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Need Help With Shredding

I've always wanted to shred. I'm not all that into metal or neo-classical, but the ideas facinate me. The reason I would like to learn to shred is for more creative freedom.

I know modes, pentatonics, harmonic minor scale, arpeggios, chromatic scales, yada yada. What I'm really looking for is some licks to practice that include shred technique and also any advice. Any comments on playing with immense speed and agility would be great!


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Re: Need Help With Shredding

6/30/2005 8:25 AM

Christian Miller (1937) wrote:

Intresting attitude Jason. Given your tastes in music, I wouldn;t have you down as somebody who'd want to do that, but I respect your desire to master your instrument so you can effortlessly play the music you wish too.

By shred, I think we're in a less clear posiiton than we were. Weedly metal guitar is certainly fast, but there are musicians in every genre now who can play some sick stuff.

The most importnat thing is to play everything very slowly and rythmically accurately with the minimum of required motion. Keep you fretting fingers as close to the strings as possible when not in use, so as to minimise the motion you reauire to fret notes.

If you get your rythmic accuracy really good and play efficiently in this way, speed will be a natural product. But it is most important to make sure you really learn how to do this well. Drill yourslef in doing this really slowly before accelerating it.

Here are two main schools of playing really fast. fret hand oriented and pick hand oriented.

Left hand playing is stuff like hammer ons and pull offs. All guitarists can do this. What makes it sound 'shreddy' is the use of manny hammer ons and pull offs. Practice playing ascending and descending scales using only one pick stroke per string. Here's an all purpose shred scale shape. Notice there are three ntoes on each sting. This makes it more regular for the picking hand, and reduces the demand on this hand.

G major scale

An associated technique is tapping, by which I mean the soudning of any note by finger pressure alone.

For example, you could learn to play enture scales just using your fret hand, sounding the strigns with finger pressure alone. This will be very hard descending, as you will need to cordinate the

You'll probably want to mute the strings with your pick hand, by crossing your hands and muting the strings behind your fret hand.

When you have mastered this, add the use of the fingers of your right hand. This can make muting an issue. Here's an arpeggio shape a friend of mine rips through, although I simply can't get the hang of it. Every note is tapped - the high notes emp[loy the index or ring finger of the right hand in eddie van halen style - the only difference is that .

Now practice ideas that mix up the two techniques. Tapping and pulling off on one string is the classic Eddie thing.

Right hand techniques
Alternate picking
Alternate picking is very right hand dependant, and essentially just means going down up down up for every single note. On one string this can be made to work very fast indeed, across the fret board it becoems very hard, so it is well suited for scalar passages, but much harder for arpeggios. However, alternate picking is really good for making you play with good time, as you can lock your accents with the rest of the rythm section. So you should practice everything alternate picking, even though there may be limits to how fast you can make it work.

Sweep picking
This is the use of a single pick stroke across many strings to sound several notes. Practice raking the muted strings with your pick very slowly, and make sure each 'pop' is rythmic. You will find your pick may bounce slightly when you do this.

Now practice these shapes which have a single note a string:

Sweep lick

major arpeggio

You can change direction from an up stroke to a down stroke very rapidly by doing an even number of strokes on the top string of the pattern:

sweep lick

Major arpeggio

you will also sound like woody woodpecker.

Economy picking
This is a combination of alternate picking on one string mixed with sweep picking for moving across strings. In most real world musical situations, it is this picking technique which offers the best allround mechanical efficiency and therefore the greatest speed, but there is a cost in terms of rythmic accuracy.

In most case, it is best to mix and match among ligado, tapping, sweeping, alternate and sweep picking for the bets execution of musical phrases. George Benson uses alternate, economy and sweep picking along with other picking patterns for extremely agile but highly musical results. If you sweep pick all the time, for example, you will sound like Frank Gambale, who for me is the most unmusical guitarists I've heard. On the other hand Allan Holdsworth only uses fret hand tapping (no ligado!) and he sounds very msucial, so there are exceptions.

This is a bit of a quick overview - I'm sure others can elaborate on these techniques and how to do them.

NB: check with a *good* teacher to ensure you are playing with a healthy and effeicent tehcnique. Fret hand stretches can be dangerous if you have a bent wrist.

Good luck! I pity your neighbours :-)

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Re: Need Help With Shredding

7/1/2005 2:25 AM

Jason Parker (2612) wrote:

Thanks for the great feedback, dude! I'm getting to work. Have a great 4th.


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Re: Need Help With Shredding

7/1/2005 10:26 AM

Shawn Northrop (179) wrote:

Here are some great exercises for alternate picking. They all use the E minor pentatonic scale
Practice these with a metrenome and your right hand should be up to alternate pick in any situation.







There are more patterns, experiment, this should give you the idea though.

Play slowly at first its a 4 count so when playing with a metrenome stress the first of every 4 notes (on the beat).

The exercise is a loop the top part (A) is decending and the bottom (B) is ascending. When you get to the end of the (A) it flows right into (B) and vice versa.

You can also play just one of the parts over and over but dont pause before you repeat it.

Hope this helps.
Remember the point of this exersize is to practice ALTERNATE PICKING so start out slow and make sure you are using up down up down picking.


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Re: Need Help With Shredding

11/6/2005 10:21 AM

Kevin Cahoon (9) wrote:

isnt it spelled legato?
just wondering.

look into these lessons, and watch the video clips.i own an instructional video by rusty cooley and it is nothing short of profound.

as with always learning a new song or exercise, always memorize it and play it slow. gradually increase speed until you reach your goal.

always play with a metranome.

consider using a thicker guitar pick. you will notice your control improve drastically. i prefer the paul gilbert signature pick made my ibanez, or the dunlop jazz III xl.

it is very helpful to be able to put as many notes as possible on the same string when playing runs and scalular passages.

if you use guitar pro, email me and i will give you some excellent shredding exercises, if you dont use guitar pro you should go to and download it for free, and then go to and download some paul gilbert and john pettruci exercises.

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Re: Need Help With Shredding

11/6/2005 10:23 AM

Kevin Cahoon (9) wrote:

i'm sorry! i forgot to put the website with the lessons and video clips to check out.

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Re: Need Help With Shredding

11/6/2005 12:21 PM

Edd Robins (6260) wrote:

That'd be is a different website.
Later, Edd

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Re: Need Help With Shredding

11/6/2005 11:23 AM

Dan Gable (1603) wrote:

On The Pipe

Here is a great score to shred by Steve Morse.

Have fun. Oh if you do not know how to read Standard notation I can add a tab line below.



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Re: Need Help With Shredding

11/6/2005 2:26 PM

Jamie Harper (181) wrote:

Yeah I recently decided to learn these types of techniques, even though I'm not a big fan of heavy metal...

But here are some good lessons:

...don't know if the "underlined link" is going to work...

Good luck,


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Re: Need Help With Shredding

11/6/2005 2:27 PM

Jamie Harper (181) wrote:

oh well the html "link" tag didn't work...well you get the idea