The Importance of
Guitar Speed

Speed vs. "Feel" :

The Dumbest Guitargument Ever.

"Don't get better, because then you'll play worse."

This line of thinking is for musical morons - let me tell you why.

Imagine...

...being a classic car enthusiast, picking up a car magazine, and reading the following in the “Reader Mail” section:

Dear ‘Classic Cars’ editor:
The article last month about 'Frank’s Restorations' in Cleveland was completely stupid. Why is this guy bothering putting wheels on the cars? Wheels are just a waste of time - everyone knows that engines are the important part of cars. I’ll take one great engine over four flashy wheels any day!

Or how about a Facebook post for a cake recipe with the following responses:

- U kno tho dummy, mixing ingreedints is WAY more imortent then baking. Get a clue! -

- No, yoore the dummy, DUMY! It dont matter if u mix the ingreedints, as long as yoo BAKE at the end. Baking, not Mixing u fool! -

Surely, you get the drift: arguing whether engines or wheels are more important for a car, or whether choosing to mix ingredients or bake is somehow a valid choice for the cake maker, is ridiculousness to the highest degree. But, pick up any guitar magazine, or troll any guitar-related Facebook groups, and you will see the exact same argument taking place about speed versus feel.

Generally speaking, it’s the grumbling guitarists from the feel camp who can’t seem to realize they’re perpetuating the “car and cake” error. Here’s a typical opinion from a typical speed-denier:

“I’d rather listen to one great note from So-And-So #1 than a hundred fast notes from So-And-So #2...So-And-So #1 has feel, the other guy just hides behind all that speed, and doesn’t have anything to say...So-And-So #1 is a real player, just like [inserts other non-fast Classic Rock players]...they’re my favorites, and I don’t even want to sound like So-And-So #2, so I don’t care whether I can play fast or not. It’s not important, who needs it!”

To make “feel” and speed into some kind of choice - some winner-take-all either / or scenario - is jaw droppingly stupid. By definition, “feel” is really a combination of three things: phrasing, timing, and articulation. The ability to play slow and fast is a necessity for becoming great in each of these three areas!

The speed-deniers can’t deny this logic: your variety and choice in phrasing, timing, and articulation increases proportionately as the distance between your slowest and fastest possible speeds increases. Think about that for a minute. Truly great feel simply isn’t possible without a solid foundation of technique and speed.

So if speed-deniers and feel-apologists can’t argue the logic behind buckling down and working to increase their speed, then what’s really going on? Good old fashioned psychology, that’s what!

These players, unfortunately, have never been exposed to teachers, books, or courses that have helped them develop greater speed and power. They’ve thought “I’m just not good enough to play really fast; it’s just too hard”, and so never sought these resources out. Or, they’ve fallen in the past for gimmicks, unrealistic promises, and bad instruction - and been disappointed with the results.

So now what do they do? They go into denial. They set up an unconscious defense mechanism, convincing themselves that “If I can’t play fast...well, really, it’s not that...it’s that I don’t want to play fast. Yeah, that’s it!”

Not wanting to be disappointed again, not wanting to admit that they could work harder, not wanting to acknowledge past failures - it becomes easier to just pretend speed and technique don’t matter. “Who needs it!”, they say.

But you and I (not being afraid of some hard work in order to get what we want) know better. We know that if other guitarists out there have increased their speed and power, then we can do it too. We know that there are resources out there - effective tools and instruction, like those available from Metal Guitar Academy. And we also understand that speed, while exhilarating and impressive, is ultimately just a tool itself - but an indispensable one. One which allows the truly great player to accomplish with his hands whatever he hears in his head.

It’s this simple, yet profound truth about speed, that you and I hope the “speed-deniers” someday accept. Because ironically, to develop great “feel”...

They’d better start to “feel” like practicing more!