#1
I really want to build up my speed and be able to shred. I know there's no trick to it and it's just lots and lots of practice. My guitar teacher has me doing these chromatic finger exercises along with practicing my scales. The problem is, once I get to around 180+ bpm, my hand sort cramps up and I can't keep up. I've tried playing slower and trying to slowly build up to that speed but it has been weeks and I can't cleanly go that speed or faster. Another weird thing is that it's my picking hand, NOT my fretting hand that cramps up. I try to keep my hand relaxed but nothing works. I think it might be my picking technique because I hold my pick different playing lead then I do playing rythym. Any tips? Is this normal?
#2
Slow down again and work on your economy of motion; your movements are too big for you to get any faster.
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#3
but it's not the actual speed of the exercise I'm having trouble with... it just my hand cramps up... I can play the exercise at 180bpm but I just can't get through it without getting tense and my hand cramping
#4
Quote by kirkhammett09
but it's not the actual speed of the exercise I'm having trouble with... it just my hand cramps up... I can play the exercise at 180bpm but I just can't get through it without getting tense and my hand cramping


My statement still applies: you're cramping your hand because you're trying to move faster than you're able to, if you make your movements smaller you'll be able to make more of them in the same space of time, therefore: faster. The problem with saying "make your movements smaller" is that you can't really do it at high speed so you need to slow down to do it.
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#5
Maybe use different picks? My lead was awful before I used Dunlop Jazz III picks. Sure, they take awhile to get used to, but they let you pick much faster than before in part due to the point at the edge of them.

If you do get some, get the Ultex variety. They feel better than the nylon Jazz IIIs.
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#6
Quote by Raijouta
Maybe use different picks? My lead was awful before I used Dunlop Jazz III picks. Sure, they take awhile to get used to, but they let you pick much faster than before in part due to the point at the edge of them.

If you do get some, get the Ultex variety. They feel better than the nylon Jazz IIIs.


Well that's nothing but opinion; I use these Dunlop picks that are quite large and not very pointed. Pick type is all down to preference.
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#7
'It has been weeks' is the line that caught my eye.

Building up speed takes many months, if not years. 'Going slow then getting faster' doesn't mean you play through once slowly then jump right to top speed.
Remember, going slower isn't going to harm you, and can only help you. Going faster too soon can harm your playing, as well as your health. I know far too many people who have had to give up guitar playing entirely, as well as developed problems with other activites, because they tried to shred too soon and they developed RSI in one or both of their hands.

That's all there is to it really. There is no such thing as 'too slow' when it comes to guitar practise, and don't expect to improve for at least a couple of months. It is probably best in fact if you expect and plan for it to take you at least a year or so to see any real improvement.




And as far as picks go, they are indeed just down to opinion. Lots of people on here sing high praises of the Jazz III picks, but then nearly every professional musician out there uses more 'regular' picks, and I know I personally can play much faster with a thicker (1mm+) Tortex, Delrin or Gator Grip pick than I can with a slim Tortex Jazz pick.
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#8
Caffeine is a great way of delaying muscle exhaustion and cramps. I know it sounds silly but I would give it a go.
#9
Quote by kirkhammett09
I really want to build up my speed and be able to shred. I know there's no trick to it and it's just lots and lots of practice. My guitar teacher has me doing these chromatic finger exercises along with practicing my scales. The problem is, once I get to around 180+ bpm, my hand sort cramps up and I can't keep up. I've tried playing slower and trying to slowly build up to that speed but it has been weeks and I can't cleanly go that speed or faster. Another weird thing is that it's my picking hand, NOT my fretting hand that cramps up. I try to keep my hand relaxed but nothing works. I think it might be my picking technique because I hold my pick different playing lead then I do playing rythym. Any tips? Is this normal?

It doesn't take weeks, it takes months or even years.

You need to stop trying to play fast and instead just concentrate on playing accurately, speed will develop at it's own pace over time. You're not in a race and it's not a video game, you're learning to play a musical instrument...there's no prize for coming first or achievements to unlock each time you "level up". Your hand cramps up because you're physically and mentally unable to play at that speed yet, continuing to try isn't going to achieve anything. Also, don't overestimate the importance of playing scales and chromatics - they have very little benefit when it comes to actually playing anything, If you grind exercises then you get good at exercises, not good at playing guitar.There's far more important things to be concerned with than how fast you are - faster doesn not equal "better".

Think about it, is there any point in you being able to play straight scale runs or chromatic patterns at high speed? No, there isn't, other than being able to tell people you can do it. Those things appear very rarely in music, so you're ust wasting time and energy if you over-emphasise them in your practice routine.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Aug 25, 2008,