#1
Ok, I decided to try some suggestions. One that I've come across commonly are "speed bursts". I've known for years it was easier to do a "gallop" (8th followed by 2 16ths) faster and longer than straight 16ths. It's like the little rest your hand gets by not picking the 2nd 16th makes it so much easier (this is how Nuno Bettencourt's Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee achieves such speeds).

Because of this I though it would be a no-brainer. So I did 4 16ths followed by a quarter (staccato) and then 4 more 16ths followed by a quarter, then 3 beats of 16ths followed by a quarter, like so:

1 e & a 2 . . .
3 e & a 4 . . .
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 . . .

I did the RH alone just to see how fast I could pick. I could get up to 180 or more. In most cases, the first 2 groups of 5 notes are fine but it may fall apart on the longer set at faster tempi.

So I made up a little pattern to play. Here it is:

E -----------5-7------7-5------------------5-7-8-7-5-------------------
B ----5-7-8---------------8-7-5----5-7-8-------------8-7-5----5---------
G -----------------------------------------------------------------8----------

I can play the first two groups of five notes at 210. 180 to 200 is actually playable!

But the last set - the longer set - I can do it as well as the other stuff at about 140.

So there's a problem. It's the last 2 or 3 notes. Specifically it's getting to the 3rd string and back. It's inside picking.

So, it's obvious to me that this one problem is keeping the entire lick from sounding good. But it's also pretty clear that I could play this whole thing at 180, or 200, or maybe even 210 - if I can fix this problem and fix the 2nd half (the longer stretch of 13 notes).

So, how do I fix this particular problem?

This:

B ----5----5-----
G ------7-----------

(like 2 16ths and an 8th over and over at a slow tempo)

or this:

B -8-7-5----5------
G --------8

(as 4 16ths and a quarter)

or should I just do the entire 2nd half (since that whole thing is slower as well)

????????

I also tried changing the end of the lick. There's only one way I can do it comfortably at the same speed as the rest.

E -----------5-7------7-5------------------5-7-8-7-5-------------------
B ----5-7-8---------------8-7-5----5-7-8-------------8-7-5-7-8---------
G ------------------------------------------------------------------------

This I can't do (part in red seems to be the problem):

E -----------5-7------7-5------------------5-7-8-7-8-7-5-----------------
B ----5-7-8---------------8-7-5----5-7-8------------------8-7-5---------
G ---------------------------------------------------------------------------


or this (red problem area):

E -----------5-7------7-5------------------5-7-8-7-5-------------------
B ----5-7-8---------------8-7-5----5-7-8-------------8-7-5-7-5---------
G ------------------------------------------------------------------------

So I want to try a few different things to "fix" these problem spots.

What would you do to fix each of the problem areas. Of course, slow it down until you can execute it accurately, then bring it up to speed, but more specifically, how much of the problem area should I practice? 3 or 4 notes, 8 or 9 notes, the 2nd half, etc. etc.???

I'm going to experiment with them and see what I can come up with and if I can improve them over the course of a day or two. What I'm trying to figure out is if it's any better to work on a problem in isolation, or within the context of the lick. On one hand, in isolation seems good because it would also fix that issue in any other licks in which it occurs. But within the context of the lick might make the whole thing flow better...

Play along if you like - advice readily accepted!

Steve
Last edited by levets at Jun 24, 2015,
#2
Quote by levets
Ok, I decided to try some suggestions. One that I've come across commonly are "speed bursts". I've known for years it was easier to do a "gallop" (8th followed by 2 16ths) faster and longer than straight 16ths. It's like the little rest your hand gets by not picking the 2nd 16th makes it so much easier (this is how Nuno Bettencourt's Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee achieves such speeds).



The Wounded Bumblebee is just straight 8th notes, the delay doubles it to 16th.
#3
Just being able to play one thing really fast doesn't mean you can "play fast".

Your ability, and indeed usefulness, as a guitarist isn't defined by the fastest or most difficult thing you can do - extremes are pretty meaningless. It's all the stuff in between those extremes that matters. Expending too much time on a single exercise for the sake of being able to say "I can play xxxxxx at xxx bpm" isn't a particularly effective use of your practice time and isn't really going to help much in the grand scheme of "getting good".

The best thing you can do is avoid tunnel vision and cast your net wide and far when it comes to learning, everything new you learn makes you a better player and there is nothing in your current set of skills that you couldn't be doing better - there's always room for improvement. You don't have to constantly tackle "harder things" to improve, a lot of the time you'll find some of the most significant gains occur simply as a result of working on the things you think you can already do - it can be surprising how much you can learn from simply going back over things.
Actually called Mark!

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#4
Quote by steven seagull
Just being able to play one thing really fast doesn't mean you can "play fast".

Your ability, and indeed usefulness, as a guitarist isn't defined by the fastest or most difficult thing you can do - extremes are pretty meaningless. It's all the stuff in between those extremes that matters. Expending too much time on a single exercise for the sake of being able to say "I can play xxxxxx at xxx bpm" isn't a particularly effective use of your practice time and isn't really going to help much in the grand scheme of "getting good".

The best thing you can do is avoid tunnel vision and cast your net wide and far when it comes to learning, everything new you learn makes you a better player and there is nothing in your current set of skills that you couldn't be doing better - there's always room for improvement. You don't have to constantly tackle "harder things" to improve, a lot of the time you'll find some of the most significant gains occur simply as a result of working on the things you think you can already do - it can be surprising how much you can learn from simply going back over things.


amen. i tried all this crap when i was younger (back in the early to late 80s) and it only got me so far. being a well rounded guitar player is much more satisfying.

blazing speed just seems to be a youth thing and while it has its purposes isn't the be all end all. promise you that playing a complex solo at 300 bpm won't get you laid anywhere near as fast as being able to ply the chords for G&R's Patience.
#5
Quote by steven seagull
Expending too much time on a single exercise for the sake of being able to say "I can play xxxxxx at xxx bpm" isn't a particularly effective use of your practice time and isn't really going to help much in the grand scheme of "getting good".



Hi Steven Seagull.

FWIW, I've been playing guitar over 30 years and would consider myself fairly accomplished in the grand scheme of things. I'm no virtuoso, but I'm no slouch either. And I totally agree that there's always room for improvement in every aspect of our playing. I feel like I've accomplished some fairly significant aspects of music - I have a master's degree in music composition, I play regularly in bands, the current one being a classic prog rock band, so I can play in asymmetrical meters, play some fairly complex (if not technical) leads, and I have solid rhythm skills. I also studied Classical Guitar through college and continue to play daily, and can read, dabble in jazz, compose, write songs, record, etc. etc. etc. My ear is pretty good and my experience is broad and I've subbed for bands playing material with which I was familiar on less than a week's notice and held down the guitar parts not only well enough to get through the gig but sometimes better than the guitarist I'm subbing for.

I'm not trying to pat myself on the back, but what I'm trying to say is that I've accomplished a lot of musical goals in my life that have been of great practical value to me in the musical activities in which I'm involved.

But I'm getting to the age where I'd like to accomplish some of the things I've always wanted to do, but neither had the time, patience, or will power to do. Some of what I've already set out to do I've done - learning to play solos from songs I've always loved but never bothered to learn for example.

So I'm looking at a couple of other things, one being more technical playing. Though again, there's always room for improvement, I think I have a pretty good grasp on playing tastefully, improvising, etc.

What I want to do now is those things I haven't had as good a grasp on. One of them is "shredding speed" (the others are sweeping which I'm also working on slowly and the other is tapping, which I used to do a great deal but haven't done in years).

Being familiar with classical players (I ran a concert hall for 10 years and work with great classical performers daily at my job) I know that for that music a level of discipline is necessary and identifying and correcting problems seems to be the typical method to get over hurdles (expressive, technical, or otherwise).

And the same seems to be true of more technical guitar styles (because I can play a sloppy grease-bucket in-the-pocket blues pretty effectively where that technicality is not only not necessary but undesirable).

Many here and elsewhere have suggested finding a problem area and addressing it.

What I'm hoping to do here is get some guidance from the esteemed posters here and also leave something for others to work from.

Best,
Steve
#6
Quote by monwobobbo
amen. i tried all this crap when i was younger (back in the early to late 80s) and it only got me so far. being a well rounded guitar player is much more satisfying.


Please see my response above.

Cheers,
Steve
#7
So I had a gig last night and didn't work on this stuff until today.

It's become clear to me that the issue with the inside picking of the two notes on adjacent strings is a problem that needs to be fixed.

I've actually noticed this in other places - for example, if I just start a scale on the 2nd note on the 5th string and go back to the 1st note on the 6th string, it's that same inside picking thing and the same slop - it's always been sloppy when I tried to play it in the past.

And that's what I'm hoping to accomplish here: I'm hoping that if I can identify an issue that affects a large amount of what I do, fixing it here (in the initial riffs for example) will also fix it everywhere else it appears, thus improving the clarity of not just one lick, but a lot of places.

This is part of what I was asking in the initial post, and if those of you who've had experience fixing issues like this reaped those widespread benefits. If so great, if not, is there something else I should be doing?

Tonight I played the weak part of the lick thusly:

E ---------5-7-8-7-8-7-5------------------------
B --5-7-8------------------8-7-5----5------------
G ----------------------------------8---8----------

This works the inside picking at the end, as well as the weaker pinkie to ring finger and back motion at the highest notes in the lick - which is another problem for me.

I did work the other night briefly on modifying the pattern so the descending part of the longer part has variations in it.

For example:

E -----------5-7------7-5------------------5-7-8-7-5-7-5----------------------
B ----5-7-8---------------8-7-5----5-7-8------------------8-7-5----------------
G ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I can do this at 180.

But some of the other versions I can't.

So what this tells me is there are some finger combinations (orders) and/or some picking issues (moving from string to string) that are slowing the riff down.

What I'm hoping for guidance on is how to best practice those elements that are causing problems.
#8
ok so you've been playing for 30 years but haven't got this stuff down, interesting. the licks you have tabbed out are pretty basic so what exactly is the problem? did you not learn to play with your pinkie? if you use double picking or economy picking then playing those shouldn't be a problem. speed of course takes some time but if you have the lick down on the finger end of things then it shouldn't be hard to get it up to speed.

by the way i've been playing for over 30 years myself and there are other accomplshed players here as well. (stevensegull amoungst them). not the best card to play
#9
There's kind of two goals here, playing that lick and getting better at certain aspects of your playing, and whilst theyr'e not mutually exclusive they're not mutually INCLUSIVE either. Obviously if you get better then the lick will be easier to play, but trying to kill two birds with one stone isn't necessarily the best course of action.

With 30 years experience you should be well familiar with the concept of diminishing returns when it comes to practicing and also the fact that learning one thing doesn't automatically mean you can play something else.

If you've been drilling that lick for a while and you're talking about the kind of speeds you're aiming for it's pure muscle memory - you practice the lick over and over and get the movements nailed until you can pretty much play it on instinct. If you're throwing in variations then naturally it's going to throw a spanner in the works, the finger combinations you've used less will be less ingrained in muscle memory so won't come to you as automatically.

If you wan't to perfect it you simply have to grind it, but also stick to one fingering pattern - work out the one that feels most natural and run with it. It's definitely worth exploring all the options for the transitions between strings, there's no law that says they have to be inside-picked so try rearranging the picking and test it with econonomy picking or even outside picking. Regardless of what someone else might recommend there's going to be one arrangement that feels most natural to you, even if it might not be 100% textbook.

Long term if things like incorporating the pinky or inside picking do seem to be a weakness you've identified then long-term you can work on them, eg force yourself to use your pinky more or work some gnarly inside-picked string-skipping exercises into your practice routine.
Actually called Mark!

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...it's a seagull

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#10
Quote by monwobobbo
ok so you've been playing for 30 years but haven't got this stuff down, interesting. the licks you have tabbed out are pretty basic so what exactly is the problem? did you not learn to play with your pinkie? if you use double picking or economy picking then playing those shouldn't be a problem. speed of course takes some time but if you have the lick down on the finger end of things then it shouldn't be hard to get it up to speed.

by the way i've been playing for over 30 years myself and there are other accomplshed players here as well. (stevensegull amoungst them). not the best card to play


My point was that I was not a "beginner" as some of the responses seemed to be assuming.

The problem, as you ask, is playing these licks at 180 or better.

There's no problem playing the lick itself. But I couldn't play it cleanly at 180, or even 150.

And though I've been playing years, this quest has made me more critical of my playing in general (which has widespread benefits) and I've discovered a few things that are lacking - and these licks at these speeds have made them that much more obvious and pointed out some that I might not have ever encountered.

IOW, for 30 years I've often taken the "easy way out" - that is, I learn something I can do well, or fast, or whatever, and rely primarily on "natural talent" without actually working on specific details such as inside picking not being as solid as outside picking. In the past, I would have simply not played a lick with inside picking - I would have either started on the opposite direction, changed the lick, or not done that lick at all in favor of something that came more "naturally" and easily to me.

Now I'm trying to force myself to identify my weakness and - in some cases - unlearn 30+ years of bad habits.

Steve
#11
Quote by steven seagull
There's kind of two goals here, playing that lick and getting better at certain aspects of your playing, and whilst theyr'e not mutually exclusive they're not mutually INCLUSIVE either.


Yes, nail on the head! That's exactly what I'm trying to ask for insight on - people's experience with those types of goals.

Obviously if you get better then the lick will be easier to play, but trying to kill two birds with one stone isn't necessarily the best course of action.


Well, I had hoped to kill as many birds with as few stones as possible with any given task - if there are some exercises that accomplish that, great, if not, I'll just have to work things individually.

With 30 years experience you should be well familiar with the concept of diminishing returns when it comes to practicing and also the fact that learning one thing doesn't automatically mean you can play something else.


I think this is true to a degree. But I do still run across things that once I learn them, I find that they're applicable to many many situations - one of the wonderful things about music!

If you've been drilling that lick for a while and you're talking about the kind of speeds you're aiming for it's pure muscle memory - you practice the lick over and over and get the movements nailed until you can pretty much play it on instinct. If you're throwing in variations then naturally it's going to throw a spanner in the works, the finger combinations you've used less will be less ingrained in muscle memory so won't come to you as automatically.


Well, I guess my point about this being an "experiment" is to put myself in the Guinea Pig position and see what's happening for the benefit of others.

Since these licks were all "new" to me (certain portions were not) each variation was "as new" as any other, and less embedded in muscle memory than anything else I play, save for any portions of the licks that were old hat.

But the interesting thing to me is that some variations were faster than others out of the gate so to speak. Now, that probably means those variations included things I've already done a lot in the past. The slower things were things I've not done or avoided, or not worked on as much in the past.

My idea is basically to see how much work it takes to get all of the variations up to the same speed. Ultimately, if there's one that simply outstrips the others by sheer virtue of a better fingering combination (or picking combination) then so be it, but I'd like to see if I can get all of them in the same general range of good.

If you wan't to perfect it you simply have to grind it, but also stick to one fingering pattern - work out the one that feels most natural and run with it.


Makes sense. I took the opposite approach though and took the one that was least natural in the hopes of bringing it up to speed as opposed to having the other one jump to light speed ahead of the rest...



Long term if things like incorporating the pinky or inside picking do seem to be a weakness you've identified then long-term you can work on them, eg force yourself to use your pinky more or work some gnarly inside-picked string-skipping exercises into your practice routine.


Thanks, see my next post/update...
#12
Update:

So, over the last couple of nights I've been working the "roughest" pattern, which is:

E ---------5-7-8-7-8-7-5------------------------
B --5-7-8------------------8-7-5----5------------
G -----------------------------------8-------------

The inside picking of the last 3 notes was the killer.

But I also have a problem with cleanliness when descending fingers 4-3-1.

So I broke it apart and played things like:

E----------------------
B---8-7-5---5--------
G----------8----------

over and over (note, I've been notating these on the 5th fret but I play them up and down every fret for variety).

I also did this:

E----------------------------
B---5---5---5-7-8-7--------
G-----8---8-----------------

in addition to playing other configurations of the the "last part" of the initial riff, the whole riff, and variations that involved repetitive cycles.

Last night, I couldn't do the full riff or even the last "half" of it at but 150 before it fell apart.

After working on it last night and tonight, as I tried it, I kept notching the speed up.

I got to 175. Now, I'm not saying it's consistently perfect and there's still not room for improvement, but it's pretty consistently clean at this tempo where last night it was nothing but slop even at 160.

So, this has proven a couple of things to me:

1. Identifying an issue and working it is going to help the overall speed and clarity of a given lick.

Whether that crosses over to other licks with similar attributes remains to be seen.

2. I will be able to play more than just one lick that comes naturally to me if I work on it. But it's going to take patience and work.

3. It may not take months and months - in this example, I was able to increase the speed in just a couple of days.

With regard to that last one, my goal is not to play 220 BPM. If I can get there, fine. But my real goal is to improve the overall cleanliness of my playing, which attempting to play fast seems to let you know of any shortcomings real quick! What I want to do is try to get anything "up to speed" and then if it takes months are years to get, say 10 licks up one BPM, that to me is better than having 1 lick I can play at 200 and the rest of them are slop at 150.

Already, in my warm-up routine, I introduced two new scale forms and one pattern. Neither of those could I play at 110 when I first started. In a couple of days I had them up to the same speed as everything else I was doing (129 at this point).

So my goal over the next couple of nights will be to work all of the variations, weakest first, and see if I can get them all to be the same clarity at the same tempo - hopefully around 170+

Stay tuned...

Steve
#13
steve buddy has it occured to you that you might not be cut out to play that fast consistently? not saying don't try at all, not my point. look i've been playing for a little longer than you and been down this road. lesson learned was that i'll never be a shred king. sure i can burn a lick when i need to but yngwie i'm not. i've found that things that came more "naturally" actually is a better road to follow. once i started to work on my strenghts and hone them i found that i was a happier player and more productive.

keep in mind that as stevensegull said that just because you can play a well practiced lick at any given speed doesn't make you fast. wehn you can consistenly play whatever you want at those tempos then you're actually fast. again not saying don't make the effort. i still work a little on speed and accuracy but it's just a small part of what i strive for. always want to get better but i also know where my talents lie.
#14
Update: July 7, 2015

When I started this experiment, here's the riff I came up with:

E -----------5-7------7-5------------------5-7-8-7-5-------------------
B ----5-7-8---------------8-7-5----5-7-8-------------8-7-5----5---------
G -----------------------------------------------------------------8----------

Originally, I could only play the first two sets of 5 notes (which are 4 16ths and a quarter so two beats each group of 5) fast (up to 210) but the last set of 13 notes (which are 3 beats of 16ths and a 4th quarter beat) at 140.

I figured out, through other similar patterns, that the inside picking on the last few notes was screwing me up. I also found out I have a few other problems, one being a descending 4-3-1 fingering (another being 3-2-1 oddly enough), and the "turnaround" - 1-3-4-3-1 fingering at the top of the lick (this I knew from just playing scales and reaching the top and turning back was a problem).

So I broke down the lick into some digestible parts. I also practiced some other inside picking licks in addition to all the other stuff I do.

I played these licks starting at 120 and would notch up 5 BPM until they fell apart - which was 140, then last week 150.

I'm happy report tonight that I could play the licks up to 180.

In fact, I went back and played the original lick up to 185!

Now, I will add that this lick has some "cheats" built in - one is the break between sets of notes to give my RH a rest. The other is, when playing with space in between, you can cheat a bit and if you can start a group a tad too soon, and end a group a tad too late, and you're still generally "in time". Of course, ideally I plan to get it perfect but this little "fudge factor" has allowed me to focus on a more important aspect, which is cleaning up the problem areas, which I feel like I've accomplished.

But this is a big breakthrough to me as with just a couple of week's work (and only about 10 to 15 minutes each night) I've been able to fix something that was holding me back and improve the whole thing.

Now, I tabbed this in Em. So what I just did is tried to move it up the neck keeping the note order and pattern, but playing the next notes of the scale. When I got to starting on G - which basically sounds like a Major version of the pattern, the last 4 notes are bad again. And I can tell it's because of the fingering (I've never done that kind of 5 fret span fingering all that much in the past).

So that's something to work on....