#1
Hey everyone. I have a couple of questions I would like to ask the UG comunity.
At the moment I am trying to learn sweet child of mine and I cannot finish the song for the life of me. There is a run at about 4:03 that I cannot finish. Right now I am about 88bpm/128bpm. I practice with a metronome and try and stay relaxed and apply any economy of motion that I can.

1)What amount of time should I devote to practicing this run? Ive been practicing for hours untill my fingers fall off. It's hard work, but I'm not watching the clock or anything so I don't notice how time passes.

2)Should I start slow and build up? Or should I keep it slow? The way I see it is that my fingers need to know how to apply the muscle memory at any speed, if I just practice slowly then I will only be able to play it slowly.

3)When I pick up my guitar again should I start back at the bottom or carry on perhaps 10 bpm less than when I left off?

4)Is it alright if I practice other things after I'm done killing myself on the run? I play guitar for hours a day not because of practice but because I refuse to put it down for more than an hour. I always want to play guitar. Do I have to limit myself or what?

Any feedback is helpfull thanks guys.
Learning the guitar one note at a time.


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#2
1. There's no set amount of time that you need to practice something or should practice something. But you don't have to try to get it up to speed all in one day. Practice it for a while and then the next day try it again. It will probably feel a bit better after you sleep on it.

2. Build it up. Just increase the metronome by increments of about 8 or 10 bpm. Keep in mind that when playing fast, you should be using the same technique as when you are playing slow.

3. Start a bit lower than where you left off. I usually go about 15 bpm lower.

4. Definitely practice other things too, but you may want to take a few breaks during the day. Give yourself a break.
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Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#3
It's not really a matter of how much you practice it as it is how well you practice it. First, set the metronome as slow as you need to play that run flawlessly. Then play it at that tempo five times in a row without messing up. If you mess up, start over again (i.e. if you play it perfectly 4 times and mess up on the fifth time, start over at zero). Then gradually increase the metronome by one or two bpm and repeat the process.
You'll find out...
#4
Practice it very slow, until you make no mistakes at that bpm level, and gradually build up.

And as to how long, do it until your head falls off.
#5
It's definately possible to beat a dead horse and over practice a particular lick (trust me, I've been there - obsessive personality). I would give it a steady 15 mins a day, and work on other stuff the rest of the time.
Here's the thing - every lick uses a core group of guitar skills. When you work on other licks, you are using many of the same skills, you are just putting them together differently. So when you are practicing other stuff, you are still practicing the skills that will allow you to play the Sweet Child of Mine lick you are killing yourself on. Oftentimes, this attacking of things from many different angles is what puts you over the hump on the original lick.

Regarding tempo - start at something that is very comfortable that allows you to play the lick perfectly. The point is not the tempo - it's that you are getting reps of playing the lick perfectly. Gradually increase until it gets a bit ragged, then move on to some other material. Don't really sweat what the top tempo is on a given day, some days it will be a little higher, others a bit lower, depending on how you are feeling that day. Again, the goal is to get repetitions of playing the lick perfectly in, not the tempo. The tempo will gradually come up over time.
If you are hell bent on spending a bit more time on the lick, try increasing the tempo in a ladder pattern (e.g go up 8 bpm, then down 4 bpm, then up 8, then down 4, and so on).

Regarding practice in general - practice as long as you like as long as you aren't hurting yourself. But do give yourself a 5-10 minute break for every 30 mins that you practice. Doing so will keep your mind fresh and focused, and give your tendons and muscles a break. Also make sure you're getting enough sleep - that makes a big difference in how productive your practice time is.
#6
Thanks everyone so far, I'm getting some real great feedback.
Learning the guitar one note at a time.


Check out my youtube account !


Remember that subscriptions and constructive feedback is always helpfull.
#7
The most important thing for you to do is get comfortable with the runs before you try to increase the speed. Turn off the metronome for now and make sure that you can get from note to note for an entire run in a way that allows your fretting hand to stay comfortable and relaxed. Then do the same thing for your picking hand. Then start putting them back together and putting yourself back on the metronome.

BTW - I've started a website with free lessons to address exactly the types of problems you're having with these runs. Lessons 1 and 2 deal with understanding how the muscles in your hands work and applying some tools to get better at difficult passages. I'll be posting about a lesson per week, all focused on solving problems such as yours.

Check out the free lessons (seriously... all free... no BS) at www.whyisuckatguitar.com
#8
Take your mp3 and put it in Best Practice : BP Download Link then select your tough part with a chosen loop. Put it down to 20 % and play it easily, gain 5 % and see if it's ok... be patient and do every stage with perfection... you'll be at 70 % in one day and at 100 % in some others days... it depends of the guitar player level and facilities, everything is relative... Don't forget to play 90 % or 95 % with perfection and use only 10 % or 5% of the time to "pump up" your speed ! don't cheat with yourself.
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best...
#9
1)What amount of time should I devote to practicing this run? Ive been practicing for hours untill my fingers fall off. It's hard work, but I'm not watching the clock or anything so I don't notice how time passes.


If you're still having fun, keep doing it.

Aside from that, just beware diminishing returns. What might be cool is to continue spending 10 mins a day on Sweet Child O' Mine but write a few similar riffs yourself to practice alongside it.

2)Should I start slow and build up? Or should I keep it slow? The way I see it is that my fingers need to know how to apply the muscle memory at any speed, if I just practice slowly then I will only be able to play it slowly.


Yeah, starting slow and working up is probably best.

Once you develop a certain amount of technique you can practice something slowly a few times and then you'll "have it" at any speed, but for unfamiliar material building it up is a good idea.

3)When I pick up my guitar again should I start back at the bottom or carry on perhaps 10 bpm less than when I left off?


Depends how long ago you put the guitar down. I start slow every day (if I'm practising seriously ) - and if you're still feeling warmed up and loose and the lick is still clean, then just continue at like 10bpm lower.

4)Is it alright if I practice other things after I'm done killing myself on the run? I play guitar for hours a day not because of practice but because I refuse to put it down for more than an hour. I always want to play guitar. Do I have to limit myself or what?


I wouldn't limit what you play but I'd suggest not spreading your attention too thin when practising - what that constitutes depends on you, but if I'm working on jazz changes then I just have to give it 100% of my practice and attention or I get very little done (I'm terrible at them) - on the other hand I can certainly work on say, odd note groupings AND alternate picking AND pentatonic scales all at once, because I'm already familiar with them they don't require as much attention for me to get to a standard I'm happy with.

Hope that helped.