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Thread: Developing Speed: What helped you?

  1. #91
    He's dark. He's a man. Darkman's Avatar
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    Come on guys, put this zen stuff aside and get back to your speed trainer and 3nps drills!

    Just kidding....

    But to be strictly on topic, I'd like to add my first 2 cents for 2010. With the new year, I've knuckled back down to some serious practice. I've done the usual "review and renew" process. So some things will be discarded, and replaced. One thing to go is playing to a fixed metronome speed. I found over the past year that only using a speed trainer (progressively higher BPMs) brings decent results. The kind of results you sit up and take notice of. So that's one piece of advice for people seeking speed.

    Another point I'd like to add is about picking technique. Yes I'm sure it's been mentioned before, but my most recent "lightbulb moment" was realising if I consciously relaxed with picking hand as much as possible, I could instantly play a lot faster. Now, if you do this obviously sloppy playing is the danger. So relax it as much as humanly possible, but stop short where you lose too much control. The aim being to reduce friction/impact between pick and strings, because this will slow you down. I've found if you can find the perfect balance between accuracy and a very relaxed hand, the results can be instant.

    Anyway, there you have it.

  2. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkman View Post
    Come on guys, put this zen stuff aside and get back to your speed trainer and 3nps drills!

    Just kidding....

    But to be strictly on topic, I'd like to add my first 2 cents for 2010. With the new year, I've knuckled back down to some serious practice. I've done the usual "review and renew" process. So some things will be discarded, and replaced. One thing to go is playing to a fixed metronome speed. I found over the past year that only using a speed trainer (progressively higher BPMs) brings decent results. The kind of results you sit up and take notice of. So that's one piece of advice for people seeking speed.

    Another point I'd like to add is about picking technique. Yes I'm sure it's been mentioned before, but my most recent "lightbulb moment" was realising if I consciously relaxed with picking hand as much as possible, I could instantly play a lot faster. Now, if you do this obviously sloppy playing is the danger. So relax it as much as humanly possible, but stop short where you lose too much control. The aim being to reduce friction/impact between pick and strings, because this will slow you down. I've found if you can find the perfect balance between accuracy and a very relaxed hand, the results can be instant.

    Anyway, there you have it.
    ya, i think the relaxed thing is another key thing for doing lots of stuff that requires speed and accuracy.

    what you want to do is always be swift and relaxed, kind of loose.


    the problem is though, when you start out, this is not possible necessarily because the actions you're attempting are too hard for you to do. so you need to exert effort.

    so you practice over and over, exercising and strengthening your muscles. and once you've done that, speed is simple, and easy, untill you push your limits again and the whole thing continues until you plateau.

    that's why pros make it look so easy. because for them, it is.

    it could be possible that had you tried to pick relaxed before, you wouldn't have been able t opick at all. but now you can pick more easily, relaxed, is something you can do.

  3. #93
    Developing picking speed takes a long time and there are many things to talk about, but what really helped me developing speed was to angle the pick. For a long time I held it flat for tone reasons and I still do so when playing melodies. However for quick alternate picked runs I need to angle the pick. Paul Gilbert talked about that in his instructional video and he knows how to pick for sure. Also experiment with different picks, I used small ones for a long time until I found out that I'm much more comfortable with bigger ones. As for exercises I found that playing classical baroque music like Bach is a good way to work on your technique whilst playing great music. My 2 cents
    Last edited by TommyT; 01-04-2010 at 01:44 PM.

  4. #94
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    another thing that i'm sure has an effect is your pick thickness. i don't use a pick so i haven't really explored this myself, but intuitively i'd imagine a thicker pick might be better for faster. i know when i did use a pick i much preferred the thicker ones. other people might like the lighter ones, but sometimes one begins playing with a preference, and then when they reach a different level, when your criteria for a pick might be different, trying somethign different can sometimes surprise you. i know string thickness did that for me.

    of course this won't replace practice, but still, it's something that could be interesting depending on which is better for speed and which you are currently using.

  5. #95
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    fretboard speed method.

    First,buy a metronome!Steve Morse will tell you.Ive been to his clinics.Steve uses them in his practice always.Play your major modes on 2 strings 3 nps up and down the length of the fret board on all 2 adjacent strings,starting slow at first then turning up the speed on metronome.For beginners use major/min pentatonics 2 nps.Finally for you shredders!Heres a workout,play harmonic or melodic minor scale modes on 2 strings, 3 nps up and down the finger board at 150 speed {Al vivace}ha ha ha,torture.....

  6. #96
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    wadester

    Quote Originally Posted by Blutwulf View Post
    A small group of my "students"* are suddenly bluegrass enthusiasts, so I am having to teach them All Things Bluegrass. If one wants to learn speed (while in control of more than the physical aspects) bluegrass is excellent.

    Developing speed and accuracy while improvising over a major or minor scale based melody can hurt no guitarist. Can one play faster? Sure, but in my experience anything faster divorces itself from genuine improv and enters the realm of technique-driven music.

    *I am not a music instructor. I am just some dude who used to play a few instruments.
    I totally agree!!!!Bluegrass,great approach for developing speed,dexterity control...

  7. #97
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    wadester

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkman View Post
    Learning to love my metronome
    {Prestissimo}speed 208!!!!!!! Harmonic Minor.you'll love to hate your metronome....

  8. #98
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    speed

    One thing is people who CAN play really fast always talk about playing slowly and deliberately etc etc BUT you got to speed up sometime Right ?

    Have a clear mental sound image in your mind and sync it up to the exact speed you imagine.

    Smaller fragments are better at first.

    You can take a two note lick that you would normally hammer like a minor third ( three frets on one string ) that you would normally NOT pick and practice picking both notes, first starting on upstroke and getting THAT fast, then on a downstroke and getting that fast. Both would be alternate picked.

    Another is to practice tremolo picking one note with alternate picking and just speed it up with a metronome but also with the " mental sync thing " where you imagine it at a specific tempo and hold the mental sound and sync reality up to what you imagine - this can be VERY powerful.

    Hearing it in your mind FIRST then playing it can be the key to many things for a beginning player especially . And changing the mental image in increments once you are " synced".

    Playing triads across 3 Strings with ALTERNATE PICKING is the key to developing vertical speed without " sweep picking " which is how I do it- simpler than " changing gears". No sweep picking, not necessary.
    Last edited by robertkoa; 04-25-2010 at 03:16 AM.

  9. #99
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    Shawn Lane recommended doing the slow accurate practice like everyone else, but he also said to then burst it at a speed beyond what you're capable of. I guess it's like working towards a center from both ends: Speed up the clean picking while cleaning up the fast picking.

    I believe he said that was to keep from putting a limit on yourself. Hard to argue with someone cleanly alternate picking at 18 notes per second.

    I think it's also important to keep in mind that many of the greats would be even greater if they tweaked a few things. You can practice hard through a few bad habits and still outperform someone with no bad habits & less dedication... but that still doesn't make it right.

    One of the things I like to do is look for flaws in the guys guys I look up to, since famous humans are still just humans. I also don't do something just because they do it, unless there's a logical reason to.

    A few examples:

    I love Marty Friedman's playing, but watching his right hand is painful.

    Paul Gilbert is probably my favorite alternate picker, even though he's not the fastest. But... he'd probably be faster if he moved his right hand less. He said he likes the bigger strokes for tone (not speed), but someone that doesn't know he said that could try to copy him, thinking everything he does is for speed. I like that he doesn't anchor, but don't like how he holds the pick, even though it works great for him.

    Other than the anchoring, Yngwie's right hand is one of my favorites to watch. I'm a fan of using the pinky, so his left hand isn't one of my favorites since he seems to drop into 3-finger mode a lot.

    I like looking for stuff like that because I feel more like I'm just pulling what I like from these guys, rather than trying to be yet another clone of them.

    I don't do it to knock them & I'm very aware that they're all better at it than I am. I guess I'd rather just learn from the mistakes of others, rather than doing it myself and having to break a bad habit later.

    I also like to watch my hands in a mirror. I feel like that way I can see myself the way I'm looking at others. Sometimes things look a little different to someone in front of you than when you're looking down at your hands.

    One thing I really don't care for are the ones using the spastic elbow picking. I'm a fan of speed, but I don't see the talent in having a muscle spasm while holding a pick--especially when your left hand can't keep up and/or you seem to be stuck on one string.

  10. #100
    SteveH
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    For me it was definitely getting the metronome out and slowly working my way up over a long period of time.

    Also I made an effort to break out of just playing scales - I found that if scales was all I did, then running up and down scales was all I could ever do. So I made a conscious effort to use techniques like "Melodic Fragments" to break out just playing the same standard old patterns all the time.

    Steve

  11. #101
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    What really helped me was tapping my foot with the metronome while practicing and also shifting my concentration back-and-forth between my foot and the thing I'm practicing. It really forces you to be aware or your timing and accuracy and thus improving your technique. The second thing was doing rhythm exercises.

  12. #102
    itzfast
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    dedication

    Speed comes from practicing correctly and often. Granted, there are some who develop speed faster than others, but by and large speed is attained through discipline in your practice habits. I've learned a lot over the years and I can definitely tell you what won't work. What won't work is just playing your guitar everyday and sporadically practicing scales once or twice per week for 3-4 hours at a time. My best advice is to invest in a metronome or buy an online program with a metronome that progressively gets faster and slower intermittently. As far as how to hold a pick and technique there is a wealth of information on this website about that. In the end you get what you put into it and for most players attaining shred level speeds of 200 BPM if they even get there, is a grind and a labor of love.

  13. #103
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    My biggest problem regarding speed is that I can only do it for short, controlled bursts, can't get those stupidly looong ascending/descending Gilebrtesque type things down (which I wouldn't mind being able to pull off once in a while!). I'm personally sorta an old skool, traditional alternate picker, more along the Nuno method versus angled pick, locked arm, non acnhored-freehanded, etc, players. Guess in a way though, a limited ability at picking effortlessly forever might just be a GOOD thing, forces you to mix it up. Ever try something like pure alternate picking (fast) a long descending into ascending run where halfway through you change over to legato without breaking stride (think Greg Howe)? TOUGH but sweet sounding, more of an impact than if it were ALL picked (to me).

    As far as what helped me: no mystery, just time. Some get there quickly, some forever. I'm am happy with where I'm at these days technique wise, but crikey, life is half over NOW, lol.

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