I started with metal guitar a little more than a year ago, and mostly learned all this classic Metallica stuff from the 80's like Master of Puppets. Now I can play it up to speed, I can even play it up to 120% of speed. But even at 100% I have the feeling that I lack some accuracy and precision, do not hit all notes evenly, sometimes getting inaccurate when going large distances on the fretboard. This just happens irregularly, even on passages that I can play. So I want to make my playing more consistent.

Any suggestions for effective exercises or songs to improve precision?

  • 2
    Lacking accuracy and precision at 100% of the speed means that you actually can't play it at 100% of the speed, let alone 120% of the speed. It's like saying: "I'm a really fast coder, only if I go fast, I create bugs". Drop down to a speed where you can play it without loss of accuracy and precision. Then work your way up to 100% of the speed. Nov 14, 2019 at 11:44
  • @WillemvanRumpt Your conclusion is right. But maybe hoped for more specialised exercises than that.
    – StefanH
    Nov 14, 2019 at 13:22
  • Sorry, that's why I posted as a comment. I'm self taught (37 years and counting). I've made a ton of mistakes along the way, and still am making tons of them. On top of the list of those mistakes is, was, and always will be: "play too fast too early", and it's topping the list of people who ask me for advice (my first answer is always: "get a teacher (not me)"). Trying to address that takes time, every time, every piece, every practice round, again and again. And I'm happy to say nowadays, I only fail 50% of the time in doing that ;) Nov 14, 2019 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


Take lessons.

The path to accuracy and speed on any instrument is the same formula. Years of methodical, slow, meticulous practice of basic exercises with a metronome. There are dozens of great books, DVDs, etc out there for developing technique. But they are all teaching the same basic thing. You need to get the movements in your muscle memory and optimize hand movement. One thing is to never play something faster than you able to. Messy playing does not fix itself through repetition. Repeating messy riffs trains your body to play messy.

My recommendation would be get your hands on a copy of Try Stetina's book Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar. Again, there are many great ones out there but this one really goes into details that are missing in other books. There is also The Yng Way (a play on Yngwie Malmestin's name) but that really only covers his technique. And Intellishred by Kevin Dillard. Metal and shred sort of go together but the techniques apply to every style. All these books have countless exercises but Troy's book have descriptions of proper posture and suggestions for how to boost speed methodically and how to track your progress. Many of the other books just throw exercises at you and say play these faster and faster. imo Troy's book is a step above the rest in terms of education.


One highly recommended approach is to play things slower... much slower. Cut the tempo in half and try to play it all with just as much expression/emotion. This allows you more time to focus on each note a bit more and forces you to play each note with more intention. Once you really, truly nail it at a slower tempo, move that tempo up in small increments. Eventually, you will be playing it at speed (or faster) and you'll be able to nail every note solidly and consistently, with great expression.

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