#1
I'm stuck at 120ish bpms and have been for a few weeks (playing clean/comfortably/small movements,etc). Have done the start slow working way up (slowly) with good technique comfortably and relaxed, but not getting much faster (though feel more comfortable playing at higher speeds now)

Everything I read says go back find what doing wrong, correct and work way back up...which I've done (as best as I can tell anyway).

That said - how much time/effort should be put into playing at or close to max speed once have worked way back up? seems that playing comfortably at that speed would help with breaking past that barrier?

Also, I only have about 1 hour/day to practice...some days less. How much improvement can I realistically expect to see with that?

Thanks all...cheers!
#2
Just a question, what exactly are you trying to achieve?

If you're working on a part that needs to be played at a certain speed then what you're doing makes sense and you just need to keep doing the same things you've done to get to that point. Work on refining your movements and improving your accuracy so that you're being more economical with your movements and are executing things more efficiently - efficiency and control are thethings you need to improve to be able to play things quicker.

In terms of timeframes it takes as long as it takes, you can't start placing deadlines on yourself for something you have absolutely no control over. All that happens is you sacrifice quality and cut corners just so you can say you've done something in the time you wanted to. That means you don't actually achieve your goal, all you did was lower your expectations.

However if all you're doing is trying to play an exercise faster for the sake of being able to say "I can play at xxx bpm" then there's not a lot of point to it.

Your ability as a guitarist is not defined by the highest number you can quote, it's defined how well you can play music. If you bust a gut at the same exercise over and over just so you can play it at 160bpm you haven't really achieved anything useful.

Can you play anything you want at 120bpm? Because if you can't then that number is meaningless, what you need to be working on are skills that translate to playing and improve your all-round skill set.
#3
Thanks SG. I realize speed is just a part of playing guitar...I'm not only focused on that. That said - I'd really like to increase my speed.

Specifically, I'd like to be able to play fast runs similar to Joe Bonamassa whilst playing blues and rock improv. Another goal is to play the intro to Cliffs of Dover (again as specific examples, but also just want to improve overall ability)

And to answer your question - I can play scale runs and improv using certain scales fairly comfortably at 120. More complicated and string skipping type runs/licks not yet but not far behind
Last edited by Mole351 at Nov 1, 2014,
#5
Quote by Mole351
Thanks SG. I realize speed is just a part of playing guitar...I'm not only focused on that. That said - I'd really like to increase my speed.

Specifically, I'd like to be able to play fast runs similar to Joe Bonamassa whilst playing blues and rock improv. Another goal is to play the intro to Cliffs of Dover (again as specific examples, but also just want to improve overall ability)

And to answer your question - I can play scale runs and improv using certain scales fairly comfortably at 120. More complicated and string skipping type runs/licks not yet but not far behind


It is still not clear what you mean by "increasing" speed. And 120 bpm tells us nothing - 8th notes? 16th notes? 16th notes triplets?

Speed comes when you can play something accurately. It isn't an ability in itself. There's so much to the speed/accuracy thing that it will mess your head in trying to figure it out. Focus on learning all the licks you want to learn, and you will find that you can increase the speed as you go.
#6
if you want numbers, it has taken me about seven years to really become comfortable with playing anything remotely fast. i just got back from a month of vacation, and for the first time, i feel like my hands still know how to play what i was working on before. it is really only after this kind of security that i'd feel comfortable saying i am able to play something.

this is just another way of saying what everyone else here has been saying - take it easy, because consciously trying to rush things won't get you anywhere much faster.
#8
I am not really sure how long it took.

I guess some of the speed foundation where laid down from 1993 and forward to 2000. Then after 2005 to 2013 it lay low.

By now I am serious into Speed Mechanics by Troy Stetina and playing Yngwie Far Beyond the sun a lot and I can play it up the 160 bpm for first couple of minutes. Still got to learn the rest.

But things really changed when I took it serious as for practise and focus was never really done. So it was down to getting a metronome and combine Speed Mechanics with that Yngwie tune. Overall 5-7 months I would say changed my playing skills for the better like never before.

The basic rock'n'roll and bends, vibrato, metal riffs where there but never practised on its own to the max. In bands I was the lead guitarist and I mainly always improvised it to a point. It was more simple to do instead of learning a cover song not for note. Then again stick with the vibe of the original material. But for what I played it was flashy and fast enough.

My former Bass player mentioned I could use some practise. I did not really get it but I can now see where he was coming from. We where doing Hendrix as a trio. I knew what to play better than anyone else in that group.

But for anything stick with and practise with a metronome. Practise the right things like the basic legato and picking ex.

It took me a quite some time to start lead with an upstroke when it was a new thing to my playing but I stuck with it and it is now a habit that feels natural. That is the goal!



Playing guitar is nothing but habits and when it gets to your subconscious mind then you have reached the goal. It can't reject what gets there.

If you are stuck, relax and know that you are not there yet! It will take time but keep working on it on regular basis with a metronome. Know that it will come with practise and expect it.

You can play whatever you want it only takes practise and a little knowledge to know what works and how. To be the most effecient one doing it.

I just outlined it above.
#9
Forgot to ad one thing.

Your hands has to be in synch and the better that is the more you can play what you desire.

This means if picking is like 150 bpm on its own but the legato for lefthand is at 110 bpm then you got a problem. If legato is 150 bpm and picking 110 bpm it would still not be any good exept here your work is getting the picking up to speed and it will be a lot more simple to get the habit of it down as the legato is just as important as picking!
#10
Are you able to share what it is you are working on?

Sometimes it can be helpful to just slop it and play what you want at the speed you are aiming for. This can provide a shock to your system and it can tell your hands to MOVE IT! The students of mine that I've had try this have had success with it. Don't know if it will work for you, but it's worth a try.

Also, how are you increasing your metronome speed? What tempo are you starting at? I've noticed a lot of players start with a speed too fast and then increase the tempo too quickly.

If you could elaborate on what riff(s) you are practicing and how you are increasing your metronome speeds I believe I can help you better.
#11
The only good advice that I can possibly give you.. I think you need to be able to explain what exercise you're talking about. Your question could depend on an extensive number of things. For example what scale do you max out?


How long do you practice that certain exercise, and what not. If anything the only real advice I can offer you right now is not to play above your max speed. In the long run you're just hurting your technique by training your fingers to make mistakes. Playing faster than you can leads to playing sloppy, and inaccurate.
#12
Quote by milehighshred
Are you able to share what it is you are working on?

Sometimes it can be helpful to just slop it and play what you want at the speed you are aiming for. This can provide a shock to your system and it can tell your hands to MOVE IT! The students of mine that I've had try this have had success with it. Don't know if it will work for you, but it's worth a try.

Also, how are you increasing your metronome speed? What tempo are you starting at? I've noticed a lot of players start with a speed too fast and then increase the tempo too quickly.

If you could elaborate on what riff(s) you are practicing and how you are increasing your metronome speeds I believe I can help you better.


Thats what I did, i just played as fast as i could, it will make your hands go quicker, but its sloppy as hell, then later on i practiced my accuracy. I believed your hands are sync well now since you mentioned that your comfy at that speed? if that is the case its prob your hand strength or something else. how much tension is there when you play? do you hold the pick too tightly? or frett too hard?

another suggestion is to perhaps experiment on your posture and technique like how you hold the pick, i had to change how i hold my pick drastically in the first month i started alt picking, different angles different picks, different grips.
Your picking hand, the other fingers could either be closed tightly with a fist brings tension, didn't settle with that
Opened up stragith. was to wigly but is good for picking something over and over as the wigling helps with the motion but wasn't happy with is, was not flexible
then i tried the just loosed hand where there is no tension at it, it was great flexible, now the only problem was sweeping, couldn't mute properly i would have to use the open hand technique when sweeping to get cleaner
for the loosed hand technique you could also straighten your 3 fingers slightly out, this i think is the most flexible position, but for quick alt scale runs, loosed up and near closed is the best.
Your picks, try jazz 3 picks, you need a really thick pick that does not bend
#13
Wow - thanks all for the info/feedback!

Anders - I actually have the speed mechanic book set to arrive in a few days.

As to what I'm working on specifically - here is one of the licks/runs I'm trying to play/improve on

http://youtu.be/tkfR2_s2sO8

I am surprised at how quickly my playing falls off just a few bpms over my max comfortable/clean speed for certain licks. As far as working with the metronome - for licks I've been practicing, I start off probably 20 to 30 bpm's below speed and slowly work my way up in increments of 3 to 5. I Won't increase until I can play it repeatedly for a minute without messing up

The basis of my original question is how much time should I designate to playing at my top comfortable speed or pushing the limit cleanly with proper technique versus how much time playing slower trying to identify/correct mechanics?
Last edited by Mole351 at Nov 2, 2014,
#14
That depends on where you put the focus.

If it feels natural spending time on the weak spots would always benefit more.

Time is rather irrelevant when it comes to learning guitar as it is not the same for every single guitarist in the world. It all comes to understanding what it takes for you to improve the fastest and you have the time question answered

As for the video it looks like a variation on ex 50 -55 in Speed Mechanics. He does point out the legato which is an essential part of it. Though he does not lead with an upstroke which Troy teaches you in the mentioned ex.

Do not skip any ex in Speed Mechanics though. Each ex build on the next and the legato much feel natural before picking!
#15
Quote by Mole351
Wow - thanks all for the info/feedback!

Anders - I actually have the speed mechanic book set to arrive in a few days.

As to what I'm working on specifically - here is one of the licks/runs I'm trying to play/improve on

http://youtu.be/tkfR2_s2sO8

I am surprised at how quickly my playing falls off just a few bpms over my max comfortable/clean speed for certain licks. As far as working with the metronome - for licks I've been practicing, I start off probably 20 to 30 bpm's below speed and slowly work my way up in increments of 3 to 5. I Won't increase until I can play it repeatedly for a minute without messing up

The basis of my original question is how much time should I designate to playing at my top comfortable speed or pushing the limit cleanly with proper technique versus how much time playing slower trying to identify/correct mechanics?


20 to 30 bpm lower than what you're shooting for can not be enough. I have all my students start at about 60 bpm for nearly anything they start to work on. The slower you start the more you'll be playing the same riff and the more it will stick in your subconscious.

Because your goal is increasing speed I suggest not playing the same thing for a minute straight. That would be good for endurance work. Sure, sometimes endurance work will lead to speed, but perhaps it's time to try something different. As soon as you hit the riff you're practicing then bump up the metronome. Even if it's a 5 note riff. Instead of playing it for a minute straight, play the 5 notes correctly and then bump up the speed.

I've had plenty of people do what you do. After they started off far slower, and stopped repeating the same thing over and over and just played it once, their speed began increasing.

If you're interested, here's a video I did about how I approach using a metronome:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGPZ2fg6Oqs&list=UU4Kd9IMwOtss5XL-tzOnxCg
#16
Quote by milehighshred
20 to 30 bpm lower than what you're shooting for can not be enough. I have all my students start at about 60 bpm for nearly anything they start to work on. The slower you start the more you'll be playing the same riff and the more it will stick in your subconscious.

Because your goal is increasing speed I suggest not playing the same thing for a minute straight. That would be good for endurance work. Sure, sometimes endurance work will lead to speed, but perhaps it's time to try something different. As soon as you hit the riff you're practicing then bump up the metronome. Even if it's a 5 note riff. Instead of playing it for a minute straight, play the 5 notes correctly and then bump up the speed.

I've had plenty of people do what you do. After they started off far slower, and stopped repeating the same thing over and over and just played it once, their speed began increasing.

If you're interested, here's a video I did about how I approach using a metronome:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGPZ2fg6Oqs&list=UU4Kd9IMwOtss5XL-tzOnxCg


Thanks for the advice - I will check out the YouTube video now and maybe rethink my approach on the one minute each.

When I say 20-30 bpm slower I mean each practice session for a lick I've already done the slower "legwork" on. When first starting a new lick I'll start about 60 bpms lower than my "max" for that lick. Should I be doing that with each practice session?
#17
Quote by Mole351
When first starting a new lick I'll start about 60 bpms lower than my "max" for that lick. Should I be doing that with each practice session?


I think it's a good idea to start pretty slow with each practice session. This way you give your hands time to warm up thoroughly.

One guy I work with has been playing a lot of Children of Bodom material. We do a lot of metronome work together. We always start at about 60 bpm even if he got up to, let's say 180 bpm the day before. I've noticed that with him, others, and myself, that in the long run the practice session is better by starting off slow every time.

So yes, perhaps give starting off extra slow each session a try and see if that helps any. A lot of times it's helpful to just approach what you're practicing totally different to shake things up. It can be helpful in breaking a plateau to try something completely different than what you're used to.

Another thing to consider - I like to use a lot of weight lifting analogies in my lessons. Let's say you are performing a super heavy lift, like the deadlift, and your max is 300 lbs. It would be unwise to start with 260 lbs. as a warm up because that is very close to your max and you will definitely not be fully warmed up to hit a heavy load. I believe the same principle applies to playing fast. Just because you can hit, for example, 200 bpm on something doesn't mean you could always hit 160 bpm out of the gate. I'd say at most start with 50% of your max. That's how you warm up with weight training: 50% of what you are going to lift. This approach could give you a better and more thorough warm up.

Please let me know how it goes if you try any of these ideas
#18
ive been playing guitar for 4 years but only started alternate picking a few months ago. it takes years to develop speed. my right hand started doing tremolo picking 3 years ago so its is fairly quick and in that 3 years i can achieve 100bpm on 32nd notes. my left hand has always done legato stuf since the first few months i started playing and in that 4 years it is also quite quick, prob quicker than my rite. but you see after 4 years the thing i was missing was synchronization. that is the key to alternate picking really fast. both my hands were damn quick individually but when i started learning alternate picking i just cant play fast beacause either one will play faster than the other. so i played slowly and trained my sync. in just a few months i could shredd really quickly, noty sure of my top speed, but im very accurate as well, i dont like string noise or hitting extra notes, i want my playing very very clean, im a perfectionists, so when ever i try a new thing or pattern complex ones i play very slow then i play fast. everytime i miss a note i play the thing slowly again to avoid bad habbitys i recomend you do the same
#19
"Also, I only have about 1 hour/day to practice...some days less. How much improvement can I realistically expect to see with that?"


Not much, really.

I was working two jobs and playing music, and still made time for at least 4 hrs. practice every day.
Your guitar, should be the first thing you touch in the mornings, and the last thing you touch at night.

That's how you get good enough, to feel comfortable enough, to walk into a club, and take other guy's jobs away from them.

Sit-in, with as many bands as you can.

Sometimes, they would get rather irate.
#20
Quote by Metalmann67
"Also, I only have about 1 hour/day to practice...some days less. How much improvement can I realistically expect to see with that?"


Not much, really.

I was working two jobs and playing music, and still made time for at least 4 hrs. practice every day.
Your guitar, should be the first thing you touch in the mornings, and the last thing you touch at night.

That's how you get good enough, to feel comfortable enough, to walk into a club, and take other guy's jobs away from them.

Sit-in, with as many bands as you can.

Sometimes, they would get rather irate.


Can't - full time job with long hours and wife and small kids at home. Hard to find ANY time really...struggle to get the hour in. Will be that way for another few years until kids are a little older.

That said, have made more improvement in my playing over the last year than any one year period since started playing many years ago (except maybe the first year). Not saying much though as I used to just run thru a bunch of stuff I already knew and put it back down (and took about 10 years off for the most part from my mid 20's until last year). Kicking myself for not taking advantage of that single/ child free time - oh the improvements I could have made! But neither here nor there now...and I digress