1. Learn the pentatonic scale, and begin practicing some basic little licks with it. The pentatonic is easy to play, and it requires very little technical ability. Working inside the pentatonic is also a good place to get a feel for bends and nuance, which you’ll need when you start trying to play fast.
2. Learn the major scale, and begin studying the modes. Use these scales a starting point for learning how to approach the fretboard. In the end, you want to achieve a freedom of action that lets you do what you want without constantly thinking about scales, but you need to understand the fretboard first.
3. Learn the harmonic minor scale. This, in combination with the major scale modes, is the key to sounding like many neoclassical players. If that’s what you want to achieve, you’ll need this scale in your arsenal.
4. Work on fluidity with your right and left hand. This is the most important thing when learning how to play guitar fast. Before you can play fast, you have to be able to play slow with a lot of fluidity.
5. Use finger exercises to improve your accuracy and speed. There are many technical exercises that can help you learn to switch strings while picking and maintain the same level of speed all the time. Many people like to use a metronome with the exercises to help them gauge their improvements.
6. If you find it very difficult to pick accurately, and you can’t seem to master it, you should consider becoming a master of legato playing. This is where you use your left hand to play using hammer-ons and pull-offs. Listen to Joe Satriani and Allan Holdsworth for good examples of this kind of speed playing. It can be just as impressive as fast picking.
7. Don’t be caught up in following dogmatic practices. Sometimes the best way to learn guitar is to do things your own way.
8. Practice sweep picking and finger tapping techniques. These are nice ways to add to your speed playing ability and give yourself some good variety.
9. Buy yourself some good quality video tapes and other instructional materials. These can help guide you into other areas and teach you new ways to apply your skills. Remember that learning how to play guitar fast is only one aspect of what you are as a guitarist.