I've got some RSI in my left hand after getting back into guitar after not playing for 2 years. I started playing again and practiced too hard without stretching now my left hand needs some time off. I got frustrated after hitting a speed wall and gave up. Anyway, the speed wall is still there, I can't seem to pick faster than 130-150bpm 16ths. At best I can do a very short lick at 150bpm and I can ascend and descend a scale at about 135bpm.

The problem has always been my right hand, I can usually legato past 150bpm. While my left hand is recovering, I'm doing the most boring exercise in an attempt to build my right hand stamina and speed.

For 1-2 hrs a day (Over 2 months) I chill with my guitar in front of the TV and just pick open strings, to a metronome for 30-60min straight. My practice is done once once I've done 1-2hrs. Here are some details:

Metronome is programed to 'loop' between a range of 80bpm-100bpm, every minute it increases by 5 until it reaches 100 then it goes back down. After I've completed 50hrs of this, if my left hand is better, hopefully my speed will have increased a bit. If this routine works I plan to increase the range to 85-105bpm and increase to 90-110 after 50hrs of practice. Given, I'll include my left hand (though it'll probably just be boring chromatic exercises and various scale lines).

Hopefully, in a few months, I would feel more comfortable at picking and I'd be able to break the speed wall. My theory is that by practicing picking just above my 'comfort range', for at least 30min straight, my right hand will get a bit tired and force itself to relax while picking, thus increasing speed.

In short, has anyone found picking open strings for an extended period of time to be useful for developing speed?
Rather than playing nonstop for that long, I'd recommend playing as fast as you can for as long as you can. Set your metronome for a beat that you consider fast (and is within your abilities), pick until you can no longer keep up, wait maybe 5-10 minutes (you can work on legato or something while waiting, the point is to give your picking hand time to recover), then repeat two more times. You're less likely to injure yourself doing quick bursts rather than playing like that for a long period of time.

If you want, you can maybe try to come up with a riff or something while doing this just to mix it up a bit.
IMHO using metronome on that kind of exercise is limiting your progress. You should use metronome when you have to practice a very delicate lick or something that needs 100% precision, but picking one string isn't that much of a wisdom.
So, when practicing picking on one string just pick the fastest you can do without creating too much tension in your hand. I have been doing that for a while, and I'm pretty much satisfied with my progress.
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It's pretty much a complete waste of time. The biggest factor in playing "fast" is keeping both hands co-ordinated, ensuring your picking and fretting are perfectly in sync and controlled. If you're just playing open strings you're not working on that at all, so aren't really using your time productively.

Also practicing in front of the TV isn't really practicing. The whole point of practice is that you're working to rectify a problem, and for that to be effective you need to be 100% focused on the task at hand

You can't force this kind of recovery, you can't rush things. It'll take time to get back up to speed, but remember that speed isn't the be all and end all of guitar playing...fast doesnt automatically equate to good. Be patient and allow things to take as long as they need, if you try to place time limits on yourself you'll either end up cutting corners or simply end up disappointed when you don't meet them
Actually called Mark!

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Want to break your speed barrier? Focus on economy of motion,perfect repetitions without mistakes,finger independence,relaxed hands even at your top speed etc etc etc.Every time you play an exercise ask yourself all of the above.If any of the above(or all) is missing then thats where your main focus should be.

As for the metronome.....it doesnt make you faster..thats a myth.Its mighty useful to play in time of course and you need it to some extent no doubt, but it does nothing for your speed.Lose the mentronome for a bit and play your exercises at a constant medium(for you) speed following all the things i mentioned above.

Focus on all the things i mentioned in the first paragraph and only after you play real close attention to them open your metronome again.Failing to do that , a metronome is just a another way of getting good at perfecting...mistakes .
Last edited by Dreamdancer11 at Apr 6, 2013,
Picking is picking doesnt matter if its open or fretted,
i usually do that too with an open string , to practice tremolo picking.
and i also do that when i watch tv and dont wanna play any tunes.
Quote by hwknight
In short, has anyone found picking open strings for an extended period of time to be useful for developing speed?

Check this out....:

Pebber Brown

Her certainly has nothing against what you are doing!
you can pick just down just up
pick all strings adjacent
all strings non adjacent
work your timing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 notes per beat
then the same over two and three beats
chicken pickin
right hand tapping

there is loads you can do with just the right hand?
hope this helps
But this goes up to 11
Grab a whammy pedal or if you can grip a beer bottle learn to play slide and try to make your practice musical, if its a brainless physical excercise your going to get bored of just playing open string for months. You could workbon in by going for as fast as you can as long as you can.
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Well your problem is left hand-right hand synchronization. You will not get much use out of doing wat your doing now. What u need to do is work on minimizing your picking hand stroke with economy of motion. You could practice skipping strings to tighten up your alternate picking. Also dont forget to warm up and streth your hands before playing. I recently starting doing that and my technique improved dramatically.