Shred-tember has arrived. Whether you’re a balls-to-the-wall 80s shredder, leather pants and all, or you’re more an acoustic fingerstyle player, I’ve got a big challenge for you for the month.

The Art of Shred

Shred guitar, or “shredding”, is all about flying around the guitar at a virtuosic level – fast.

But that style of playing isn’t for everyone; especially if you’re not a big fan of metal or fusion as a listener. (If you need help finding your guitar style, check out this guide or compare each guitar style here)

Instead of focusing on the specifics, I want you to promise me the following:

  1. I want to play things the best I possibly can
  2. I’m going to be disciplined and consistent with my practice until I achieve my goals
  3. I’m going to be a better guitarist in a month than I was when I started.

And remember – who cares if there are faster/cleaner/more melodic guitarists than you in the world? The goal is to improve, not to compete.

Step 1: Choose a technique you want to learn, improve or master

We’re going to be laser-focused this month. I’m going to give you a list of techniques to get you started below, but feel free to pick anything that’s important to you. It could be as simple as getting your change from a C to a G chord faster, or as complex as playing all of Perpetual Burn by Jason Becker at speed.

  • Tapping
  • Sweep Picking
  • Tremolo Picking
  • A song
  • Chords all over the guitar
  • Percussive fingerstyle
  • Artificial Harmonics
  • Fingerpicking
  • Hybrid Picking
  • Economy Picking
  • Scales

You get the idea. Be more specific than the above list too – don’t just say “I want to nail scales this month”, choose WHICH scales you want to nail (and don’t go overboard – one or two is plenty).

Step 2: Find some exercises related to your topic

If you have a teacher, ask your teacher for some related exercises. If not, this is one area where YouTube lessons really shine.

Find a couple of exercises you think will help you out, bookmark them, download the tabs, and get them all into a location – after all, you’re going to be referring to these materials a lot this month.

Step 3: Daily practice with goal tracking

I don’t care if you only have 10 minutes a day to practice shred. You can make massive amounts of progress so long as you’re consistent with your routine.

Put together a plan for the month. For example, I’d probably go:

Tapping Challenge

Week 1: 20 minutes per day

  • Tapping Exercises Number 1
  • Tapping Song – Global Warming by Gojira

Week 2: 20 minutes per day

  • Tapping Exercises Number 2
  • Improv using tapping

Week 3: 20 minutes per day

  • Tapping Exercises Number 3

Improv using tapping and other techniques combined

  • Tapping solo – Eruption (Van Halen)

Week 4: 20 minutes per day

  • Tapping Solo – Eruption (Van Halen)

It’s definitely worth assessing your progress each week too – if you need longer on one exercise that’s totally fine (or you may need to up the challenge).

Now, to track your progress, there are a few easy ways to do it:

  • Speed (play to a metronome and track if you’re getting faster each day)
  • Accuracy (are you landing on more correct notes each day?)
  • Feel (record yourself and listen back to judge if it’s sounding better each day)

If you do this for a month, you’ll get a massive jump in your skills with your chosen technique. To be honest, you’ll probably notice it in under two weeks.  Tell us how you went in the comments.

For more individual help with finding exercises or making a practice plan, go for a guitar lesson in Ringwood at the studio.

Ben is the space-faring guitarist from Hybrid Nightmares, the masters of progressive extreme metal renowned for their stage shows. He’s also the founder of Ben Plant Guitar, where he and his team of teachers transform players into bona-fide guitar masters.