#1
Hello,

This is a question for the more experienced players here. How long did it take you guys to start shredding fast and clean to where you were proud of yourself and where you had gone with your guitar techniques? And how did you learn to shred fast? Did you practice scales 24/7? How long did you practice for daily? I'm really curious to get some answers. My biggest pet peeve is knowing that as a beginner it will take me a very long time to ever start shredding at the level of John Petrucci and other great players. I've been practicing scales, but it doesn't seem like it's getting me anywhere. I can play quarter notes up and down the fretboard at probably 150 bpm, but it's sloppy. I'm looking to get better where I can start playing 16ths at 200 bpm while playing clean, but I'd like to get an idea of how long that's going to take, what direction I should go when it comes to practicing techniques, and how many hours a day I need to dedicate myself in order to achieve it.
#2
I learned to "shred" well when I stopped trying so hard. My first few years all I cared about was being fast, and I don't believe my playing became any good until I stopped caring about such trivial things. I had absolutely no concept of phrasing when I was focusing so hard on being fast. This made my playing have absolutely no substance or element of individuality to it.

That being said..
The most efficient way to achieve speed is to start hanging out with this guy called Metronome. Metronome will be your new best friend. Get to know Metronome really well. He'll always be there for you when you need him. Metronome may be a bit boring and a bit repetitive, but he's there to help you. He's not your enemy after all, he just wants what's best for you.

How long this takes I can't answer at all. I couldn't even give an estimate. Might take a year or two, might take ten. I have no idea. Your idea of "shredding perfectly" is likely VERY different to mine. All that matters is that you take the best road to achieve your goal, and that road is disciplined practice with a metronome.
You say you like John Petrucci - well I assure you he has a VERY disciplined practice routine. If you've ever seen his Rock Discipline dvd then it's only testament to how focused and disciplined his practice routine was.

Honestly though, try to not worry about it so much. You'll only serve to frustrate yourself and pretty much every other element of playing the guitar is more important.
#3
Quote by vayne92
I learned to "shred" well when I stopped trying so hard. My first few years all I cared about was being fast, and I don't believe my playing became any good until I stopped caring about such trivial things. I had absolutely no concept of phrasing when I was focusing so hard on being fast. This made my playing have absolutely no substance or element of individuality to it.

That being said..
The most efficient way to achieve speed is to start hanging out with this guy called Metronome. Metronome will be your new best friend. Get to know Metronome really well. He'll always be there for you when you need him. Metronome may be a bit boring and a bit repetitive, but he's there to help you. He's not your enemy after all, he just wants what's best for you.

How long this takes I can't answer at all. I couldn't even give an estimate. Might take a year or two, might take ten. I have no idea. Your idea of "shredding perfectly" is likely VERY different to mine. All that matters is that you take the best road to achieve your goal, and that road is disciplined practice with a metronome.
You say you like John Petrucci - well I assure you he has a VERY disciplined practice routine. If you've ever seen his Rock Discipline dvd then it's only testament to how focused and disciplined his practice routine was.

Honestly though, try to not worry about it so much. You'll only serve to frustrate yourself and pretty much every other element of playing the guitar is more important.


So do I just slowly bump the tempo up every couple of days? Is that how people achieve speed? And yes, there are more important techniques, but speed would be nice. Either way, I'd rather be a Dimebag than that shit Yngwie Malmsteen.
#4
Quote by vayne92
You say you like John Petrucci - well I assure you he has a VERY disciplined practice routine. If you've ever seen his Rock Discipline dvd then it's only testament to how focused and disciplined his practice routine was.


And still is. I went to one of John Petrucci's Majesty clinics at a guitar center last year before a DT show, and during the Q&A session, someone asked the obligatory "how'd you get so good?" question. He answered, "countless hours of practice, every single day, for over thirty years now. There's no secret or trick." He also said to learn theory, and how to apply it. And, "to be a great lead player, you have to be a great rhythm player first." That one made a lot of sense to me, and I've definitely written more riffs and played more rhythm since then, not playing a lot of leads when I'm just jamming. I think it's helped. When I do play leads, they're more rhythmically consistent now, which makes them sound cleaner and more powerful, while also allowing higher speed.
Guitars
Schecter Hellraiser C-1FR, C-1 Classic, Hellraiser Hybrid Solo-II, Special Edition E-1FR-S
Orange Rockerverb 50 212
Basses
Yamaha RBX374 and Washburn MB-6
Last edited by the_bi99man at Jun 14, 2015,
#5
Quote by Granata
So do I just slowly bump the tempo up every couple of days? Is that how people achieve speed?


There is no set in stone way to do this. You're way too focused on making sure you're doing things right according to some convention, and not focused enough on just playing.

Take it at whatever pace you need to take it. Put your tempo at something that's comfortable, where you can play cleanly with little effort. From there, turn it up just a bit, and play with that until you can play cleanly with little effort. Repeat. For the rest of your life.

Also, my advice, if you really want to make improvements in lead playing, learn cool solos. You should be constantly expanding your knowledge on how to write/improvise your own leads and solos, but you should also learn solos by bands/guitarists who you like. But, like gaining speed with the metronome, don't rush it. Pick a solo you like, that's not way out of your league, speed and technicality-wise. Learn it, and play it until you can not only play it cleanly and correctly, but you can really get into it, play it without thinking about it, throw in an extra lick or bend here or there, or change the tempo and phrasing to make it your own. That's how you really develop a feel for not just playing leads, but playing like a lead guitarist. At least that's what I've been doing, and I think it's working well.
Guitars
Schecter Hellraiser C-1FR, C-1 Classic, Hellraiser Hybrid Solo-II, Special Edition E-1FR-S
Orange Rockerverb 50 212
Basses
Yamaha RBX374 and Washburn MB-6
#6
Quote by the_bi99man
There is no set in stone way to do this. You're way too focused on making sure you're doing things right according to some convention, and not focused enough on just playing.

Take it at whatever pace you need to take it. Put your tempo at something that's comfortable, where you can play cleanly with little effort. From there, turn it up just a bit, and play with that until you can play cleanly with little effort. Repeat. For the rest of your life.

Also, my advice, if you really want to make improvements in lead playing, learn cool solos. You should be constantly expanding your knowledge on how to write/improvise your own leads and solos, but you should also learn solos by bands/guitarists who you like. But, like gaining speed with the metronome, don't rush it. Pick a solo you like, that's not way out of your league, speed and technicality-wise. Learn it, and play it until you can not only play it cleanly and correctly, but you can really get into it, play it without thinking about it, throw in an extra lick or bend here or there, or change the tempo and phrasing to make it your own. That's how you really develop a feel for not just playing leads, but playing like a lead guitarist. At least that's what I've been doing, and I think it's working well.


Agreed, especially about just learning solos. Practicing scales to a metronome is pointless. All it helps you do is play scales faster. Solo's aren't just a scale going up / down. Is John Petrucci's solo in The Count of Tuscany just a scale being played up and down? I don't think so..
Learn REAL music to a metronome. Scales are not music, they're the building blocks to understand and create music.

It's also important to recognize the difference between a challenge and the impossible. Challenges are great, but learning the impossible will only be frustrate you and from my experiences and others it only creates bad habits out of this frustration.

Some music you just can't play no matter how much you practice. You're simply not ready for it. Learning The Glass Prison beginning solo for instance.. That will be impossible for you. You're simply nowhere near ready to learn that, I don't care how much you practice it to a metronome. You will never play it at full tempo any time soon. For now that is impossible, but in a couple years maybe that impossible will become a challenge.
Last edited by vayne92 at Jun 14, 2015,
#7
Quote by the_bi99man
There is no set in stone way to do this. You're way too focused on making sure you're doing things right according to some convention, and not focused enough on just playing.

Take it at whatever pace you need to take it. Put your tempo at something that's comfortable, where you can play cleanly with little effort. From there, turn it up just a bit, and play with that until you can play cleanly with little effort. Repeat. For the rest of your life.

Also, my advice, if you really want to make improvements in lead playing, learn cool solos. You should be constantly expanding your knowledge on how to write/improvise your own leads and solos, but you should also learn solos by bands/guitarists who you like. But, like gaining speed with the metronome, don't rush it. Pick a solo you like, that's not way out of your league, speed and technicality-wise. Learn it, and play it until you can not only play it cleanly and correctly, but you can really get into it, play it without thinking about it, throw in an extra lick or bend here or there, or change the tempo and phrasing to make it your own. That's how you really develop a feel for not just playing leads, but playing like a lead guitarist. At least that's what I've been doing, and I think it's working well.


And what about your fretting hand placement? I was taught to bring your wrist down and curl your fingers without touching the neck at all, but I feel that for shredding fast that's impossible to do. I feel like you'd have to grip the guitar. Am I right or wrong? Hand placement really confuses me. I don't know when I'm supposed to curl your fingers like you're holding a baseball, when you're allowed to grip the neck, etc.
#8
This is a pointless question. "Shred" is a meaningless term that means multiple things to different people. There's also literally no worth in asking about other people's experiences when it comes to how long things took. Every guitarist is different, and everybody learns different things at different times in different ways. What other people have or haven't done as absolutely zero influence on your own progression so there's no point worrying about it -- focus your attention and effort on things that actually matter.


There's also the issue of things like discipline and even perception, some players will think they're shit hot when in reality they're just shit, conversely some of the best players you see are extremely self-critical and will always beat themselves up for not being good enough. Obviously too much self-criticism can be counter-productive but you a healthy dose of realism is a vital part of ensuring you make progress. You have to be able to recognise a job well-done and give yourself appropriate credit, but accepting something as "good enough" when it really isn't is the downfall of many a guitarist.

More to the point, nobody with any experience will ever claim to be able to do anything perfectly - there's always room for improvement and always more to learn.

Speed is NOT a technique, you can't practice "speed" - it's an abstract concept. Speed is simply an effect of your techinque. The causes are factors like accuracy, economy of motion, fretboard familiarity, synchronisation of both hands, timing, pitch recognition, even simple things like familiarity with the piece you're trying to play - those are all things you CAN practice and work on tangibly, and the better you are at those things the faster you'll be able to play as a result.
Actually called Mark!

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#9
You ask any of the big names today they'll say they still work on things and still have trouble with certain licks or solos. They just practice daily and warm up before gigs and are always learning new things and pushing their limits.

I spent a lot of my younger years grinding on the metronome my advice is go learn some music and enjoy playing more. Set your own goals, it'll help keep track of your progress.
On playing the Paul Gilbert signature at the guitar store extensively, my missus sighed:
"Put it down now, It's like you love that guitar more than me!"
In Which I replied.
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#10
Quote by steven seagull
This is a pointless question. "Shred" is a meaningless term that means multiple things to different people. There's also literally no worth in asking about other people's experiences when it comes to how long things took. Every guitarist is different, and everybody learns different things at different times in different ways. What other people have or haven't done as absolutely zero influence on your own progression so there's no point worrying about it -- focus your attention and effort on things that actually matter.


There's also the issue of things like discipline and even perception, some players will think they're shit hot when in reality they're just shit, conversely some of the best players you see are extremely self-critical and will always beat themselves up for not being good enough. Obviously too much self-criticism can be counter-productive but you a healthy dose of realism is a vital part of ensuring you make progress. You have to be able to recognise a job well-done and give yourself appropriate credit, but accepting something as "good enough" when it really isn't is the downfall of many a guitarist.

More to the point, nobody with any experience will ever claim to be able to do anything perfectly - there's always room for improvement and always more to learn.

Speed is NOT a technique, you can't practice "speed" - it's an abstract concept. Speed is simply an effect of your techinque. The causes are factors like accuracy, economy of motion, fretboard familiarity, synchronisation of both hands, timing, pitch recognition, even simple things like familiarity with the piece you're trying to play - those are all things you CAN practice and work on tangibly, and the better you are at those things the faster you'll be able to play as a result.


little harsh but pretty on the money. i'll have to say that speed amy be construed as a technique but that is debatable. you never get to the point where anything is perfect. at best you just make far fewer mistakes or are better able to cover your mistakes.

i started playing in the late 70s so of course lived through the "shred" years of the 80s. even now after 35+ years of playing i have never been able to "shred" even close to perfectly or even all that good. i pretty much found that my playing forte wasn't in the that area and i wasted way to much time trying to force it. sure i can burn off a speedy run when i need to but playing something that has some melody is way more important than just speed.
#11
There's no point in obsessing over speed just know that the more work you put in the closer you'll get to your goals. If anything you don't want to be that guy that can play scales extremely fast, but can't keep in time.. Once you have speed you kinda realize that it's just another tool in the tool box.


Sure it's nice to have, but it certainly isn't everything. IMO I think the most important thing a musician should have is versatility, and musical knowledge basically just knowing how to play many styles well because that's what's going to get you the gigs. No one really cares about how fast you can play it's more of only a thing that you care about. At first people might be impressed with your speed, but if that's all you specialize in then it's all flash, and no substance.


In addition building speed isn't something that happens over night even if you're focused on building it. You really have to focus on being accurate for example you're saying that you can do quarter notes at 150 BPM with whatever set of scales you're practicing, but it's sloppy. Instead of focusing on how fast you are, focus on how accurate you are because that is what's really going to help you build speed by being extremely accurate. You should make sure that every movement you're doing is minimal, and tight. Make sure that if you're picking from your wrist that it's small precise movements.


Make sure when you're angling the pick that it's a really small pivot coming from the wrist. You really don't want your wrist, and pick flailing all over the place you need all your movements to be precise, and minimal. So that's what you should really focus on doing if you want speed. If you focus on building the correct technique, and correct ways of practicing then you'll progress in what you want quite fast.

You should be very critical on what you're doing, and really examine how you're doing things. Question everything you do even if you think it might be right. Is your fretting hand also making minimal movements or are you fingers flying off the frets when you move them? Those are questions you should be asking yourself. In addition you should also know that doing the advance things is just doing the basics really well. In order to get speed you need to really have a mastery over the basics.
Last edited by Black_devils at Jun 14, 2015,
#12
I think you can practise speed (there are plenty of exercises you can do which will improve your finger independence, accuracy , specific techniques which are often used in speedy/shreddy playing (string skipping, sweeping, etc. etc. ) and, er, speed e.g. in troy stetina's speed mechanics for lead guitar book) but other than that I agree with steven seagull. good post (apart from the bit I disagreed with ).
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
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Last edited by Dave_Mc at Jun 14, 2015,
#13
Quote by Granata
Am I right or wrong? Hand placement really confuses me. I don't know when I'm supposed to curl your fingers like you're holding a baseball, when you're allowed to grip the neck, etc.


Again, you're getting too hung up on whether or not you're "doing it right", according to a consensus that doesn't exist. Stop worrying about it. If you feel like you can't get any faster with your hand placement the way it is, try something else. If you want some guidance, watch a good guitarist play, and mimic that. There is no rule book. You're "allowed to grip the neck" whenever the hell you feel like it. You're making music, not solving a mathematical equation (although those things actually have more in common than many realize). There is no right answer, and no right way to get to your answer, either. Stop worrying and over-analyzing. Just play the guitar.
Guitars
Schecter Hellraiser C-1FR, C-1 Classic, Hellraiser Hybrid Solo-II, Special Edition E-1FR-S
Orange Rockerverb 50 212
Basses
Yamaha RBX374 and Washburn MB-6
Last edited by the_bi99man at Jun 14, 2015,
#14
How long did it take until i could shred? I am going to be honest with you, i don't remember, because by the time i could speed was no longer something i cared about or focused on. I truly believe speed is something that develops when you forget about it, and rather focus on playing everything as well as possible. Speed can be nurtured by practicing at a tempo were you can actually play what it is you are practicing, and my focusing on the weaknesses in your playing, but other than that it is a thing that needs to grow on its own.

That might be a boring answer for you to hear, but that is what i've seen with years of study. When i went into college for music the last thing anybody was thinking about was how fast someone else could play, the focus was on what they could do with their playing.

Just learn music you like. If it is too fast for you to play at the original tempo practice it slower and get all the good habits of playing that thing into your body, then move on to something else and come back to it later. I know some people might say sit with a metronome for 4-8 weeks and bump up the tempo so you can play it at full tempo (and i will say there is some merit to that), but i can learn 5-10 new tunes/learn new vocabulary/learn new concepts in that time rather than sit and bump up the metronome 1bpm at a time. If you play a lot and work on things that you can't do yet, you will improve, and the speed will improve with you. Just don't let that be your main focus. You are a musician and a guitarist, you are not competing in doing something faster than anyone else.
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#15
Quote by Dave_Mc
I think you can practise speed (there are plenty of exercises you can do which will improve your finger independence, accuracy , specific techniques which are often used in speedy/shreddy playing (string skipping, sweeping, etc. etc. ) and, er, speed e.g. in troy stetina's speed mechanics for lead guitar book) but other than that I agree with steven seagull. good post (apart from the bit I disagreed with ).

Dude you're totally agreeing with me!

You can work on things that will improve your speed, but speed is ultimately the outcome of lots of other factors that need working on. Once you understand that you can start to make progress, but if you're just trying to go faster it'll never happen because you need to be aware of the things that determine how fast you can play - you can't really make yourself "play faster".
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#16
The problem that I have with focusing on speed and specific licks is that you can start focusing on this library of shreds, licks and tricks that end up stifling your creative instincts. Instead of playing from your heart you end up playing notes that will lead you to the spot where you can insert another specific lick or trick whether it actually adds something musically or emotionally to the song or not (mostly not). Playing fast can be impressive to other players (I'm impressed) but only if it is appropriate to the song. Personally I'd rather hear two notes in one measure from Carlos Santana than 16 notes in the same measure from Yngwie Malmsteen. That's just my taste.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jun 15, 2015,
#17
Quote by steven seagull
Dude you're totally agreeing with me!

You can work on things that will improve your speed, but speed is ultimately the outcome of lots of other factors that need working on. Once you understand that you can start to make progress, but if you're just trying to go faster it'll never happen because you need to be aware of the things that determine how fast you can play - you can't really make yourself "play faster".


ah right

see to me those things are "practising speed"

I see what you mean- I reckon (since it fooled me ) it might be worth spelling that out whenever saying that, in case other people get the wrong end of the stick like I did. I've certainly seen people posting stuff like "you can't practise speed", and I've always thought, "I disagree, of course you can!", when in actual fact all we were (probably) disagreeing on were the semantics.
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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.

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Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Jun 19, 2015,
#18
Quote by Rickholly74
The problem that I have with focusing on speed and specific licks is that you can start focusing on this library of shreds, licks and tricks that end up stifling your creative instincts. Instead of playing from your heart you end up playing notes that will lead you to the spot where you can insert another specific lick or trick whether it actually adds something musically or emotionally to the song or not (mostly not). Playing fast can be impressive to other players (I'm impressed) but only if it is appropriate to the song. Personally I'd rather hear two notes in one measure from Carlos Santana than 16 notes in the same measure from Yngwie Malmsteen. That's just my taste.


agree for the most part. i was that guy in the 80s always trying to play faster and just practicing scales and steve vai licks. in the end i learned nothing except that i wasn't cut out to be a shredder. sure i can burn off a lick but i prefer to play from the heart so to speak over just a bunch of fast stuff. carlos is great but i love yngwie. both playfrom the heart just in different ways. personally i think yngwie is a good exampe of a shred guy that does "play from the heart". the guy lives his music and it has a feel all it's own which can be just as appealing as the guy (like carlos) that hits that perfect note at teh perfect time).
Last edited by monwobobbo at Jun 19, 2015,
#19
I agree with you and I do enjoy a lot of Yngwie's playing and you are correct it's not thoughtless shredding. I should have picked a better example. Thanks.
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#20
Quote by Rickholly74
I agree with you and I do enjoy a lot of Yngwie's playing and you are correct it's not thoughtless shredding. I should have picked a better example. Thanks.


no problem, i wasn't calling you out at all. many prefer someone like carlos to any shred guy and i can respect that. a lot of guys just can't seem to understand where the soul of the fast player is which is a shame. now i totally get that a fair amount of shred is just mindless wanking but you can't dismiss all of it as such. you can find just as much minless blues bending.
#21
These replies are great, but since you're probably going to want an actual answer:

If you practice properly, focus on everything said above and shit you'll probably be able to play some easier shred in a few years. This might sound discouraging but I don't think you realise how good being able to pick 200 16ths (for example) actually is. Most people who think they can pick at 200bpm are very sloppy and miss notes. Remember this is a very rough estimate, it completely depends on how much/well you practice and some other things that are pretty much out of your control (how fast your brain/muscle memory coordinate etc).

But yeah you need to focus on making your playing more relaxed more than anything - removing tension and making sure your economy of motion is good is basically how you get faster. Trying to force yourself to go faster never really works. If you focus on making yourself SOUND better and making your playing EASIER while sounding this good, you will (as a by product of this practice) be able to play well at a faster speed than before.

You don't necessarily need to practice technique all day by the way, a good hour or two is enough technique practice unless you are seriously dedicated (doing 6 hours a day for a few weeks and then burning out and quitting is way worse than doing an hour a day for a year).
Last edited by Anon17 at Jun 20, 2015,
#22
Quote by monwobobbo
no problem, i wasn't calling you out at all. many prefer someone like carlos to any shred guy and i can respect that. a lot of guys just can't seem to understand where the soul of the fast player is which is a shame. now i totally get that a fair amount of shred is just mindless wanking but you can't dismiss all of it as such. you can find just as much minless blues bending.


agreed. if you think all fast playing is bad you're just as prejudiced as the people who only listen to shred.
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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?
#23
How long did it take me???

Well I played for more than 20 years at first getting my skills to where I wanted them but the fast Gilbert/Yngwie/Shred fast really did not take long though my interest is not play a certain style and that is that. Nope I want to play whatever I decide to play and what comes out as usually I just play.

But back around 1993 I got the Speed Mechanics (Holy grail of shred books) book by Troy Stetina and it was not before 2014 I really sat down with a metronome and got the legato licks down cold ex 1-24. Then into picking and I am at lead with up and down stroke currently which sits pretty well too.

However just SM ex are not very musical so I added a song by Yngwie I always liked and man I play that every day or the parts I learned every day.

But the main reason for it all was the understanding the learning process which is rather interesting.

Divide your mind into conscious and subconscious parts. The conscious part is open to all ideas and inputs from life. It also rejects what you don't want.

The subconscious part is where all your guitar skills and other habits are. It can't reject the habits good or bad.

So the more you repeat a thing the more it goes into the subconscious part as a habit and doing it with a metronome makes it happen fast.

How long it will take you I don't know but now you got some tips to follow and study. Shred on!!

I also play drums and recently I have been taking up some new things to learn and that is the basics called rudiments but alsdo developing both my feets. I got a big Tama double bass kit so getting into playing it more on time and stable is the ting currently on my mind and learn.

So I started with 60 bpm on the metronome and just single stroke RLRLRLRLRL aka right left, right left etc. Doing this with hands then both feet and finally together. I am currently at 120 bpm and it now sits pretty well in my playing. Also the Metallica song Blackened which is pretty fast comes slowly along.

On to the first of 4 paradiddles RLRR, LRLL etc. aka right, left ,right, right and left, right, left ,left

With some time 10 minutes every day at 60 bpm to get it as natural as I like it has taken nearly a week due to my left foot being a bit weak and new to that form of playing. Today it sounds ready to up the bpm by 5 and see how it goes.
Last edited by anders.jorgense at Jun 22, 2015,