Guitar Technique Exercises – Are Not Rocket Science!


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A Look at Guitar Technique Exercises just maybe some of the pro’s are using. Don’t loose some of your fans because of this one bad habit.

Whats up my family of guitar playing freaks? Lets get our seats in the upright position before we take off.

And buckle up because this is a boarder line philosophical article about guitar playing, and what I’ve noticed every now and then when I’m performing. How about you!

Worlds Fastest Guitarist 999bpm – Was you Impressed!

Are You an Introspective Performer

I wanted to share this because I do a lot of reflective thinking about my own playing, especially when I feel like my playing is not where I want it to be. Most generally I would feel this way after taking a few weeks or a month off from performing.

A few years ago I started to take note of this because after not playing for a time then getting back in the saddle, playing was in fact different.


Playing For The Song

After reviewing video’s of performances, I realize that there was times where it was almost predictable in how I’d play when coming to certain parts within the song where the phrasing had to be just right to complement the song.

I would keep trying to play the phrase as fast as I could. This resulted in just making things sloppy.

I really was getting discouraged about why do I keep trying to play fast when I know that playing fast all the time numbs people to the whole playing fast thing?

And so as I was evaluating this, I had a bit of a revelation about why I personally default to just trying to play licks that are really fast and sound cool. What I realized is that I am afraid that if I slowed down, and I play stuff slow, it’s not going to sound good, or it’s not going to be enough to impress the audience.

A Problem Will an Ugly Face That Has to Go

Really what it comes back to is an “ego thing,” because a lot of times I feel like when I’m playing on stage, I want people to like my playing. And obviously you want to entertain folks and everything.

But if worrying that what you’re playing doesn’t sound good enough for them causes you to change how you should be playing, then this speaks to the fact that maybe you’re motivations are in the wrong place.


Ego’s Aren’t What The Song Calls For

Along with this realization of not being confident in my ability to sound good when playing slow, I thought of the distinction between sounding good and sounding impressive.

Because if you can play a lot of notes really, really fast, then there’s just something about our brains that whenever somebody can do something faster than what we can follow with our eyes, it’s impressive to us, we get impressed by it.

But that doesn’t mean that it sounds good.

You think about a really, really loud massive train. It’s impressive yes, but I wouldn’t say that it sounds good. I’d rather listen to music than listen to a train, you know? There’s this distinction between something that’s impressive and something that’s musical. I’ve found that if I couldn’t make a piece more musical it was best to go to a good teacher like Paul Gilbert who could help me learn more to do so.

Most Songs Don’t Call For an Egocentric Prima-donna

And so this leads me to my third point which is that, as a player you have a very different view of your playing than the audience does. If you’re like most people, there’s probably at least a part of you that wants to feel special and wants to be recognized because of your ability to play guitar.


Are You a Prima Donna Or An Entertainer

That influences what you play when you get in front of people, because you think I want to play things that are going to make them like me and make me feel special.

But what you have to realize is that the audience — I hate to say it… don’t care and can give a flip about making you feel special as they do about being entertained.

And the problem is, what entertains the audience is not the same thing that you think will make them like you better.

Get Back To Where You Belong

So this leads me back to this whole playing fast thing. For example, I’ll play something fast because I think that’s impressive, that will make the audience respect me. And maybe that’s true the first time, but then I keep doing it, and I keep doing it because I think, “Oh, I want to keep impressing them.” “I want to keep making them like me and respect me.”


Fans Respect Being Entertained

The problem is that after too many times of playing fast, the audience isn’t being entertained anymore, which is the number one reason they are there and watching.

And when the audience stops being entertained, they stop paying attention.

Eventually they stop coming to see you, then ultimately they just don’t buy your products any more as well.

Trash The Same Ol Thing – Spread Your Wings and Fly


Shredding is Not Needed On Every Song

Whether you believe it or not, you can push your audience away by doing too much of the same thing all the time.

In my career I’ve seen it happen to many performers.

By playing so fast all the time as I keep saying “people’s minds get numb and they can’t follow so they get bored.”

What you really want, is for them to appreciate you as an entertainer, performer and musician in that order. Even at this you actually have to make sure that it doesn’t happen to the degree that you want, by doing the very thing that you think is going to work.

I know it sounds like a no win situation but it can and is being done.

Slower Has Its Own Complexities

I guess what I’m trying to say is for us to challenge ourselves right now and really try to explore playing slow, and to build up our confidence that we can play slower and we can play things that are going to sound good which in turn will ultimately entertain people.

Because, once you have that speed and the technical ability to make it musical, then you can always go back to it and add the wow! factor by throwing in a little bit of flash here and a little bit there. But man I’m telling you, if you have the ability as well to play slower and you can play soulfully with meaning and purpose then do so.


Learn How To Over Come Just Playing Fast

This alone will dramatically increase your ability to entertain the crowd which is in turn, what gets them to appreciate what it is you do.

Well I know this is just me on a rant. But I don’t think that I’m the only one that feels this way. So just thought that I’d put this out there in case there’s anyone else who, no matter what stage of the game you’re at.

If you find yourself wanting to play fast all the time with every piece you play. In an effort just to get people to appreciate you. Maybe this rant will speak to you, better yet maybe it’ll help you out and lead you to connect with Paul Gilbert for great Guitar Technique Exercises.

Some Final Thoughts

If your still here reading this, I want to thank you for staying with me. As you can tell maybe it was more of a Rant on my part. Look I’ve got nothing against shredding, when its tastefully done and the piece calls for it.


There’s a Time and Place For Everything

But to shred in everything you play frankly gets boring fast. Not to mention most of the time it gets to the point where whats played isn’t considered music or being musical.

In the video above, like you I was very impressed. But that wasn’t music and I’m sure he knew that as well. To set this some what right, theres no way in hell I can play that fast and don’t want to learn anyway. There is just no where I could use that in a musical sense.

What I learned by watching myself is this, besides the fact of not playing for a time I was in fact substituting speed for talent in some cases.

So for me it was a matter of brushing up after being off, like working on some guitar exercises for technique and continuing my studies with my instructor.


I’m hoping you can take away from this the idea of developing some exercises to play slower or more meaningful if you will. We’re not talking about playing all slow songs either but rather a more planned musical approach. If nothing else your fans will like you more and they are the real reason you perform not you.


Markus with Live Music Performance Tips

Before I go here’s one more exercise you can try out “if you dare.”

Try playing 1 note! Just one and see how musical you can be with it in any style you want. If your thinking I’m crazy then please go see what Steve Vai’s take is. Fast forward on his video to, Time Stamp – 7:25 to 8:26.

So there you have it two Guitar Technique Exercises “if you will” that you can work on straight away. And whether your a Pro or a Beginner we all need some help at times so go see Paul Gilbert for Guitar Lessons.

See you next time here at Treble Clef Reviews

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6 thoughts on “Guitar Technique Exercises – Are Not Rocket Science!

  1. Larry

    Hey, Markus.

    WOW!! World’s record!! Crazy to watch!!

    Needing to play fast is something I’ll never be able to do, I don’t think.

    I guess that’s why I like my finger picking. Can’t play fast that way either, LOL!!

    But at least whoever is brave enough to take the time to listen to me play,
    can enjoy the way I play or finger picking.

    Paul Gilbert is bookmarked and will be looking over his stuff. Will let you know what I get out of it.

    The Wiki books, that’s new for me and will be going over this as well.

    You’re keeping me busy, Markus!! Don’t have much time for anything else, LOL!!

    Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and experience with us.


    1. Markus Post author

      Wasn’t that crazy Larry, 999BPM I guess someone has to have the worlds record for it.
      I have seen some finger pickers that would make your head spin.
      But whether your playing fast or slow doesn’t matter, it has to be applied in a musical context.
      Case in point, scales are not music they are exercises.
      How you apply parts of these scales to a piece of music is where technique and talent come into play.

      For me,it was a lesson on not playing fast over a piece of music where I was unsure of the transitions within the piece.
      Looking over the play backs videos it didn’t sound as good as when I played it.
      I was playing a lot of note in the key but it wasn’t serving the song or being very musical.
      And thats where I think a good music/guitar teacher like Paul Gilbert comes in.
      As they can help you polish your craft and become a better musician in the end.

      Keep up your studies and working on your finger picking, I’ll see you back the next time Larry.

      Thanks 🙂

  2. Jay

    Hi Markus.

    This article brings back a lot of debates I had when growing up, as you know I’m a fan of Jimmy Bryant, but everyone around me back in the 80’s worshiped Yngwie Malmsteen who played blisteringly fast, not unlike our friend in the video here. BUT! I hated it, I don’t like the buzzy heavily distorted tone. and although there is a lot going on, to me it is lacking in melody.

    Now my opinions used to horrify his fans, but at the same time, they couldn’t understand why I like Bryant, the reason is, Bryant plays very cleanly without the studio trickery, it is so difficult playing so precisely without that extreme distortion and compression.

    Personally for me, the video of the guy playing in this article was painful to my ears. sure he is a very talented player. But I doubt I’d last 5 minutes were I at a show and he was playing. I’ve heard guys playing at under 100 BPM saying so much more with 6 notes. Of course, this is all highly subjective, everyone has different likes and tastes.

    I was watching a jazz guitarist called Ted Green recently playing chordal jazz soloing, the complexity of that impresses me so much more. almost every note is a chord. There is so much texture and depth, when you’re able to play to that complexity it is a whole new ball park.

    I’d like to share a track if you don’t mind, as I think it illustrates the other end of the spectrum to the video you have shown. It illustrates how you can say so much more at a fraction of the speed.

    Ted Green – Autumn Leaves


    1. Markus Post author

      Jay so good of you to drop in. Malmsteen I’m thinking that’s where shredding started.
      I’m down with him, although you wouldn’t really call me a fan of his.
      A few years ago “I think” was listing to a piece he was doing titled Black Star.
      If I’m not mistaken I think I was hearing in his playing the influences of violins.
      Also in that piece he played acoustic guitar without all that distortion or compression.
      He didn’t always play it fast and you could hear a heavy classical influence in his playing.

      I’ve noticed that most shredders (not all) when you take away the pedals so they have to play clean.
      There is a big difference in their ability to play, let alone be musical about it.
      I think that goes for any style of player though, when they depend on an effect.

      Again I’m not opposed to playing fast when and where the song calls for it.
      Just playing fast because you can because thats all you can do or thats what you do to get out of a jam.
      Which was what I was doing in order to stay with the tune and not look stupid if you will. 🙂

      Its way easy to get in a rut of playing fast all the time especially if thats all one knows.
      Thats why its important to keep learning from a good teacher like Paul Gilbert.
      And by studying the great learned guitarist like Ted Green, Jimmy Bryant and even Steve Vai.

      Speaking of Ted Green – Autumn Leaves. Very nice as I haven’t heard about him in years.
      I started listing to that then a few others and I found this.
      Thought you might like it as well. Ted Green – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

      Jay got to go here but thanks for stopping by, I look to see you here again.

      Thanks 🙂

      1. Jay

        Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against fast playing or shredding. But I have taught quite a few people and many think playing fast is the same as playing good. So they try to play fast before they can play the basics, only to realize such precision takes more than a few weeks of study. It’s more like a lifetime study 🙂


        1. Markus Post author

          I’m with you Jay, I don’t have anything against shredding.
          Your right especially with new players as they tend to have a tendency to go there.
          In my case, after not playing a piece for some time I had forgotten the transitions within the song.
          So I just rushed right through. At the time it sounded good to me but upon the playback it wasn’t as cool as I thought.

          As always Jay thanks for stopping by as its always good to hear from you. Talk soon.

          Thanks 🙂


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