Guitar Speed Bursts – Breaking Your Own Speed Barrier

One of the questions that I am constantly asked as a guitar teacher is "what is the best way to develop speed on the guitar?".

Now, just as I point out in the video lesson, speed is not everything, but it is a valuable tool that every musician should have in their toolbox. There are many musical moments where using a little bit of speed in your playing can help convey the emotion you are trying to put into the music.

From my experience as a practicing guitarist in many different styles of music from rock to classical to jazz, I find that the practicing of guitar speed bursts has increased my speed and control on the guitar more than anything else. After more than 20 years of teaching I have also found that to be the case in most students as well.

So why do guitar speed bursts work so well?

Well the number one problem that prevents anyone from playing something that is fast on the guitar is tension. If there is a fast picking sequence most players tend to tense up their picking hand, wrist and forearm. If you have been playing a while you may not even notice it since you are so used to the way the tension feels.

The key to breaking down your own personal speed barrier (while maintaining a clean technique!) is to reduce the amount of tension in your hands to the lowest amount possible.

This is were guitar speed bursts come into play. We will be alternating a quick burst of notes with a longer period of rest and relaxation. You still do this in a rhythm with a metronome so you can gauge your daily progress.

The idea here is to play the quick burst and try to then completely relax during the couple of beats where you aren't playing anything. Then when the next speed burst comes around try to keep that relaxed feeling while playing it. It may seem at first that your loss of tension will create a loss control. This is natural but with continued practice of speed bursts you will be able to play very accurately with absolutely no tension. Everything should feel nice and loose.

In order for this method to work you really need to concentrate and analyze how your hands feel. This relaxation principle goes for the fret hand as well. Stay focused while you are practicing these exercises in order to make sure you are feeling everything correctly. This isn't the type of technique exercise you would want to do while sitting in front of the TV and mindlessly letting your fingers fly around the fretboard.

As you develop that loose and relaxed feel with the shorter speed burst, it will now become time to increase the length of that speed burst. Again you will want to focus on how relaxed you can stay through all of the notes of the guitar speed burst. The longer the speed burst, the more difficult it will be to stay completely relaxed.

I would love to hear from you guys about how this practice method is helping you. It can be applied to many different guitar techniques as well so perhaps I can make some lessons for those if people are interested in it.

Be sure to "Grab The TAB" for this lesson below.

Guitar Speed Bursts TAB PDF Download

Hope this lesson helps you guys break your own speed barriers!!


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Guitar Speed Bursts - Breaking Your Own Speed Barrier


  1. Mark Daniel on October 3, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Great lesson Carl. Please keep them coming!!!

  2. Alexander Murray on October 4, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Great lesson. I can see my confidence and speed improving already. Your site has just gotten better and better this year. Great variety. Love your description of each lesson.
    Everyone support this site!!!!

    • Carl Brown on October 5, 2014 at 9:34 am

      Thanks a bunch Alex. Wait till you see the new version of GL365 that will debut in a few weeks! It’s gonna be really cool…


  3. Pooyan Samimi on December 29, 2014 at 2:38 am

    Wow !!!! Great Lesson !!!!!!! thank you !

  4. Evgeniy Zamyatin on April 8, 2016 at 9:45 am

    It is awesome! Thank you!

  5. Patricia Russell on April 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I am conflicted between spreading the news about this site to all my musical friends and keeping it under my hat as my “secret weapon”.

  6. karl schulze on August 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    I live in Alaska where there’s no music teachers, and for the last six years I’ve been teaching myself guitar. But i got to a point where i couldn’t go any further and this site has helped me learn absolutely everything, Thanks!

  7. Bruce Morehouse on July 23, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    That’s an awesome challenge. I’m up for it. Thanks Carl

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