#1
For all you out there that have achieved gilbert/malmsteen/petrucci like picking speeds, how did you go about doing it? Did you have specific alternate picking practice sessions or did it develope naturally?

I'm asking because I have been trying for the past 6 months to increase my picking hand speed yet I'm still stuck around 16th notes at 120bpm. I practice with a metronome, I just don't know when to increase the speed. Whenever I do increase I get higher and higher until I hit a wall which I cant' get passed. And this wall seems to be consistent.

I don't think that there is anything wrong with my technique. I feel no tension, I have economical picking motions that barely leave the strings, even picking that's right on the beat.

I have been thinking that maybe I need to push myself over the limit by tensing up and then after a while while I get used to the higher speed I will naturally loosen up. But I am afraid that that would just develope tension.

So I would be very thankful for responses regarding this issue.
#2
Hmm, if you are doing everything right then you shouldn't be having that big of issues. Are you picking form the wrist? Are you sure you have no tension?

I find a lot of people think they are picking from the wrist but are actually rotating their forarm. To isolate your wrist motion envision the motion coming from your thumb and index finger.
#3
I am picking straight from the wrist. I have slowed down a lot just to make sure that I have complete and even picking motions. I use translational picking. I'm also quite certain that I don't have any tension. It feels very loose and comfortable when picking. I don't think that I am picking to softly either, I make sure that every note is defined.

I think the problem is my practice method. I have searched for an effective method to increase speed but every instruction I find seems very vague, y'know like:
-use a metrone, start out slow, don't rush yourself.
I don't know when to speed up, if I should speed up during a practice session or increase speed daily or both etc.
#4
I had to practise my ass off to get good speeds and refine my technique many, many times, it was all very orientated toward hitting those high speeds. Take things really slowly, as slow as you need to go to get everything PERFECT and then build up from there.
As well as the physical aspect of playing fast, there's a mental aspect too. You have to be able to hear what you're playing at fast speeds; it can't just sound like a general flurry of notes, you have to be able to identify what's going on in there. A good way to do this is to think of your runs as a bunch of fragments stuck together, so if you're playing 16th notes, every four notes would be one fragment and you would work on just getting those first four notes down fast. Next you'd move onto the next set of four notes, once you've got it down, try playing the two fragments in sequence.
For example, in this run:
E||-------------------------------------------------
B||-------------------------------------------------
G||-19-18-------18-------18-------18-------18-------
D||-------20-19-------------20-19-------------20-19-
A||----------------20-19-------------20-19----------
E||-------------------------------------------------

Your first fragment would be:
G||-19-18-------
D||-------20-19-

and you'd work on getting just that part down fast.
Next fragment would be:
G||-18-------18-
D||-------------
A||----20-19----

and you'd work on getting that part down fast.
Then you'd string the two together to form:
E||-------------------------
B||-------------------------
G||-19-18-------18-------18-
D||-------20-19-------------
A||----------------20-19----
E||-------------------------


The fragments don't always have to be groupings of fours, if you're playing sextuplets, you'd have fragments of six. If you're playing triplets, you'd have fragments of three.
Speed is a by-product of shut the fuck up.
#5
That actually seems really logical! I have trouble imagening playing faster than I can. I will definately try this. Thank you so much!

Just one question, would I be playing the fragments in a repeated manner like:


G||-19-18-------19-18-------19-18 etc
D||-------20-19---------20-19--

or play it once and then rest for a beat and then play it again at the next beat?
Last edited by Arnulf. at Jul 15, 2011,
#6
Quote by Arnulf.
That actually seems really logical! I have trouble imagening playing faster than I can. I will definately try this. Thank you so much!

Just one question, would I be playing the fragments in a repeated manner like:

Code:
G||-19-18-------19-18-------19-18 etc
D||-------20-19---------20-19--

or play it once and then rest for a beat and then play it again at the next beat?

It depends, as often as possible, just repeat them but sometimes it's better to rest. In the above fragment, I'd throw in a pause because repeating it without pause would give you two consecutive 19th frets: the one on the D string from the end of the fragment and the one on the G string from the beginning. You don't want to be rolling your finger down for the first note because when you're playing the lick in context, you wouldn't be coming at it in that way.
Also, make sure you pay attention to how you finger the fragments because whilst it may make sense for just the fragment, when you put it in context of the entire lick, you might need to finger it differently. Essentially, just make sure that every time you play the fragment, you play it in the same way as you would if it were in the context of the entire lick.

I'm not sure I explained myself too well there, so I hope it makes sense!
Speed is a by-product of shut the fuck up.
#8
Quote by Arnulf.
I'm asking because I have been trying for the past 6 months to increase my picking hand speed yet I'm still stuck around 16th notes at 120bpm. I practice with a metronome, I just don't know when to increase the speed. Whenever I do increase I get higher and higher until I hit a wall which I cant' get passed. And this wall seems to be consistent.

I read an article by troy stetina about getting to a speed wall that cannot be passed, no matter how much time it's been, and how perfect your technique/control is.
(disclaimer: it was a teaser for his DVD - but interestesting none the less)

He basically said in practicing slow and building up... it's possible to develop perfect technique that will carry you up to a certain tempo range - but the technique is not adequate to get into higher speeds. Your motions need to be fine-tuned for achieving higer tempos.

Your body doesn't yet know what adjustments need to be made to get through the plateau. At that point he suggests you stop the 'slow to fast' approach and use a 'fast to slow'. Essentially, you practice a bit faster than your plateau for a short time. The idea is to expereince what changes need to be refined so you can play at the higher tempo. Then you take that knowledge back to the tempo that is under control, and practice there as normal. You'll have to do this a number of times, and (according to stetina) it will gradually become easier to bring your 'refined' motions into your practice speed range, and work your way through the plateau.

I've not tried this myself but Stetina is pretty highly respected. And this was the first time I actually re-thought my opposition to practicing faster than you can handle... it does make sense - as long as you only practice their long enough experience the feel of it - and then bring it back down under control.

anyway hope that helps.
#9
Quote by cringer
I read an article by troy stetina about getting to a speed wall that cannot be passed, no matter how much time it's been, and how perfect your technique/control is.
(disclaimer: it was a teaser for his DVD - but interestesting none the less)

He basically said in practicing slow and building up... it's possible to develop perfect technique that will carry you up to a certain tempo range - but the technique is not adequate to get into higher speeds. Your motions need to be fine-tuned for achieving higer tempos.

Your body doesn't yet know what adjustments need to be made to get through the plateau. At that point he suggests you stop the 'slow to fast' approach and use a 'fast to slow'. Essentially, you practice a bit faster than your plateau for a short time. The idea is to expereince what changes need to be refined so you can play at the higher tempo. Then you take that knowledge back to the tempo that is under control, and practice there as normal. You'll have to do this a number of times, and (according to stetina) it will gradually become easier to bring your 'refined' motions into your practice speed range, and work your way through the plateau.

I've not tried this myself but Stetina is pretty highly respected. And this was the first time I actually re-thought my opposition to practicing faster than you can handle... it does make sense - as long as you only practice their long enough experience the feel of it - and then bring it back down under control.

anyway hope that helps.



one thing i dont get about the slow to fast and fast to slow thing
when you say slow to fast, do you mean slow to fast in one day and repeat the next day, or slow to fast in a period of time?
#10
Speed typing studies have shown such an effect. Already competent typists can be trained to type even faster (but accurately) by forcing them to type at a higher speeds than they could, albeit with a higher number of mistakes.
#11
Quote by Aleksi

E||-------------------------------------------------
B||-------------------------------------------------
G||-19-18-------18-------18-------18-------18-------
D||-------20-19-------------20-19-------------20-19-
A||----------------20-19-------------20-19----------
E||-------------------------------------------------



I was like: "Kissing the Shadows solo"? Then I saw your name, and I was like: "Kissing the Shadows solo." Love it.
#12
Quote by Ibarshall_X
one thing i dont get about the slow to fast and fast to slow thing
when you say slow to fast, do you mean slow to fast in one day and repeat the next day, or slow to fast in a period of time?

What I got from it at least... is that you pick a tempo that is a decent amount faster than your plateau speed. But not ridiculous.

Then you practice there for a while, and "make" it work... other words, you'll be making mistakes and not in full control... but you should get glimpses of being able to keep up on that tempo.

At the times you can keep up... that's where you should notice what is changed from your 'in control' perfect tempo. Keep going back and forth until you can realize what needs to change in your technique to be in control beyond your plateau.

Once you know - go back and take the slow approach, but apply those adjustments (which you are now aware of), that are needed to be effective at faster tempos.

Instead of hearing it from me tbh... i recommend you go to Stetina's web site and download the latest issue of his free digital magazine. The article is there. And you can purchase his DVD if you want. Supposedly it's a much better alternative to his SM book.
good luck
#13
Something that really helped my alternate picking was learning Disposable Heroes by Metallica. All the riffs are fast, single note alternate picking riffs, and there's a great ascending line in the solo that's alt picked.
#14
Thanks for all the replies. I have heard good things about Troy Stetina so I will look deeper into his approach.
#15
Quote by Smaratelj
I was like: "Kissing the Shadows solo"? Then I saw your name, and I was like: "Kissing the Shadows solo." Love it.

Haha, Kissing the Shadows was the first thing that came into my head but Aleksi actually is my name, I just happen to love Bodom too :p
Speed is a by-product of shut the fuck up.