this type of practice is to run through these exercises on an acoustic guitar. It'll be more difficult, but if you can get used to them on an acoustic, it'll be all the easier once you try to play the same patterns on an electric guitar.

Also, make sure that you're able to incorporate hammer-ons and pull-offs, but not to the point where your notes aren't coming out clean.

There's benefit to practicing these exercises both by picking every note and by using a lot of hammer-ons and pull-offs.

A lot of it is just a stylistic preference.

Some players are more comfortable picking every note, while others prefer to using techniques that free them from doing so.

However you choose to do it, just make sure you aren't muddying the notes.

How often should I play this kind of stuff?

Ideally, your practice sessions would give ample time to exercises and guitar drills.

But that could change based on how often you practice and how much patience you have for exercises.

My  advice would be to start with a good 15 or 20 minutes a day and run through this type of stuff for a week. If you feel like you're improving, then keep it up. If not, you might have to increase the time slot.

Just make sure you stagger it with stuff you enjoy playing. Too much dry exercising can make guitar more of a chore than something you enjoy, so make sure you just try to balance the two sides of the instrument.

Building Speed on the Guitar is Labor

Unfortunately, there's no way around it.

Just like going to the gym and building muscle is a slow, patient and grueling process that takes a lot of time, so is building speed on the guitar.

You'll do yourself a huge favor if you're able to stay consistent and to think in terms of years instead of months. Don't assume that just because you rattle off a few exercises that you've got it wrapped up. You've got to put in the hours

So be prepared to take your time and to see results come in slowly.

Download PDF Version

Recommended Reading and Resources



Steve Vai's Guitar Workout: by Steve Vai



Joe Satriani Guitar Secrets with Book and CD: by Joe Satriani






About Robert Kittleberger

Robert is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in
touch with him here, or via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.