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The secret to playing guitar fast Kerry King says “a lot of people don’t know”

Take the word of one of metal’s most revered guitarists.

Kerry King on stage. He is lit up in red and the background behind him is smokey as he is playing guitar.

Image: Stephen J. Cohen / Getty

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Kerry King has revealed how he achieves speed when playing rhythm guitar, and the trick, it seems, is to play with “as minimal movement as you can”.

King just released his debut solo record, From Hell I Rise, which sees him continue to play with enthralling speed in blazing Slayer-style. King even described the project as “an extension of Slayer” after the band decided to retire in 2019, much to his disappointment. They’ll be back for three festival dates later this year, though.

Speaking to Premier Guitar for its latest print issue, King explains how he managed to nail his speedy approach to playing. “A lot of people don’t know that they don’t need to play from the elbow,” he says.

“If you want any kind of speed and you want to be articulate, you’ve got to play from the wrist. You’ve got to have as minimal movement as you can.” King also says that the elbow is too far from the pick “to be the appropriate hinge for speed”, adding: “If your action is coming from your wrist, you’ve got a lot more control over the speed and the articulation. That’s how it’s got to be if you want to play this kind of music.”

You can check out King’s solo record below:

Though the need for speed seems to be everywhere among the guitar community these days with the rise of social media shredders, not everyone is a fan of such techniques. Artists such as Lenny Kravitz believe less is more, and when it comes to guitar, one can often convey more meaning if they knock the pace back a notch or two.

“James Brown used to say, ‘Talking loud but saying nothing,’ so you can play a million notes and have absolutely no sense of feel, rhythm or intensity,” Kravitz told Guitarist last month. “And then BB King could take one string, one note, one finger and knock over a fucking mountain, right? So I think musicians should be thinking more about feel, dynamics and emotion, if you’re thinking about anything at all.”

View all upcoming tour dates for Kerry King.

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