Help in playing faster

The technical stuff. Scales, Modes, Intervals, etc.

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Markm
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Help in playing faster

Post by Markm » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:26 pm

I am dedicating some of my practice time to one part of my playing that is really lacking.
I have a tough time playing fast licks, picking hand is more of the problem, I think, and want to get better at it.

If anyone wants to share tips/suggestions resources, that would be great!
Thanks
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S&M Freddy
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by S&M Freddy » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:09 pm

I usually find out all sorts of techniques by learning other people's stuff...a lot of amazing stuff becomes much easier when you see how they do it! If you have some fast licks in mind I would search for Youtube video lessons and slowly work up to full speed.

I don't know anything about shredding...sounds like hours of working up and down scales with a metronome (not my thing...)!
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HyFive578
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by HyFive578 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:53 pm

If you believe your picking hand is the problem, then you should isolate that for your practice routine. There's an exercise that I've used where you use only open strings. This way, you are taking the fretting hand out of the equation. Using a metronome (extremely important), play the following on the open high E string using strictly alternate picking: quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, triplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, starting at 60 bpm and raise the tempo by 10 bpm each cycle until it stops sounding clean. Start a chart and keep track of the highest BPM you achieve for each note grouping. Sounds boring right? It is!!! But, if you do this religiously a few times a week, I promise you that you're picking will improve and so will your speed. The idea here is that you have to be able to play open notes cleanly, otherwise, theres no way your fretted notes will be. Theres a lot of other things I could recommend, but you would be surprised how effective this very simple exercise is. Good luck. Let us know if this works for you.
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Rick O'Shea
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by Rick O'Shea » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:03 pm

+1, HyFive. Especially with respect to the diligent use of a metronome. You cannot play fast until you play steady.

String crossings are also important. If you do them poorly, it can be like hitting a speed bump, or worse, a brick wall in the middle of a lick. A basic way to address this is to practise the same string crossings using alternate and economy picking until both are perfect. Start with a major scale with the root on the G-string, so your fingering is: G - 1, 3; B 1, 2, 4; E 1, 3, 4. Ascend then descend the scale remembering to repeat the top note. If you use economy picking you have natural and fast string crossing, but you start the scale on an upstroke. If you use strictly alternate picking, starting with a downstroke, all of your string crossings require more effort and time. This is another stumbling block to speed. You can use a metronome to train your muscles to play either technique at tempo.

Additionally, a hard, thick pick requires less movement on the pick hand. If you are using a soft, bendy pick, you may be moving way to far with each stroke to pluck quickly.
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Markm
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by Markm » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:25 pm

Guys, just wanted to say thanks so much!
I will use all of the advice you guys have given.

At this point, I don't even mind some good old boring exercises as long as it gets me somewhere.

I play in a covers band and we have a good long song list and we aren't adding too many new songs at the moment, so I decided to dedicate my summer to becomming a better player, starting with some speed!

I have never, ever used a metrnome in my life.
I better go out and get one right away!

I knew I came to the right place for some good advice!
Thanks again!
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jim renolds
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by jim renolds » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:45 am

Until you get one, there's lots of free virtual metronomes available online (as long as your computer is where you practice.

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S&M Freddy
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by S&M Freddy » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:22 am

I have one of those neat Snark headstock tuners....that has a built in metronome as well....not they I use that function of course [smilie=icon_eek.gif]
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Markm
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by Markm » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:25 pm

Wow there are millions of the metronomes out there.

I assume the tap tempo ones you have to set yourself?

Can anyone recommend a good one for this use for me?

Can't wait to get started!
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HyFive578
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by HyFive578 » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:50 pm

Markm wrote:Wow there are millions of the metronomes out there.

I assume the tap tempo ones you have to set yourself?

Can anyone recommend a good one for this use for me?

Can't wait to get started!
You don't have to get carried away on the metronome, in this case... less is more.. ..

Qwik Time QT-3 Quartz Metronome... It's $15 and will do the trick...
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by jimsreynolds » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:18 pm

If you have a smartphone you can probably download a free app. I have good one for my Android HTC handset along with a simple audio recorder and tuner too. I even have a four track :)

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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by Jackie » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:09 am

Agree on the smartphone metronome thing. The Mobile Metronome app is free and has tap tempo, different clicks, all kinds of time signatures to set etc.

Speed...build it up until it sounds clean, like others have said already. Interestingly, I think the most difficult thing when playing fast is ensuring the peripheral strings don't ring while you play.

If you have a particular song and you have an accurate tab for, GuitarPro has a great tool for that - it's a loop tool which has a "Speed Trainer" feature - you can set the lowest tempo and the highest tempo (in percent), then set the percentage increase after each loop. It's a really intense way of learning a fast run and you can get sloppy and carried away fast because the app plays with you and it might sound ok, but it's a very effective way if you have a little discipline. I learned the entire November Rain outro solo in about two hours, 2 and a half or so, so yeah, it works [smilie=icon_biggrin.gif]
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Markm
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by Markm » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:54 am

Thanks again to everyone for the suggestions and tips!

I do not have a smartphone (but I can text!)

Right now I am using one of those free online metronomes and am really starting to "get" what a great tool this is.

Looking forward to trying to add a little more speed here and there at band practice tonight!
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HyFive578
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by HyFive578 » Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:00 pm

Jackie wrote:GuitarPro has a great tool for that - it's a loop tool which has a "Speed Trainer" feature
+1 [smilie=gt-happyup.gif] ... I use the GP Speed Trainer religiously... it's awesome...
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Markm
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by Markm » Fri May 18, 2012 12:14 pm

Hey guys
Been trying all of this great advice for several weeks now and its starting to pay off!
Just want to say thanks!

Since I have alway practiced with songs the challenge of doing scales and picking exercises has actually been quite fun for me. I really enjoy incorporating this into my practice time now.
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Re: Help in playing faster

Post by CaptNasty » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:45 pm

I know this is a very old thread. I am posting this info not for the OP but for future readers who may land here through a Google search while researching this topic.

This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this topic and looking for ways to help players I coach/mentor through the speed mechanics hurdle. I think the traditional “Mel Bay” approach to learning guitar fails to address key points that result in players developing bad habits in their early, formative years that they must unlearn as they try to learn advanced/challenging techniques... such as playing fast.

All of the prior advice given to this point is accurate. Following this advice, working the techniques described into your practice regimen should over time allow you to increase your speed. As you do these exercises you will subconciously figure out the mechanics. A great number of players have use these traditional techniques and achieved great results, so the result cannot be argued with.

But can you expedite this process? Is there another path? I think that the answer to both is “yes”.

Think about playing fast. You are trying to fit more notes into a given time box.

While there a other techniques for achieving speed, there is a straight forward approach that can lead to rapid improvement in playing speed: make your movements smaller. If you move the fingers on your fret hand 4 mm off the string versus 1 mm off the string which do you think will result in faster play? The further you move, the more time it takes. Distance travelled == Time. More Distance == Longer Time. Longer time == slower.

The same logic applies to your pick hand: minimize your pick stroke and your pick hand speed will improve. If you find that smaller pick strokes leave you with lighter pick attack, change your pick. A thick pick will help. Additionally pick material plays a role, to solve this problem I moved to 1.44 mm Dunlop Primetone Sculpted Jazz IIIs. These picks have a very pronounced attack (and are very grippy).

Some finer points as your fine motor skills improve: use a light touch on the fretboard. Only apply as much pressure as needed to get notes to ring clearly. Applying pressure takes time too. With your pick hand, do not anchor! Be relaxed in both mind and body. You have to refine your frethand and pick hand synchronization too.

I find that this approach provides very concrete goals that can be precisely targeted in a practice regimen, thus yielding quicker results versus the speed drills approach to increasing playing speed. The traditional approach of playing something hundreds or even thousands of times until you subconciously work it all out will get you there, there are too many examples of where this has worked to deny it, but it is a brute force method. Relying on subconcious development of speed skills yields an unpredictable schedule of progression. Some people may even toil for years without it ever “clicking” for them.

Check out guys like Michael Angelo Batio. His fret hand looks like it flutters when he plays fast. Very small movements. He uses these techniques. Look at Van Halen, he has bigger movements. I have watched EVH pick hand mechanics and his movements are quite large, but he gets great speed from his pick hand so clearly there is some other mechanic that he is using. Again there are multiple techniques to get speed. The technique I have outlined here is a way to approach speed mechanics in a very targeted way that should yield reasonably quick results. It is finesse instead of brute force.

Once you start playing fast and get comfortable the most important thing will kick in: confidence. Confidence is a huge factor in what you can and cannot do.

Said another way: one path to playing fast on the guitar is about fine motor skills. Focus on minimizing your movements and using a light touch while playing.
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