#1
I've been playing guitar for almost 5 years now. But have been serious for about 3

for the past year I've been cracking down on my alternate picking. And I'm getting no where. AT ALL. I'm stuck in the 125-130bpm range. And i've been doing the slow and gradually buildup process forever.

I'm in a metal band that requires a lot of tremolo picking and galloping. So that's what I have been practicing ever since I joined them back in December. I found a tremolo picking lick that covers all strings to practice and I made up my own little gallop riff to practice.

I start the metronome at 60bpm and gradually increase. But recently I've been paying attention for certain things to look for more closely then before. But I don't know exactly what to look for....the only major thing I notice is that when I get faster, with how high my strings are off the body, (I play a Les Paul) It gets harder to tremolo on the low E string and it's BAD, like my picking has a hard time slicing through it and it bounces all over the place.... and then my hand and wrist tenses up and looks weird. But I don't know how to fix this considering it tenses up RIGHT AT 125-130.

Any tips? I'm studying this in college and I don't even like to consider myself a musician yet...
#2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VrFV5r8cs0&sns=em

Maybe playing faster isn't in the cards for you. That doesn't mean you can't improve other aspects of your playing. Mark Knopfler once lamented that he couldn't play fast like he speed metal players...but I think its fair to say he's done alright for himself.
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#3
I would say (and I'm not exactly an expert here) to just keep working at it. I would also try to keep moving up the baseline. Next time start at 65bpm, then the next time start at 70bpm etc.

Also, you mentioned wrist and hand tensing up. Keep working on loosening up your technique. You don't want to be tensing your muscles excessively when you pick (and for the record, when you're fretting too). That's part of what's keeping you from progressing further (I would think). The looser you can hit the notes (while still hitting them, of course), the better. Many players have a habit of tensing their muscles when they play (usually because it's required when one starts because it's difficult to play), but one of the best things you can do for your playing is to break that. Test out how hard you actually have to hit/fret the strings to get them to sound a note. You'll probably be surprised that you can do it with far less effort than you thought. After that, it's about accuracy.

Also, get creative with your exercises. You said you made up a your own gallop riff and an alternative picking pattern that uses all 6 strings to practice. Work on some other rhythm styles too (e.g. chugging or even ska-style picking) and also different combinations/number of strings with your alternative picking. You'll find that widening your field of practice is going to help you improve on what you were having trouble with before.

Good luck on your journey man.
Last edited by mjones1992 at Aug 6, 2013,
#4
Quote by mjones1992
I would say (and I'm not exactly an expert here) to just keep working at it. I would also try to keep moving up the baseline. Next time start at 65bpm, then the next time start at 70bpm etc.

Also, you mentioned wrist and hand tensing up. Keep working on loosening up your technique. You don't want to be tensing your muscles excessively when you pick (and for the record, when you're fretting too). That's part of what's keeping you from progressing further (I would think). The looser you can hit the notes (while still hitting them, of course), the better. Many players have a habit of tensing their muscles when they play (usually because it's required when one starts because it's difficult to play), but one of the best things you can do for your playing is to break that. Test out how hard you actually have to hit/fret the strings to get them to sound a note. You'll probably be surprised that you can do it with far less effort than you thought. After that, it's about accuracy.

Also, get creative with your exercises. You said you made up a your own gallop riff and an alternative picking pattern that uses all 6 strings to practice. Work on some other rhythm styles too (e.g. chugging or even ska-style picking) and also different combinations/number of strings with your alternative picking. You'll find that widening your field of practice is going to help you improve on what you were having trouble with before.

Good luck on your journey man.



Thanks man. I really appreciate your advice. I will take everything you said And use it! Thanks again!!
#5
To clarify, speed is but one talent/technique among many that are useful with the guitar.

Leaning where all the notes are- and thus chords & progressions- can make you a more efficient & cleaner guitarist. If you know every voicing for a given chord in a given tuning, that means you don't need to race up & down the neck to find the one or two beginners know. (PS: that can translate into speed.) Knowledge & use of a variety of chord voicings is one thing I have found repeatedly in learning the songs of accomplished guitarists.

And then there are all the things like hammer ons, pull-offs, sweeps, pinch harmonics...the list goes on.

So, don't get too hung up on speed. Work on it, yes, but don't let your successes or shortcomings in that one area define you as a guitarist...or discourage you from continuing.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#6
I can play pretty fast (I think), but I cant play Steve Vai fast at all.

I have never let that stop me from being in bands. I have been playing live since 2001 and most of the time I have been the only guitar. I have played in bands that play Phish type music to Prog-metal.

Work on a different technique for a week or so and then go back to the speed excercises.
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#7
You will progress, you just have to remember that things get harder before they get better!

-in fact, this^^ is a life lesson

Have a good one
#8
You're running into one of the inevitable plateaus along the way. You go so far and then run into what seems like a roadblock. It's temporary.

Concentrate on something else for a bit, but keep working on the lower speed levels as part of your practice routine.

Consider changing your pick. This bit is personal, but I ended up with a smaller, pointier, thicker lucite type pick from Gravity picks. Your mileage may vary, but if you're worrying about your pick bouncing around or falling out of your hand, you maybe overthinking things and may need to take steps with your pick to avoid that. Once you get back on track, your pick will probably prove to be less important, since it's often the metal aspect that needs to be tweaked and your confidence level that needs to be adjusted.
#9
Quote by dannyalcatraz

Maybe playing faster isn't in the cards for you. That doesn't mean you can't improve other aspects of your playing. Mark Knopfler once lamented that he couldn't play fast like he speed metal players...but I think its fair to say he's done alright for himself.


i wanna see knopfler try to play those thrash rhythms with his thumb and fingers. that'd be hilarious.
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#10
People seem to think that speed is the be all and end all, but in reality most people neglect everything else and sound like shit running up and down scale shapes sloppily.

I think that doing exercises all day is dumb. Learn songs that have the technique you want to learn in them, practice them and you'll have real world applications of the technique.

It must be so boring to practice that way.
#11
^ Meph you are so right on man. You gotta find stuff you want to sound like and practice that and do a little of basic exercises too.

To add to that I have found my schecter c1 elite is not any good for fast muted thrash picking, neither is my Mockingbird special. I would love to play that style on both of those since they are both badass looking guitars but it just dosnt work for me.

My flat topped guitars are much better for that I find.

I think it has to do with the bridge and how its set up along with the carved tops making the strings too far away from the body and where I rest my hand to pick.....at least for me. And I am also finding with the Schecter the string thru body does not allow for enough break angle to get enough pressure to keep the E string in the saddle under severe picking It will pop out of the groove I don't think I will ever buy a string thru set up like that again or at least make sure the string thru isn't so far away from the saddles.
What the hell!!!
Last edited by danvwman at Aug 8, 2013,