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Need help with electric guitar setup for playing fast please

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Trusted Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 33
Topic starter  

After watching a few virtuoso performances I noticed what little effort the soloists were putting into hammer on's and pull-off's. I'm sure skill has a lot to do with this but how much does guitar setup affect the ability to play fast? I've been trying to lower the action by adjusting the tailpiece and bridge but it still seems too high. It still seems like I have to put too much force on the frets to get a nice, clear sound.

My guitar is old but it's in pretty good shape. Nothing wrong with the pick-ups and the neck isn't bent or anything like that. Is there anything else I can try to improve my guitar setup? Are there strings I should try that'll make hammer-on's and pull-off's sound better without too much force? How about amp settings (I've got a Fender Princeton Chorus)? Thanks in advance.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184

9 guage strings are good for a beginner... a lot of it has to do with hand strength and repetition, though. go into a guitar store and try out a few of their electrics to see whether there is a lot of difference. if there is, you should either look at some of the threads on guitar setup, or have a pro do it for you. sometimes the neck angle or shape is off by an amount that you don't notice with the naked eye.
a good hammer exercise is to plant the index finger, then hammer on and pull off with each of your other fingers, repeating until you can get a steady clear hammer on and pull off with each finger, then increasing speed. also, you should practice hammer ons with the index finger itself, usually around the 1sat or second frets, although you might end up using it higher up on the neck. you don't want to discount possibilities.

Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 127

just work on ur finger strength it will come no need to really change ur set up playing with a set up that is harder for legato will only help you when u move to something more suited to it

Head Arcitech at Vandelay Instudries

Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 393

I played a guitar that had jumbo frets on it and it was much easier to do all those things.

However i have to agree with the others on working on strength in your fingers.

You also have to take into account that these proffessional guitarist play their guitars for many hours a day. If you can devote 8 hours a day like they can....then you'd be able to play effortlessly as well. However, there was a day when even they couldn't do it either and was in your situation. And theyput their time into finger strength training.

I've also heard of people scalloping their fret boards also.

Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 181

I say this all the time but the key is having very little muscle tension. It makes everything nearly effortless. Google Jamie Andreas articles.

A hoopy frood knows where his towel is....

Reputable Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 336

You can always get a scalloped fretboard.

E doesn't = MC2, E = Fb

Music "Theory"? "It's not just a theory, it's the way it is!"

Jonny T.

Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1066

It's mostly skill. Action adjustments and whatnot will make it a little easier at first, but once you get the hang of it your action won't make much difference. I just raised mine quite a bit the other day, but it hasn't slowed me down at all.

Prominent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 677

You can always get a scalloped fretboard.

In the words of Yngwie Malmsteen "its to get better grip of the strings, its nothing to do with playing fast. In fact its harder to play fast with it, so dont do it unless you know wat your doing"
Steve Vai scallopes his last 4 frets to get better grip as theyr so small. Its not like he needs some super speed boost for the fast couple of frets?...

As for set-up to play faster...Well its 98% skill. But like people hav said, it does make it easier with lower action to begin with. Same with jumbo frets. A thin neck has literally nothing to do with how fast you can play. I have two Jacksons with very thin necks, yet I can play almost a little faster on my Epi SG which has a very chunky neck. Its because the SG (G-400 Custom model) has an incredibley smooth neck and fretboard, its not thin.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349

A proper setup done on a proper guitar does wonders. Nothing in the world short of giving the frets a thorough look-over could get my Dean even remotely as fast as my Ibanez RG550. Also some compression would work. (unless you are using tube amps, in which case you should not use extra compression!)