Welcome to Guitar 101 by dummies. To begin, just let me say that I think quality comes before speed. Before you start trying to rip like Vai or Slash, or Fly a Bumblebee like Petrucci, learn the basics first pleeeaaaase.

You can improve your playing speed with two simple practices. They will fit any genre that you might be playing.

1. Your first problem could be your guitar. Are the strings to high? Are they too thick? Try these suggestions for string width;

  1. When you browse string sizes, remember the music you play. For Jazz or Blues, you want a very thin gauge. Try Ernie Ball Super Slinky for these. Or, Standard Fender Bullet is what I currently use. These will stand the test of time against bends and speed.
  2. Metal. This genre requires thicker strings. Try your bottom string, the thickest, at around 52. And your thinnest string at around 11.

Those are the two extremes, anywhere in between can be decided by common sense.

2. Next, we will adjust string height. Most guitars come with 2 or so Allen Wrenches. They look like mini crowbars... The common size will be .050". Look at the bridge of your guitar. At the very back of the bridge are screws. They attach directly to little saddle pieces. The height of those saddle pieces determines the height of your strings. Take the Allen Wrench that fits the 2 vertical screws in the saddles, and wind it counter-clockwise and the saddle will lower. Then, do this to the second screw imbedded next to the first. There are two things to be wary of:

  1. Not to wind either one too much without winding the other, correspondingly. whew.
  2. BE SURE not to lower them so much that the strings rattle. I made 3 counter clockwise turns on mine... Good action.
Make sure to retune your guitar after this.

3. Intense practice. If you have sheet music or tablatures, then use this method. Place the music at eye-level. Set your fingers in the position of the first note or chord. Play it slowly, and be sure not to flare your fingers. Play the note or chord as slow as humanly possible without taking all day. After you know the first few parts, begin to play them faster. Gradually build speed. This will increase dexterity and finger strength.

As you do this more and more, you'll also begin to notice the subtle nuiances(spelling?) of the song. Gradually, as you learned, deftly, how to play the song, you can begin improve.... huh! AH!

Now you have permission to play Smoke on the Water, dude.

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