Shred for the Aspiring Guitarist
This article introduces the technique necessary for the conventional guitarist to become familiar with the facets of shred.
Shredding is an art form that is unlike any other - it requires a concentration and motivation that exists for the player on a practically unprecedented scale. It is often believed that continuous practice, especially in conjunction with the use of a metronome, is sufficient to eventually cross into the regime of shred. Unfortunately this is rarely the case. Shredding exercises require an ingredient that can be likened to outright religious faith in order to be executed correctly. The movements of the hand are simply not the same when a lick is picked and when it is shredded. Specifically, shredding doesn't immediately require you to play each note cleanly and articulately (though you might still do so both to improve your playing and to locate and control your hands at speeds that favor very slight maneuvering), but rather to play many notes successively in what seems like a single motion. I find that it is best to begin by choosing a scale that you have no trouble ascending and descending at relatively high speeds, and then to pretend that you are already capable of shredding, even if you miss all of the notes in the process. This way your hands may be able to adjust to the actual conditions imposed by the demands of shred and allow you to develop your technique accordingly by focusing on the actual motion and habituating to it, instead of hoping to acquire speed by conventional methods. Equally important is the use of economy - hold your fingers directly above the fretboard even when they are not active, so that the distance they will have to travel is minimized, and position your thumb on the center of the neck so that your fingers have a wider range of access to the fretboard. This will keep you from wasting unnecessary time and energy in a cumulative manner. Also consider circular picking as opposed to alternate picking as it allows you to retain some of the momentum you have put into picking previous notes and thus to engage or re-engage the string more quickly. The next thing to try is to coordinate both of your hands so that they act simultaneously, and to make sure that you are thinking about what you are doing as you do it so that you build the necessary associations in your motor homunculus. You should attempt to visualize every note that you intend to play even if you are too slow to individually acknowledge each one as it is performed. If you practice progressively in this fashion, you are almost sure to shred eventually, so good luck and happy shredding!