#1
Hi UG,

I've hit a wall.

Just wanted some advice about efficient practice and building speed. I've been reading articles and guides but I've not found direct advice regarding this dilemma I've been facing.

For example:

a) I can play a 16th note lick at max 140 bpm, clean and articulate but with tension. Past that it becomes a sloppy mess.

b) I can also play at this lick at 130 with no/little tension, but there's still that "difficult" feel to it.

c) I can also play this lick below 120 with no tension but it feels really easy.

At what speed should I actually be practicing? I'm currently practicing at b). Maybe I should go really slow and try to iron out my technique/efficiency/coordination? Could that be the reason why I'm stuck at that speed?

It does seem a bit silly to revisit that again after I've already done that awhile ago and have noticed improvements in my overall picking technique/playing.
Last edited by Timothongz at Jul 28, 2013,
#2
I would definitely say you should be practicing really slowly; that's the only speed at which you can actually improve your technique.
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#3
Zaphod has a great point. Something I suggest to my students is to really practice at the level where you have it down 100% but then go for duration. So it seems like you should practice at 120 but for an extended period of time, perhaps 30 seconds, 1 minute, whatever. Until your technique starts to slip. then take a minute and try it again. Eventually you will be able to then test yourself and you will push past that 140 mark.
#4
You could also try using the speed training modes of tux guitar or guitarpro which will increase the speed slightly with every repetition.
#5
lol i accidentally bumped a way old thread but it's the same advice...

this is a really powerful speedbuilding strategy:

start with the metronome at 80bpm for 2-3 mins... then do this:

metronome at 100bpm for 2-3 mins
metronome at 120bpm for 2-3 mins
metronome at 110bpm for 2-3 mins
metronome at 130bpm for 2-3 mins
metronome at 120bpm for 2-3 mins
metronome at 140bpm for 2-3 mins
metronome at 130bpm for 2-3 mins
metronome at 150bpm for 2-3 mins
metronome at 140bpm for 2-3 mins
etc..

you're going to start playing really sloppy at some point, but just keep going.. it's usually really bad to play sloppy, but if you want to build speed faster, try this out
#6
At what speed should I actually be practicing? I'm currently practicing at b). Maybe I should go really slow and try to iron out my technique/efficiency/coordination? Could that be the reason why I'm stuck at that speed?


It could be. Are you comfortable and does your picking sound good? Do you make unnecessarily large motions? Do you occasionally "just miss" notes?

If so, I would practice more slowly.

Can you do perfect reps, time after time? Then I'd just focus on strength and stamina. Just keep practising.

In my experience, people vastly underestimate the time outlay required to be good at alternate picking - years of consistent practice.
#7
Quote by Freepower

In my experience, people vastly underestimate the time outlay required to be good at alternate picking - years of consistent practice.


It's true that having years of practice is important to be an expert, and I don't mean to disagree with you.. but, as long as you can practice the correct motions, you can actually become very, very good in only a couple months.

So there are basically 4 picking motions to practice... As long as you can practice these 4 in isolation, AND in combination with each other, your alternate picking will improve exponentially within weeks.

1. Inside picking
2. Outside picking
3. String skipping
4. Sweep picking

I can't really explain how to sweep pick without giving a full-on guitar lesson, but at least the first three are easily learned:

Inside picking means your pick stays in between two strings as you downstroke the higher-pitched string and upstroke the lower-pitch string. This makes a V-shaped pattern.

Outside picking means your pick needs to make a U-shaped pattern over both strings as you upstroke the higher-pitched string and downstroke the lower-pitched string.

String skipping should be self explanatory, as long as you practice both outside and inside picking here too.
#8
I'm sure it's theoretically possible, but personally I've never met anyone who made swift progress with alternate picking.

I think alternate picking is surprisingly difficult because although it isn't complex, it has tiny margins of error. A millimeter out is no good. Left hand fretting 50 microseconds early or late? Bum note.

Anyway, if you can go into detail on how you've seen swift results achieved that'd be awesome for me and for the original poster. ^^
#9
I think I remember John Petrucci talking about another speed-building technique that was like revving an engine.

Play the lick slowly WITHOUT a metronome and speed it up until you're playing it as fast as you can. Then slow back down again. Do this several times in a row.

Mixing that up with good old incremental metronome practice can help push/pull you into faster tempos.

A little clip on building speed from Rock Discipline:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAR27vvKMaw
#10
Speed mechanics for lead guitar is a good book that covers the technical diffculties with speed picking from many angles. Go through the exercises and focus on your weak points to iron them out.

Instead of ONLY practicing just fast stuff, I find it helpful to practice slow blues as well. You can really hone in on slow, accurate articulate picking and be musical.
#11
personally, the intro to the song "unholy confessions" by a7x helped me a lot with alt picking, the constant switching of tensions is good practice...i did it over and over and over, i even moved it up the fret board and different strings for extra practice....idk thats just me tho o: