Pushing Your Limits

Examples of each topic are given below. All of the examples are meant to inspire you to learn more. They’re isn’t really an order or one of more importance.

Your goals are up to you and no one else.

Pushing Your Limits on the guitar should be common and consistent practice tools. You should have this pushing your limits mentality when you practice. You should have this by your bedside ready to take it up at anytime and weild your axe of authority over your music. You are not under it. It is not above you. You are ABOVE it.

Below I’m gonna ride you. Meaning Im gonna push you.


1. Scales and Speed

Ask yourself what scales do you already know? What scales do you not know, but want to? Why do you want to learn these scale and do you even like them? Are you going to use them in your music? These are questions you should ask yourself so that you don’t spend any time at all on something that will now get you closer to your goal.

Knowing why you are doing something will give it more meaning when you follow through with it.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to command any speed of yourself at will?

If you do, theres some work cut out for you. But I promise, it’s all worth it. I’m not at the speed I’d like to be but I’m much faster than I was just a few years ago and it’s all been worth it. Speed is not everything but it sure is fun when you feel like going fast and you CAN instead of getting a bit bummed out because you’re not there yet.

Here are some examples of how to push yourself.

1. Work consistently with a metronome and figure out what your highest speed is at this time. Do it with either triplets or sixteenths. You can even go with 8th notes or quarter notes if it’s a brand new scale for you. Without knowing your top speed you’re HIGHLY UNLIKELY to beat it.

2. Once you have your top speed, push it from 1-10 bpm higher depending on how fast you are. The faster you are the harder it will be to jump so many bpm. You might be at a point where you can only move up 1 bpm. The ascent is faster in the beginning. As you get faster in time, the rate of increasing your speed will be slower. Persevere.

3. Take the scale into another key. Can you play it at the same speed? If you can’t maybe you’ve gotten fast in that position of the neck and not necessarily the scale so you wanna try and move around to the keys you like to play in as much as possible.

4. Explore new scales. There are many of them out there. Jazz scales, octatonic scales, exotic scales, whole tone, etc. Push yourself to write something with the scale or do a short improvisation. Even if you don’t keep what you write it serves as an excellent exercise. You never know what you might come up with. You may be able to fuse it into some part of your music and that in itself is a reason to go exploring.

2. Arpeggios

Arpeggios can range from 1 to 6 to 7, and even to 8 strings.

If you don’t know them on a single string that can be a place to start.

If you don’t know your arpeggios at all start by studying the chord tones of the chords you use most often. This is important as studying chords you never use will only slow you down.

You can then move on up in sequence. If you know them on 1 string then progress to two strings and so on.

Remember when I said I was gonna ride you?

Can you do them in several different keys?

The process for speed also applies to arpeggios. Keep pushing yourself and the rewards will be worth it.

1. Learn the inversions.

2. Connect the inversions.

3. Connect arpeggios with their scales.

4. Apply them to improvisation.

5. Apply them to your own musical compositions.

These of course are not to be done in a hurry, these are short term or long term goals depending on where you are… so choose what you do in your practice time carefully so that you make the most progress. No bullshitting allowed.

3. Music Theory

Below are some ideas of how to push your limit to a new threshold:

1. Learn the chords in a key and be able to distinguish its relative minor key.

2. Learn the chords in the 3 forms of the relative minor key.

3. Learn to read music on the staff.

4. Learn to write music on a staff.

5. Apply the things you know to your music and use them in your songwriting or composing by recording your music and learning to use a DAW. By listening back you will be able to tell if you’re theory has improved. If something doesn’t sound right, you’ll know. 

But don’t disrespect or neglect your theory studying. No disrespect. No neglect. Theory is just that…theory. Its not facts. Its a theory. There are no rules. Only music that sounds good and that doesnt always mean pleasant. Its all subjective in the eye of the beholder. Whoever is composing or listening has his or her own perception of the music. Theory and analysis of musical pieces and masterpieces will reveal to you things that you’ve probably never heard of.

Its this never-ending journey of learning music theory that is so intriguing and mystifying. Study jazz or classical theory. There is a reason they teach it in schools across the globe.

4. Chords

Chords are a very important part of guitar playing and should NEVER be neglected.

Open chords and power chords should come first then you can move on to barre chords.

It’s easier to start now with barre chords and get better as you progress than to delay yourself from working on them.

If you are just starting out you will need some time for your fingers to get adjusted. So get started.

1. 7th chords. Once you know your chords in a key (diatonic chords) learn the 7th chord for each one.

2. Extensions of these chords such as sus chords, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths should also be learned as you progress.

3. Inversions. For example can you play the three inversions of an A major chord. Knowing these inversions will help you spice up your riffs and songwriting skills. They will help you move across the board with the same chord, just a different voice in the bass.

4. You can also learn secondary dominant chords and how to use them. When I first came across these chords I had no idea what they meant or how to use them. Use and abuse them if you really want that classical sounding sound.

5. Chromatic chords. Learn how to use and apply them as well. This will probably involve a good teacher to explain. Some or perhaps all should really be studied with someone who has used them before in an attempt to write an original piece of music. Primarily a teacher.

6. Voice Leading. You can learn voice leading in order to make your transitions from chord to chord sound smooth. In voice leading you have the smallest movements possible in the bass. This means that you can have any chord tone in the bass. It does NOT by any means have to be in root position. This is a common misconception in rock and metal. In other genres such as classical and jazz music it is quite common. This is hard, hard work. You can learn chords for the rest of your life by exploring different voicing across the neck. It literally is a lifetime of studying and thats what makes it enjoyable. Theres always something more out there for you to learn. This shouldn’t be discouraging it should be EN-couraging.


5. Songs

Here are some ways to push yourself with your repertoire.

Ask yourself questions like:

1. Whats your number one top favorite song that you would like to be able to play on guitar?

2. If you could do one song which one would it be? If it’s too difficult at the moment then keep it as a long term goal and pick one that you are able to do at the moment.

3. If you can do the rhythm of a certain song, learn the solo. If you can do the solo, learn the rhythm. If you really like the song you can try learning parts of it or the whole thing if you’d like in a different key (transposing it will give you a deeper understanding of how the guitar works and will enhance your music theory skills). Don’t disrespect this tool. It is very powerful.

4. Stick to one song as long as possible before you move on to the next one. You have to keep yourself motivated but try not to go crazy and learn 10 different riffs without mastering any of them.

It will teach you discipline and if you stick with it you’ll know what it feels like to attempt to master something on the guitar.

Repetition is key… if you’re not used to repeating something over and over again…you should start.

Because thats exactly what it takes. It takes repetition, a lot of repetition but…it will be worth it I promise.

If interested in guitar lessons click here and send me an email and tell me what your number one goal is?

Your No. 1 goal.

The thing you want to most be able to do on a guitar.