If you aspire to become a guitar shredder, One of the most important things you have to know is how to practice efficiently.
Mastering the art of guitar shredding takes a lot of time, and requires dedication and commitment. Many guitarists are taking the time and working as hard as they can to improve their shredding skills, yet still feel that they are not progressing as fast as they would like to.
In this article I will explain a bit about the practicing process itself, and how to use the shred etudes (or any other etudes/shredding exercises) in the most efficient way.
How to practice the shred etudes
Each etude contains a sequence of shapes – either arpeggios (in the sweep picking etudes) or scalar passages (in the Alternate picking etudes, legato etudes). Each shape is repeated a few times and than the next shape comes in. Some shapes might be easier for you to play faster than others. Some shapes transitions (connecting 2 arpeggios) might be easier to play faster than other.
In order to make your practice session as efficient as possible you should keep in mind that when you play the whole etude consecutively, you are limited to the speed of the most difficult arpeggio/arpeggios transition in it. So the best way to work on the etude would be:
- Practice each shape independently
- Practice each consecutive arpeggios transition independently
- Practice the whole etude
Practice each shape independently
This is highly important because if you will immediately try to play the whole progression (etude), you will notice that the highest speed you can get is limited to the shape that is the hardest for you (if for example you are able to play “arpeggio X” at 100 bpm but “arpeggio Y” only at 70 bpm, than if you play it all together you will not be able to play it above 70 bpm) – that will make the practice session not very efficient because it means that half of the time you practice (the part where you play the arpeggio that you can play in 100 bpm, only in 70 bpm) you are completely in your comfort zone and not stretching yourself at all.
So it is better to first work on each shape independently – notice the ones that are harder for you and focus on them. Your goal is to ‘equalize’ as much as possible the speed on which you are able to play each shape independently before starting to practice connecting them.
Metronome is a must! Don’t fool yourself, trying to build up speed without using a metronome is simply inefficient. (see how to practice with a metronome below)
Practice each consecutive arpeggios transition independently
After you feel comfortable with each arpeggio shape, take the first and second arpeggios and practice the transition between them (looping the 2 arpeggios sequence for 8 times), same goes to each couple of consecutive arpeggios.
Connecting the shapes (playing the whole etude)
After you feel comfortable with each shape independently, you can practice the whole etude consecutively. Start with a low tempo (slightly lower than the bpm you were able to play the hardest shape for you at), and gradually push the bpm up.
How to practice with a metronome
- Find a comfortable bpm, where you can play the shape 16 times in a row comfortably (or 8 times if you are practicing a 2 arpeggios sequence).
- Push the bpm up until you find the tempo where you can still play it 16 times in a row, but it feels like you’re “on your edge”. Rest for a few seconds and than do it again, for 5-6 sets (with rests in between)
- Take 6-8 bpm up and try again, play it only 8 times in a row (4 times for 2 arpeggio sequence). If you don’t manage to keep the speed, go back to step 2. If you succeed, do it for a few times, than take 4-6 bpm down and do step 2 again (16 repetitions)
Another important tip is to record yourself when you practice and listen. Make sure that you are on time and that you start exactly on the beat (there is an unconscious tendency to start before the beat in order to be able to “finish on time”).