Have you just about given up on playing with faster tremolo picking technique? Don’t quit just yet! You are probably making the common error of thinking that faster hand speed leads to faster picking. This is not how it works! Let me tell you why...

A huge amount of guitarists already have the ability to play as fast as any virtuoso player. However, they (and you) are held back by the distance that the pick moves through the string whenever they pick a note. Unfortunately, many guitarists NEVER realize this and believe that their picking motions are already effective and their slow playing comes from not being able to move their hand faster (when in reality it’s the total opposite).

To develop insane tremolo picking speed, you must increase the frequency at which your pick comes into contact with the string (don’t confuse this with simply moving your hand faster). When you do this, you strike the string many more times and your tremolo picking speed shoots through the ceiling!

Before you continue reading, check out this guitar lesson video so you can see how to practice this for yourself.

Like you saw in the video above, you will immediately play with two times the tremolo picking speed by merely splitting your pick attack distance in half. Now that you are familiar with this idea, begin picking faster using the exercise below:

The first rule of building your tremolo picking speed: ALWAYS watch your picking hand during your picking technique practice! If you spend all your time staring at your fretting hand or don't watch your hands at all while practicing, you will never develop incredible picking speed.

To start developing faster picking speed on guitar, select an open string to play on with tremolo picking and do the following:

Step One: Pick non-stop using four notes per beat (sixteenth notes) at a very slow pace for around ten to fifteen seconds (you don’t need to use a metronome, just feel the beat for yourself). Make sure to turn your pick so that it is angled towards the end of your guitar where the tuning pegs are. While doing this, angle the pick at about 40 degrees. This will help you to greatly reduce picking motions without giving up dynamics or picking softer. For example:

Note: You will also generate greater power in your picking attack while using less effort by playing with a thicker pick (1.50 mm or more) instead of a thin one.

Step Two: Next, play at about a 10% faster rate while continuing to pick for an additional 5-10 seconds. Remember to keep watching your picking hand and maintain compact picking motions. This will make sure that no unneeded movement is being used that would keep you from increasing speed.

Step Three: Keep raising the tempo you are playing at while focusing on your picking hand and narrowing the distance between up/down strokes. As you do this, also pay attention to the following:

-Don’t commit the mistake of forgetting about playing with strong power and articulation as you reduce the distance in your pick attack. Play with a high degree of articulation by sticking more of the pick into the string. This will help you to make smaller picking motions but also sustain a loud and strong attack (unlike what happens while picking with the very edge of the pick like tons of players do - limiting their articulation).

-Your forearm and picking hand shoulder MUST be very relaxed whenever you are picking fast. It will not help you to tense up these muscles... it will only make you tired while increasing the chances of injury. Try to keep these muscles completely relaxed as you notice your speed increasing.

Keep raising your speed until you are tremolo picking at the maximum speed possible. Continue playing at this speed for an additional ten seconds or so.

Step Four: Give your hands thirty seconds of rest and repeat the first three steps several more times (to make for a total of 15 minutes or so of practice time). To improve your tremolo picking technique even more, try picking open strings and fretted notes one after the other (this change in tension will be more challenging for your picking control). Put this exercise into an effective guitar practice schedule and practice it on a consistent basis to see HUGE results in your overall speed picking skill.

IMPORTANT: This concept of shortening the distance in your picking attack can be used in other areas besides just tremolo picking! As demonstrated in the video above, you should also implement this idea into your playing while using multiple string guitar licks and scales. This will mix together your tremolo picking skills into other areas of your lead guitar playing technique and develop your overall speed.

Next, use the exercise you went through above along with the lick below. When you do this, use your eyes to watch your picking hand and keep your pick attack as compact as possible (but keep picking with great power and volume).


Now that you understand how to build tons of tremolo picking speed, be aware that this is only ONE aspect of becoming a very fast guitar player. To get more information about the other factors that contribute to becoming a faster guitar player, take this mini course for increasing guitar speed.

To find out more on how to not only build more guitar speed but also become a very creative and self-expressive musician, work with me by taking online electric guitar lessons.


Author's Bio: 

About The Author:
Tom Hess is an online electric guitar teacher, recording artist and virtuoso guitarist. He trains guitar players from around the world how to reach their musical goals in his correspondence guitar lessons online. Visit his website tomhess.net to receive many free guitar playing resources, mini courses, guitar practice eBooks, and to read more articles about guitar playing.