Troubleshooting Speed Problems

Ever come across a riff that you just can't play and you don't know what the problem is? This is a guide to tell you where you're going wrong and how to eradicate it.

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Introduction: Is there a riff/solo you can't play? This happens quite a lot when you hear a new cool song and you tend to blame your cheap guitar or something and throw it away and look at signature models for the whole week and decide you can't play worth crap. This guide will help you speed up and play that thing faster than the original. So lets troubleshoot. Note: This lesson does not include any tablature of any sort and is just to refine your technique of playing songs. Sometimes, you do the correct thing in practices but not in playing songs. This lesson is divided into two parts : I - FOR THE LEFT HAND (when your left hand lets you down) II - FOR THE RIGHT HAND (when your picking hand lets you down)

Left Hand Speed Troubleshooting

Problem 1: Using all fingers There can't be a single hero to fight villains for the whole world. Yeah, using all fingers is very important. You might be able to go faster with just three fingers at once, but in the longer run, practicing with all your fingers is very important. There are a lot of chromatic exercises which can help you. You just know where you can use the other finger. Problem 2: Distance of fingers from the frets The biggest and most common problem I get to see with guitarists is that they raise their fingers too high from the fretboard when they just used that finger to play a note. Keep all your fingers very close to the fretboard, just enough to get them inaction when required and not to close to mess up or mute the string. This is very important. This is the main problem when you can't play a riff or lick. So go check yourself. Also, check the action of your guitar. Problem 3: Barring a fret in a solo Yea, this is a bad thing to do. Give your fingers as much freedom they can get. For those of you who don't get what this means, Barring a fret means sticking your index finger all the way up to two or three strings when playing a solo. This happens a lot while playing the basic pentatonic when the index finger doesn't have to change positions. Don't bar the fret and try again. Maybe you can do it this time. Do some stretches and you can hopefully conquer this problem *Note : Sometimes you have to bar you finger when tapping on multiple strings together. Exercises: Stretch your fingers, use all the above methods and keep on practicing the same thing. Boring but gives great results. If nothing else works, use the good old slow-it-down method. Use all the techniques given above while playing slow and increase your speed by practice.

Right Hand Speed Troubleshooting

Problem 1: Picking style I know this old crap but if you can't play a thing just use economical picking. No harm is done. Sometimes even alternative can't even do it. Some songs do use a specific picking pattern but to most listeners, there is no difference. If you don't know what alternative or economical picking is, it is explained in one good lesson I read. Go check it out. Problem 2: Right hand movement OK, when you strum quick patterns which require great right hand stamina, make sure that you are moving just your wrist, not you whole goddamn arm. YEAH, seriously, just move your wrist. Most of these riffs are palm-muted so go rotate your wrist. Exercises: Use a metronome and stop at specific beats. If you are playing 32nd or 16th notes at a great speed, its is important that you know when to stop or fret. Just start a metronome, play sixteenth notes for half a bar then start playing again after a quarter beat. Thats all, if you don't find this lesson helpful at all, maybe you are picking a song too fast for you. It is very important that you proceed in a orderly fashion picking easy songs first. You can't play Malmsteem at your first go, its true, they don't call them GUITAR GURUS for no reason.

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    Cytagasm
    I have hade issues with my picking hand. I sprained it carrying an amp so I'm trying to be extra careful about anything that may damage it more. Looks like I should break that habit as well
    Danjo's Guitar
    You probably can't play Malmsteen ever, because he's like a freak of nature. Michael Angelo Batio is the only other "good" (and I use the term loosely) that can play as fast as him. If you want to play that fast, you're probably missing the entire point of playing guitar, which is to SOUND GOOD!!! Go play a Stevie Ray Vaughan lick, I assure you it will be a lot harder and much better sounding.
    GreenDayFan16
    My issue is the fact that my last two fingers raise really high off my strings. I'm not that fast yet and I feel it's holding me back. Any tips on how to keep my fingers close to the fretboard?
    ruletheneck
    GreenDayFan16 wrote: My issue is the fact that my last two fingers raise really high off my strings. I'm not that fast yet and I feel it's holding me back. Any tips on how to keep my fingers close to the fretboard?
    i have the same problem with my pinky trying to break it by playing scales REALLY slowly, although it's so hard i struggle to find it worth the effort.
    krypticguitar87
    bluntzilla2010 : I've recently started getting sudden intense pains in the muscles of my left hand while practicing speed exercises. I'm worried about breaking a tendon, but maybe it's because my finger muscles aren't very strong? Can anyone relate?
    I had a similar problem a couple of years ago. The doctor told me it was carpal tunnel, I'm not sure if i spelled that right, but either way it is a guitarists worst nightmare. It means that no matter how long your playing, your had is going to feel horrible to the point where your close to tears just holding the neck of the guitar, or typing. because of it I learned how to typpe with one hand, and had to stop playing for a few months. the way to aviod it would be to constantly use a stress ball or something else that you would squeeze that puts resistance on your fingers. This builds muscles in your wrist and fingers, taking stress away from the tendons that go throught your carpal tunnel, a "hollow tube" that runs through the bones in your wrist. When there is too much stress on them they swell up, putting pressure on the nerves that also run through the area, thus intense pain running through your like head ache only fifty times more painful. Also during times of pain, which can happen before you build the muscles up, use ibuprofin. I had to take 800 mg every 4-6 hrs, this helps with swelling and the pain.
    ProjectileQuiet
    bluntzilla2010 wrote: I've recently started getting sudden intense pains in the muscles of my left hand while practicing speed exercises. I'm worried about breaking a tendon, but maybe it's because my finger muscles aren't very strong? Can anyone relate?
    Make sure that your thumb of your left hand is between your middle and ring finger (though still on the back side of the neck, obviously). This will help distribute the force evenly and might keep your hand from hurting.
    OGLOGTHEBO$$
    bluntzilla2010 wrote: I've recently started getting sudden intense pains in the muscles of my left hand while practicing speed exercises. I'm worried about breaking a tendon, but maybe it's because my finger muscles aren't very strong? Can anyone relate?
    take breaks in between playing. one hour then 15 minute break is recommended
    OGLOGTHEBO$$
    I always used my whole arm and i would get tired kinda quick at first but i got so used to it that its nothing for me now. but reading this article and iduno871's comment on it. i think imma break out of that habbit.
    Fallen_Seeker
    zgbgydug wrote: Cytagasm wrote: what problems does picking with your whole arm rather than your wrist create? Stamina? Injury? Sound?? You lose stamina pretty quickly, and I think my picking is a lot sloppier when I use my whole arm.
    Not only can it make picking sloppy, but you can injure yourself as well. Subconsciously, while one is using their whole arm, tendons and muscles tighten. This can cause sprains, muscle or tendon rips, tennis elbow, etc.
    zgbgydug
    Cytagasm wrote: what problems does picking with your whole arm rather than your wrist create? Stamina? Injury? Sound??
    You lose stamina pretty quickly, and I think my picking is a lot sloppier when I use my whole arm.
    burndttoast
    I barre. I never really knew you weren't supposed to. I'll try to keep this in mind the next time I practice.
    iduno871
    I actually gave myself tennis elbow in my picking arm one night at a show by using my whole arm to pick. I was just into the moment and then had a sharp pain go all the way down my forearm. The night quickly went from epic to fail for me. Always use your wrist for picking
    bluntzilla2010
    I've recently started getting sudden intense pains in the muscles of my left hand while practicing speed exercises. I'm worried about breaking a tendon, but maybe it's because my finger muscles aren't very strong? Can anyone relate?
    Cytagasm
    what problems does picking with your whole arm rather than your wrist create? Stamina? Injury? Sound??