#1
Hey again all

I've heard and read interviews with famous guitarists and been reading comments on this forum where people talk about "hitting your natural speed limit". All things being equal, is this something most people agree will happen as you progress with your learning? I'm currently at about 80 - 85% of the speed I want to be at and finding that last 15% to be a real bitch.

I'm hoping practicing enough will get me where I want to be...but worried that I may never get much faster than this.

Any thoughts? I mean, I know most people are going to say, "Practice 10000 hours a year with a metronome until you can play at 3000bpm and you should get there by 2035", but I'm more asking, do you think we all have a limit that we'll hit that we just can't get past?
#2
To build my speed up I learned and practiced flight of the bumblebee until i could play it full speed. Ive forgotten how to play it but the speed is still there XD
#3
although natural speed limits do exist, there aren't many prevalent genetic factors that make 1 person more atone to gaining speed. pretty much all speed changing genetics are at a hindrance, not a benefit. likely hood of tendinitis, arthritis, joint pain and mobility problems etc.

generally levels of speed around mr. Paul Gilberto is achievable by most people. after that natural speed caps usually tapers off pretty quick. like any sport, you will get people who are faster. but in most cases that's just practice.

also my grammar is appalling.
Last edited by Marshmelllow at Feb 15, 2012,
#4
"like any sport, you will get people who are faster. but in most cases that's just practice."

I think that's a really good point, actually. There are people in the gym work out loads, but still can only lift a certain amount or throw a ball at a certain speed. I guess we're all going to vary. Just hope I can hit the limit I'm currently striving for. It's waaaaay slower than Paul Gilbert, so let's hope it's attainable.
#5
Yeah, there are natural speed limits because you can only physically move your fingers so fast. That natural speed limit is pretty fast though (I'm willing to bet it's pretty far above the speed you're hoping to reach). You just need to get up to that speed through lots of practice. I'd suggest you use a metronome and practice 10,000 hours a year until you get up to 3000BPM. You should be pretty set then
#6
Quote by perko1
To build my speed up I learned and practiced flight of the bumblebee until i could play it full speed. Ive forgotten how to play it but the speed is still there XD

yeah, and mozaart' alla turca is good for that too, I'm working on it right now, and also stratosphere by stratovarius (the song which played that 8 year old girl on youtube, she nailed it). And one question: I'm curectly at 140 bmp 16th notes. I practice alternate picking every day for minimum 2 hours starting slow and in higher speed too and practicing economy picking a lot lately. So my goal is to be able to play cleanly at 200 bpm 16th notes by next year. If I continue to practice this way , is it possible to higher my speed to 200? Or my goal is a little bit too high?
#7
I really don't think the guitar virtuosos are some kind of superhumans, they're just like us except they've practiced speed way more. Of course it will feel like you can't possibly go faster at some point, but you most definitively can if you keep at it. I think the key (to everything actually) is to do it daily. I don't mean practice 3 hours daily if you don't feel like doing that, but actually taking at least 30 mins a day or something. I promise you that practicing 30 mins every day for a week improves you a lot more than playing three and a half hours one day a week.
#8
Quote by kimi_page
yeah, and mozaart' alla turca is good for that too, I'm working on it right now, and also stratosphere by stratovarius (the song which played that 8 year old girl on youtube, she nailed it). And one question: I'm curectly at 140 bmp 16th notes. I practice alternate picking every day for minimum 2 hours starting slow and in higher speed too and practicing economy picking a lot lately. So my goal is to be able to play cleanly at 200 bpm 16th notes by next year. If I continue to practice this way , is it possible to higher my speed to 200? Or my goal is a little bit too high?


Don't forget that rest is as important as daily practice : take a day off every now and then and let your fingers rest. You will see a much bigger increase in technique this way than practicing for hours upon hours.

200 bpm at 16th notes is not an easy goal to achieve. If you don't mind me asking, why this limit? Sure, 140 can be much improved, but for most of the things you would want to play, 160-170 bpm should be enough, even for the tougher metal solos.
#9
Quote by MonsterMetalMus
I'd suggest you use a metronome and practice 10,000 hours a year until you get up to 3000BPM. You should be pretty set then


Hahaha...nice!

Yeah, I think I'm in that mode where the limit I'm trying to reach (which isn't actually all that fast to a proficient player) seems so out of reach it's like, I could NEVER get there. However, in the last 6 months I've made a concerted effort to practice at least an hour a day, EVERY day and I've seen big gains in skill and speed. I guess it's just this last bit that feels like I've hit the wall. To put it in perspective, and this could be embarrassing for me...the speed limit I'm struggling against is Ace Frehley's solo from Love Gun. The pentatonic run at the start is just too fast for me right now. To most of you guys who are more advanced than me, it's probably a joke how easy it is.
#10
Quote by Carl_Berg
Don't forget that rest is as important as daily practice : take a day off every now and then and let your fingers rest. You will see a much bigger increase in technique this way than practicing for hours upon hours.


+1 Agreed. I don't like taking days off, coz I want to play all day, every day. But...it is worthwhile switching it up and working on something else while your muscle memory absorbs what you've been working on.
#11
Quote by Carl_Berg
Don't forget that rest is as important as daily practice : take a day off every now and then and let your fingers rest. You will see a much bigger increase in technique this way than practicing for hours upon hours.

200 bpm at 16th notes is not an easy goal to achieve. If you don't mind me asking, why this limit? Sure, 140 can be much improved, but for most of the things you would want to play, 160-170 bpm should be enough, even for the tougher metal solos.


I don't know , I just want to be able to learn and more. If I am faster I can to more things and it will be a lot easier to learn things that are at 170bpm. And I want to become the best I can be.
#12
Honestly, I think it's possible we have a natural speed limit that could vary a bit from person to person. That said, I'm also pretty sure if one exists, it's up near 300bpm.

The thing with "speed" is that it takes more and more effort to make progress - eg, if you've just started and you play everything with downstrokes, there's huge obvious things to fix that will massively increase your speed. If your technique is already pretty good, it's refining very subtle things that takes lots of work to see small increases.

I wouldn't worry about speed though - focus on playing better and playing more efficiently, and then you'll sound good and feel comfortable... and will get quicker as a pleasant side effect.
#14
Quote by Ace_1973
Hey again allI'm currently at about 80 - 85% of the speed I want to be at and finding that last 15% to be a real bitch.


The higher speed levels are a bitch, because it all comes back to bite you in the ass..
(not saying its your case) but improvment at such levels depends on the most minuscule details because they start making a huge difference.

Economy of motion, distance of the fingers to the fretboard, pick angle and wasted energy all combine to give you those microseconds (like sports indeed).

There could be differences in the biology of fingers and the maximum speed that can be attained, but im sure it is so minuscule that you can pretty much ignore it.
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#15
Quote by Slashiepie
The higher speed levels are a bitch, because it all comes back to bite you in the ass..
(not saying its your case) but improvment at such levels depends on the most minuscule details because they start making a huge difference.

Economy of motion, distance of the fingers to the fretboard, pick angle and wasted energy all combine to give you those microseconds (like sports indeed).

There could be differences in the biology of fingers and the maximum speed that can be attained, but im sure it is so minuscule that you can pretty much ignore it.


Yep. You're so right there. The amount of time I spend picking apart my picking is insane. Making the smallest, tiniest adjustments in an effort to increase my accuracy and speed.
#16
Going from 180 to 200 bpm doesn´t add a lot of effect, and thats what you are aiming for if you play fast. It is the transparence and articulation at high speed, which makes the effortless and playfull paul gilbert effect.
#17
Quote by MonsterMetalMus
Yeah, there are natural speed limits because you can only physically move your fingers so fast. That natural speed limit is pretty fast though (I'm willing to bet it's pretty far above the speed you're hoping to reach). You just need to get up to that speed through lots of practice. I'd suggest you use a metronome and practice 10,000 hours a year until you get up to 3000BPM. You should be pretty set then
+1
Just be patient
#18
is playing at maximum speeds really that important?
the whole speed/shredding thing makes me want to vomit
Last edited by Yekex at Feb 15, 2012,
#19
Speed is an effect. If you want to play something that requires you play very rapidly, speed becomes very important.

TS, I'd say that there is a speed cap because the human body can only take so much stress from moving that rapidly. Kind of like how some athletes take a week off after a particularly challenging event to recover, so too does your wrist require that you not push it too hard; to do otherwise would invite needless injury upon yourself.

Here's the thing: acquiring speed is a process of diminishing returns. The things that you do to get from 60 bpm to 120 bpm are very different from the things you work on to get from 120 bpm to 180 bpm and so on. The amount of time which you practice in order to reach those goals increases dramatically as you increase the tempo. The amount of energy I have put into getting my alternate picking to hit 12 notes per second from 10 was far more than the amount of time it took me to get from 6 notes per second to 8. If I try to hit 14 notes per second, it'll take even longer than the last increase I went for because the things I will be working on will be even more subtle and even harder to pick out and focus on.

All that said, hitting some speed cap is pointless because at some point, it just becomes so much noise. Kind of like how the human eye only processes around 24 frames per second, the human ear can only distinguish sounds to a certain point, though I don't know the number. Listening to ridiculously fast guitar solos, I can barely distinguish notes after a certain tempo. Those 600bpm Flight of the Bumblebee videos come to mind - even the cleanest recordings lose all sense of musicality because our perceptual abilities are not sufficient to register melodies at that speed.
#20
I'm with you, Yekex. I'm by no means interested in becoming the fastest shredder on the block. Like I say a few posts up, I'm just trying to play Ace's Love Gun solo, which is by no means a super fast song. In fact, it's only 68bpm (although Ace plays the solo over that in 16th note triplets) So it's not Yngwie levels or anything, but you need to have a certain amount of speed on the fretboard in order to play good rocking songs accurately, as Geldin more or less says, too.

The thing about diminishing returns is a really good point, too. I've come really far in 6 months of serious practice (I've been playing years but always on and off and not with any discipline), but I feel like this last bit of agility and speed I'm after is going to take another 6 months in itself. The speed I want, while not super fast, still seems like it's completely out of reach. Patience, practice and perseverance is going to be the key, I guess...
#21
One device I like to use with my students is speed bursts - playing a series of notes (2+) at a slow to moderate tempo until the transition is very smooth, and then playing one rapid burst through all of these. It is oftentimes the repetition of a pattern where we can get hung up, especially on a string crossing or strings skip.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when practicing at a slower tempo, make sure that you're using technique appropriate for a faster tempo. As speed increases, you don't want to have to alter technique as well.
#22
Quote by MatthiasYoung
Another thing to keep in mind is that when practicing at a slower tempo, make sure that you're using technique appropriate for a faster tempo. As speed increases, you don't want to have to alter technique as well.


That is a really good point. That's why I do tend to bump up my speed very quickly when working on things. Like, as soon as I can play something cleanly, I bump it up until I can't, then I take it back down again until I can progress. I feel like that's a fairly efficient way to practice, but I could be wrong?
#23
I've no desire to play at 600bpm either. Even 200 bpm is pushing it. 160-180bpm is around where I'd like to be able to play comfortably so I can nail all the Symphony X and other epic metal solos.

I read in the other thread that practicing ridiculously slow is good because it really ingrains the muscle memory. Once you have that down, you can try practicing at your maximum tempo where you can play it without having any tension in your technique, and try to slowly raise it, perhaps by 2-3 bpm at a time.