How to Play Fast Triplets on a Guitar

Written by chris newton
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How to Play Fast Triplets on a Guitar
Practice slowly, and gradually increase speed to play fast triplets. (guitar image by cherie from

Triplets are a rhythmic pattern in music that designates playing three notes in the time it takes to play two. Guitar players use triplets when playing solos, melodies or even rhythm guitar chords. Playing triplets is not difficult for advanced players, but beginners may require several hours or more of practice before playing triplets comes naturally. You can play fast triplets on your guitar using your picking hand, fretting hand or both.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Metronome

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  1. 1

    Set your metronome to 90 beats per minute. A metronome is a must-have to keeping you in time during practice.

  2. 2

    Listen to the metronome count, and hear the triplets in your head. The metronome counts crotchets. Imagine how the triplet sounds by mentally counting three evenly spaced notes in the time it take for the metronome to count two notes.

  3. 3

    Pick the triplet rhythm with your picking hand. Do not worry about fretting any notes just yet. Get comfortable picking the triplet rhythm over the metronome beat. Alternate picking strokes between each note in the triplet. For example, start with a down-up-down picking stroke motion, then reverse it to up-down-up on the next triplet.

  4. 4

    Incorporate the fretting hand. Start by playing one-note triplets, but change the note for each triplet. For example, play a fretting A triplet, then a B triplet and so on.

  5. 5

    Add more notes to each triplet. Try playing a triplet with three different notes, such as A-B-C, on the same string.

  6. 6

    Play three different notes on multiple strings in the triplet rhythm. Try ascending and descending patterns. For example, play a triplet starting with C on the A string, E on the D string and A on the G string. Then play the same chord from the highest note to the lowest note.

  7. 7

    Incorporate the "hammer on" and "pull off" techniques into your triplets. The "hammer on" technique involves playing a note by picking one note and then "hammering" another finger on the fretboard on a higher note on the same string without another picking stroke. A "pull off" technique involves picking a note and then pulling that fretted finger off so another fretted finger on a lower not on the same string produces an additional tone. "Hammer on" and "pull off" techniques allow you to play multiple notes with only one or two picking strokes. You can play a triplet in just one picking stroke using "hammer on" and "pull off" techniques.

  8. 8

    Speed up the metronome after you are comfortable playing a variety of triplets at 90 beats per minute. Increase the count by five beats per minute each time. Increase the speed when you get comfortable playing at one speed. Eventually, you end up at a fast tempo, such as 180 beats per minute.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice regularly and consistently. If you do not practice for several consecutive weeks, you might have go back to the beginning and work up your speed.

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