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Old 03-21-2013, 03:37 PM   #1
sweetdude3000
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bpm goals for scale practice

I hope I don't get flamed for this because I know that speed isn't everything and we all learn at different rates, but.. I am looking for some realistic goals to shoot for when practicing scales accurate & clean with a metronome as far as bpm quarter, sixteenth notes. Any goal posts to work toward so I can keep track of my progress? What would you consider is a good bpm to look forward to if you are into playing rock/metal music with ease and proficiency?
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Old 03-21-2013, 04:24 PM   #2
GuitarQ33r0
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What level are you on now? What scales can you play and how fast without making any mistakes? You can't make any goals for improvement if you don't know where you are right now.
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Old 03-21-2013, 04:28 PM   #3
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It's entirely relative, play it as slowly as you need for you to be able to play it 100% comfortably and build up from there. Progress can be slow, you just have to be persistent.
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Old 03-21-2013, 04:36 PM   #4
steven seagull
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetdude3000
I hope I don't get flamed for this because I know that speed isn't everything and we all learn at different rates, but.. I am looking for some realistic goals to shoot for when practicing scales accurate & clean with a metronome as far as bpm quarter, sixteenth notes. Any goal posts to work toward so I can keep track of my progress? What would you consider is a good bpm to look forward to if you are into playing rock/metal music with ease and proficiency?

None, it's a meaningless, unproductive pursuit.

Your ability to run up and down scales has no bearing on whether or not you're any "good" at playing guitar - what matters is whether or not you can play the music you want to play.

By all means use scale runs as part of your warm up and practice routine, but it's a far more efffective use of your time to work on some exercises that have more practical application.

And likewise there's no harm in occasionally "benchmarking" yourself to see what you're capable off but how fast you can play a scale pattern or even an exercise means very little in the big picture as far as your ability goes. Placing too much worth in them and paying them too much time and attention is just a waste and counterproductive to genuine progress.

You don't practice for the sake of it, you practice to get better at playing - it's a means to an end, it is not the end itself.

Judge yourself on your playing and look to gauge you progress that way, after all that's the only thing that anyone listening to you is going to do.
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Old 03-21-2013, 04:45 PM   #5
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Virtuoso speed would be around 70-90bpm 32nd notes
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Old 03-21-2013, 04:49 PM   #6
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Well like others have said it's all relative, that said, here is my approach. First, find your top speed, a speed you can jus barely achieve and thus your playing will probably be sloppy. So if you are playing 16th notes (I believe that's a good division) lets just say you found that you topped out at 100 bpm. Dial it back down to 60 or so and then slowely raise it up to 100. Do this each practice. Make sure that as the bpm increases you are still playing fluid, clean and in control. Repeat this until one day you are able to play at 100 bpm just as easily as slower speeds. Then just find you new top speed where things start to get sloppy and repeat!

Last edited by Klonoa87 : 03-21-2013 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 03-21-2013, 05:51 PM   #7
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picked note speeds are as follows

12nps - is generally agreed as the starting point for sounding fast.
18nps - is probably the fastest picking speed (Shawn lanes incredible diminished runs that sound like two handed tapping).

I myself label speeds as follows:

0-9nps walking speed
9-15nps running speed

The speed change over point is different for everybody and appears to be linked to your nervous system. It's very interesting that 12nps - is half or 24nps - which is apparently the point at which you can no longer detect individual notes and of course also the frame rate at which films appear smooth - also linked to your nervous system I guess?

I label the two speeds because the biomechanics of picking are totally different for both. At walking speed - it is very easy to adjust and correct any individual note timing errors - this is actually a major issue for a lot of players and why they cannot break into running speed - since they hold the plectrum in a way that fingers can micro adjust timing. If you hold the plectrum in a way that the fingers can adjust timing - they will automatically and subconsciously regardless of your will. At running speed it is extremely difficult to adjust individual note timing errors, but you can adjust the feel of the "packet" of notes you are playing.

I always play at the threshold between walking speed and running speed when learning new stuff - it makes it so much easier to play faster if needed, and of course that's all linked to the music you hear in your head - and not speed for speeds sake.

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Old 03-21-2013, 06:17 PM   #8
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Notes per second is a worthless measure that tells you nothing about rhythmic or technical competency. Your actual skill has to do with cleanly and articulately playing subdivisions at a particular tempo. Nobody cares if you can play 12 notes per second, but it's pretty important that you can phrase melodies smoothly playing 16th notes at 120bpm.


Quote:
Originally Posted by steven seagull
None, it's a meaningless, unproductive pursuit.

Your ability to run up and down scales has no bearing on whether or not you're any "good" at playing guitar - what matters is whether or not you can play the music you want to play.


This is ridiculous. It's perfectly fine to learn your basics and set concrete goals. In fact it's quite beneficial. I don't think there's any reason to assume the guy's question is about working creatively.

Scale exercises are a great way to build and maintain your technique, as well as learning the fretboard (if you haven't already).

If you are new to a structured workout, start with quarter notes at 60bpm, and play well-defined scale patterns from the lowest note on the neck in the scale to the highest. Do all 12 major scales. Write out your positions if you have to, since the exercise becomes ineffective when you're playing different patterns every time.

It will probably take a little while to get all 12 scales up to speed on the whole neck, but once you do, you'll be able to run through them in 15 minutes at a moderate tempo.

When you can do them consistently with quarter notes, start doing 8ths. And when you're good at those, add triplets, etc. Do rhythm ladders where you do a few scales in quarter notes, a few in 8ths, a few in triplets, 16ths.

Don't move your tempo up until you are competent with ALL the subdivisions (at least up to 16ths) at your current tempo.

And remember you can play scales in many, many ways. Play ascending on one or two strings. Skip strings. Play 4-note per string scales. Play them in 3rds, 4ths, etc. Play them with staccato or legato. Play them with extra vibrato. Play them muted. Play with syncopated accents.

Scales are great because they are simple to learn, and can be recombined into thousands of unique exercises to work on almost any technique.

That said, scales are shit for creative purposes. You'll use scalewise motion, but definitely make a point of applying your technique to non-scalar concepts. Once you've got your scales all learned and stuff, put them in your warmup routine and keep them there.
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:23 PM   #9
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I'm assuming nothing other than what's been presented - if somebody asks about "target speeds for practicing scales" then they're usually just talking about straight running up and down them, working on being able to play them fast for little more than the sake of being able to say "I can play this thing this fast".

Like I said, there's no harm in incorporating them into your practice routine, although there's more effective ways to use your time. However, when it comes to assessing your progress "How fast you can play a scale" isn't a worthwhile goal of any kind for any guitarist to be "shooting for" because in reality that won't tell you anything about how good you actually are at playing the thing. Chasing numbers is pointless, you're as fast as you are, and as good as the things you can play with that technique. And there's always room for improvement, you can always do better, be cleaner, more accurate, more efficient.

And as far as those aspects of technique goes it never ends, the actual speeds are meaningless becase you can only ever improve from where you are, and you will always know when you've improved because things that were hard for you to play become easier - you don't need to keep a diary full of metronome timings to tell you that.
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Old 03-22-2013, 12:17 AM   #10
cdgraves
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Having a target bpm for technical workouts is entirely reasonable, as long as one's technical goals remain a subset of overall musical goals.

As often as I know novices are obsessed with being "fast", I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. There is a lot to be gained from structuring your practice routine, in terms of priority, time, and definable goals. As long as you're using a metronome (which should be always), it's worth keeping track of what you do.

Now, if the guy said he wanted to play 32nds at 160 because he heard a totally rad Dragonforce song, I'd tell him to stop being a wanker. But his request for advice on structuring practice and gauging improvement shows a proactive attitude, which is laudable, especially among novice guitarists posting on the internet.

My personal example: I'm certainly not obsessed with speed, but I make sure my technique works at whatever tempo I need it to. If I'm doing my warmups and flubbing 16ths anywhere below 112, I know I need to take some time and work shit out. Usually that means slowing down. Since I play in a cover band, I could well have to play Van Halen solos with cold hands, and need to be ready for that.

Last edited by cdgraves : 03-22-2013 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 03-22-2013, 06:31 AM   #11
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Personally I would worry more about how good you sound at a given speed than what that speed is. Every time I personally start tracking the tempo I start making small compromises on comfort and sound.

That said, I think a nice solid number is 120bpm 16th notes. That's plenty.
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