View Full Version : Speed-developing

02-28-2003, 10:00 PM
I'm working on my picking speed for the moment. I'm doing major scales with a metronome, and I'm practicing them on five different "boxes" on the fretboard. I do this five minutes on 80 bpm in eights and 16ths, then five minutes with 85, then 90, 95 and finally 100 bpm. I've done this almost every day in one month, but I'm still to slow to hang on at 100 without tensing my shoulders. Am I doing something wrong here? How long time will it take before I master 100, 120, 150, 200 bpm?

PS: I've been doing chords for about ten years, and only worked on technique for about 6-7 months. I'm 18 years old. Will I ever be as good as the virtuosos that started practicing everyday since they where 10-11 years old?

02-28-2003, 10:28 PM
Well, first of all, sometimes it takes a really long time ( way more than a month ) to reach actual high speeds ( I usually donīt like to talk in bpm, so I wonīt do so now neither :) )
Sometimes, you get kinda stuck and it seems as if you wonīt progress at all, then all of a sudden you break the barrier and reach a new level ( and maybe a new plateau ).
It takes time, patience, motivation and a bit of "pushing the boundaries" ( trying to increase of the metronome by like 20 beats above your top-level. You will most likely not be able to play at that new high tempo, but if you try, you might "break the barrier", and once you slow down the metronome again, you might discover that you can all of a sudden play it a bit faster than your old top-speed... example: you can play a lick at 100 bpm ( ok, now I am talking bpm, I know ), and you canīt progress. Speed up the metronome to like 115 or 120. Most likely thatīll be way too fast. But you try to play at that speed anyway. And maybe, if you now slow down again to like 104, it might work... you just broke a small barrier )
Also, try to make sure youīre focussed and relaxed, and try to be at your own top level ( feeling well, focussed, attentive ). That might be the case at a certain time of the day.
Or break up your practising routine, practising in like 2 short sessions a day instead of one big one ( The "Morse-theory" ).

Relax, donīt get unpatient, and donīt lose your motivation just because you feel stuck. And take little breaks in between ( play a lick for like 1 minute, take a break for 1, play it for 2 min., take another break for 1 min, play it 3 min., take a 3 minute break... helps to keep the attention level up )
And... make sure your picking motion is the same when you play fast as it is when you play slow.
And finally, increase the tempo very very gradually... only by 2 or 4 beats. That should work...

I donīt know how long / often I have played the PG-lick... always going back to playing it really slow in between,to get the hands, brain and eyes used to the motion and to make sure itīs accurate...

Alex Pires
03-01-2003, 11:36 AM
Originally posted by paularve
I'm 18 years old. Will I ever be as good as the virtuosos that started practicing everyday since they where 10-11 years old?

Hey man...i started to play guitar with 17...and iīm very happy with my advance in the guitar(Iīm with 20 now)...Of course you can be as good as the virtuosos...just keep the correct and constant study...

03-01-2003, 02:19 PM
What are you working on for the time?

The Mechanix
03-01-2003, 04:33 PM
Hey paularve,

In addition to the excellent advice already presented by Eric, one thing that I think almost every guitarist does without noticing is hunch their picking hand shoulder because of tension.

Ideally you should watch yourself whilst practicing technique in a mirror. Your shoulders should be relaxed. Alot of people (and this is definitely something I've seen in myself :D ) when they want to play fast, immediately tense up, as if their about to wrestle Hulk Hogan. If you can see yourself doing this in the mirror, then it's alot easier to eliminate.

In this months Guitar Techniques, there's an interview with Steve Lukather where he mentions this

"....what I did do as a kid, which is the most important thing to remember so you don't hurt yourself, was stiffening up when I was trying to play fast. You have to learn to relax your forearm and wrist."

Another (I think underestimated) factor is the co-ordination between your left and right hand. You have to make sure that each can perform the task on its own. i.e. Make sure you can play a pattern legato as well as picking. The slower hand is usually carried by the one playing in time. While you can get through a pattern or phrase at slower speeds, it kind of falls apart at a higher speed.

In the Troy Stetina book "Speed Mechanics" he has a section on practice techniques, where he mentions that if you are having trouble playing a certain phrase, you need to find out why it's difficult. Is it the left hand that's causing the problem (hammer on's out of time etc.), right hand (it could be inside picking, crossing strings etc). When you have isolated the problem, you can practice it on it's own, then go back to the phrase or pattern, where if you're anything like me, you'll uncover a new problem. :mad:

I understand that I'm just stating what is common knowledge, but I think it's important enough to reiterate.

Good luck mate


NP: Soulfly - 3

Alex Pires
03-02-2003, 01:01 AM
Hey Paularve

Iīm studying a lot of improvise...Since that for me is the most important skill(in my opinion of course). Iīm using arpegios...scales...pentatonics...everything that i used to learn in those 3 years of guitar (Iīm with 20 now)...Just try to do that...learn something and them apply it to a musical context...maybe a composition...or a improvisation...i donīt know if I can post a mp3 here...maybe the moderators can help me with that...

Can i post a mp3 file here? Iīd like to post a impro here...

03-02-2003, 09:51 AM
Yes, you can post an MP3, as long as it is not too big ( about a mega-byte. "Maximum size: 1048576 bytes, Valid file extensions: gif jpg png txt zip bmp jpeg mid mp3 doc pdf ptb" )
If the one you wanna post is too big, try to change it to like 96 or less KBPS.
Simply reply to a thread ( or start a new one ). Below the message-window, thereīs an option to attach a file from your HD.

learn something and them apply it to a musical context
Yup, agreed. I mention that "rule" a lot... :)


03-02-2003, 12:40 PM
Yeah thanks,
it's allways important to get back to basics! Tension during practice hasn't been a major problem for me, because I allways take a good warm-up for about five minutes, before i start rehearsing That means rolling my shoulders to loosen up the muscles on my shoulders, "pumping my arms" up an down towards the floor so i get the blood down to my hands, stretching the front and back of my handwrists to loosen up the links around them, and finally I hold my hands like as if I were to play a piano, then i tense and loose, tense and loose thre-four times to get more blood running out to my fingers.
My guitar teacher taught me this, and I'm so glad I learned this, cause I see so many fellow musicians who's all tensed up. It's so important to take care of your body. I also stretch the muscles I've been using during the practice, when I'm finished (I never practice for more than 50 minutes a time, then go for a 15 minutes break, before i start on a new spell of work, and so on)
That's why I don't wanna stress to play faster. I never increase the speed on my metronome before I'm relaxed in the tempo I'm currently playing in. (But thanks for the advice about trying to play faster than I normally do, Eric. I'll tell you how it's working when I've done it for a while!)

03-02-2003, 12:59 PM
A big problem for a lot of players is they don't learn to think as fast as they play. I believe you shoud never progress to a faster speed than you can think. So if in your mind you can't count the rhythm and imagine the notes you are playing at tempo x you should not try to play it at that speed.
You need to work on thinking faster than you play that may require you to think with the metronome for a while before you attempt to play with it.

03-02-2003, 01:02 PM
So how do I develop my "brain-speed"? ;)

03-02-2003, 01:19 PM
Reminds me of a quote by Mick Goodrick... "The faster you play, the further you have to think ahead". The manīs a genius !

NP: John Mayer- Room For Squares

03-02-2003, 07:26 PM
Originally posted by szulc
A big problem for a lot of players is they don't learn to think as fast as they play. Very true! It's like driving a formula-1 car at top speed but with no clue of where you're going...
I once heard a guy talking about high speed playing, he said: "speed is a biproduct of accuracy". Itīs qite logical, if you can play something clean and relaxed, the speed comes over time. Don't rush it! Also, try increasing the speed on the metronome with smaller increments, like 8 or so. That way, you play faster each time, but itīs not as stressful on your fingers, and they have a better chance of adapting to the increased work.

NP: Steve Vai- The Ultra Zone

03-02-2003, 08:29 PM
speed is a biproduct of accuracy
I think it was Howard Roberts who came up with that. We heard it quite a bit from some of the instructors at MI

03-02-2003, 09:02 PM
I think it was Howard Roberts who came up with that Yeah, I think so. I heard it from Keith Wyatt, but I think he was quoting Howard. Itīs very true, however.