Background information (if you want to skip to my main question go to the "Main Question" heading):

I've been playing the guitar for several years, but I have never bothered to fix the issues I have concerning the amount of mistakes I make while playing, tension in my picking arm and inability to play in time competently.

These three issues did not bother me very much over the years because I was mainly focused on creating and recording my own riffs and songs. Occasionally I would also learn songs from my favorite bands using tabs. Since I recorded all of my songs in parts and I always used the best take, the three aforementioned issues were not too much of a problem. However, over the last several months I have been really wanting to jam with other people and form a band.

I am tackling my three issues one by one. I made a thread asking about tension in my arm several weeks ago and received excellent feedback. I have been working on fixing the issue of tension since then and have made really good progress so I have no further questions regarding that.

Main Question:

Just for everyone's reference and context I try to write and play material influenced by old school Death metal/thrash metal (for example: Slayer Reign in Blood, Suffocation Effigy of the Forgotten, Terrorizer World Downfall, and Sodom Persecution Mania). I have attached two of my songs in Guitar Pro format for reference.

How do I reduce the amount of mistakes I make when I play songs? Do I need to be one of those guitar players who practice 8 hours everyday? Are there certain drills I need to practice to make my playing more perfect? Do I need to be in a relaxed and meditative state of mind while playing, especially when playing fast material?

As of now, I practice about 4 hours everyday on average. In terms of what I practice, in the past several weeks I have mostly just been practicing playing along to the tabs of my own songs. I play along to the tabs of my songs over and over again repeatedly, but unfortunately even on the best of tries I average 3-4 mistakes. Another frustrating angle to this issue is that there is not one single type of riff pattern that I make mistakes while playing. For example, if I were to play one of my songs three times in a row, I might make a mistake with a galloping riff in the intro of the song the first time; the second time I might make a mistake with playing a riff two many times; the third time my guitar pick might trip on the string while tremolo picking a riff... etc. Since I make so many different mistakes in so many different parts of my songs I can't pin down any particular thing that needs to fixed.

Sometimes my mind also wanders while playing a song. One moment, I'll be really intensely sucked into the experience of playing the song on my guitar along to the tab, and then inexplicably my concentration will be broken and I'll make a huge mistake. This usually happens when something random pops up in my head like a thought.

Do I need to practice fine tuning and perfecting the way my picking hand executes certain riffs? For example, do I need to do repetitive drills that fine tune and perfect the way I play galloping riffs, tremolo picked riffs, palm muted down picked riffs, alternate picked riffs....etc until I am able to play those types of riffs perfectly?

Does anyone have any advice on how I can make my playing close to mistake free?
Last edited by Commisaur at Jan 26, 2015,
The one thing, and you may not want to hear this, is that you have to play them at a slow enough speed where you can play them PERFECTLY.

If you practice it wrong, you'll just get better at playing it wrong. I learned this after years and years and years. Finally, I humbled myself and slowed the hell down.

It's just like weightlifting or any other activity involving muscle memory. If I do curls swinging my back and arms around because I can't handle the weight, my arms won't form correctly. You lighten the weight enough to where you can get perfect form, and only move up the weight (as in speed on guitar) when you master that speed.

Just use a metronome and go up 5BPM a week. There's software that can slow down whatever songs you're listening to to whatever speed you want. Play Reign in Blood at half speed and nail it...then bump it up to 60% speed a week or 2 later.

Before long, you'll be able to play them perfectly at the correct speed.

Nice songs, by the way.
Last edited by sweathog14 at Jan 31, 2015,