#1
Hi, practicing for at least an hour every day past month or so, I'm advancing slowly and steadily, only made my G major scale from 40 BPM up to 48 BPM but I was pleased with it. What REALLY freaks me out is that, as I speak(took a break from my practice session) I find it that I can play at 44-48 BPM(but not as fluid as usual) yet if I lower it to 38-40 I can't physically make at least two scale runs without making a handful of mistakes and missing the strings. I'm wondering is this supposed to happen from time to time or am I doing something wrong? I'm really putting myself into this 100% and I follow some strict rules around here, I've got a practice a routine and I tend not to slack at all, and pay attention to all the details of my technique. And I must say this ain't the first time it happens, I usually start out with 40 bpm to warm myself up, now I can't get past that stage, really discouraging.

Thanks!
Last edited by TheBystander9 at Jul 11, 2013,
#2
If songs are based on scales, its more fun to actually learn songs instead of scales as a separate entity. While you are enjoying songs, it's best to attempt to play clean and accurate. So in that process, you will slowly but surely start getting better at it. Before long, after a couple of years, you will have had fun learning all of this and before you know it you will have learned the scales (albeit in a roundabout way) and you will have the BPM and accuracy. Now that you have sufficient technique after these years, you can learn the scales in whatever pattern you choose.
#3
Cheers for the reply. Before I used to just screw around with a few songs and not pay attention to my technique much, so the only reason I practice scales and what not is to build some solid technique, I dedicate 15-30 minutes a day besides the practice to a song of my choice, I really pay attention to play it clean and have fun along the way.
#4
Slowing things down is important, rather than playing everything at your top speed all the time. If you're making mistakes then slow it down even more until you can playing it perfectly and then slowly speed up.

I spend a lot of time playing scales, arpeggios etc at slow speed. It's one of the more effective ways to improve. When you go back to trying your top speed you should find it's improved as a result of playing slower.
#5
Quote by pia98jf
Slowing things down is important, rather than playing everything at your top speed all the time. If you're making mistakes then slow it down even more until you can playing it perfectly and then slowly speed up.

I spend a lot of time playing scales, arpeggios etc at slow speed. It's one of the more effective ways to improve. When you go back to trying your top speed you should find it's improved as a result of playing slower.


Thanks That's what I planned to do anyway, only funny thing is not even 48 is my top speed, I only play at speeds at which I can fully control what I am doing and that would be somewhere up to 54-56.
#6
I'm gonna go the opposite direction as these guys...

Have you tried playing it at a good speed? I typically start my practicing at 120 bpm (two and three octave scales) and work my way up to 208 bpm doing 8th notes, or whatever metronomeonline maxes out at.

Playing slow and accurate is good. Being able to effectively use that accuracy in a musical context is FAR more important. Shawn Lane, arguably the best guitarist to ever have lived, said that one of the best things he could do for his playing was play above his level. Remember, you can only play fast if you practice playing fast. It's not hard to fix mistakes on the fly even at 120+ bpm. Just remember what you did to correct it and make sure to do it every time.

So, start slow and do your scales as you normally do. Then bump it up 10 bpm. That's how I started out. If that's too much, go down 1 or 2 bpm at a time. Once you get that, bump it up ANOTHER 10 bpm and repeat. You need to be able to play MUSIC, not scales, and I can't remember the last time I played a song at 48 bpm.

I've also found that if I try and play below about 60 bpm I focus too much on my picking motion and finger placement (which I know I'm good with) and mess up on almost every note. At 120 I don't miss a single note.

Try both ways and see what works. I DO, however, recommend you not just work your way up to a decent speed, but jump up to it. You'll be surprised at how fast and accurate you can play once you're warmed up.
Last edited by DiminishedFifth at Jul 11, 2013,
#7
I think it is important to be able to play both slow, moderate, fast. Versatility. Both are equally merited playing styles and are dependent on the right context of the music you are playing. None is better than the other. There are plenty of great compositions written from largo to presto.

Do whatever you need to do to get to a faster speed if that is your goal, but never sacrifice musical accuracy for messy playing or you will get accustomed to it.

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I think the vertical scalar practice is more of a theory/fretboard visualization tool for specific keys with an inherent benefit of practicing runs and alternate picking.
#8
Quote by sweetdude3000
Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I think the vertical scalar practice is more of a theory/fretboard visualization tool for specific keys with an inherent benefit of practicing runs and alternate picking.

No, you're right. It's a learning tool, as opposed to something to commit to memory. Keys and notes are far more important than the patterns.
#9
I don't mean to be rude, but unless you're play demisemiquavers, 40bpm is ridiculously slow. Perhaps you're playing so slowly that it's not engaging you, making you complacent, and that's normal, as it's not helping you in any way. Bump your speed up to about 100, or 120, chances are you're faster than you think, I can't think of a piece of music for guitar that requires scale runs as 40bpm, I've seen some metronomes that don't go that low. For your practice's, push yourself, as that's the only way to get better.
#10
Thanks for all the handy advice! Much appreciated!

Quote by DiminishedFifth


I've also found that if I try and play below about 60 bpm I focus too much on my picking motion and finger placement (which I know I'm good with) and mess up on almost every note. At 120 I don't miss a single note.


I wanted to say exactly the same thing for myself! At higher speeds I'm really accurate and fluent, however once I start playing at let's say 40 bpm almost all of my focus goes on my picking motion and fretting hand along with every single tiny detail that I can possibly think of, and somewhere along the line I stumble.

Generally I start warming myself up with an initial tempo of 40 bpm, then as I make 4 perfect scale runs at that speed in a row, I bump it up for 5 bpm and so on and on. I'm not really chasing speed but I'm struggling to get a natural feel of alternate picking, I've been playing fingerstyle for a long time and I feel like I must practice the technique itself(as in scales) besides the regular tablature/music sessions.
#11
Quote by CelestialGuitar
I don't mean to be rude, but unless you're play demisemiquavers, 40bpm is ridiculously slow. Perhaps you're playing so slowly that it's not engaging you, making you complacent, and that's normal, as it's not helping you in any way. Bump your speed up to about 100, or 120, chances are you're faster than you think, I can't think of a piece of music for guitar that requires scale runs as 40bpm, I've seen some metronomes that don't go that low. For your practice's, push yourself, as that's the only way to get better.


Sorry for double post, only saw your reply now. I started out at 40bpm because it's the very first time I actually play with a pick, and I read somewhere that I should start things really slow. And as a matter of fact yeah, I definitely feel things much easier at let's say 50 bpm, much more natural, but I think I read somewhere around here that one must perfect those ridiculously slow speeds before going on, either way, you gave a quite interesting perspective here for me, worth considering surely, thanks!
Last edited by TheBystander9 at Jul 11, 2013,
#12
For alternate picking I can't see it helping you to play at 40 bpm. I NEVER alternate pick slower passages unless I happen to want a certain timbre. It'll be much more beneficial to start at least at 80 bpm. Just make sure you're watching what you do when you pick and then make the necessary corrections.

That slow could definitely be useful for downpicking, but eh at downpicking I only use it for shitty punk/hardcore/thrash or some particular "heavy" sounds.

And, to be honest, once I could play scales fast and got good with my finger placement/picking accuracy slowing it down isn't too hard. It's just not useful for what I do, so I don't normally practice that slow unless I'm having a super hard time with a song I'm working on. I think the slowest I've played a song was at 50% and that was still 75 bpm
#13
Quote by TheBystander9
Hi, practicing for at least an hour every day past month or so, I'm advancing slowly and steadily, only made my G major scale from 40 BPM up to 48 BPM but I was pleased with it. What REALLY freaks me out is that, as I speak(took a break from my practice session) I find it that I can play at 44-48 BPM(but not as fluid as usual) yet if I lower it to 38-40 I can't physically make at least two scale runs without making a handful of mistakes and missing the strings. I'm wondering is this supposed to happen from time to time or am I doing something wrong? I'm really putting myself into this 100% and I follow some strict rules around here, I've got a practice a routine and I tend not to slack at all, and pay attention to all the details of my technique. And I must say this ain't the first time it happens, I usually start out with 40 bpm to warm myself up, now I can't get past that stage, really discouraging.

Thanks!

There's your problem. Everyone gets that playing in time at high tempos is hard, but a lot of people sell short the difficulty of playing very slowly, too. Shit's tough.

I'm curious what you're trying to get out of playing scales at that speed. The value of running scales to build speed is dubious at best, and even if it were the ideal way to improve, why would you start that slow? If you want to build speed, start at about 60% of your sloppiness threshold and work your way up to the full tempo of whatever passage you want to clean up. Running scales will only make you better at running scales.
#14
Mate the metronome ll do nothing for your technique...spend an ample amount of time paying really close attention to what your fingers at doing(cant do it with a metronome buzzing on your ears).Get a clean sound first and run your scales looking for weaknesses(for example poor fretted notes,tention on the right hand at a certain string etc etc etc) and try to smooth them out...you can really hear them with a clean sound.Then..switch to a distorted one after a while and try to carry all the correct feedback from the clean sound practise there....and as for the tempo? doesnt matter..change it at will whenever you feel like it.Dont switch the metronome on, cause then you ll be more concerned about following a certain tempo than actually pay attention to the details of your technique.

So....if you actually wanna get better technique-wise its more practical to get a mirror than a metronome .....
Last edited by Dreamdancer11 at Jul 12, 2013,
#15
@DiminishedFifth

You made a good point there, think I'll speed it up quite a bit from now on, as long as I can maintain control of what I'm doing, cheers.

@Geldin

I'm a beginner of some sort, I find it easy to believe in any half-decent info when it comes to technique on the net, that's how I started playing scales at 40bpm in the first place. Either way I'm playing scales because I love improvising a tiny bit(it sounds silly but I managed to crack two-three intros just by screwing around with a scale, which made me proud as a beginner ) and because I find it that when I practice scales it makes it a bit easier for me to practice songs itself as well. Thanks for your reply!

@ Dreamdancer11 Solid point there, cheers! I start out without a metronome, exclusively focusing on my technique, however once I crack the fundamental elements of a certain technique I start using a metronome to gradually boost my speed up, because otherwise I might easily stray off into playing slower or faster randomly.
#16
40-48 bpm is extremely slow if you're playing quarter notes.

I'd bump that up to 60 for quarter notes. If that's too fast, go up to 80-90 and play half notes instead.

And once you know all the scales, do rhythm ladders so you get the feel of 8ths, 16ths, and triplets.
#17
Quote by TheBystander9
@Geldin

I'm a beginner of some sort, I find it easy to believe in any half-decent info when it comes to technique on the net, that's how I started playing scales at 40bpm in the first place. Either way I'm playing scales because I love improvising a tiny bit(it sounds silly but I managed to crack two-three intros just by screwing around with a scale, which made me proud as a beginner ) and because I find it that when I practice scales it makes it a bit easier for me to practice songs itself as well. Thanks for your reply!

As someone who fell into the same trap for an embarassingly long time: don't bother practicing scales. Learn them, learn how to construct them, know how to find them, but don't think that running up and down scales will make you good at anything except running scales.

If that's what you want out of guitar, fine, but it's perfectly fine (and several people, myself included) recommend jumping right into learning songs you like. Some of them will be hard to learn, but if you're willing to stomach running scales on some stranger's advice, I think find the motivation to learn songs you like will be pretty easy to find.
#18
Quote by Geldin
As someone who fell into the same trap for an embarassingly long time: don't bother practicing scales. Learn them, learn how to construct them, know how to find them, but don't think that running up and down scales will make you good at anything except running scales.

If that's what you want out of guitar, fine, but it's perfectly fine (and several people, myself included) recommend jumping right into learning songs you like. Some of them will be hard to learn, but if you're willing to stomach running scales on some stranger's advice, I think find the motivation to learn songs you like will be pretty easy to find.


That's a great advice! I've only been practicing for about a month and a half but for the first three weeks I ain't been learning any songs at all, and I was surprised how clumsy I am when I started out with it, so your point definitely makes sense, I tend to separate a decent amount of time on song learning as of recent, really helps. As for the motivation, definitely, after running a scale up and down non stop for twenty minutes straight it surely feels amazing to get into some songs.
I forgot to mention however, that besides scales I also practice a certain string crossing exercise that Freepower has put here, in your opinion, would that kind of exercise do me any favors, combined with song learning?
#19
Quote by TheBystander9
That's a great advice! I've only been practicing for about a month and a half but for the first three weeks I ain't been learning any songs at all, and I was surprised how clumsy I am when I started out with it, so your point definitely makes sense, I tend to separate a decent amount of time on song learning as of recent, really helps. As for the motivation, definitely, after running a scale up and down non stop for twenty minutes straight it surely feels amazing to get into some songs.
I forgot to mention however, that besides scales I also practice a certain string crossing exercise that Freepower has put here, in your opinion, would that kind of exercise do me any favors, combined with song learning?



Actually you need to do everything mate....practising scales,arpeggios,chords,learn theory,learn songs,transcribe songs and train you ear, play with other musicians etc etc etc.:
That said scale practise is a big part of the whole....yes you ll run them up and down among other things,play sequences with them and create melodies,sing them(before you play them or while you play them)...at least if you want to improvise some day with a relative ease(if you just want to strum heartfelt ballads to your girlfriend you dont need them ).You have to at least develop a certain level of muscle memory regarding scales and that doesnt come without practice.
#20
Quote by TheBystander9
I forgot to mention however, that besides scales I also practice a certain string crossing exercise that Freepower has put here, in your opinion, would that kind of exercise do me any favors, combined with song learning?

That sort of exercise will make you better at crossing and skipping strings. If the songs you want to learn have a fair bit of string crossing and skipping, then that will definitely get you into shape. If not, I wouldn't really bother unless you have a pressing desire to learn it.

When I practice, I take a song that I'm learning (I try to be learning a couple of different songs at any given time) and identify which sections I need to practice, then take those sections and use them as my exercises. I let the music I want to learn dictate what I practice. That way, every minute of practice time I put in directly improves my ability to play songs I like.
#21
Quote by Dreamdancer11
Actually you need to do everything mate....practising scales,arpeggios,chords,learn theory,learn songs,transcribe songs and train you ear, play with other musicians etc etc etc.:
That said scale practise is a big part of the whole....yes you ll run them up and down among other things,play sequences with them and create melodies,sing them(before you play them or while you play them)...at least if you want to improvise some day with a relative ease(if you just want to strum heartfelt ballads to your girlfriend you dont need them ).You have to at least develop a certain level of muscle memory regarding scales and that doesnt come without practice.


Hahahah, I think I want to advance a bit past that level, thankfully. I understand what you mean, learning guitar really ain't a straightforward part time job, sure does take a while. I appreciate all the help here

EDIT: @Geldin Again replied just a split second after you. I was thinking about that possibility, to practice sections of a song that I find hard at a given moment and employ that to improve my technique whilst, as you said, learning a song I like, I'll implement that into my practice as well.

PS: Tried applying the advice you guys gave me here to practice at a reasonably higher speed, tried 75 BPM today and did amazingly well, watched out to fret and pick a note at exactly the same time, really pleased! A big thanks!
Last edited by TheBystander9 at Jul 12, 2013,