Shredding is one of the most challenging guitar techniques to master because it requires you to play with extreme accuracy at a very fast tempo. Not every guitar player can master shredding; it can take months or even years of intensive practice to perform it flawlessly.
While most guitar players learning shredding love to look up to their guitar idols and admire how fast they can play, they often take the wrong approach to shredding, which is why it can be a complex technique to learn and master. As you keep practicing and putting in the time and effort without seeing any results, learning how to shred can become highly frustrating.
However, there are inevitable mistakes that guitar players make that are far too common and prevent them from ever being able to shred.
Here are some of the most common mistakes, why you can’t shred, and how to fix them.
One of the most common mistakes players make when trying to learn how to shred is to do it with the wrong posture. The posture of your body, hands, and guitar is extremely important to play certain techniques. Because it makes things either easier or more complicated depending on how you approach it.
Don’t even think about practicing shredding while standing up, that is not something that should be recommended. To improve your shredding or to increase the tempo at which you are able to play, the best is to sit down and have your guitar comfortably sitting on your lap. This allows you to relax your hands and adopt a different posture.
Consider raising your left leg so that the guitar arm is closer to your hand, and you do not have to make so much effort to move your fingers across the fretboard. You should only practice shredding standing up once you have mastered it while sitting down, and your guitar should be as high as possible, so tighten the guitar strap so that your hands are closer to the instrument, even if your guitar is standing close to your chest. Yes, it does not look cool! But it is the best position and posture to be able to shred.
2. Finger strength
Another reason why guitar players learning to shred fail to do so is that they haven’t developed the necessary finger strength to press the strings at a fast tempo. This requires a lot of practice, and there are a few ways to overcome it.
One of them is doing finger strength exercises, usually, guitar exercises based on scales that allow you to increase the strength with which you press the strings. You can also practice a song or a solo repeatedly and increase the strength with which you press the strings.
Another way of increasing finger strength is by changing the strings on your guitar and choosing heavier gauge strings. Since the strings are thicker, they will require more strength for you to press them, and this naturally increases your finger strength.
A crucial part of being able to shred is to have enough coordination in your fingers to be able to play fast and accurately. You want to avoid playing fast at the wrong tempo because it does not sound good. Part of being able to play on the right tempo, especially when you are shredding, is coordination.
There are a few exercises that you can use to improve your finger coordination, and they are primarily scales. Always remember to use a metronome when practicing any scales.
4. Practicing too fast
Perhaps the most common mistake beginner guitar players make is that they try to practice too fast. This applies to both songs, solos, and even shredding. When you practice too fast without sounding right, you are not evolving and improving similarly.
Learning guitar starts by playing things slowly and, over time, increasing the tempo. This is the only way to develop the proper technique and sound, to play faster and faster until you are finally shredding.
Remember to always practice slowly with a metronome, and as you become more comfortable over time, you can increase the tempo.
5. Wrong tempo
Practicing with the wrong tempo or playing fast but on the wrong tempo is another common reason why guitarists cannot shred. Even if you can play extremely fast, but you are using the wrong tempo, everything that you are doing will sound bad.
Remember that one of the essential components of music is tempo, and a slow note on tempo is always better than many fast notes out of tempo. Practicing with an extremely slow tempo, in the beginning will allow you to build a practice foundation on which you can learn shredding. As you improve, you can increase the tempo and play progressively faster.
6. String gauge
The guitar strings you are using are also essential to shred. Generally speaking, the lighter the string gauge, the easier it will be for you to shred. The reason is that lighter strings require less strength to press, and you can move your fingers faster if the strings are lighter.
For this reason, you may consider changing your strings for a lighter gauge if you learn how to shred.
7. Using the wrong pick
There are many guitars picks with different applications that are more suitable for specific styles and players. One of the reasons why some guitarists are unable to shred is because they are using the wrong guitar pick.
While choosing the right guitar pick depends on yourself as much as it does on the style you are playing, we recommend practicing shred with the best shred guitar pick. The Dunlop Big Stubby is by far one of the best picks to use when you are learning how to shred, and it will make the whole process easier.
8. Using the wrong guitar
The guitar you are using can also affect if you can shred or not. While some guitars are more adequate to shred and play faster, others are not. For example, shredding on an electric guitar will be much easier than doing so on an acoustic guitar. Even with electric guitars, some models are easier to shred than others.
The guitar neck also influences how easy it is to shred. Guitars with chunkier necks will make it more challenging to move your fingers freely on the strings. Additionally, the spacing between each fret can also impact your shredding. If the spacing between frets is smaller, it will be easier to shred because you do not have to stretch your fingers as much.
9. High action
Lastly, the action of the guitar strings can also be crucial to learning shred guitar. A guitar with a high action will make it a lot more challenging to learn how to shred because the strings will be higher, and you will have to put more pressure and strength to play notes.
For this reason, it is vital to have the action as low as possible to make it easier to learn how to shred. You’ll also notice that you will play much faster with lower action.
While it can be daunting, frustrating, and a lengthy process to learn how to shred, you can’t give up when you find the first challenges and difficulties. It is a process that can take a lot of time, and it requires constant practice and dedication. Make sure you incorporate the advice and tips included in this article so you can avoid the most common mistakes.
I have been playing guitar for the past 15 years, and my knowledge and passion for guitars prompted me to start Guitaresque to share my knowledge, tips, and tricks with other guitar players. The sole purpose of this website is to help and inspire guitar players worldwide, to improve their playing and their love for guitars.