Fast guitar songs have been around since the dawn of rock and roll, but not all of them are as easy to play as you’d think. Whether you’re teaching yourself how to play or just trying to mix things up, it’s important to know your fastest guitar songs and be able to play them quickly with fluidity and accuracy.
Here are five of the top fast guitar songs for any serious guitarist looking to learn how to play some quick riffs.
Fast Guitar Songs – Are you up for the challenge?
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – “Flight of the Bumblebee”
Flight of the Bumblebee is a classic piece of music composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1899. The piece was originally composed as an interlude in the opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan. It has since become a staple for classical musicians such as classical guitarists and violinists. The song is a favorite for classical guitarists because of its incredible speed and technical skill required to perform it.
Although it’s not always possible to play every note at full speed, experienced guitarists can play it at speeds that would make a beginner’s head spin. Playing this song is a great way to show off your technique, and it’s a lot of fun to play.
Steve Vai – “Eugene’s Trick Bag”
Eugene’s Trick Bag is a song by Steve Vai on his Fire Garden album. It is full of fast licks that are fun to play and great practice for speed picking. The only distortion used in the song is a wah-wah pedal, which means that you need to really be on your toes when it comes to picking hand technique, as well as fretting hand muting.
This song is one of the greatest fast pieces ever recorded, and it is one of the most popular songs to play at guitar shows. Played in the key of G minor, the song begins with a slow, descending arpeggio that sets up the main theme. The main theme builds in intensity as Vai blasts through some really fast alternate picking and legato playing.
After about two minutes, there is a brief pause before the next section begins. This section features a series of fast licks that change direction every couple of measures. If you are looking for a challenge, this is one of the best songs to learn on guitar.
Guthrie Govan – “Fives”
Guthrie Govan is a UK-based guitarist who has played for acts like Hans Zimmer, Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), and others. He’s also widely regarded as one of the best guitarists in the world today. His playing style is incredibly diverse, capable of switching from jazz to funk to rock to country and more.
Fives is taken from his 2005 solo album Erotic Cakes, which took the world by storm when it was released. It’s a masterclass in fast guitar playing that’s rarely matched in terms of sheer speed. The song starts off slow and fairly tame but then explodes into a flurry of fast notes that are almost impossible to keep up with. It’s just three minutes long, but it will leave you breathless.
Buckethead – “Big Sur Moon”
Big Sur Moon is a track from Buckethead’s fourth album Colma, released on March 24, 1998. The song is performed on an acoustic guitar with a delay pedal set to 500ms of repetition time, 80 percent level/blend, and 50 percent feedback. Big Sur Moon also features some nice sweep picking. To play this song, you need to sweep pick arpeggios. It’s not the easiest technique to master. But if you can get it, it’s a whole lot of fun.
This song has three parts: the intro, the solo, and the outro. The intro is in 5/4 time and includes some chord arpeggios and tapping. The solo is 7/8 and uses sweep picking, string skipping with hammer-ons, and very fast palm muting. The outro is similar to the intro in that it uses chord arpeggios with tapping.
The song starts with a quick E minor riff followed by a fast arpeggio before going into the chorus. The chorus is just three chords, each played twice. After that, we have a bridge section and go back into the verse again. This might seem like a lot to take in at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to pick up other songs like this easily.
Rodrigo y Gabriella – “Tamacun”
Spanish guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela are masters at crafting intricate, layered acoustic guitar music full of energy. Tamacun was one of their most popular songs. This song is the perfect example of how two people can make music with just an acoustic guitar. The sound is full and somehow makes you feel as if there are more instruments than just two guitars. Tamacun is a Spanish word that is a mixture of Mexican, Indian and Spanish culture.
The techniques used in this song are quite simple but can be a challenge to play at the speed they play it at. It uses a lot of barre chords, chord slides, and hammer-ons. The song is played in D major, and it’s mostly about practicing your picking technique throughout the entire song. This piece is played entirely with the thumb and fingers, so you won’t need a pick for this one. So, you’ll need to build up callouses on your fingertips before playing this song.
Guitar music is not all with soft romantic in slow tempo or scary growling from heavy metal bands. Many of the most popular songs throughout music history have been fast, guitar-driven rock and roll songs that get your heart pumping and your feet tapping as you sing along to the lyrics. A guitar can rock with immense speed and accuracy without going overboard, giving you a treat for ears to listen to and for your fingers to learn.
Listening to these fast guitar songs will help you improve your speed on the guitar. The fast tunes will force you to practice at a faster tempo, and each day you’ll notice that your skills are improving.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.