#1
Right I've been wielding the axe for about 3 years now, practice at least an hour every day, usually two or more, pretty happy with how far I've got apart from one thing.. soloing. I can pull off a nice soulful solo, eg: the first one on Fade to Black, but I have real problems playing anything much faster than the Hetfield solo on Master of Puppets (yeah I play more things than Metallica, they were just the two which came to mind).

I tried a lot of different things with my plectrum holding and the way I hold my hand above the strings, cause I've been told playing quick is all in the picking. I tried making my hand into a fist (as I always did from when I started playing) to opening my fingers out like Alexi Laiho and most guitarists I watch seem to (which has probably helped my playing overall, giving me better palm muting and control of the strings). I even tried Marty Friedman style, which just felt too weird, though that's not surprising. Then I read a quote from someone saying that playing quickly was all about the way you held the plectrum.. something like holding it as if you're about to drop it.. I don't think that really made a difference, and the guy who taught me for a year and a half told me to hold the plectrum fairly tight. I also experimented with different gauges of plectrum, tried some really thin ones, medium ones, and the thick ones I usually use, again not noticing much difference.

I really don't think it is a problem with my picking technique to be perfectly honest, I can really drill a single note, and triplet chugging on the E string is pretty natural to me. I think it is a problem with my left hand speed.. it just seems so god damned slow even when I'm working my ass off with it. So basically after all that my question is what are the best techniques for improving left hand speed, and coordination with the right hand?
#2
The old 1,2,3,4 excercise.

That's where you just play cromatically with your left hand across the fretboard. Really builds coordination.

Then vary it up with stuff like 1,3,2,4 and the like.
#3
What I like to do is play 1234, then go up a string and do 4321, then 1234, etc. Or sometimes skip strings and go back and reverse... just to mix things up.
#4
So just go uber mental with chromatics? How about 3 note per string modes and crap like that?
#5
I've always played in scales. It works for me really well, just play them slowly first and then built them up. This is the one I use the most, but try with others that you feel more comfortable with.

|-----------------578--|
|--------------578-----|
|-----------457--------|
|--------457-----------|
|-----357--------------|
|--357-----------------|


Then I use exercises going up and down, like this.

|---------------------------5h7h8--|
|----------------------5h7h8-------|
|-----------------4h5h7------------|
|------------4h5h7-----------------|
|-------3h5h7----------------------|
|--3h5h7---------------------------|


|--875-75-----------------------------|
|-----8-—875-75-----------------------|
|-----------7-—754-54-----------------|
|-----------------7—-754-54-----------|
|-----------------------7--753-53-----|
|-----------------------------7-—753--|


Good luck with the soloing mate, hope it works out.

--Masochist Lust
#6
Hmm I usually do chromatics and just pentatonic and harmonic scales. But most solos I want to learn I can play extremely slowly and I just am in the process of speeding them up.
Just do the old, tried and tested, play it slow and keep getting faster thingy.

pepsi
#7
I'm just gonna repeat what I always say in this kind of threads

Troy Stetina's Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar. That book is amazing
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#8
^What does that book give you anyway? I see it mentioned all the time but I always had the thought that it just gave you some licks to practice.. If you can prove me wrong and explain what the book is about, I'll think about buying it
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#9
Right, stuck in an order for that Troy Stetina book on amazon! Thanks for the help guys, this is all nothing new to me but it's a help to know what has worked for you... my teacher just gave me loads and loads of stuff and I never really knew what to concentrate on when I practiced.
#10
Enjoy and practice!!
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#11
Quote by elvenkindje
^What does that book give you anyway? I see it mentioned all the time but I always had the thought that it just gave you some licks to practice.. If you can prove me wrong and explain what the book is about, I'll think about buying it


That's really all it does. Kind of throws you in the sea and hopes you can swim - there's not much advice on how to practice the licks except the odd word on playing slow and with a metronome and targeting your weaknesses etc.

The content is really good though - the exercises are all in an order so that when you can play one thing, you can move onto the next - and the chapter ends with a song for you to play that has all these techniques.

It is a great book for exercises if you know how to practice them.
#12



E0-1-2-3/-1-2-3-4-/2-3-4-5-/3-4-5-6-/



Etc, then go back down. It has worked wonders for me.
#14
I actually did economy picking for a long time without knowing I was doing it, but switching to straight alternate picking improved my speed a lot.. I dunno, maybe I need to work on it a little more..
#15
Quote by elvenkindje
^What does that book give you anyway? I see it mentioned all the time but I always had the thought that it just gave you some licks to practice.. If you can prove me wrong and explain what the book is about, I'll think about buying it

Well, I suppose the main thing in it are licks/songs to practice, they're pretty good though (or at least I like them), and there's brief but very much to the point description of all techniques and practice methods used. There's also some tips on improvising and creating melodies, and the backing tracks that come with Stetinas books are pretty awesome for improvising your stuff on them, too.

This particular one is mainly written for more advanced players who want to play faster (as if you couldn't guess that from the name ), and if you ever found yourself wondering as to how or what to play to imrpove your speed, it'd definitely be very helpful.

I've tried quite a few different practice books/guides for guitarists but none of them were as helpful as Stetina's series to me, so I definitely recommend them. (And by the way if you're still not convinced/don't want to spend your money on it, feel free to PM me and I'll send you some of the sound bytes off it or a pdf version of any of his books)

edit: oh and also, as the guy above said, it does indeed sort of throw you in the sea and hope you can swim - as in, it doesn't really have anything like "hold your pick this way, move your hand that way, or else you'll suck" - and that's what I love about it. It does give you some tips on how to improve certain areas of your playing, but it's more aimed towards teaching you how to improve yourself without anyone holding your hand, and to find your own way to do things, which is great.
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Last edited by ar73m at Jan 22, 2007,
#16
well as far as holding your pick, that is partially true. i would like to point out 2 things, one being anchoring, which is an ongoing arguement here on UG. i believe anchoring hinders you in the long run, i used to, i don't anymore and i can see a MASSIVE difference in my ability for the better. if you anchor i recommend not doing it, that is my opinion though and many on UG would disagree. NOW about holding the pick. if you grip the pick too tightly it will tense up the muscles in your hand and wrist. tense muscles will keep your hand from moving quickly and fluidly without stress or fatigue. i wouldn't recommend a super loose grip on the pick, but i do notice that when i go and do wacky solo stuff my hand does automatically get a little looser than when i'm speed picking a riff.
#17
By anchoring do you mean keeping your wrist in the same place relative to the strings and picking around the strings by bending your wrist?

Right so it seems the key thing in all of the recommendations is keeping yourself relaxed, and that seems to be the thing which everyone goes back to in the end. I noticed when I was practicing today that I'm pretty tight in my right and left arms, so I'll try and concentrate on loosening up a bit.
#18
Just like to say to the guy who recommended the Troy Stetina book.. you are a god, thankyou! Been practicing the exercises in there on and off for a couple of weeks, suddenly thought "well lets see if they worked" and just ripped the intro of Peace Sells first time, no effort.. ****ing amazing!
#19
Yes yes definitely, always relax. Can't sprint well with a stiff back and legs, can you? Focus one thing at a time with your picking hand. If you see yourself tensing up, loosen up and play slower. Then play faster. If you get tense, slow down and loosen up; repeat.

I'll also offer some advice I've found useful... when "warming up", I sometimes deliberately keep my arm/hand tensed, so it works out the muscle; however, I don't do anything that would hurt me or cause pain. That way it works out the muscle, loosens it up; sort of like lifting a bit of weights would help as well before playing.
#20
Holding your pick properly is important, but it is in no way the basis of great technique. Fast technique is based on starting slow and accurately, and playing things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until you reach your desired speed.
#21
speed is all about releasing tension, and getting everything PERFECT, then repeating that a billion times until its second nature.

If you have to "try", you're going about it wrong. That doesn't mean you don't challenge yourself, but if you have to "try" to reach those speeds, more often than not, you are tensed up to some degree
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#22
One big problem with developing speed (for me at least) has been not with left or right hand speed, but the synchronization between the two hands. In other words, if you can move your fretting hand over that scale really fast (with no picking) and you can also pick all the notes really fast (without fretting), it's a synchronization problem.

One thing I tried recently helped me a lot with this, and it was to slow WAY down playing a 1-2-3-4 chromatic. Go slow enough so that you can feel when a fretting finger presses the string down and also when the pick hits the string. My aim was to synchronize the pick touching the string and the finger pressing the fret perfectly. If you go quick, it feels like they're in sync, but if you really slow it down, you may notice one touches before the other. Notice I said the pick TOUCHING the string, not playing it. There's a difference

It's my experience that a little bit of doing this (even only 10 minutes or so) helps tremendously once you gradually speed it back up.

So do this:

1) Put first finger down on the 9th fret of the A string.
2) Slowly lower the second finger into place onto the 10th fret, while ALSO slowly lowering your pick to touch the string. It should be as if your pick descends at the exact same speed your finger descends. If you're going too fast you won't be able to tell though.

NOTE: By slowly, I mean, for example if your 2nd finger is hovering about 1/4" (~0.5cm) above the string, and the pick is about the same distance from the string, it should take about 2 seconds for them to make their movement.

3) Did you notice a disjointedness? Did one contact before the other? Slow it down a little more and try again. It sometimes actually helps to purposely make one hit before the other, and then try to correct from there.

Keep in mind if you get good at downstrokes, work on the upstrokes separately. They aren't quite the same. Getting good at the finger 1 to 2 transition (for instance) might not mean that you can do 2 to 3 or 1 to 3, etc. You'll probably have to work at each one separately.

Good luck
#23
losen tension in your picking hand
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