Speed Building Exercise

September 7, 2008 by  

Single String Guitar Speed Building Exercise

This exercise helps with just about everything except string crossing. It started out as an exercise to work on position shifting along the neck but ended up taking on a life all of it’s own 🙂 It was meant to be rock style but ended up like a bluegrass lick gone mad but I’ve had so much fun with it that I’ve left it as it is.

The style may not float everyone’s boat but this is an example of how to make an exercise interesting, look for your own ways to do the same.

This exercise should improve your …

  • Position shifting along the neck
  • Left and right hand synchronisation
  • Alternate picking
  • Finger dexterity
  • Increase Speed
  • Timing

A few things to note

Take notice of the accents, these are critical to help you with your timing and getting the right feel. This exercise doesn’t follow the natural feel of playing repetitive four note groups over sixteenth notes. There are pattern offsets going on, three note patterns (phrases) played over straight sixteenths, in other words the phrasing doesn’t match the beat. This makes it a lot tougher than playing straight so don’t expect to play this at your normal comfortable speed.

The left hand must always be in one of six positions at any point. Avoid the habit of relying on the nearest finger to reach nearby frets. Getting this right is the key to playing each note cleanly and preventing your fingers stumbling over each other.

Have fun! 🙂

The fingering positions:

Note, position one and two are essentially the same position, the only difference is position 1 uses the open string and position 2 uses the fifth fret. The reason I have included it in the diagrams is because if we were to use more than one string then position 1 might have ended up using fingers two and four. For my own personal style of playing I prefer to think of the two positions as being completely different, it’s just a mind thing. 🙂

fingering positions

The Tab including finger positions

fungrass exercise tab

Downloads – (right click and save as..)


Practice loops. (one shot loops, set your player to repeat)

The other practice loops are available in 5bpm increments from 80bpm – 180bpm. They are available in the registered area of the forum .. Details here


19 Responses to “Speed Building Exercise”
  1. Sam Tussing says:

    Thanks a ton for this dude! This is a good exercise. My pinkie always gives me a hard time, and i need a technique to practice so I can make it more versatile on the fretboard. People should definitely check this out.

  2. Lee says:

    Thanks, I’m glad you’re having fun with it, I still love playing this one. Don’t forget to play the accents, they will help with the pinkie.

  3. rafaelk says:

    but i can’t folow that positions !

  4. Durkistan says:


  5. Dennis Gamad says:

    Thank you. How long do you practice speed exercies? What is the best way to practice. I do scales, then speed exercises, and then a bunch of songs.
    Thanks again for you help! This is a great site. My 3rd and 4th finger are so weak.

  6. Lee says:


    If your 3rd and 4th finger need work then a good thing to do is pick any two frets and run across all six strings up and down those two frets with just those two fingers, this will be very difficult for a while but helps a lot. You’ll probably find it very slow but that doesn’t matter, go as slow as you need to to do it perfecly and strength and synchronisation will get better. Also have a read of this article on Building Speed

  7. Dmitriy says:

    Thank you very much for this exercise Lee! I really appreciate your contribution.
    This is what I was looking for for a long time. It is as well fun to jam with the tracks. Not monotonous. Still working with the 60rpm loop. Reach up to 180 is my ultimate goal right now! Oh well, what do you expect from a beginner?!?! haha
    Looking forward to more of such great exercises. Once again, thank you.
    Take care Lee!

    P.S. bookmarked this page

  8. Po says:

    great excerise and technique, thank you so much

  9. Jonny says:

    This is very nice – i’ve been looking for a good speed exercise for a while, and this is the first that I’ve come across which doesn’t require either REALLY slow practice or being chromatic. Hate listening to it but man it’s fun to play xD

  10. Diana says:

    Thanks a lot for that!

  11. wezly says:

    Hi, thanks for this lesson. I just noticed that in the above illustration, positions 4 and 5 are the same. First finger is on the 5th fret. Why is it so?

  12. Kim says:

    Wonderful Lee, I will be using this.

    On another matter, did you close the forum? I tried to register and could not.

    • Lee says:

      yeah, I’ve put it on hold rather than closed. It’s hard getting enough people to stay active and spam has become a real problem. As soon as I have the time and perhaps a few potential regulars it will be open again.

  13. Jimmy says:

    Nice exercise, I’ll bet you can play it faster than the demo…

  14. Anonymous says:

    great exercise, thanks Lee

  15. Anonymous says:

    Am I supposed to do hammer-ons or am i just supposed to pick each note individually? =P

  16. Anonymous says:

    Am I supposed to do hammer-ons or do I pick each note??? =P

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!