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Thread: Jamey Andreas / Speed / Lightness

  1. #1
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    Jamey Andreas / Speed / Lightness

    Hi guys,

    I just wanted to say that I definitely recommend to check out Jamey Andreas´ new article ( "Secret Of Speed" ), because he points out a few quite important things in there.
    I am currently revising my old "alternate picking / practising" articles that I wrote for Guitar4U, and those updated versions will be published at ibreathe in the near future.
    In those articles, I kinda point out the same thing: One essential key to speed is relaxing the left hand. If you watch experienced players, you´ll see that they don´t use much strength at all with their left hand.
    It may take years to get that point, but you can already make a difference when you´re starting out by focussing on relaxing the left hand. It really helps both speed and accuracy.
    I wouldn´t even attempt more sophisticated techniques such as sweeping and string-skipping without that "lightness".
    On Saturday, I was jamming with my buddy Thorsten Koehne, and we really shredded a lot, doing all that fast picking. Afterwards, we discussed it a bit and agreed that it is essential to relax. I point that out because that used to be a problem of mine when I started out. I practised hammer-ons and pull-offs quite a bit, and that was cool, but when it came to picking, it kinda messed me up cuz I was using way too much strength with the left hand ( due to my focus on legato-playing ), thereby keeping me from increasing the speed... also, it added extra noise cuz when I was changing from one string to the other, I was doing slight pull offs ( didn´t mean to ), thereby making the open string ring, creating unwanted noise.
    Anyway, check out what Jamey has to say, it really is vital information.
    Warm regards

    NP: Joey Tafolla- Plastic

  2. #2
    Registered User daniel_l_v's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Victoria, Australia
    G'day Mr. Vandenburg!

    I've just joined this cool site today, seems to a be great resource!

    Just read your forum post regarding Mr. Andreas' insightful article on the importance of finding "The Incredible Lightness" ...

    You mentioned that you had jammed with a friend recently and that, and I quote:

    "...I practised hammer-ons and pull-offs quite a bit, and that was cool, but when it came to picking, it kinda messed me up cuz I was using way too much strength with the left hand ( due to my focus on legato-playing )..."

    Eric, this rings totally true for my own playing state at this very moment! I started learning guitar primarily on acoustic, but once I heard Joe Satriani, I started to get more into playing electric rock stuff, I placed more and more emphasis on developing my technique, in particular; like yourself; on trying to perfect my legato.

    I think that there can be a rather wide chasm separating the two methods of speed playing - at least there seems to be between legato and alternate picking. They seem to be similar enterprises - both require the guitarist to take it very slow and build-up like all good rote memorization of motor skills, and both also require considerable dexterity.

    However, the legato stuff emphasizes the hammering-on and pulling-off of fretted notes and this seems so very different to the alternate picking approach because its almost as if you are not only developing a particular method of intoning a note on the instrument, but also it affects the relationship and coordination between the fret and picking hand.

    This is probably quite obvious to most guitarists actually, but i'm only starting to grasp it now because for the last 3 years or so, i've been working hard to get my legato and hammer-on/pull-off skills as good as I can, but in the process i've neglected my alternate picking, and even my picking/fretting coordination. I've started trying to build up this again, starting basically from scratch from early exercises from my guitar lessons back a few years ago, but it shall take time. I've taken to working on chromatic exercises, even attempting Rimsky-Korsakov classic chromatic piece "Flight of the Bumblee" has been helping.


    Daniel Verberne

    Victoria, AUSTRALIA
    B. Computing (Business Systems)
    E-mail: Hidden Content .au

  3. #3
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Hey Daniel,

    wow, I was worried I´d be the only one who had a problem with that...

    Seriously, it really was tough... I noticed the problem of the picking when I attempted to play stuff by guys like Paul Gilbert etc. ( this was a while before I attended GIT, and I really didn´t have a bunch of people around to ask for advice ).
    So I noticed that my playing was kinda focussed on legato-playing and that kept me from really doing fast, accurate picking. What I did was:
    In a slow and almost painful process, I took my playing apart and started certain things again from the beginning. I took one little exercise ( The infamous Paul Gilbert-trademark-picking exercise ), and did that one for hours, day after day, sometimes through an amp, sometimes without... did it while watching TV, while talking on the phone etc... played it all over the fretboard..

    I always worked on speeding it up and paid a lot of attention to cut out any noise. It helped me tremendously to fix my left hand ( it was slanted a bit, which helps when doing hammer ons and wide streches, but is a problem when playing stuff like that exercise ), and I slowly started to get that "lightness", relaxing the hand.
    I also focussed on how much I was moving my fingers ( left hand )... when you do hammer ons and pull offs, you tend to move them quite a bit, because you need to use some strength... you don´t need to do that when you´re picking.
    So, after like 5-6 years of playing, I had to relearn stuff that had become natural.. and it really was kinda painful...

    Anyway, it worked. And these days ( man, sounds like a happy-end, huh ?!? ) I am teaching my students this stuff from the beginning...
    At the bottom is a TAB of that Gilbert-lick I used... all over the fretboard, on different strings etc. Of course there were many other exercises and licks, but this one was pretty essential...

    Warm regards
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    Central Scrutinizer
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    "I was changing from one string to the other, I was doing slight pull offs ( didn´t mean to )"

    This is a good point. I play in more of a Jimmy Page/ Slash (etc.) type style. And a lot of those type licks (say the ascending run in “Good Times/Bad Times or the descending run there near the end before the call response thing) use a lot of hammers or pulls intertwined with the picking. Randy Rhoads did that kind of thing a lot to. And that’s pretty second nature to me (as in a my fingers are inclined to do that). That can be cool within its self (as it is in a sense a style) but it can be a limitation because my fingers by nature want to hammer or pull (making picking a long series of notes somewhat unnatural)

    I found the Steve Lukather style (fixed finger) exercises you gave me very helpful, especially when used in conjunction with the Andreas article (that is applying minimum amount of pressure to each string). By nature, at least in my case, there’s a tendency to tense the hand in order to keep them on the above string (say you’ve completed fingers 1-2-3-4 on 6th string now you want to lift only the first finger and play it on the 5th string: that’s where there’s a tendency to hold to tight.
    Anyway I found this information (concept) and your exercise very powerful when used tighter.

    Just my humble suggestion that if you haven’t already (I haven’t made it through all the post yet.) you might want to post the Steve Lukather exercise. (hint hint

    P.S. That show me a chord game was cool, I wanna play if that post is still open.
    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

  5. #5
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    the post ist still open, go right ahead, I´m eager to see whta kinda cool chords you´re gonna post... there hasn´t been that much response to it yet, so maybe we can kinda "resurrect" that thread.

    Thanks for the hint, the Lukather-exercise will be included in one of my next articles for ibreathe... I am currently reworking older stuff I wrote for guitar4u, and there´s a big one about picking coming up. The Lukather-approach / exercise will be featured.
    Glad you liked it.

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