#1
So I am a decent electric lead player...been playing for a long time but am now refocused on taking it to a new level. I have never been a disciplined practice guy but I am now getting into regular metronome practice. (metronomeonline rocks lol)

Right now I am doing like 10-12 hours per week. I started with basic exercises for the picking hand and then licks and patterns using both hands.

The way I am doing it currently is I have 22 exercises. 12 right hand only and 10 combined, plus some licks I work on etc. I do each of the 22 exercises for 2 minutes each. Then I do other stuff or improvise etc.

So the question is, should I keep doing the 22 sort of widespread basic exercises, or should I just take a few exercises and really spend more time on them and work them up to higher speeds?
#2
There's not a huge amount of point doing an exercise for X amount of time, you should be doing it in such a way that you're concentrating on getting it right, I mean really right, rather than simply repeating it until you've hit a certain amount of time. Obviously you do need to repeat things a fair bit but saying "this amount of time" rather than just focusing on doing it right is a flawed way of going about things if you ask me.

It's not that doing things for a certain amount of time is necessarily wrong but that saying "I will do this exercise for 2 minutes" is evidence of a flawed notion of what exercises should be for.

Personally I would also say that you should ditch the exercises mostly and spend as much time as possible playing songs. Pick something that's just outside of what you can do and treat that in the same way you would an exercise. That way you end up honing your skills and you've got something you can really use at the end of it as well.
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#3
im scared to ditch the exercises altogether because without some sort of structure I just end up noodling for an hour. at least this way I have some sort of documented way to see if what I am doing is working...for instance in the last 2 weeks I have 20 hours of focused alternate picking work done

the stuff id like to play like Malmsteen and Gilbert style, it almost all comes down to alternate picking. its not so much a thing of "learning" a lick, like looking at tab etc, its more a matter of simply needing to develop way more picking horsepower
#4
Quote by JohnProphet
im scared to ditch the exercises altogether because without some sort of structure I just end up noodling for an hour. at least this way I have some sort of documented way to see if what I am doing is working...for instance in the last 2 weeks I have 20 hours of focused alternate picking work done

the stuff id like to play like Malmsteen and Gilbert style, it almost all comes down to alternate picking. its not so much a thing of "learning" a lick, like looking at tab etc, its more a matter of simply needing to develop way more picking horsepower


There's nothing inherently better about an exercise as a piece to practice though. Eventually it's all the same mechanical skills you're developing.

If you treat parts of songs the same way you treat exercises you can still document everything, hit all the points on the metronome and so on and grind away at alternate picking, you'll just end up with a thing to play at the other end if you don't go with tiny little useless exercises.

Really if you want structure, that's a product of your mindset and not what you're practising. Breaking up a song in to smaller parts, or even breaking up a lick in to fragments, will yield the same thing really.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
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Last edited by Zaphod_Beeblebr at Jul 28, 2014,
#5
Quote by JohnProphet
im scared to ditch the exercises altogether because without some sort of structure I just end up noodling for an hour. at least this way I have some sort of documented way to see if what I am doing is working...for instance in the last 2 weeks I have 20 hours of focused alternate picking work done

the stuff id like to play like Malmsteen and Gilbert style, it almost all comes down to alternate picking. its not so much a thing of "learning" a lick, like looking at tab etc, its more a matter of simply needing to develop way more picking horsepower

Exercises won't really tell you how well you're doing, because that's not what you're practicing for. You gauge your progress on how well you play, not how well you practice. You could practice kicking a football at a goal for hours on end and be brilliant at it, but that doesn't mean you could do it in a match when there's so many other variables in play. Playing the guitar is the same, techniques don't exist in isolation in the "real" world, you're always coming at things from different places and leaving in different directions. Nobody wants to hear you play through exercises, and judging your progress on how well you practice simply gives you a false idea of how well you're progressing. How well you can execute those techniques in a practical situation, in other words how well can you play music, that's what matters.

Too many guitarists seem to get wrapped up in numbers, grinding exercises over and over simply to be able to say "I can pick at xxx bpm", but it's meaningless if you can only do one thing at that tempo. Just because you can tear through one exercise doesn't automatically mean you'll be able to play anything at the same speed - muscle memory plays a massive part in being able to play something, and the simple fact is that every song is different. One of the biggest hurdles people struggle with when learning a new song is their fingers "wanting" to follow familiar patterns, that's something that can happen if you develop tunnel vision in your practicing instead of keeping things varied.
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#6
Listen to what Zaphod and Steven are saying. They're 2 of the best people you could take advice from here.

Quote by JohnProphet

the stuff id like to play like Malmsteen and Gilbert style, it almost all comes down to alternate picking. its not so much a thing of "learning" a lick, like looking at tab etc, its more a matter of simply needing to develop way more picking horsepower


Wanna play Malmsteen / Gilbert? Stop doing pointless exercises and play Malmsteen / Gilbert. If you're serious about practicing (if you play 10-12hours you clearly are) then learn their songs and learn it clean and a tempo you can handle. If you really practice that long every day then you're an idiot if you're taking any shortcuts. Play it at a speed you can manage and ONLY at a speed you can manage.
Last edited by vayne92 at Jul 28, 2014,
#7
wow, I never would have guessed there'd be such an anti-exercise vibe on a guitar forum. Pretty wack IMO.

I have to disagree about learning whole songs. The problem there is you learn, for instance, the solo that fits THAT song. Id rather just take the time to develop the ability to cleanly alternate pick whatever I want to as opposed to just throwing in the runs from, say, "Technical Difficulties." Also, Yngwies actual solos fit HIS Phrygian/Harmonic minor chord progressions. Im not going to be writing TOO many song with those super-classical progressions. I want to copy the dudes picking attack....not try to clone his whole style.

Another slight issue is that often the faster leads in stuff like Gilbert/Malmsteen/Vai/Satch etc have weird timing issues. I have a tab book with Yngwies "Deja Vu" and in the solo it has sextuplets and then it will have several groups of "fives" and then it will have a long run in "9/8." Thats just way too messy to try to learn and IMO there is no way Yngwie actually MEANT to play in 9/8 lol..obviously he just hit the lick near top speed and didnt exactly land on the downbeat on the beginning of the next bar.

Quote by vayne92
Stop doing pointless exercises and play Malmsteen / Gilbert.


Dude, ive been playing guitar for like 5 years longer than u have been alive...im pretty sure I can tell whats useless.

Thanks anyway, guys. If intense and focused exercise on alternate picking/string crossing is bad then I guess ill be bad lol. Ya'll might have missed the part where I said I also IMPROVISE...so I seriously doubt id ever sound like a non-musical exercise guy.

Right now my improvising and my practicing dont sound much alike and thats because im not strong enough with the alternate picking yet to throw it in effectively at will. Im just trying to figure out the best way to close that gap
#8
Quote by JohnProphet
wow, I never would have guessed there'd be such an anti-exercise vibe on a guitar forum. Pretty wack IMO.


I'm pro-exercise in very specific circumstances. What I am, if I have to be anything, is a player who has maintained for some years now that you should always default to playing actual music, before all else. If you have a really specific problem that you need to solve then an exercise might be what you need but you need to have a really specific problem and a laser-focused exercise to deal with it.

Quote by JohnProphet
I have to disagree about learning whole songs. The problem there is you learn, for instance, the solo that fits THAT song. Id rather just take the time to develop the ability to cleanly alternate pick whatever I want to as opposed to just throwing in the runs from, say, "Technical Difficulties." Also, Yngwies actual solos fit HIS Phrygian/Harmonic minor chord progressions. Im not going to be writing TOO many song with those super-classical progressions. I want to copy the dudes picking attack....not try to clone his whole style.


The thing is though, if you learn based on exercises... you end up with a bunch of exercise-sounding things that you can play. Again, if you break the solos down in to their component parts then you up with things you can practice the same way as you would an exercise but you don't end up only being able to play 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 and so on.

Judging by what you're saying you seem to understand the idea that you end up playing what you've practised but you don't seem to understand that exercises aren't some kind of magic bullet that will make you play better. It's really not as simple as "run this exercise now you can alternate pick everything", you still need to spend time learning the licks and fragments that get put together in to solos.

Therefore, I put it to you that there is no disadvantage to using either solos or parts of solos to improve your technique. Also once you've got a particular solo or lick down it becomes very easy to twist it to your own ends in certain ways, especially when you understand the theory of what's going on.

Quote by JohnProphet
Another slight issue is that often the faster leads in stuff like Gilbert/Malmsteen/Vai/Satch etc have weird timing issues. I have a tab book with Yngwies "Deja Vu" and in the solo it has sextuplets and then it will have several groups of "fives" and then it will have a long run in "9/8." Thats just way too messy to try to learn and IMO there is no way Yngwie actually MEANT to play in 9/8 lol..obviously he just hit the lick near top speed and didnt exactly land on the downbeat on the beginning of the next bar.


Doesn't mean you can't learn the lick anyway. True I said learn songs but really what I meant (and this is my fault that you didn't get this) was that you should always be learning music first. Songs, bits of solos, single riffs, single runs. Whatever, doesn't matter, as long as it's musical.


Quote by JohnProphet
Dude, ive been playing guitar for like 5 years longer than u have been alive...im pretty sure I can tell whats useless.


Doesn't mean much of anything. Anyone who's been to a pub jam night has met someone who's been playing for 50-odd years and is still terrible and clueless.

Quote by JohnProphet
Thanks anyway, guys. If intense and focused exercise on alternate picking/string crossing is bad then I guess ill be bad lol. Ya'll might have missed the part where I said I also IMPROVISE...so I seriously doubt id ever sound like a non-musical exercise guy.


Get your practice wrong and you certainly will.
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#9
wow. im sort of sorry I made this thread. Didnt realize it would just turn into some stupid bickering thing. I gotta agree about "Shallow and Pedantic."

Here are a few old examples of my playing. Some from like 97, some from maybe 2003ish. My vibrato and right hand are better now but I want that right hand picking to really start popping.

Im not TOO worried about my musicality or ability to improvise etc

http://members.toast.net/jusjoking/Demo_song_1.mp3

http://members.toast.net/jusjoking/Demo_song_2.mp3

http://members.toast.net/jusjoking/Okaneechee%20Springtime.mp3

improvised live blues intro. first time jamming with the other guys. http://members.toast.net/jusjoking/blues_intro.mp3

If you guys think I sound like a stiff, non-musical exercise guy then we all need hearing tests.
I guess now we will have to argue over the fact that these arent professionally mixed or that im not a drummer? lol


Seriously Zaphod, do your own playing skills match up to your willingness to prove points in pointless arguments on these forums??
#11
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#12
Quote by JohnProphet
wow, I never would have guessed there'd be such an anti-exercise vibe on a guitar forum. Pretty wack IMO.

I have to disagree about learning whole songs. The problem there is you learn, for instance, the solo that fits THAT song. Id rather just take the time to develop the ability to cleanly alternate pick whatever I want to as opposed to just throwing in the runs from, say, "Technical Difficulties." Also, Yngwies actual solos fit HIS Phrygian/Harmonic minor chord progressions. Im not going to be writing TOO many song with those super-classical progressions. I want to copy the dudes picking attack....not try to clone his whole style.

Another slight issue is that often the faster leads in stuff like Gilbert/Malmsteen/Vai/Satch etc have weird timing issues. I have a tab book with Yngwies "Deja Vu" and in the solo it has sextuplets and then it will have several groups of "fives" and then it will have a long run in "9/8." Thats just way too messy to try to learn and IMO there is no way Yngwie actually MEANT to play in 9/8 lol..obviously he just hit the lick near top speed and didnt exactly land on the downbeat on the beginning of the next bar.


Dude, ive been playing guitar for like 5 years longer than u have been alive...im pretty sure I can tell whats useless.

Thanks anyway, guys. If intense and focused exercise on alternate picking/string crossing is bad then I guess ill be bad lol. Ya'll might have missed the part where I said I also IMPROVISE...so I seriously doubt id ever sound like a non-musical exercise guy.

Right now my improvising and my practicing dont sound much alike and thats because im not strong enough with the alternate picking yet to throw it in effectively at will. Im just trying to figure out the best way to close that gap



Seems like you know what you're doing to me as long as you are not just doing exercises without any form of song practice. Improvisation is a good way to experiment with new musical ideas so I think you're on the right path with your practicing. Another thing with your practice quantity doesn't matter it's all about quality are you focused for that one minute of whatever exercise you're doing? Paying attention to every little detail of your movements?


If so then you're doing good in my practice schedule I have things I practice for 1 minute each others I'll practice for 2-3 minutes each. All in all it's just quality over quantity that's the most important thing when it comes to actually making progress with guitar playing, but I do think you're on the right track. Everyone practices in a different way if it works for you then you don't necessarily have to change it.

#13
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdKufLBkFso

Same thing applies to technique, not just theory. So, does your technique lead you to the sound you want? Or are you just doing exercises just because it's good? The reason the people here are against exercises isn't exactly because they're against exercises. But more so that you're doing exercises without musicality purposes and practicing with songs instead somewhat remedies that.

You should always start with a song, then when you encounter difficulty with a certain part or certain technique, you keep repeating that part and it kinda becomes your exercise. At least you know how or why you practicing it.

But hey, why listen to me, I've only been playing guitar for 5 years. But I'll leave you with this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkaqfgSqtHg
I hold the belief that it applies to all theories and techniques.
#14
Quote by JohnProphet
wow. im sort of sorry I made this thread. Didnt realize it would just turn into some stupid bickering thing. I gotta agree about "Shallow and Pedantic."

Here are a few old examples of my playing. Some from like 97, some from maybe 2003ish. My vibrato and right hand are better now but I want that right hand picking to really start popping.

Im not TOO worried about my musicality or ability to improvise etc

http://members.toast.net/jusjoking/Demo_song_1.mp3

http://members.toast.net/jusjoking/Demo_song_2.mp3

http://members.toast.net/jusjoking/Okaneechee%20Springtime.mp3

improvised live blues intro. first time jamming with the other guys. http://members.toast.net/jusjoking/blues_intro.mp3

If you guys think I sound like a stiff, non-musical exercise guy then we all need hearing tests.
I guess now we will have to argue over the fact that these arent professionally mixed or that im not a drummer? lol


Look man, you asked for help, I'm trying to help and I'm also trying to give you reasons why I'm right. You clearly disagree but I don't think your reasons are any good so I'm trying to convince you that there's a better way to practice.

I'm not doing this for myself, I'm just trying to help.

Quote by JohnProphet
Seriously Zaphod, do your own playing skills match up to your willingness to prove points in pointless arguments on these forums??


I don't worry about it, partially because my playing doesn't actually make that much difference when it comes to how good my advice is, but mainly because I don't have anything to prove to anyone else.

If you must criticise then at least do so with something more recent than the playing that was (yes, I just took it all down) on my UG profile. Those were all at least 5 years old.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

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Album.
Legion.
Last edited by Zaphod_Beeblebr at Jul 29, 2014,
#15
I didnt really ask for help, lol. I asked for a simple opinion between two ways of doing exercises. I didnt ask if exercises were any good lol. Everyone came into the thread assuming way too much. Like, I didnt even really say exactly what type of exercises or licks I was doing but everyone starts talking about nonmusical exercises. Where di any1 get that I was doing something non musical?

Define non-musical?? You mean like chromatic 1-2-3-4 type stuff? lol, im not even doing that though it is time honored and recommended by some top guitarists.

I just altogether disagree with the non-exercise vibe. I guess because this is a tab site every1 wants to show how many cover songs they can learn?

Oh my god, the fears of too many exercises. Dont pick that scale or u might suck...instead learn this weezer song.

I guess my personal experience is exactly the opposite. Ive seen hundreds of guys thru the years who simply never developed much technique because they DIDNT practice. They couldnt be bothered to do the boring chromatics, scales, trills etc. So they never really got that good

ive yet to see any1 who was blazing thru scales and areggios etc who regretted the effort it took to get there.

Dont watch this, from one of the greatest pickers ever
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_zUV2YyBik


The thing about "learning a song." Lets say I want to learn Paul Gilbert. Probably before I get out of the intro im faced with alternate picking speed that will seriously take months or years to work up to. Its not a matter of just looking at the tab. To play it you WILL spend serious time with a metronome. Its no different than going to a teacher for lesson. The teacher can show you an exercise or scale but then u will have to work at it for months to just get decent at it.

I got Paul Gilberts first instructional tape way back in like '94. First thing he showed was the basic triplet alternate picking where it was 3 notes on the b string then 1 note on the high e picked with an upstroke. No way around it, to pick fast u are going to spend time on that pattern lol.

But I didnt spend time with it. Luckily its never too late to learn. Im pretty confident that if I keep doing what I am doing, then in a few months I will simply be a better player.

You guys warn me of the "dangers" of exercises but Paul Gilbert and Vinnie Moore say to do them. Uhmm, okay
Last edited by JohnProphet at Jul 29, 2014,
#16
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Look man, you asked for help, I'm trying to help and I'm also trying to give you reasons why I'm right. You clearly disagree but I don't think your reasons are any good so I'm trying to convince you that there's a better way to practice.

I'm not doing this for myself, I'm just trying to help.


I don't worry about it, partially because my playing doesn't actually make that much difference when it comes to how good my advice is, but mainly because I don't have anything to prove to anyone else.

If you must criticise then at least do so with something more recent than the playing that was (yes, I just took it all down) on my UG profile. Those were all at least 5 years old.


I wasnt trying to put u down or say u suck, but when you are going to try to sound very authoritative then hopefully you have some way to back that up or you just end up sounding silly.

I can only judge your playing by what u have posted. I cant read your mind, you got newer examples? If I judge you by the advice and authority you try to convey, then id think you are a very technically skilled, highly musical guy. But if you arent, then how on Earth are you going to tell someone else how to become that?

its good to help people, just chill on the hardcore know it all vibe


Peace out people, didnt mean for a simple question to turn into Armageddon
#17
Quote by JohnProphet
I wasnt trying to put u down or say u suck, but when you are going to try to sound very authoritative then hopefully you have some way to back that up or you just end up sounding silly.

I can only judge your playing by what u have posted. I cant read your mind, you got newer examples? If I judge you by the advice and authority you try to convey, then id think you are a very technically skilled, highly musical guy. But if you arent, then how on Earth are you going to tell someone else how to become that?

its good to help people, just chill on the hardcore know it all vibe


Peace out people, didnt mean for a simple question to turn into Armageddon

You know...you should probably heed your own advice. All I can read here is people trying to be nice and helpful to you, offering suggestion and explaining why they think it works. You on the other hand simply authoritatively (to use your own words) shut down everyone's suggestion and pretty much belittle-ing them or showing them up.

Maybe that's not what you meant or maybe you're just misinterpreting them but that's what it looks like to most people reading this thread.
#18
Quote by Arron_Zacx
You know...you should probably heed your own advice. All I can read here is people trying to be nice and helpful to you, offering suggestion and explaining why they think it works. You on the other hand simply authoritatively (to use your own words) shut down everyone's suggestion and pretty much belittle-ing them or showing them up.

Maybe that's not what you meant or maybe you're just misinterpreting them but that's what it looks like to most people reading this thread.


wow, how do you know what every1 else thinks?


I simply asked about the difference between two ways of doing exercises and Im getting all this "exercises suck, learn songs" stuff and stuff about non musicality. It would be like me asking about how to hit a tennis forehand and someone is telling me to take up golf

As u say, I may be misinterpreting, but when people use the term "idiot" I guess I dont feel the love lol. Then all the assuming that I must suck or something because I asked a simple question.

Its just mindboggling. A simple question about exercises and im hearing a dissertation on what an audience wants to hear and peoples opinions on how people are hung up on metronome speed? huh?

I just dont get it but hey, live and learn.

Hey, you can help me out. Im obviously new to the forum. Who are the best shredders/musicians here who I can ask about stuff? That might help keep the peace
Last edited by JohnProphet at Jul 29, 2014,
#19
Quote by Black_devils
Seems like you know what you're doing to me as long as you are not just doing exercises without any form of song practice. Improvisation is a good way to experiment with new musical ideas so I think you're on the right path with your practicing. Another thing with your practice quantity doesn't matter it's all about quality are you focused for that one minute of whatever exercise you're doing? Paying attention to every little detail of your movements?


If so then you're doing good in my practice schedule I have things I practice for 1 minute each others I'll practice for 2-3 minutes each. All in all it's just quality over quantity that's the most important thing when it comes to actually making progress with guitar playing, but I do think you're on the right track. Everyone practices in a different way if it works for you then you don't necessarily have to change it.



wow, thanks for actually reading the question before answering. Yeah I was just wondering about the difference between doing a wider variety of exercises as opposed to laser focusing on a few specific ones. In my mind what I am doing now is sort of a wide variety but I think I need that technique base because frankly my overall alternate picking isnt that great

Im also writing stuff as I try to learn Reaper lol. Ive played and improvised for years but ive never been the disciplined exercise type. Im trying to add that now. Thats why Im sort of shocked to hear ANY anti exercise vibe. As an older guy with a lot of years of playing under my belt, id caution others to NOT do as I have done but to actually have at least SOME sort of dedicated practice regimen.

I WISH I would have done a ton of non-musical exercises starting years back lol. Id be way better now if I had. Its like a baseball or football player doing squats and bench presses. Is he going to do squats or benches on the field?? Nope, but they help his on-field play.

Am I really going to go in front of an audience and do 1-2-3-4 chromatics or break out my metronome?? Nope, but I will need the strength and coordination of that regimented practice routine

Pretty sure my question was just splitting hairs anyway
#20
Quote by JohnProphet
I didnt really ask for help, lol. I asked for a simple opinion between two ways of doing exercises. I didnt ask if exercises were any good lol. Everyone came into the thread assuming way too much. Like, I didnt even really say exactly what type of exercises or licks I was doing but everyone starts talking about nonmusical exercises. Where di any1 get that I was doing something non musical?

Define non-musical?? You mean like chromatic 1-2-3-4 type stuff? lol, im not even doing that though it is time honored and recommended by some top guitarists.

I just altogether disagree with the non-exercise vibe. I guess because this is a tab site every1 wants to show how many cover songs they can learn?

Oh my god, the fears of too many exercises. Dont pick that scale or u might suck...instead learn this weezer song.

I guess my personal experience is exactly the opposite. Ive seen hundreds of guys thru the years who simply never developed much technique because they DIDNT practice. They couldnt be bothered to do the boring chromatics, scales, trills etc. So they never really got that good

ive yet to see any1 who was blazing thru scales and areggios etc who regretted the effort it took to get there.

Dont watch this, from one of the greatest pickers ever
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_zUV2YyBik


The thing about "learning a song." Lets say I want to learn Paul Gilbert. Probably before I get out of the intro im faced with alternate picking speed that will seriously take months or years to work up to. Its not a matter of just looking at the tab. To play it you WILL spend serious time with a metronome. Its no different than going to a teacher for lesson. The teacher can show you an exercise or scale but then u will have to work at it for months to just get decent at it.

I got Paul Gilberts first instructional tape way back in like '94. First thing he showed was the basic triplet alternate picking where it was 3 notes on the b string then 1 note on the high e picked with an upstroke. No way around it, to pick fast u are going to spend time on that pattern lol.

But I didnt spend time with it. Luckily its never too late to learn. Im pretty confident that if I keep doing what I am doing, then in a few months I will simply be a better player.

You guys warn me of the "dangers" of exercises but Paul Gilbert and Vinnie Moore say to do them. Uhmm, okay


So one question for you:

Who said "don't practice"?

Quote by JohnProphet
I got Paul Gilberts first instructional tape way back in like '94. First thing he showed was the basic triplet alternate picking where it was 3 notes on the b string then 1 note on the high e picked with an upstroke. No way around it, to pick fast u are going to spend time on that pattern lol.


But the point is that that exercise... is actually a tiny fragment of his playing. And he doesn't spend any of his instructional time showing you anything that you can't use. All his instructional material is something that's usable in a musical context.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


Album.
Legion.
Last edited by Zaphod_Beeblebr at Jul 29, 2014,
#21
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
So one question for you:

Who said "don't practice"?


im gonna let it go bro, too much excitement for an old guy like me