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Thread: Fed up with my playing, do I accept mediocrity? How do I get BETTER!?

  1. #16
    some guy Doug McMullen's Avatar
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    People move their hands at approximately the same speed. Steve Vai, Steve Morse, Yngvie etc... they can't swing their arms faster than you, shake their hands faster, or wiggle their fingers faster....

    So what's their secret? They wiggle their fingers more _efficiently_... in general that means a shorter distance.

    Imagine the 100 yard dash... The fastest runners are within 10ths of a second of each other... but what if you gave someone a 10 yard head start... a totally average high school track athelete would suddenly smash the world record... and with a 50 yard head start a fat man like me would be competitive. (I can run 50 yards in 9.0... I think.)

    MOVE YOUR FINGERS LESS, NOT FASTER. They should press down very very gently (reread the very true comments made by m7b5 --because if you use to much pressure it is impossible to really play fast) and release effortlesslyt to just above the strings, NO WASTED EFFORT... NO WASTED MOVEMENT.

    Drilling this requires truely intense concentration and effort. If you go about practicing with the same old same old mindset you use now, forget it.

    Invent drills for yourself so that each finger is relaxed and under completely independent control of your mind.... if you want to move your ring finger, then nothing elese moves but your ring finger. Gain indepentdent control of the fingers of your left hand, press lightly, sooooooo lightly on the frets. You should press no harder than it takes for the string to not buzz. Try to press that lightly. When you release a fret, release so that your finger hovers above the string very nearby perhaps a 1/4 inch, or less.

    All of this is for the left hand... for the right hand the same thing applies.... move the pick less... smaller movements = faster playing. The guy swinging the pick thru a 1/4 inch arc has to move the pick 4 times as fast as the guy swinging it thur a 16th of an inch arc... and that guy is working twice as hard as the guy swinging the pick thru a 1/32nd inch arc.

    Speed is efficiency. when I was working on this stuff for myself, once I had developed sufficient independent finger control on my left hand I worked out some licks where when I released a note the finger releasing would pre-fret the next note it would be needed for... this burned the lick into my hands so completely that I'd just go screaming thru the lick. Try it... but don't try it first thing.


    Good luck,
    Doug

    True focus and attention and a willingness to confront problems in an honest problem solving manner will get you to your goals.

  2. #17
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    Originally posted by Doug McMullen
    ... they can't swing their arms faster than you, shake their hands faster, or wiggle their fingers faster...
    I don't know...maybe. I think some people really can move body parts faster than others. I was just watching Pat Martino play last week. I think Pat is a very fast and clean picker, and he's not just play symmetrical-three-note-per-string-type licks, he's really bopping through changes. I'd never seen him play before, I was amazed how his fingers came off the fretboard so much. I mean just watching him, you'd think he had the worst technique. Al Di Meola also doesn't seem to limit his range of motion so much. I know when I've tried to stay close to the strings it seems to impede relaxation, which has, for me personally, been the only way to play fast and clean. On the other hand, guys like Brian Sutton and Mark Whitfield are clearly some of the fastest, cleanist players around and don’t even look like they’re moving their fingers...go figure.

  3. #18
    some guy Doug McMullen's Avatar
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    I don't know...maybe. I think some people really can move body parts faster than others.
    I honestly don't think speed comes from that kind of movement.

    But, I also know it's true what you say, some very very good (and rather speedy) players have what looks like fairly mediocre technique.

    I think that there are several factors that can give a increased sense of speed to a musical line... good phrasing and a tight propulsive rhythmic sense and an interesting, tense, emotive, musical line will sound somehow faster than a flabby uniteresting line... even though both are objectively at the same speed.

    But I think the main thing that allows a player with poor technique to play both fast and really great is "unconsciousness" ... or "talking thru the instrument" ...

    There's something that happens to a guy's playing when he has truly completely stopped thinking about anything technical and is just letting music flow from brain to hands to instrument. When playing guitar is as natural and spontaneous as talking there's this speed that goes with that state, with or without "good" technique... I think that's what Pat Martino has... in a shredding contest or a sweep picking contest there are technique monsters out there who would crush him... but Martino can spin a line thru complicated changes while meditating on the I Ching. (Check out the "instructional" stuff at his website, If you want to see some very spaced out things).

    John McLaughlin, Pat Martino, Barney Kessel... I mean those guys can/could play fast and they really don't have the best technique... I think it's that they're just so tuned in to music they don't need technique.

    True originality sounds really fast :-)

    Doug

  4. #19
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    Originally posted by EricV
    Regarding the avatar... yeah, I was sitting when that pic was taken, with the guitar resting on my thigh, actually a bit higher than I usually have it.
    See the pics below to get an idea of the guitar-position... the left and middle one were taken live in 2002, the one on the right was taken in January of 2001...
    Eric
    Questions:

    1) the pic on the left, are you grabbing the bar? It seems like your 3 fingers are out-stretched. Is this an acceptable hand position? I am forcing myself to curl all the fingers into the palm. This makes PM difficult, but I am getting used to it

    2) you have the guitar very high on your body. I might have to look into this as being a problem in my playing. Like I said before, I can play licks that require wide stretching easier when I am sitting down with the guitar on my thigh.

    Thanks

  5. #20
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Originally posted by 6StringShredder
    Questions:

    1) the pic on the left, are you grabbing the bar? It seems like your 3 fingers are out-stretched. Is this an acceptable hand position? I am forcing myself to curl all the fingers into the palm. This makes PM difficult, but I am getting used to it
    Well, I think I was playing a long series of artificial harmonics on the low E-string when that pic was taken. Sometimes, when I do that, especially live, I open up my hand, because for some reason, it seems to be a bit easier to really "squeeze" these harmonics then.
    I usually do curl up my fingers, too. My right hand looks kinda similar to Greg Howe´s hand ( a bit more under tension though ) and PG´s hand ( a bit more relaxed, though )
    There are SOME situations, especially when I am on stage, where I stray away from any "classical" or "acceptable" technique just to get the results I need. But 99% of the time, I play with the "floating, curled" hand, and either classical l.h. or thumb above the neck l.h.

    Originally posted by 6StringShredder
    2) you have the guitar very high on your body. I might have to look into this as being a problem in my playing. Like I said before, I can play licks that require wide stretching easier when I am sitting down with the guitar on my thigh.
    I can too, I just angle the guitar, have the headstock point up in a certain degree.
    As mentioned before, the guitar is at the same height that it is at when I sit down. And my right arm is angled the correct way when the guitar is that high.
    Also, having the guitar up that high makes playing in the upper positions easier for me... I don´t have to twist my l.h. as much.
    It´s just a matter of conditioning and habit. Steve Vai and Steve Morse wear the guitar pretty low ( well, surely not as low as guys like Slash or Jimmy Page ), while i.e. John Petrucci wears it even higher than I do,...
    The way I wear the guitar is: when I sit down and rest the guitar on my thigh, the strap still is under tension... which shows me that I have the guitar at the exact same height when I stand up

    Eric

  6. #21
    Banned neo shredder's Avatar
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    i dont know if this will help you but it sure help me a lot. When i was in middle school in the eight grade i was really into players like kirk hammet randy rhoads and van halen who are mainly play in pentatonic scales in the Em Am and Bm. so i dint worry about my picking because i manily played pull off's and hammer on's.

    it wasnt soon that my friend let me borrow a yngwie malmsteen cd wich at the time i tought he played so many sweeps cause at the time i tought was really fast. i got intrested in his style. so i started to look up tabs and found out he played a lot of scales. i then later went to guitar center and my mom bought me a yngwie reh video for my birthday. the video centered to his style of playing. it was then when i started to play 3 note per string licks.

    In his video there was one lick that i still play a lot. most licks in his video are in Am. i now know the key of C and Am by heart. i can jam on that key forever. the ptb lick is the speed that yngwie plays it at in his vid. i started it of slow but my major problem was that i never pick hard. i use to think that i was playing accurate but it turns out i wasnt. so pick hard so you can hear everything. i also use to pick on the neck!. for me its easier to pick on the neck because your pick rests on the neck. i sstill do this only when im soloing on the neck pickup because it really sound like a flurry. but when i tried to pick on the place were you normaly pick i was weak i could not pick anything and this was just in feb. when i ran into this sight about feb i look at the paul gilbert article. thats were i read that he picks really hard. so then i started to pick hard and it really works.

    i would get angry when i would try to play the intro to the solo of street lethal at the speed that paul plays it at. but it took time. i went from playing nothing when it came to pickng scales to being able to play really fast in a couple of months so im sure you clould do it also.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  7. #22
    Banned neo shredder's Avatar
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    heres a picking solo. the tempo is at the original speed but you shoul slow it down to 140 or 120 or 100 if you really need to remember pick hard and use strict alternate picking it may take time to play this
    Attached Files Attached Files

  8. #23
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    What was this picking solo from?
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Hidden Content

  9. #24
    Banned neo shredder's Avatar
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    its from that great boggie song from michael angelo the finish line. dont know if anyone has heard of him but hes another guy who copied Y.J.M in the 80's

  10. #25
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    UPDATE

    UPDATE:

    My quest to become a better player has already made a huge leap forward. Being sucessful in many sports taught me that the proper form is critical for success. I noticed a lot of mechanical flaws in my playing and correcting them is helping a lot!


    1) strap length - as silly as this sounds this has made a huge difference. I had the guitar really low. My picking arm was at about 150* angle. After watching my YMalmsteem tape, Lynch tape, EricVs pics, and other pictures of good guitarists, I noticed they all have their picking arm at a 90* angle. Not only has this made playing A LOT more comfortable, it helps me get the proper picking position, and helps a lot with my fretting hand as well. I don't get sore or tired like I used to, and I feel WAY more comfortable.

    2) picking - for exercise I am watching my picking hand closely for proper positioning and trying to use the smallest movements as possible. The floating picking hand (after about 6 weeks now) is feeling a lot more comfortable. Now when I try to go back to my old way, it feels really awkward (which is good!).

    3) I have a renewed sense of enthusiasm now to play. I haven't started on the 3 note per string exercises yet, but will soon. I wanted to correct any fundamental problems before I really start to iron this stuff out.

    Thanks

  11. #26
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    *The only problem now is I feel the guitar is up too high and I dont have that 80s metal low rider look now!

  12. #27
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    *The only problem now is I feel the guitar is up too high and I dont have that 80s metal low rider look now!
    Everyone has to make some sacrifices to the art, you know

    Anyway, glad you were able to improve things and change some details, thereby making it a bit easier to play...
    Eric

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