Here is my simple answer: slow down. I’m serious. Practically all of my students, once they reach a certain level, try to approach things way too fast. I made the same mistake. But in essence, what you really need to do is play your guitar chord progression, scales, licks or riffs at a moderate tempo you are comfortable with. Over and over again. If you keep doing that, the speed almost comes naturally, you probably won’t even notice.
Three Tips On How To Play Guitar Faster
Repetition: As I just explained, practice at a tempo you can easily handle. Do not play as fast as you can, stay below the maximum. Then, whatever it is you want to play faster at the end of the day, repeat it over and over again. You know what I did in my early days in order to learn to play guitar fast? I practiced in my normal setting, sitting in a chair and staying focused on what I was doing. However, in addition to that, I had my guitar with me all the time and brought it all over the place. Practiced while watching TV, while having a conversation on the phone and sometimes while laying in bed staring at the ceiling. Just playing the same patterns over and over relentlessly. It works, just because that’s the way it is, the more you play the faster you get.
Metronome: I hated metronomes when I was younger. I always felt that they screwed up my timing – well, of course it was not the metronome having a timing issue, but me. I know, they can get very annoying at times but the fact of the matter is, developing a feel for rhythm is absolutely essential. Otherwise you will never get to a reasonable level of guitar playing. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t always play with metronome or a drum machine (or software), but especially when it comes to how to play guitar fast, this is very critical. I keep telling people, playing guitar is fun, however, it’s also work. If you want to get better at something, you need to practice, it is as simple as that. And a metronome will help you to play faster if you use it on a regular basis. These days, you don’t even have to buy one, you can just use one of the many online metronomes. Oh, by the way, the picture on the left is my old “taktell Junior” metronome. It must be around 23 years old by now, but it’s still swinging along.
Relax: I know this sounds trivial but this is super important. Many guitarist, including myself, as we try to master a difficult piece or try to pick up playing speed, tend to tense up. This is the absolute worst that can happen, because it will not only slow your playing down, you will also start to make more mistakes. If you struggle with something, take a break for a few minutes, shake out your hands and walk around a bit. Then come back and start at a slower pace. After that, gradually increase the speed of your playing. In addition to that, and I don’t mean to sound esoteric here, make sure that your head is free. You need to relax you mind. Any guitar player will attest to that: the more relaxed you are – that is true for both, body and mind – the better you will play.
Hope that helps.