#1
Try this for me:

Put the guitar aside, turn over your hands with the palms facing up. Now start wiggling your fingers as fast as you can (imagine you're tickling somebody, lol). Do you feel you can do it much faster on one of the hands as compared to the other?

My problem: my right hand (picking hand) fingers are wiggling about twice as fast as the fastest I can ever get with my fretting hand. For the record, I asked my wife and my daughter to do the same, and they could both fire it up with either hand pretty much with equal speed!

I've been playing for many years (on and off), lots of blues, rock, metal...both rhythm and lead.. During all these years I've had a few attempts at working on speedpicking, wanted to improve my speed for some speedier metal stuff. Unfortunately, I always remember my hand speed mismatch (from the exercise above), and quickly get discouraged thinking I'll never get anywhere no matter how much I practice....the feeling sucks!

3 days ago I approached this differently. I set up my metronome at a very very slow speed, 50bpm, and played 16th notes (4 notes per beat), strictly alternate picking, running through the whole G minor scale (aeolian mode), 3 notes per string, covering the whole fretboard (up-right-down-right-up-right-down-righ...etc, until I exhaust the whole fretboard). Repeating each 3 notes on each string (e.g. on low E I would go: 3-5-6-3-5-6, then go to A: 3-5-6-3-5-6, then D...etc, then move up one position and go back down).

Each time I ran through the whole thing cleanly, I would increase the metronome by 1 bpm. That day I got to about 76 bpm before I felt I'm not progressing and the hand was hurting, so I called it quits. The next day I started from 60 bpm, and got up to 88 bpm---already an improvement!!! Today I started from 70 bpm and got up to 100 bpm.

However, I feel like tomorrow will not yield much improvement, because my fretting hand is already moving at what feels to be close to its maximum speed!

Do I have a physical problem? I try to remember childhood injuries to that hand, but I can't recall anything. Will it get better with lots of practice? For reference, I can speedpick one note at 220 bpm, 16th notes, so I don't feel I will get bottle-necked by my picking hand.
Last edited by corsara at Aug 27, 2015,
#2
I have the same problem man, I thought I was the only one; I'd like to see if this is more common
#3
Me too, but I'm not surprised at all. Have you ever wondered about handedness and playing stringed instruments? Most of us are "handed", that is, not ambidextrous, and evolution has assigned the manipulating tasks to our stronger hand, and the simpler grasping tasks to our weaker one. So we naturally (maybe we don't really need to - there's no such thing as a left handed piano) tend to pick (" manipulate") with our strong hand and fret ("grasp") with our weak one. While we think of fretting as the hard bit, evolutionary adaptation says that the hard work is in picking quickly and accurately.
#4
You almost certainly don't have any particular physical limitation. I can't wiggle my left hand fingers as fast as my right either, but it's kind of a moot point. While you may never play as fast as Yngwie or whoever, your speed isn't going to max out that low.

It's simple, and frustratingly it's exactly as everyone always says: Speed comes with time and long, hard practice.
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#5
i'm left-handed and i wiggle my left hands far faster than my right

this isn't necessarily beneficial, however, given that i exclusively fingerpick
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#6
Hey, thanks guys for all the replies! I'll continue practicing. Just now, did my 4th half hour practice for the day, and I got to 105. We'll see how tomorrow goes, but my logic is this: even if it's 1 bpm per day from here on, still in one year I'll be at 150, which is all I want and no more
#7
As far as I know, there are no physicians who use the "Finger Wiggle" test to determine if there's a "Physical Limitation". So, no, you don't have a physical problem - it's strictly psychological.

The way you approached it today is exactly how you should structure your technique practice or warmup routine. It's efficient, effective, and easy to set into a regular regimen. Do your rudiments (scales, chords, arpeggios, picking, LH, RH) with a rhythm ladder every day, and you'll start to build a foundation of technique that you can build on.

This basic routine also has the psychological benefit of reinforcing a baseline for your skills - if you can do your warmups, you can play at least anything requiring what you've already played that day.

Edit: For your own benefit, I would not recommend using "16ths @ X bpm" as such an important indicator. Anyone can tremolo pick at 150bpm, but how many can play a Charlie Parker tune at 150bpm (which might be slow!)? If you practice being precise and consistent, speed becomes much less of a challenge. Play at the tempo you can sound good at, and only afterward push your speed ahead. The last thing you want is to practice flubs and mistakes until they become natural.
Last edited by cdgraves at Aug 27, 2015,
#8
Quote by Tony Done
So we naturally (maybe we don't really need to - there's no such thing as a left handed piano) tend to pick (" manipulate") with our strong hand and fret ("grasp") with our weak one. While we think of fretting as the hard bit, evolutionary adaptation says that the hard work is in picking quickly and accurately.


Definitely people tend to think of the fretting hand as the harder working one. I think I might agree with that a little bit, but really both need conditioning, just differently.

I think my left hand definitely has more power from barre chords.

FWIW, I don't have different finger wiggliness, but my left hand can do some things better than my right and vice versa. They are trained differently.
#9
Well, what do you know... did two half hour practices today, and ultimately I played it at 110 with no mistakes. I like this kind of progress from day to day! I suppose it will become slower (the progress) the faster I get. However, I noticed something---today, all the times I was messing up was due to the picking hand, not the fretting hand... I guess fast picking on one string is different when you have to move around, big surprise
#10
Quote by corsara
Well, what do you know... did two half hour practices today, and ultimately I played it at 110 with no mistakes. I like this kind of progress from day to day! I suppose it will become slower (the progress) the faster I get. However, I noticed something---today, all the times I was messing up was due to the picking hand, not the fretting hand... I guess fast picking on one string is different when you have to move around, big surprise


I have found the progress remains quick, however, what you're practicing is more and more specialized, and makes a lesser overall difference. For instance, when you learn the major scale, that's something very useful. One thing you practice, and it comes at a certain rate. Then you practice a given grip of idk, a m7b5 chord or something, and that takes similar amount of time, but is less useful. It doesn't come up as much. There is a lot more to a scale than a grip, but the the muscles learn at the same rate.

One of the other things I found, which is kind of silly, is that it gets sort of harder to find stuff to work on. There are always infinite ways to improve, but sometimes you stay in your comfort zone and don't really find something to really improve at, or perhaps you want to get faster at something, but it requires a change in technique, which might take some time to figure out.

I fingerpick, but also found that sometimes you might feel your picking hand is not fast enough, but really it is your picking hand that needs work.

Glad you made progress.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Aug 28, 2015,
#12
i feel like my left hand was wiggling slightly faster but i think it also had worse wiggle technique
#13
My fretting hand is much faster than my picking hand. I'd imagine it's from the muscles being more built up.

Here's another thing to try: Tense your fingers up, you should feel like you can pull the fingers on your fretting hand out of their sockets if you wanted to (I haven't tried, so I'm not sure what would happen if you tensed as hard as you could).
#14
@OP: Practice string crossing and skipping as much as you can if you want to improve picking on multiple strings; like you said it's a lot harder than picking on just one string.

Also co-ordination between the hands tends to be the limiting factor in good picking speed, and this is hard so don't fret too much if picking progress is a bit slower than other techniques.

Quote by fingrpikingood
One of the other things I found, which is kind of silly, is that it gets sort of harder to find stuff to work on. There are always infinite ways to improve, but sometimes you stay in your comfort zone and don't really find something to really improve at, or perhaps you want to get faster at something, but it requires a change in technique, which might take some time to figure out.


Yeah this. The worst is when you want to play something that's easy but like 20bpm faster than you can comfortably play, because you get to a point that getting an extra 20bpm on your picking is so boring and time consuming.
#15
Quote by Anon17



Yeah this. The worst is when you want to play something that's easy but like 20bpm faster than you can comfortably play, because you get to a point that getting an extra 20bpm on your picking is so boring and time consuming.


I actually could live with that lol. . What's brutal, that I meant, was that sometimes you be thinking exactly that to yourself, and then still just keep on practicing, hoping that you'll get better and faster, and then you don't really. After putting so much time and effort into it, you start to think that maybe what you need is different technique. But you suck at different technique right now, so you might have to take a few steps back, in order to take steps forward, but it can be tough to figure it out yourself. Maybe you would invest a bunch of time in another technique, and it doesn't workout any better, so you have to find something else.

These are the kinds of things a good teacher can help with.

A lot of people start out with the mentality "do whatever feels comfortable" and a lot of people promote that even later on, and say things like "if it sounds good, then it is good", and those things do have their merit, but there may come a point where you will have to put some time into making something that initially feels weird, or uncomfortable, feel comfortable, because that's the only way to be able to get to the level you want to be at, or to do certain things you want to do.

And it's hard to figure that out on your own. It takes some time.

So sometimes finding that thing you should be working on, in order to get you farther along, is what is difficult. Once you find it, you can grind it out, but even though what you could learn is essentially endless, sometimes finding that thing to grind can be tough.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Sep 1, 2015,
#16
i have the same speed with both hands but i'm ambi so maybe that has something to do with it.

isn't this just like typing upside down? why would each hand be different?
Last edited by ad_works at Sep 1, 2015,
#18
I'm left handed but I play the guitar right handed. I actually feel this gives me an advantage as my best hand is doing all the fretting working.
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#19
I get the feeling that although the brain will initially have a preference, anyone can master anything with any hand.

The fretting hand definitely seems to be the more difficult and powerful and demanding hand, for guitar, in standard righty position.

But I also don't feel any limitation from that or anything. It just feels like my left hand is my right hand on guitar. Or like I have 2 right hands I guess.

I've had success training my left had or foot at other things as well. But I definitely have a preference for right handed. I think the brain originally has a slight preference, and then training exacerbates it, and carries over from one thing to another for a lot of people. Although, there are anomalies, like some people bat right, and throw right, but golf left, and stuff like that.

If I went to play a lefty guitar, in a lefty position, I would feel as though I had 2 left hands also.

It's better to play lefty upside down, and in the wrong hands.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Sep 2, 2015,
#20
I'm the OP. A small update: well, I've been persistent at doing at least 1 or 2 half hour practice sessions with the same pattern described in my earlier post. Today is day #8, and for this week or so I increased my speed from 16th notes at 76 tempo, to my new accomplishment today at 120 bpm. I'm more than thrilled with the progress in just one week! Of course, at 120 I'm making a few mistakes here and there, but I'm happy nevertheless. I'll report back in a month
#21
Good stuff. I've found my left hand technique to be woeful (like pretty much everything when it comes to guitar - i.e. I suck). I've started a few chromatic spider exercises to increase my left hand dexterity. Not gonna lie, it's a little boring but I think the results will be worth it. It's forcing me to let go of all this tension I play with too.

Though it's certainly not as boring as playing the same song over and over and wondering why I keep f***king up.
#22
Quote by corsara
I'm the OP. A small update: well, I've been persistent at doing at least 1 or 2 half hour practice sessions with the same pattern described in my earlier post. Today is day #8, and for this week or so I increased my speed from 16th notes at 76 tempo, to my new accomplishment today at 120 bpm. I'm more than thrilled with the progress in just one week! Of course, at 120 I'm making a few mistakes here and there, but I'm happy nevertheless. I'll report back in a month


Nice, keep pushing everyday. There's nothing like being able to play quickly and casually things that once upon a time seemed so impossible. It's also just awesome to be able to play music at pace, even if it was easy to begin with.
#23
I'm not sure how much wiggling your fingers has to do with fretting notes/chords on a guitar. If I try to "play" some leads against my thumb I can't play nearly as fast as I can on an actual guitar.

That being said if you are right handed your left hand will probably be less dexterous by default, but most of that can be overcome with practice. Speed is ironically one of the slowest things to improve too. Over time as you practice you will just find yourself able to play faster without even focusing on "speed".
Last edited by bptrav at Sep 5, 2015,