#1
I've been playing guitar for a few years and am trying to increase my general lead capabilities, with speed and precision being two goals. I don't want to do super fast metal-style shredding, but rather something more like SRV-style blues soloing. Fast, but in a bluesy way.

I'm going way back to basics and simply doing the following as a practice routine for a while to get myself on the right path:

- Set the metronome as low as I need (I'm actually all the way down in the 75-85 bpm range for now)

- Play the minor pentatonic in all five positions up and down the neck

- Use hammer-ons for ascending, pull-offs for descending

My plan is to simply do this for a while; no string skipping, no tricks, just legato-style ascents and descents up and down the fretboard. My immediate goal is to at least be able to do this without any mistakes and perfect smoothness, then gradually speed it up. After that, I'll start practicing more actual licks.

The problem is, even this keeps tripping me up. I dunno if I'm lacking some particular hand coordination gene, but even at 75pm, doing pure hammer-on/pull-off scale runs, I'm still picking the wrong string, fretting the wrong note, etc. Overall I can do it, but my accuracy is stuck at like 70-80%. Not good enough to progress.

Has anyone had similar experiences, and is there a more intelligent way for me to approach lead guitar than this?
#2
You should always practice stuff at a tempo where it's doable, if that means doing it at 40 bpm that it. If you practice at higher speeds and make mistakes your brain is going memorize that.

You want to practice at lower speeds, and practice perfectly, so you are playing accurate, cleanly and relaxed. It takes discipline to not speed up but if you keep doing this you will develop a habit of playing accurately at this tempo, when you've done that it's time to speed up.

I often do this with harder pieces. (See the 21 day challenge sticky). Slowing it down so if let's say i can play it at 90 and the original tempo is 120, i will practice it at 70-80 somewhere, just to develop a habit of playing this thing accurately, cleanly and relaxed. Then i will speed up after that.

So that is my tip for practicing lead guitar more intelligently. Practice making sure you are playing accurate, cleanly and relaxed. Look at the tone you are getting, the pick attack you are using, what dynamics you are using. Speed will come with time.
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#3
Yeah man you've got to slow it down to a speed where you're making no mistakes at all, otherwise you'll never figure out what's going wrong. Once you've figured out the problem, practice that part over and over. You'll get better quicker if you focus more on the things you can't do.
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#4
There's no point doing this with running up and down minor pentatonic scale, because as a guitarist you're never going to need to play "the minor pentatonic scale" particularly quickly. Sounds like you're a little bit caught up in "chasing the metronome", wanting to drill something up and down just for the sake of being able to say "I can play at xxx bpm", but that's meaningless if it doesn't actually translate into something practical. You didn't pick up the guitar to play exercises and scales, they're a means to an end, not the end itself. If you perform for others nobody cares about your "bpm", they just want to hear you play something that sounds good.

Now, there's no doubt bits of songs that you will want to play quickly, or go-tp licks that you'll rely on when improvising. THOSE are the things you should be using this method with...also don't get too bogged down in the numbers because they're largely irrelevant. What matters is whether or not you can play something at the speed it needs to be played at - you don't actually need to stick a number on something to achieve that.
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#5
I'm a little confused then; surely scale runs are an important practice tool, aren't they? I didn't mean to suggest that I'd simply play scales up and down as a lead guitarist, but rather that I'm looking for a way to build dexterity, coordination (as well as a deeply conditioned sense of how the scales cover the fretboard), and scale runs are my way of doing that.

Like I said, I was starting with pure scale runs just as a way to start from square one. I'd like to eventually start playing more complex runs with string skips and the like, and then of course start building up a collection of licks within/around those scales. But I wanted to start here just to "get my fingers working right" so to speak.

If scale runs aren't helpful, what should my first step towards playing lead be? It seems odd to jump right in to licks and stuff if I'm not reinforcing the basics at the same time, but I'm open to suggestions.
#6
Quote by adrienfr
I'm a little confused then; surely scale runs are an important practice tool, aren't they? I didn't mean to suggest that I'd simply play scales up and down as a lead guitarist, but rather that I'm looking for a way to build dexterity, coordination (as well as a deeply conditioned sense of how the scales cover the fretboard), and scale runs are my way of doing that.

If scale runs aren't helpful, what should my first step towards playing lead be? It seems odd to jump right in to licks and stuff if I'm not reinforcing the basics at the same time, but I'm open to suggestions.


Practicing scale runs will make you good at playing scale runs.

I'd always say learn from music you like. If the song contains scale runs, then learn scale runs. But in my opinion you should learn stuff from songs you like instead, it's a more musical approach and will benefit you more in playing what you want to play.

I am not saying don't learn scales, but i am saying i think it's a waste of time sitting and going up and down scales in different runs if they are not a part of what you are trying to learn.

You want to play in a faster bluesy way, start with learning some blues and build from there. Start simple with things you like and then move to harder stuff. Learn the sounds not the shapes. I always strive to get away from the shapes of scales and into a state of mind where i think about what sound i want to hear and trying to replicate it, in my opinion that is a healthier approach.

Or like Guthrie Govan said. "If you are practicing scales up and down and in different patterns, essentially what you are doing is learning to type the alphabet very fast and in different permutations." You need to start learning words, sentences and phrases. Treat learning the guitar like you learned your first language and you will develop so that music becomes more natural to you. Listen and try to imitate.

That's my opinion, i hope that was useful to you in any way.
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Sickz
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#7
Speed is the by-product of accuracy. Anyone can flail their picking hand fast and move their fretting fingers fast, the trouble is syncing them up. You don't need to follow a specific exercise to practice this, you just need to practice quick licks and riffs at such a pace that the timing of your fretting and release is perfect and both arms are relaxed.

Learn as many riffs and licks as you can. Try to learn something new every day. Once you learn more and more licks and riffs they become a part of your playing. If you come across a lick that's too fast, that's the time to get the metronome out. Make that difficult lick your exercise.

Here's an example of a great video with a few blues licks. Try to learn one of these licks every day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8wAWZJAyA0


In my opinion the best way to get faster is to not care about speed. Relax, it will come with time, playing, and general practice. Keep things musical, try to incorporate music into practice rather than going up and down scales and chromatics. In the long run your musicality and technique will develop together.
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#8
I'm not sure I agree. Don't get me wrong- I totally agree with keeping things as musical as possible, and in fact I frequently say that in threads where people are asking about herculean (and often unmusical) practise regimes. At the same time, though, if you actually practise stuff designed to get you as fast as possible as quickly as possible, you're going to get faster quicker than someone who just "waits for it to come". As long as you practise it right, and don't ignore the other musical stuff.

Do a few drills for even a few minutes a day and you'll soon notice your speed increasing.
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#9
Fair enough, maybe I got a little carried away there I may have contradicted myself in the last part about 'waiting for it to come', but what I was trying to explain in the second paragraph of my post was about turning a difficult lick into a speed exercise and using that to try and practice speed rather than scale running and whatnot.
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#10
No worries, I know what you meant, and for the most part, I agree. You can definitely get boggged down in drills if you're not careful. Used correctly, they're great, but used incorrectly they can do more harm than good
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?