Originally Posted by AndersPGM
I wonder how long it took for you guys before you could play really fast and accurately, and feeling free to improvise and playing fast (not just runs) at any given moment?
What exercises do you guys think are most effective?
You know, there is a HUGE diffrence between beeing able to play fast licks and all that and feeling free to improvise. So let's break it up.
Playing fast is easy. Use a metronome, start slow, play only faster when you are able to play something absolutly perfect slow. That is the only way, proven and pretty simple too.
The second part of your question comes from within, and is more a musical question rather than a technique issue. My route:
Learn theory. A lot. Chords, scales, modes and whatnot. Learn how they sound (what 'feeling' etc). Get inspired by lots of diffrent music. Study diffrent 'genres', like jazz, blues, whatever.
Jam with people and with other music. Start improvising, and listen. What works, and what not? Back that up with theory, and it'll get better and better.
If you combine those two things, you'll achieve what you want. That is, not only can you play fast, but it won't sound like an excercice all the time. How long does it all take? Up to you, but long enogh. Beeing able to play instantly what you 'hear in your head' is true musical freedom, it's what Satch and Vai for example are pretty much able to do most of the time.