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Introduction to Shred Guitar and Tremolo Picking

Shred Guitar Fundamentals

Installment 1: Introduction to Shred Guitar and Tremolo Picking

Hello to all of you fellow shredders!  In case you haven’t viewed my previous lessons (also available on this site), my name is David Katilius, I’m 16 years old, and an avid shred guitar player.  I’ve decided to write this column mainly to reach out to players who are just starting to get into shred and neoclassical guitar styles, but I think these lessons are useful to guitar players of any level of experience.  In the coming installments, I’m going to touch on all the techniques used in shred guitar.

I’m just going to give you a small background on shred guitar history.  Shred guitar was revolutionized in the 80s when hair metal dominated the airwaves, but the most prominent shredder and master of the “neoclassical” vibe was a young Swedish man named Lars Johann Yngwie Lannerback, whom many of us know today as the great Yngwie Malmsteen.  With his blinding-fast runs, cello-like vibrato, and overall blistering technique, Malmsteen blew all the guitar players out of the water.  Now many have taken his techniques and have extrapolated on them to create a new generation of shredders that we know today.

There are many different techniques used in shred guitar, including alternate picking, sweep/economy picking, legato, and tapping.

There are 3 steps to mastering these techniques:

1) Time

2) Dedication

3) Most of all–practice, practice, practice…

Many people who are starting to shred get frustrated because they think that their playing will be perfect if they practice exercises and think they’ll get it right within the first five attempts.  Not true. I know, because I was once like that.  I was so intent on mastering sweep picking in a short time.  I watched many instructional videos and had the technique down perfect.  When I applied it to the guitar, it wasn’t right.  I was frustrated, but knew I had to practice for a long time to get it right.  Since then, my sweeping has gotten better, but it still isn’t perfect, and I still practice sweep picking to this day, as well as all the other shred techniques.

There is one key tool you need on your way to becoming a shred legend.  It is called tremolo picking, and it involves rapidly picking one note as fast as possible.   “You can’t play faster than bangin’ on one note!”–Michael Angelo Batio, Speed Kills DVD You must remember this when shredding: You have to pick fast the same way you pick slow. You can’t change your picking technique.

Here’s a useful trick from shred god Michael Angelo Batio: Tremolo pick a note as fast as you possibly can, then begin to slow it down.  That way you can build up your own personal PPS (potential picking speed) from the get-go.  If you practice this, you will begin to build up speed when you pick fast, and you will also work on keeping your technique the same.

Here is a simple tremolo picking exercise:

shred guitar fundamentals

(Click here to download the PowerTab file)

I hope you’ve found this first installment helpful, and I hope that you find my next installments helpful as well.

Next time, we’ll discuss chromatics.
Keep on shredding, everyone!   -David K

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guitar speed secret

1 Comment

  1. it is a fine write-up. david katilius had written that at such a tender age of 16! great! thank you david.