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Speed Vs. Speed
In my experience, most guitarists tend to fight against the difficulty of practicing new
chops, phrases, licks, riffs, etc. for a simple reason - they want to play them as fast, and as
soon as possible (often immediately after they read or learn them for the first time).
The problem with this approach is, if you don’t understand how those phrases exist in
context, you’ll be losing the starting point to develop speed on those phrases.
Why? Because sometimes the writer of those phrases is thinking of several different things
at the same time that will affect the speed at which he or she plays their music.
These points influence the writers to play in certain ways, and sometimes these ways are
“obstacles.” I’m referring to “obstacles” as those things which are playable in a different
way, but which have been made necessarily complicated by the composer just for the
purpose of individual expression..
- The value of the notes
- The tone of a certain string
- The facility to play certain notes
- The harmony
- The tempo
- The picking hand
- The effects
So now you'll have to understand how to separate these points in the chops, phrases, licks,
etc. as: necessary “obstacles” or as unnecessary matter of expression. After doing this
you’ll reach a better visualization of your desired speed, and your speed will develop at a
much faster rate, because those obstacles could be played in a different way while also
maintaining the expression or feeling .
Here are some points to bear in mind:
The value of the notes
It seems that many guitar players forget the value of the notes of a lick, phrase, etc. and just
play the notes as fast as they can and just kill the original feeling. If you cover a song and
you change the timing of a portion of the song, you have to improve or keep the feeling.
Often when a band covers a song and the value of the notes of the solo change, most of the
time the result is a bad version of the original.
The tone of a certain string
If you haven't noticed, the 1st and 6th string alone include all the notes possible in the
range of a guitar with 6 strings in standard tuning.(in a guitar with at least 23 frets) So, why
are there four other strings? Well, one reason is TONE, if you play the same note on a
different string you’ll get a thinner or a thicker note (this means in physics terms that the
frequencies of the waves are the same but the amplitude of the waves are different).
Ok now, why is it important to choose a certain tone? Well, when you play a certain note
on one of the strings, this string gives you certain feelings. For example, play the 19th fret
of the 6th string and at the same time the 19th fret of the 1st string. Now play the 2nd string
open and at the same time the 19th fret of the 1st string. You’ve played the same notes, but
the feeling is different, and the difference of feeling will be more subtle when you choose
closer strings to play the same notes.
The facility to play certain notes
Let’s take the last example again. Play the 19th fret of the 6th string, and at the same time
the 19th fret of the 1st string. Now play the 2nd string open, and at the same time the 19th
fret of the 1st string. You’ve played the same notes, but the facility to play them has
So this is why writers choose certain strings to play certain notes, and you must understand
that if you are going to play the same notes on different strings that you'll be changing the
feeling. The change might be subtle, but many people can hear that subtlety.
Ok, now I’ve given you a very basic introduction to knowing why a chop, lick, phrase, riff,
etc. is written in certain manner. With this knowledge you can start learning new chops
faster, because now you know some important points to keep in mind. You’ll also be able
to reach your goal with confidence by simply changing what is not important.
...And remember to always begin learning something new slowly!
See you next time!
Any comment is welcomed: firstname.lastname@example.org
©2006 Angel Zamora All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
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