The Usefulness Of Technique And Why Less Is Not Always More

If you play guitar fast, or are learning to play fast, or you have thought about learning to play fast? Or do you simply get stuck playing slow all the time and there are times when you do not want to do this? This will apply to a lot of people reading this. And even if you do not want to play fast this will help you a lot.
Have you ever heard of the saying, “less is more”? I am sure you have. But the fact is, less is not always more and neglecting technique will be detrimental to your musical progress and here is why:

Always playing less can get boring.
Can you imagine how dull things would be if you were playing and everything you played was the same speed, all the time. There is no variety; it is just the same slow playing. Sometimes this may be fine but would you want all your songs like that?
2) Technique will be necessary for your ability to easily play your choices.
Almost everyone reading this will want to be able to use some technique sometimes. You may not want to play as fast as Yngwie Malmsteen necessarily, but you want and need to be able to make the choice to play faster when you wish. Even songs that are slower have some faster moments in there, within the context of the song.
You do not always have to play slow to say something.
Some people say “I don’t use technique, I play to say something” which is great, I am sure most guitarists want to say something. But there are many guitar players out there who can say a lot of things with a lot of notes as well as just a few notes. Do not equate playing slow with playing with feeling, one can play slow and not say anything at all.
Technique improves your ability to express what you want to express.
Even when you are playing something slow, if your guitar bending technique is bad, if your vibrato is out of tune, if your 2 hand synchronization is terrible you will have a hard time being expressive. You will sound terrible if these elements and other important elements of technique are neglected. So even for guitarists who often play slow, technique is important!
Slow playing does not say everything
People play guitar and write songs because they want to say something and that’s great but saying something to most people = playing slow. They think that fast guitar playing is just for show and that you can’t say anything with that. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Think about what is it you’re trying to say with your music? If you are trying to convey a similar message to Pink Floyd, then slow, soft playing may well be appropriate. If you wish to express hopeless desperation then slow playing would be great. If you want to express sadness or you wish to express serenity, fast playing may ruin the mood. But…
What if you wish to communicate
anger or intensity? What if you want to express uneasiness or tension? What if you are writing a song that is about an angry protest or about soldiers fighting in a war and you wish to express the terror of the fighting? Would slow playing be good then? Probably not.
Slow playing can be good in some places but slow playing on its own wouldn’t cut it if that is what you are trying to say. Sometimes to say what you want to say you will need a mixture of both fast playing and slower passages. Sometimes less is not more and more is not more. Think about what you’re trying to express and have your playing match what it is you want to express and your playing and creativity will improve big time.

About the author: Jake Willmot is a professional guitar instructor who also likes pizza and writing music.
He is a guitar teacher in Devon, Exmouth