#1
I want to be able to play a couple of licks with 16th notes at 180 bpm (alternate picking across several strings), which is required of a song I am aiming to learn. I've been practising these quite a lot over the past 2 months, but I still have only reached 140 bpm. Whenever I pick up my guitar at the beginning of a session, I can barely play them well at ~110 bpm
I've been practising for so long now, that I am kind of beginning to lose faith. Especially because here the other day, I discovered that I could barely tremolo pick in rythm at 170 bpm! Which means I'm not even physically able to play as fast as I want on ONE freaking string! GAh! But I'll be damned if I give up!


I've never thought my general speed would get better overnight. But I'm kind of perplexed at how little I've improved by playing the same two licks more than 5000 times. I am also starting to wonder if I am practicing wrong. I am usually not warm in my fingers on the beginning of a session, so I start off at 90 bpm. When I seldom make mistakes at that tempo, I increase to 110 and later very close to my max speed, and practice there. But I still make some kind of mistakes about 50% of the time.

The reason I came here is (aside from whining) to ask if somebody who plays faster than myself could share some insight as to the process around how they got faster. Time and practice? How long? What kind of practice? Did you one day decide, like me, that you wanted speed not to be a (severely) limiting factor? I have so little experience with training speed that I feel completely lost . Any sort of perspective or input you might have would help!
Last edited by NorthernLord at Sep 11, 2015,
#5
Quote by NorthernLord
So you're saying I shouldn't focus so hard one one specific goal?


He's saying you should focus on music, not just technique. If all you're concerned about is how fast you are, you're not going to stick with the instrument for long, trust me, I've been there.
#6
@Hikigaya Hachiman
Sticking with the instrument is no problem. I've been playing for 10 years and wouldn't quit for anything in the world.


I think you guys are right. I have been quite concious about trying to play accurate and relaxed from the beginning of this project, but seeing myself from a distance, I think I might have forgotten the meaning of this. I sort of feel like I'm not doing it properly either if I constantly have to go back to the beginning at the start of each session.
I should maybe reconsider my approach.
#7
Quote by NorthernLord
@Hikigaya Hachiman
Sticking with the instrument is no problem. I've been playing for 10 years and wouldn't quit for anything in the world.


I think you guys are right. I have been quite concious about trying to play accurate and relaxed from the beginning of this project, but seeing myself from a distance, I think I might have forgotten the meaning of this. I sort of feel like I'm not doing it properly either if I constantly have to go back to the beginning at the start of each session.
I should maybe reconsider my approach.


speed comes with familiarity. if you are confident with what you are playing then you will be able to play it faster. the thing with what you re doing is that while you may be able to play those 2 licks faster that won't translate to being able to play other things faster. working on picking accuracy and fingering will result in better speed in the longrun. now i understand that many guys hate to hear "the long run" cuz that isn't instant gratification. f you start thinking less about speed and more about just playing i think you'll find that the speed just kind of comes.
#8
I would suggest against playing the same thing 5000 times and expecting it to get faster.

Of course different people practice and improve in different ways. I have found that I improve and learn things best by slowing them WAY down to like 25% of the speed it should be played at. Once I am able to play it competently without any mistakes and without really thinking about it, I increase the speed by like 10%. If I keep making mistakes, slow it back down.

This sounds similar to what you do, but I would personally never just tunnel-vision a particular lick for hours and hours until I nail it because likely that isn't going to happen. Couple of hours a day at the most is what I would spend practicing a particular section, otherwise your brain may switch off or you may end up overthinking what you are doing, which may slow progress.
#9
Quote by NorthernLord
I want to be able to play a couple of licks with 16th notes at 180 bpm (alternate picking across several strings), which is required of a song I am aiming to learn. I've been practising these quite a lot over the past 2 months, but I still have only reached 140 bpm. Whenever I pick up my guitar at the beginning of a session, I can barely play them well at ~110 bpm
I've been practising for so long now, that I am kind of beginning to lose faith. Especially because here the other day, I discovered that I could barely tremolo pick in rythm at 170 bpm! Which means I'm not even physically able to play as fast as I want on ONE freaking string! GAh! But I'll be damned if I give up!


I've never thought my general speed would get better overnight. But I'm kind of perplexed at how little I've improved by playing the same two licks more than 5000 times. I am also starting to wonder if I am practicing wrong. I am usually not warm in my fingers on the beginning of a session, so I start off at 90 bpm. When I seldom make mistakes at that tempo, I increase to 110 and later very close to my max speed, and practice there. But I still make some kind of mistakes about 50% of the time.

The reason I came here is (aside from whining) to ask if somebody who plays faster than myself could share some insight as to the process around how they got faster. Time and practice? How long? What kind of practice? Did you one day decide, like me, that you wanted speed not to be a (severely) limiting factor? I have so little experience with training speed that I feel completely lost . Any sort of perspective or input you might have would help!


I don't have your exact answer, but I went through something similar on acoustic guitar. If you think you've reached plateau, where practicing doesn't let you go any faster, then it might be a technique thing. What technique thing? Idk, because I don't play electric at that skill level, but I would checkout some of those speed mechanics sorts of videos that a lot of electric players have made, and they will tell you how they hold their picks and stuff like that.

You might have to learn something that feels awkward at first, and sets you back a bit, but will let you go faster in the long run.

I think obviously the goal of guitar is making great music, but fast music can definitely be a part of that, and being able to play fast music will take a lot of repetition like you're doing. I've spent months practicing one simple thing before. Some stuff in your hands takes a lot of work. And sure, if you get really fast at that lick, that won't mean you are really fast at all licks, but you are on your way. You will have taken a big step, and that's what it is, getting better step by step, and day by day. Getting highly skilled takes a lot of practice, dedication, and a long time. It's a lot of little things you need to learn. There is not just one thing you can practice and then you are fast. You need to practice many things. This is a fine way to start, although I personally prefer starting with the major scale pattern and permutations of how to play it, but you are bound to come across other things you will need to practice anyway, so starting like you're doing is fine.

It is possible that there are other things that I believe would be more beneficial to focus on first, idk. I don't know what kind of player you are. But if you are a pretty good player 10 years in, and you want to ramp up the speed, that sounds about right to me.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Sep 12, 2015,
#10
For me, building speed, but at the same time keeping control or cleanliness of my playing, has taken many, many years, so, the best tip I can give you is to have patience and discipline. I'm really familiar with the feeling that after so much practice, to think of not going nowhere or not making any progress at all, but believe me that it is there.
Besides being a guitar player, I'm a big fan of the guitar. I love that damn instrument. Steve Vai

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Kramer Striker FR422SM
Roland Microcube
Digitech Bad Monkey
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#11
Thank you guys for your insights, it's really appreciated. I have read them all and I have concluded that I will reconsider my approach to developing my skills. I may have been naïve to think I could brute-force speed, perhaps because I have almost no previous experience with setting goals for my playing. Anyway, I will still aim towards being able to play the mentioned song, but in the meantime I will challenge myself as much as possible with things that are not as far out of reach and just enjoy the ride.


@fingerpickingood
Funny you should mention picking. Actually, 3 weeks ago I discovered that I'd been holding the pick differently than everybody else. I'd been holding it between my thumb and middle finger. When I required more force, I would bring in my index finger too, resulting in something really awkward-looking. It has worked well for me this long, probably because I was used to it. Now that I have fixed my picking, I do sense that I have more control, especially at higher speeds.
#12
Quote by NorthernLord



@fingerpickingood
Funny you should mention picking. Actually, 3 weeks ago I discovered that I'd been holding the pick differently than everybody else. I'd been holding it between my thumb and middle finger. When I required more force, I would bring in my index finger too, resulting in something really awkward-looking. It has worked well for me this long, probably because I was used to it. Now that I have fixed my picking, I do sense that I have more control, especially at higher speeds.


I would still look into it from guys that can really play fast, "everybody else" usually can't. You may need to make more adjustments and get insight on what it is you need to work on to play fast and clean. I've seen a couple speed videos from guys like that with insights on how to hold the pick, injuries they got and stuff like that. They learned the hard way. You can quickly skip ahead by learning from them. But you may be a little different also, which you'll have to find out by putting the time in.

The faster you go, the more every little thing you do matters. The more slowly or casually you play, the more you can just go with whatever feels right for you.

When you really want to go fast, you're pushing the boundaries of what the mechanics of the human body can theoretically do.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Sep 13, 2015,
#13
Technique is the issue here, almost guaranteed to be too much tension or too large motions. Other posts sum it up.

If you want to play fast there is nothing wrong with that, but you have to focus on getting your technique better rather than quicker. Don't try to force speed but don't just ignore trying to better your technique in favour of more musical things, do both.
#14
my take..

your obsession with speed is stopping you from playing guitar..

basic question: do you know what your doing..I mean REALLY know

can you visualize playing the piece..can you play it at a very slow tempo several times in a row and no errors..do you know which finger/fret you start each bar of the piece on..can you play the first bar in a different position..in several positions on a different set of strings..

do some of the above and visualize what your going to play before you play it..if you know the names of the notes better yet..alot of speed playing is patterns..scales..chromatic runs..sweeping arpeggios etc..and most of these are "automatic" that is they have been practiced of a long period of time and are in "muscle memory"..I have asked some players if they can play just the last 4 notes of a "speed" run they do..and they really have to go fairly slow and think about it because the entire run is "programed in"

as mentioned by others technique is important also..but it is the refinement of it that makes the difference..this takes time..just changing a pick or a hand position is not going to give you instant results..

the suggestion of asking/watching "speed players" to give you tips..ask them how to play slow..start there..if you cant play slow..fast is not an option..top players like vai and govan can do that shred stuff for days..they know what they are doing..they can give you a breakdown if need be..

check this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg4gQLT82LI
play well

wolf