Page 1 of 2
#1
- How long did it take you to get past 120bpm in 16th notes for Alternate Picking?

- What practice method did you use and what excercises if any at all?

- Besides the economy of motion obviously, what did you focus on most when practicing?


It seems like for the longest time ever my alternate picking speed involving multiple strings can't get anywhere past 120bpm. I've been using a very popular Paul Gilbert excercise and my speed just doesn't ever seem to increase.

If I tremolo pick on 1 string I know for a fact that I can go much higher than 120bpm but I just can't incorporate that speed onto different strings. It's been bugging the hell out of me for nearly 4 months and I'm tired of not being able to play any of the songs I want to play because of my lacking technique. I know for a fact that I've been using the economy of motion and that there is never any tension anywhere in my body.

Could you guys give me a couple of pointers on what could possibly be wrong with my technique?
#3
I assume you are referring to 'Speed Picking'?

You should focus on the angle of your pick. Wrong angle could result in slowing your speed down. Keep it sort of parallel and slice through the string. Keep little wrist action and try not to tense up.

Just practice with a met at slow rates then gradually build it up passed 120 bpm.
#5
Quote by Urban7
I assume you are referring to 'Speed Picking'?

You should focus on the angle of your pick. Wrong angle could result in slowing your speed down. Keep it sort of parallel and slice through the string. Keep little wrist action and try not to tense up.

Just practice with a met at slow rates then gradually build it up passed 120 bpm.


When angling my pick is the goal to have it somewhat perpendicular to the strings? Or should it be inbetween perpendicular and parallel so its at about a 45 degree angle? I've been picking exactly parralel to the strings for as long as I can remember. Would that kind of angle hurt my ability to play at high speeds?
#7
Yeah I'm pretty stuck on 120bpm. But, that's fast enough for me. I play blues/ classic rock so that's an average fast solo speed so I have no intention of getting any faster.
#8
- How long did it take you to get past 120bpm in 16th notes for Alternate Picking?


Well, I had been playing about 5 years when I was roadblocked at 120 kinda like you. I did about 6 months of pretty intense practice on picking and now I'm significantly faster and better. It took about 2 months to really start coming together after I really committed to regular practice.


- What practice method did you use and what excercises if any at all?


Basically my approach was initially to take pretty simple stuff like PG style sextuplets and the like and then drill them at least 40 mins a day. I would start at about 60% of my max and push up to try and push my max speed with each exercise in each session, probably spending about 5-10 minutes on each exercise.

My speed increased a little but I found I wasn't feeling as loose or controlled as I'd like, so I changed up my practice as follows.

I practised much more difficult material, focusing on string crossings.
I started each exercise at 25% of my current max and I went up to about 80% of my max.
I focused on control and looseness first, didn't worry too much about speed.

After a while of doing this I found that I was a lot better at picking, but not necessarily any faster. I just stuck to it because I felt and sounded better. After a month or so of that I found my max speed smoothly rising. I continued heavily practising for another month or so before deciding I was pretty happy with my progress.

Funny thing is that for about a 18 months after this, my picking continued to improve quite quickly - the practice I had accumulated was sinking in.

- Besides the economy of motion obviously, what did you focus on most when practicing?


Aside from what I've mentioned already, accents on string crossing was the main thing.

I know for a fact that I've been using the economy of motion and that there is never any tension anywhere in my body.


No offense, but you're wrong.

"Economy of motion" is a principle. You don't use it, you work using it. Honestly, you can almost always move less. The fastest players in the world could move less. You can move less!

And eliminating tension is a lifelong thing. I have never seen or met anyone playing less than 20 years who is close to achieving what you think you have. Tension is insidious - we assume that the feeling we are experiencing is "playing the guitar", when in actuality we are almost always making it much more difficult than actually playing the guitar is by holding too much tension in various body parts. If you have a vid of you I can probably point out a couple of areas just looking at it.

Here's the main picking exercises I used throughout that time. http://www.mediafire.com/?ynw4ywymoyd

And heres a link to the one I found most effective and I think you will too - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOsvZdvVndo
#9
Quote by Freepower
Well, I had been playing about 5 years when I was roadblocked at 120 kinda like you. I did about 6 months of pretty intense practice on picking and now I'm significantly faster and better. It took about 2 months to really start coming together after I really committed to regular practice.


Basically my approach was initially to take pretty simple stuff like PG style sextuplets and the like and then drill them at least 40 mins a day. I would start at about 60% of my max and push up to try and push my max speed with each exercise in each session, probably spending about 5-10 minutes on each exercise.

My speed increased a little but I found I wasn't feeling as loose or controlled as I'd like, so I changed up my practice as follows.

I practised much more difficult material, focusing on string crossings.
I started each exercise at 25% of my current max and I went up to about 80% of my max.
I focused on control and looseness first, didn't worry too much about speed.

After a while of doing this I found that I was a lot better at picking, but not necessarily any faster. I just stuck to it because I felt and sounded better. After a month or so of that I found my max speed smoothly rising. I continued heavily practising for another month or so before deciding I was pretty happy with my progress.

Funny thing is that for about a 18 months after this, my picking continued to improve quite quickly - the practice I had accumulated was sinking in.


Aside from what I've mentioned already, accents on string crossing was the main thing.


No offense, but you're wrong.

"Economy of motion" is a principle. You don't use it, you work using it. Honestly, you can almost always move less. The fastest players in the world could move less. You can move less!

And eliminating tension is a lifelong thing. I have never seen or met anyone playing less than 20 years who is close to achieving what you think you have. Tension is insidious - we assume that the feeling we are experiencing is "playing the guitar", when in actuality we are almost always making it much more difficult than actually playing the guitar is by holding too much tension in various body parts. If you have a vid of you I can probably point out a couple of areas just looking at it.

Here's the main picking exercises I used throughout that time. http://www.mediafire.com/?ynw4ywymoyd

And heres a link to the one I found most effective and I think you will too - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOsvZdvVndo


Thanks for taking the time to type out such a detailed explanation. I also apologize for my mistakes about tension and the economy of motion. You corrected me in a very polite manner and I respect you for that.

The way your story sounds makes it seem like there are certain aspects of alternate picking that have to be refined before being able to pick at faster speeds. The excercise that you have on alternate picking looks like it pays more attention to picking from string to string. Thats generally what my main problem is and im excited to incorporate your excercise into my next practice sessions.

Once again I thank you for your explanation and you have my best regards Freepower!
#12
Danny you sound like you are on the right track, but 4 months is little time.
Patience will be your greatest ally my friend.
Follow Freepowers advice and remember: dont hurry anything up, it all comes with time.
#13
Chasing the metronome always ends in disapointment.

Go away, work on technique, join a band, write music, learn theory, transcribe, come back a few months later and you will be probably be faster.
#14
Quote by dannydawiz
How long did it take you to get past 120bpm in 16th notes for Alternate Picking?

I assume you're asking this just for reference, but keep in mind that everybody will progress differently; getting such input isn't a bad thing, just don't put too much stock in it. Since I started fairly late with guitar, I can certainly relate to feeling this way about quite a few aspects of playing, but eventually you'll start enjoying the fact that your learning track is completely individualized.
Quote by dannydawiz
What practice method did you use and what excercises if any at all?

Personally, I use fairly large blocks of time divided into a multiple components. For example, if I want to sit down and practice my alternate picking for 3 hours, I know that I'd lose focus in most cases if I were working on 2 things for 90 minutes each or 3 for an hour each. So what I'll do is I'll divide the block into about 6 or 7 different areas; everything will relate back to the skill I'm working on, but it gives me some variety not only in what I'm playing, but the environment in which I'm playing each.

To that end, I'll mix up exercises and actual music when I practice. No one wants to sit down and run exercises for a few hours, so it helps to have real music with you to keep you interested. Also, since the whole goal of improving your technique is to play music, it helps to give a purpose and focus to the practice that you're doing. Usually I'll use a couple of exercises first just to get "in the zone" for lack of a better term; I have a few that I use, some from Vai's ten-hour workout and a few others from the techniques sticky up at the top. When I'm warming up before playing I tend to have a few patterns I use to loosen up my picking hand, but in general most of the stuff I use can be found in this forum. I'll usually do the actual exercises for about 40-60 minutes, and then move to musical examples after that. The next 90 minutes, two hours, whatever it may be, are focused on taking difficult parts of songs and using them to build the techniques I'm working on anyway.

And as painful as it may be when playing the music itself, just keep in mind that "practice makes perfect" doesn't apply - perfect practice makes perfect. To that end, you can never slow down the metronome too far, never play cleanly enough, and so forth; it's the really tedious work you put in that will eventually produce the results you're looking for. Also, though I'm sure you're aware of this if you've been practicing alternate picking, make sure you practice your exercises starting with both upstrokes and downstrokes. Since you'll use each exactly half the time for pure alternate picking, they should both be solid. I've found that not only did that help for runs I had to use an upstroke to start, it helps in general; having your upstrokes become second nature will make alternate picking in general a lot more smooth and relaxed.

Quote by dannydawiz
Besides the economy of motion obviously, what did you focus on most when practicing?

My picking actually improved most when I focused on two things, neither of which people generally associate with practicing picking.

First, I've been a primarily legato player for a while, simply because I never worked on my picking all that much. A couple months ago, I figured it was time to get more serious about picking - my economy picking was pretty good, but my alternate picking was lacking so that's where I immediately went to start practicing. Since I'd been playing a bunch of quick legato licks for a while, I naturally assumed that the problem was with my right hand. I was surprised to find, though, that my left hand wasn't near as good as I thought it was for all the picked exercises; it had gotten so used to doing its own thing during solos that it was hard to synchronize with the right hand when I actually tried to pick every note. I don't know if this is at all the case with you, but check out your left hand accuracy and posture (including economy of motion) to see if part of the problem in fact lies there.

Secondly, one of the greatest jumps in my picking ability came when I simply figured out how to relax. While I was playing one day, I happened to notice that my right hand was more tense than I wanted it to be (I was playing something pretty fast), so I made a conscious effort to relax it while still playing. It sounds ridiculous, but there was an instant change in the articulation and accuracy of my playing; now I'm constantly on the lookout for tension I can remove, and it helps me every single time. Take some time while you're actually playing to evaluate your picking hand and you'll be able to determine whether or not you're too tense for your own good.

Quote by dannydawiz
I've been using a very popular Paul Gilbert excercise and my speed just doesn't ever seem to increase.

I'd say move to something else for a while, or at least start incorporating other things into your practice routine. If something you're doing hasn't made the impact you want (and you're sure you're practicing correctly), vary it up a bit - I find that generally helps.

I was going to say something else but I forgot it and this is already a novel, so this is probably enough for now.
#15
Quote by Freepower
And heres a link to the one I found most effective and I think you will too - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOsvZdvVndo


I just read this whole post thinking "this sounds great, I'm gonna add this to my daily routine", then watched the video, and realised it's the one I've been doing anyway - I'd picked it up from your finger independence tutorial. Think it was called one note per string string skipping spider or something :P Think I prefer calling it "horrible monster version" as you say in the vid.

And yeah it's really addictive.

I never tried the non string skipping one though (the "easier" one), maybe I should... for some reason I've never had much of a problem with string skipping, but I'm not particularly great at moving between adjacent strings. Is that abnormal?
ESP Horizon FR II (EMG) / Ibanez Prestige RG1570 (DiMarzio Crunch Lab & LiquiFire pickups)
Last edited by llBlackenedll at Dec 12, 2011,
#16
I never tried the non string skipping one though (the "easier" one), maybe I should... for some reason I've never had much of a problem with string skipping, but I'm not particularly great at moving between adjacent strings. Is that abnormal?


It's a little weird, unless you spend like, all your time playing string skipped arpeggios.

Personally I like to "even out" my picking - to be pretty close to equally good at everything, rather than very good at just one or two things. Your aims may vary!
#17
One thing I've found is that when I hit a "roadblock" in my speed, it all seems to come back to my economy of motion. When I was stuck at 120bpm, the reason was that I was not able to make my picking and fretting motions more economical. What enabled me to break past that tempo was to go in the opposite direction, to slow down to around half of that, and to practice making my picking and fretting motions as synchronized and as economical as possible.

As I made those more synchronized and more economical motions habitual, I ingrained them into muscle memory, which in turn allowed me to make those same motions at higher tempos. Within a few weeks of very deliberate and focused practice, I was able to increase my maximum alternate picking speed dramatically.

Now, I'm sitting close to 180bpm as my general maximum before it all goes to slop. When I hit that point, I actually can feel that my picking motions are not as economical as possible. When I watch my rhythm playing (where I am able to play closer to 220 bpm cleanly and economically), my picking hand is barely moving. Looking at my picking hand on my upper strings, that is less and less the case as I increase the tempo. What this tells me is that I have to go back and try to re-emphasize my economy of motion in my alternate picking and build back up so that I can be optimally economical in my picking.
#18
How long did it take you to get past 120bpm in 16th notes for Alternate Picking?
A matter of months after buying my first guitar, then again I was aiming in too high places to reach trying to play Death Metal.


- What practice method did you use and what excercises if any at all?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zhgeu6rwVE&feature=related

- Besides the economy of motion obviously, what did you focus on most when practicing?
My fretting hand, because once you get the motions of the picking hand down, it's like the fretting hand is being controlled by an alien. XD


Could you guys give me a couple of pointers on what could possibly be wrong with my technique?
I had trouble with this as well and I nearly threw my guitar onto the cement. "My" main mistake was using my wrist to aid my picking. Once I started using my elbow to power my picking, that's when I gained speed and later on, I used my wrist for more complicated rhythm/leads. Also, accuracy helps as well. in which on different days, i would focus on tremolo picking different notes on one string while I have a drumbeat/song playing while I play. (Helps so much when trying to hasten the time process)
http://www.youtube.com/user/rockongoodpeople?feature=chclk#p/u/36/L9EphC1O9JI
If you're serious about needed some Design or Motion Graphics done for your band, youtube, or literally anything else you should email me at CoreGraphics@live.com. My services are quite affordable for the quality I deliver.

Youtube: CoreGraphics
Last edited by kcorkcar at Dec 12, 2011,
#19
Quote by kcorkcar
How long did it take you to get past 120bpm in 16th notes for Alternate Picking?
A matter of months after buying my first guitar, then again I was aiming in too high places to reach trying to play Death Metal.


- What practice method did you use and what excercises if any at all?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zhgeu6rwVE&feature=related

- Besides the economy of motion obviously, what did you focus on most when practicing?
My fretting hand, because once you get the motions of the picking hand down, it's like the fretting hand is being controlled by an alien. XD


Could you guys give me a couple of pointers on what could possibly be wrong with my technique?
I had trouble with this as well and I nearly threw my guitar onto the cement. "My" main mistake was using my wrist to aid my picking. Once I started using my elbow to power my picking, that's when I gained speed and later on, I used my wrist for more complicated rhythm/leads. Also, accuracy helps as well. in which on different days, i would focus on tremolo picking different notes on one string while I have a drumbeat/song playing while I play. (Helps so much when trying to hasten the time process)
http://www.youtube.com/user/rockongoodpeople?feature=chclk#p/u/36/L9EphC1O9JI


Heh that video was great, he's nuts! But explains things in a really entertaining way.

The only problem is, much like just doing chromatic runs, 2 notes per string is an even number of notes per string and will only help with your outside picking if you always start on a downstroke. And outside picking is just so much easier, but if you can only outside pick you're kinda screwed when one day you're playing a run with an odd number of notes.

By all means follow the video, but if you're going to do 2 notes per string stuff (which is great for practicing really fast string crossing), make sure you practice it both starting with a downstroke and starting with an upstroke. So, as an example, 10 minutes playing the lick starting with a down stroke, then 10 minutes playing it starting with an upstroke.
ESP Horizon FR II (EMG) / Ibanez Prestige RG1570 (DiMarzio Crunch Lab & LiquiFire pickups)
#21
Quote by Freepower
^ partly due to this thread, I just recorded a new little exercise of doom, covering all picking permutations and it's pretty short!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFlX54OoSsA

Cheers! Really liking this one, it sounds really nice (which is rare for an exercise). Just to confirm (my music theory isn't perfect) - is the provided exercise Bm7, Bm7, Em7.. then... I can't work out the 4th chord. Or is it just a Gmaj and an Amaj inversion?
ESP Horizon FR II (EMG) / Ibanez Prestige RG1570 (DiMarzio Crunch Lab & LiquiFire pickups)
#22
^ you're pretty much correct, Bm9, Bm9, Em9, G A!

It's really good fun, although it's not absolutely the most efficient exercise I still enjoy playing a lot more!

(the most efficient one is in the zip file in case someone points that out )
#23
Quote by Freepower
^ you're pretty much correct, Bm9, Bm9, Em9, G A!

It's really good fun, although it's not absolutely the most efficient exercise I still enjoy playing a lot more!

(the most efficient one is in the zip file in case someone points that out )

See I'm finding these exercises really good, and my picking is generally improving (as is my left hand technique). But the thing that's really killing me, that I haven't seen improvement for in quite a while, is those damned 3nps sextuplet runs. I just can't get them up to speed. I'm going to continue pressing on, working on finger independence, and doing those spider exercises and stuff, and I'm assuming it'll all come together eventually. But I think I need to add sextuplet runs back into my practice regime.
ESP Horizon FR II (EMG) / Ibanez Prestige RG1570 (DiMarzio Crunch Lab & LiquiFire pickups)
Last edited by llBlackenedll at Dec 13, 2011,
#25
Quote by Freepower
Those are just pretty hard. I kinda ignore them and they get better as long as I don't have to start at full speed right away. (damn you technical difficulties run )

There's a good Shawn Lane exercise for those, http://www.megaupload.com/?d=PNWZH6HD - ex 31 iirc. Try not to watch Shawn do it for your own sanity.


Cheers Ah they're the diminished runs in his outside sounds video. Which I've seen. And is nuts. Though the example is all 8th notes, which is fine, but... what's with the picking directions? Is that designed to work on something specific? I find it really awkward to make the 6-9-12 stretch with index-middle-pinky but it's fine with index-ring-pinky.

Also did you mean Ex. 21, as that's 16th trips. Though looks like it's all legato.
ESP Horizon FR II (EMG) / Ibanez Prestige RG1570 (DiMarzio Crunch Lab & LiquiFire pickups)
Last edited by llBlackenedll at Dec 14, 2011,
#26


I guess that's a different version of booklet than the one I have.

It's ex 12 from power licks. It's all outside picked sextuplets (without silly stretches), you should be able to write something equally good anyway tbh.
#27
Just practice going up and down with the pick. First off all mine sounded really messy and ulnclean. But keep practising and you'll get cleaner and faster.
I can now tremolo pick 16th notes at 320 BPM on one string.
#29
Quote by :-D
proof?


Who needs proof? Being able to do that on its own is entirely meaningless anyway.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


Album.
Legion.
#30
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Who needs proof? Being able to do that on its own is entirely meaningless anyway.

Where did I say I needed proof? I'm curious to see if he can do it cleanly.
#31
Quote by dannydawiz
- How long did it take you to get past 120bpm in 16th notes for Alternate Picking?
I have played for 2 years and some couple of months and I can play 180 bmp (16th notes) easily. Guess the solution is to play a lot of Metallica
#32
Quote by :-D
Where did I say I needed proof? I'm curious to see if he can do it cleanly.

I think it's a fair assumption that he thought you wanted proof as you made a post that simply said "proof" :p Either way, bpm is utterly meaningless without the note value, it could simply be 8ths not 16ths. As far as I'm concerned, 16ths at 320bpm is frickin nuts and fair play if you can do it. As zaphod said, it's meaningless on its own however I guess it would make fast passages somewhat easier on the right hand.
ESP Horizon FR II (EMG) / Ibanez Prestige RG1570 (DiMarzio Crunch Lab & LiquiFire pickups)
#33
If you can actually do it, it's incredibly impressive, not meaningless at all.

On the other hand, I've literally never seen someone claim that kind of speed and be able to deliver. Stop caring guys.
#34
Freepower,

Between the lick "Betcha Can't Pick This!" and the licks in your exercise 13, what is the most difficult/efficient ?
I can't make a choice between them. Help me
#35
Quote by llBlackenedll
I think it's a fair assumption that he thought you wanted proof as you made a post that simply said "proof" :p

Yes, I wanted proof, I didn't need it. Even if what you said is correct, it would then be a fair assumption to assume that I "need proof", rendering the question "who needs proof?" just as meaningless as the claim to be proven. As mentioned, the ability to play 16ths at 320 isn't meaningless at all either.

Quote by llBlackenedll
Either way, bpm is utterly meaningless without the note value, it could simply be 8ths not 16ths

Quote by BenBrooks45
I can now tremolo pick 16th notes at 320 BPM on one string.

You mean that note value?
Last edited by :-D at Jan 14, 2012,
#36
Quote by Syndromed
Freepower,

Between the lick "Betcha Can't Pick This!" and the licks in your exercise 13, what is the most difficult/efficient ?
I can't make a choice between them. Help me


Betcha Can't Pick This is much harder, and basically just works on nightmare picking scenarios. ex13 is significantly more efficient (I think it's pretty much 100% efficient, each pickstroke occurs evenly throughout), but if it starts getting easy I'd move to BCPT. There's no reason you can't do both, do your standard picking stuff to warm up, do some ex 13 to even out your ability, do some ex3 just to stress test your technique to the limits.

I'd love to see someone play that at 320bpm 16ths.
#37
Ok thanks !!

Yeah I want to see someone play them at 320 bpm, it will be funny (and a dream :p).
#40
Quote by :-D
Yes, I wanted proof, I didn't need it. Even if what you said is correct, it would then be a fair assumption to assume that I "need proof", rendering the question "who needs proof?" just as meaningless as the claim to be proven. As mentioned, the ability to play 16ths at 320 isn't meaningless at all either.


You mean that note value?

Hah, oops, sorry I can be a bit of a spoon sometimes don't know how I completely missed that. I think what zaphod meant by meaningless was that if all you can do is trem pick 16ths at 320bpm it's not particularly useful if your left hand can't keep up (unless you only want to trem pick).

Quote by Freepower
I'd love to see someone play that at 320bpm 16ths.


Heh, that would be absolutely insane. I think that person would need a medal of some sort :p I maxed at about 130 for now (but that's a struggle and tend to practice it much slower).

Also, I just scrolled up and saw myself. That was ages ago. What's with all these resurrected threads recently?
ESP Horizon FR II (EMG) / Ibanez Prestige RG1570 (DiMarzio Crunch Lab & LiquiFire pickups)
Last edited by llBlackenedll at Jan 14, 2012,
Page 1 of 2