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Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by sothoth, Jan 27, 2019.
I’m floating away, a mass of iridescent bubbles
Crap. I think that’s what I was after but need to adjust my expectations. I’ll look at the picking videos, appreciate the suggestion.
Great video. A few years back I had the opportunity of attending a few masterclasses with Rodney Jones, who used to play in Dizzy Gillespie´s band in the 70s, and he spent some time discussing GB's picking. In addition to what is demonstrated in the video, he explained that when moving to higher strings GB mostly uses rest strokes and economy picking, and alternate picking when moving to lower strings.
IME angling the pick is very helpful in developing speed.
This discussion really helped ..!!
When you learn something and THINK you have it ... force yourself each day to play it ridiculously slow for 5 min ...then go back up to tempo ...keep going back and forth from the slowest possible way to play it and the fastest ... this will increase your speed. You are getting tripped up because your fingers haven't uncovered micro mistakes by continuing to practice the material super slow.
YouTube has metronome videos of every speed. Just pick one you can keep up with and increase every few days running scales up and down the neck. You'll notice increases in speed and comfort but over the long term more so than in days or weeks. Just stick at it every day for as long as you can.
I found that I got a little free boost in speed when changing to a small jazz 3 pick after using tortex for something like 30 years.
Now i'm running those same scales with the youtube metronome using thumb and first finger only trying to built that speed up to play fast runs with fingers only. Feels like your getting nowhere but over months the speed has increased a lot.
A trick I learned is, say you can play 8th notes at 120bpm comfortably, but you fall apart at 125, the trick is to play it at 130 until you "hear" it realy well, hang on it for 15 minutes and then drop it down to 125 and it will seem much easier and you nail it at 125. Then go to 135bpm because your new tempo goal is 130.
It's like 2 steps forward then one step back.
Two ideas I got and have practiced from Tom Hess videos on YouTube are to practice the right hand picking patterns on their own, and to don’t always leave the fretting hand index finger down if you are playing passages that return to it; for example up and then back down on the same string.
As to the first suggestion, we have some fairly fast Twin guitar passages that are difficult for me to play, and by just concentrating on the picking patterns it helps ingrain those and they become more automatic.
Not leaving the index finger down when you are returning to it can be useful in that if you have to put your index finger back down it gives a simultaneous mechanical connection between the left-hand and the right hand.
I’ll watch his vids. I have watched one or two before but will take another look.
I've been struggling with increasing my picking speed for a long time. The best suggestions I have found to get solid progress is to work in small fragments, just a few notes. Try odd fragments that work your finger coordination as well as simple pentatonic licks. Work the fragments until they are auto pilot then turn up the speed....with a metronome slave master. After you get some fragments worked up add a couple more notes or start linking multiple fragments. The point is to not have to try to work on remembering/playing a big long lick with more than one sticking point. Stumbling on the sticking point will screw up everything downstream so work out the little parts then when everything is solid make the whole.
Economy picking is a big help but that is an adventure unto itself if you have decades of non-economy under your belt. I ended up with a seriously mutant flatpick style. Hybrid picking can also kick the speed up a bunch while adding nuance to phrasing you cannot get flat picking. There is a website "cracking the code" dedicated to micro study of picking styles and form if you want to visit that rabbit hole.
Play as fast as you can while playing perfect. Take bursts out of your comfort zone. Don't practice sloppy for the sake of speed or you will get really good at playing fast sloppy licks. Don't play slow and creep up your speed. Play slow to get the phrase/fragment down without mistakes then start pushing your speed limit. Like doing speed drills on a bike or running....push/recover/push. jogging will not help speed. But playing really slow and clean with a metronome is a whole nuther animal that brings different gains into the game so don't ignore that aspect of practice, just don't think it is a speed ramp.
Mike Petrucci from has video where he shows that idea of playing a lick too fast and then backing down to comfortable......at 208bpm backing down to like 204. Nothing like a true alien to skew what reality should look like. How fast do you need to play for the music you are wanting to play. Well phrased melodic solos win over an pointless swarm of gnat notes any day.
One other issue I think I have, which maybe is hard to articulate, is that my motor memory is easily disrupted when I start thinking. Like I can’t sing and play at the same time or if my wife asks me a question I get lost in my lick or my chords. Have always had this issue when using a metronome... if I pay attention to it, I forget when I’m doing with my hands. It’s always driven my instructors mad when I used to take lessons because they assume I’m lazy or not taking their direction seriously when it fact it was just hard for me unless it was quiet and I could focus just on playing.
Maybe part of this is just getting back outside my comfort zone and practicing something I’m not good at (where I’m mentally distracted and therefore have to figure how to think and play at the same time)?
If anyone else has that issue it would be good to get some therapy from you. I have my black couch all ready and everything
I have the same problem --- don't have much in the way of speed regardless of how I practice and am just not a shredder, never will be. Due to that I developed "good taste" related to leads - more important than being speedy. Willie Nelson might be in the general direction or maybe BB King or maybe the guys who do soft-rock sessions. Make all leads MEMORABLE - better than being fast. Learn how to "plant" your leads into the mind of the audience.
Unfortunately IMO many players in this area local clubs are way too loud, have no dynamics, are in time but have no "feel", assault the audience with a multitude/barrage of notes and don't understand what a "rest" is plus don't have the finesse to back-down the volume when vocals start. Sometimes it's just a waterfall of bs with bad notes & no clue as to where silence should be. Am not in love with players like Joe Bonermaster as everything pretty much sounds the same to me after 3 tunes. Some of the country guys are exceptional like Brent Mason of course but most players are unable to reach that level.
There will always be a faster gun in the wild west or maybe even down the street...seems it has become a show-off competition over the years so I pass. Have been signed to several NY major labels when younger with known producers, made CashBox & Billboard a few times and have worked with a few hit-record session players in England and New York.
This was due to connections plus having good ears, time, feel, dynamics, phrasing and taste. This was due to playing the right thing at the right time to make the session get-off. Never had anybody sign my bands due to speed. There are a couple of "prodigy" players in my area doing Blues clubs - exceptionally fast and never miss a note, right-on all the time. Really annoying to jam with - they overplay everywhere and don't understand how to lay-back.
Lots of great info here. As of late I have been playing along with actual recordings. At 72 i figured my speed was used up! Not so! It took me 3 plus years to get one song up to speed Merle Haggard"s "I think I'll stay here and drink".6 guitar solos at 172 BPM was a big challenge for me. I never relented, just kept plugging away at it. Now it is all mine to play any time I want. So keep at it. Playing note for note with Roy Nichols is so cool!
I was going to say something like this because it's more or less where I've arrived after 35 years of playing mostly for fun. Early on I was really impressed by virtuoso players. I started playing mandolin and guitar in college and was into bluegrass but I can't play that fast either so I gravitated towards celtic.
I knew guys in college who were better then than I am now even with all the intervening years for me to have caught up.
Now I'm starting to get aches and pains in my wrists and shoulders and realize that I've probably reached the apex of whatever ability curve I am on, but I have found my groove or niche and feel comfortable there. If music was all about speed then that's all you would hear. Sure it's one aspect and those who CAN do that impress me. I don't even feel the need to put them down for "lack of feel" or "ridiculous hair extensions" any more.
this is one of pebber browns videos on picking for speed, he has some others that may be more or less helpful so poke around his channel. he taught buckethead for years.
this is a very well done and entertaining documentary on speed picking with techniques.
I had this problem for years (decades), even when I was playing in bands and knew the material really well. It’s a bad habit I developed. I had to be on sort of autopilot and had to not think about where I was in the song or solo in order to keep it flowing. As soon as I started thinking about where I was in the piece, I lost it.
The way I have improved on this in my playing is to keep myself off that autopilot mode and to be conscious of every note I’m playing at all times. This meant reevaluating the music I knew how to play and to learn how to play it while being conscious of what I was playing. It took some doing.
The muscle memory gets me across the sweep picking arpeggio or helps me with string skipping and a familiar hammer on, pull off phrase but in terms of where I am in the song and the notes I’m playing, now I’m conscious and very aware of where I am when I play.
This isn’t the same thing as having trouble playing one melody and singing another or playing one rhythm and singing another counter rhythm. That’s another thing that can be improved upon but it’s another hurdle unto itself and I’m not extremely good at that.
As far as speed is concerned, since I’ve been working at it and since I broke that autopilot habit, I’m much faster and more importantly, in control but I’ve still got some way to go to catch up with Steve Vai, Satriani, Petrucci, etc...
Good feedback, thanks
Hey! 'Speed Wall' is a pretty decent band name.
I would love to have a half dozen “fast flurry” riffs to incorporate in my playing.
Anybody have links to longer riffs that are good for playing fast?
Sure, you can play anything fast but I’m thinking of those fast long runs that go up or down the neck.
Perhaps links to riffs that are musical instead of scales you will never play in a song would be helpful.
I practiced the chromatic 1234 thing for a while but finally decided it didn't help as much as playing musical things. It simplifies it in a way but you can develop habits of just mindlessly doing mechanical things.
Other than that be patient and keep at it. I find when I hit the wall on a topic I move to something else for a bit and come back with a fresh attitude and it helps.