#1
Hey all-

So I've been playing about... eh, four years now, and I'm a pretty decent lead player. I think I have a voice, and decent connection with the instrument. But I'm having some issues with technical stuff, mostly speed. And I feel like I'm a little sloppier than I'd like to be, in general. I don't usually need to shred, but I'd really like to have that in my arsenal. Also, I'm always looking for new, exciting, or just weird/cool sounding techniques. I already use a lot of pinch harmonics, some modal/harmonic minor/etc stuff, and I love effects, used properly.

Any suggestions on new techniques, and what I should practice to clean up my act and build up some speed? I'm playing in an indie band (lead/rhythm, depending on who's singing), and also doing an acoustic thing (lots of lead, I use a loop pedal) and lots of blues. Anything and everything is welcome, thanks.
#2
Quote by Guild King
So I've been playing about... eh, four years now, and I'm a pretty decent lead player. I think I have a voice, and decent connection with the instrument. But I'm having some issues with technical stuff, mostly speed. And I feel like I'm a little sloppier than I'd like to be, in general.

When you refer to sloppiness, are you referring to sloppiness in playing notes or just making too much noise in general? If it's the latter, then evaluate your muting technique to see what you can do better. I'm assuming you meant sloppy playing, though, so I'll address that in a bit more detail.

In my experience, the things I tend to play on the sloppier side are a result of bad habits. This could be any number of things, for example it may be a lick I use a lot but never bothered to clean up completely and therefore I've continued to play it sloppily and that's what my muscle memory developed. On the other hand, it may be simply that's it's technically out of my reach at a given moment, so it's sort of a hit or miss thing with regards to whether or not I'll play it correctly. If it's something like those scenarios, the solution is to undo the bad habits, whatever they may be. For me, that usually means slowing down my playing, watching what I'm doing and discovering why I can't play something cleanly - once I've isolated the mistake(s), it's a matter of programming correct habits into my muscles and then bringing it back up to speed.

As far as your concern for building speed, I'd give you the same advice. Clean, fast playing is the result of repetitions of good technique, and you get that by again building up proper habits at slower tempos and gradually increasing the speed. If you're like most people (myself included) you'll tend to want to get ahead of what you're able to do, but keep everything only as quick as you can play it 100% accurately and work on increasing speed once you're accurate and economical in your motions.

Quote by Guild King
Any suggestions on new techniques, and what I should practice to clean up my act and build up some speed? I'm playing in an indie band (lead/rhythm, depending on who's singing), and also doing an acoustic thing (lots of lead, I use a loop pedal) and lots of blues. Anything and everything is welcome, thanks.

How's your vibrato? Something I notice a bunch of players overlook is the importance of having a solid, consistent vibrato. I'd say around 75% of the guys I see on YouTube pretty much shake their fingers like they're having seizures and go with that. If you haven't spent any time working on it, do so - a lot of players miss it, but it can take your playing to a new level in terms of vocal, emotive quality.

Other than that, I have a few tricks I tend to use, I'd assume that's what you're looking for. I use tapped harmonics on bends and small chord shapes pretty often, generally during some sort of lead part - it often doesn't sound as great if you're supposed to be providing a backing for a singer or something. I use the bar quite a bit, but not for divebombing all over the place; most of what I do with it is to dip up or down into notes I'm going to, or to just make slight pitch alterations. Those sorts of bar techniques go along with the vibrato in terms of making the playing vocal, so to speak. I'm sure there are a couple others I use but they're not coming to mind at the moment.
#3
Quote by :-D
When you refer to sloppiness, are you referring to sloppiness in playing notes or just making too much noise in general? If it's the latter, then evaluate your muting technique to see what you can do better. I'm assuming you meant sloppy playing, though, so I'll address that in a bit more detail.

In my experience, the things I tend to play on the sloppier side are a result of bad habits. This could be any number of things, for example it may be a lick I use a lot but never bothered to clean up completely and therefore I've continued to play it sloppily and that's what my muscle memory developed. On the other hand, it may be simply that's it's technically out of my reach at a given moment, so it's sort of a hit or miss thing with regards to whether or not I'll play it correctly. If it's something like those scenarios, the solution is to undo the bad habits, whatever they may be. For me, that usually means slowing down my playing, watching what I'm doing and discovering why I can't play something cleanly - once I've isolated the mistake(s), it's a matter of programming correct habits into my muscles and then bringing it back up to speed.

As far as your concern for building speed, I'd give you the same advice. Clean, fast playing is the result of repetitions of good technique, and you get that by again building up proper habits at slower tempos and gradually increasing the speed. If you're like most people (myself included) you'll tend to want to get ahead of what you're able to do, but keep everything only as quick as you can play it 100% accurately and work on increasing speed once you're accurate and economical in your motions.


How's your vibrato? Something I notice a bunch of players overlook is the importance of having a solid, consistent vibrato. I'd say around 75% of the guys I see on YouTube pretty much shake their fingers like they're having seizures and go with that. If you haven't spent any time working on it, do so - a lot of players miss it, but it can take your playing to a new level in terms of vocal, emotive quality.

Other than that, I have a few tricks I tend to use, I'd assume that's what you're looking for. I use tapped harmonics on bends and small chord shapes pretty often, generally during some sort of lead part - it often doesn't sound as great if you're supposed to be providing a backing for a singer or something. I use the bar quite a bit, but not for divebombing all over the place; most of what I do with it is to dip up or down into notes I'm going to, or to just make slight pitch alterations. Those sorts of bar techniques go along with the vibrato in terms of making the playing vocal, so to speak. I'm sure there are a couple others I use but they're not coming to mind at the moment.


Geeze +50!! Excellent reply!!
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#4
My vibrato is pretty strong- I'm definitely not doing the 'seizure shake' like you described there. I use a couple different vibrato techniques, depending on the song and the situation. I move my whole hand, my fretting fingers, or even the guitar underneath me (I usually do that when dealing with feedback/long sustained notes/noise).

As far as the muscle memory goes, that may be it... I know I have a problem going from guitar to guitar, as one of my guitars has a super thin neck (both the width of the fretboard and the thickness of the neck) while the other is somewhat wider. I find that some licks I can play perfectly on one guitar don't transfer to the other well. So it may partially be a matter of practicing consistently with both instruments.

Any particular exercises you recommend for building speed? I've never delved into any technical exercises, and I think now's the time.

As for the other stuff- I use some tapped harmonics (a few riffs I've written use them), but is there some trick to making them cleaner, or just a matter of getting a very focused, small tap? The bar, I'd use if I had .

Any other responses are welcome, if there's anything to add to :-D (although that was a pretty thorough response). Any other playing techniques/tricks/etc would be great.
#5
Quote by Guild King
As far as the muscle memory goes, that may be it... I know I have a problem going from guitar to guitar, as one of my guitars has a super thin neck (both the width of the fretboard and the thickness of the neck) while the other is somewhat wider. I find that some licks I can play perfectly on one guitar don't transfer to the other well. So it may partially be a matter of practicing consistently with both instruments.

I used to have that problem, but after i worked my technique for a while I don't mind the difference between necks at all. I've got mainly Ibanez guitars and I switch between those and a Les Paul, so that's about as significant a neck difference as you're going to find - if your experience is like mine, you'll get more comfortable switching as your general technique improves.

Quote by Guild King
Any particular exercises you recommend for building speed? I've never delved into any technical exercises, and I think now's the time.

Most of the ones I use are from the technique sticky in this forum, so I'd recommend checking those out as well as Freepower's videos. I also tend to play a lot of more technical stuff, so slowing down parts of music I'm working on and using them for practice is incredibly productive.

Quote by Guild King
As for the other stuff- I use some tapped harmonics (a few riffs I've written use them), but is there some trick to making them cleaner, or just a matter of getting a very focused, small tap?

Pretty much the only trick is to tap the note and gtfo, basically. If you get off quickly then you'll let as much of the harmonic ring as possible without deadening it by leaving your finger on there too long. That's about all I could recommend doing - as you mentioned, the focused tap is important, and then just get off and that should about do it.
#6
Alright, thanks. I'll give this all a shot.

My guitars are a custom/frankenstein telecaster (super wide, medium thickness neck) and an old Guild S-100 (similar to an SG body, it has a toothpick neck). They're about as different as you can get- just like the ibanez/les paul thing.