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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey guys. Here's a quick video of my playing some soulless scales. I know how we all hate them, but they're good practice, imo.

I'm at this point where I have broken new ground on my alternate picking (playing on bridge pickup). I'm able to be a bit more consistent without breaking apart and tbh, it feels like I'm actually playing guitar.

To demonstrate what I typically do watch when I switch to the neck pup: it seems like cheating to me - I muddy things up a bit by moving to the neck pick-up and make my way through the scale (if it actually is a scale) using hammer-ons and pull-offs. It's much easier and it can sound really cool to me (like that little thing at the end), but it just feels like 'meh'.

My issue is that I don't know how to make myself quicker with the alternate picking and make it sound good. I can go about twice as fast after doing a specific warm-up, but it starts to sound weird.

I don't really know what to do here. Do you guys know why the alternate picking doesn't sound right and have any advice?

I'm considering giving up and working on sweep picking (for the umpteenth time).


 

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you are doing good. but first...turn off the effects...even the reverb and drive. totally clean signal. no, it wont sound like a typical metal solo but you need to hear exactly what you are articulating before you can fix whatever you think your problem is with articulation. no, i am no speed metal player but the its all the same. even when one is playing slow solos they dont learn to be expressive with effects. effects are for after you learn to express. listen to david gilmour with a clean acoustic. you'll see what i mean. effects not only mask what your actually playing, they help one to cheat...even unknowingly. keep at it. you definitely got the idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
you are doing good. but first...turn off the effects...even the reverb and drive. totally clean signal. no, it wont sound like a typical metal solo but you need to hear exactly what you are articulating before you can fix whatever you think your problem is with articulation. no, i am no speed metal player but the its all the same. even when one is playing slow solos they dont learn to be expressive with effects. effects are for after you learn to express. listen to david gilmour with a clean acoustic. you'll see what i mean. effects not only mask what your actually playing, they help one to cheat...even unknowingly. keep at it. you definitely got the idea.
what a great post - thanks. I can't believe that never occurred to me.
 

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The instructional DVD "Accelerate your guitar playing" by Tomo Fujita has some good alternate picking exercises. He is a master funk player with a killer right hand.

I'm just revisiting it now after 10 years and it is still a great resource. Each exercise is brief and concise. Covers other stuff such including interval and ear training exercises.

Text Font Technology
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The instructional DVD "Accelerate your guitar playing" by Tomo Fujita has some good alternate picking exercises. He is a master funk player with a killer right hand.

I'm just revisiting it now after 10 years and it is still a great resource. Each exercise is brief and concise. Covers other stuff such including interval and ear training exercises.

View attachment 53889

Thanks. Larry has graciously sent me a DVD instructional that I'm going to go through first, but I'll keep an eye out for this next time I'm at cosmo.
 

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I will second that Tomo has a crazy good right hand. John Mayer studied under Fujita at Berklee.

Another thing that you may be interested in working on is economy picking. As well many great players employ legato as a big part of their 'fast' playing.
 

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Nice! Keep up the good work. Have you tried to isolate what it is that you think sounds weird?

Since we're on the topic, here are my thoughts on developing speed.

Basic rules for building speed and accuracy (in a useful way):
- Turn off all effects and play with a pristine clean tone (a little reverb won't kill you if you need it to make the sound palatable, but definitely no gain).
- Every exercise should eventually be repeated with every finger pattern (preferably in the context of playing actual scales or arpeggios).
- If you're always making a mistake in the same spot of a scale, isolate that section to find out what is causing the mistake. Create an exercise to practice just the thing that is causing the mistake.
- For instance, one common point of failure is where the right hand switches between outside picking and inside picking. You could make a short riff or solo type of thing where you go back and forth between two strings working your way up and down the fretboard (still following the scale to make it musical and transferable).
- Other common points of failure are when your hand has to shift up or down the fretboard, when your fingering changes between two different patterns across two strings, etc.​

The Sprint (requires a metronome):
- Start slow and make sure you are not only playing every note perfectly but with the same volume, note length, and technique. No accidental legato/staccato.
- Speed up each subsequent attempt until you start missing notes, then back off the speed a tad to where you're playing perfectly but struggling to do it. Repeat at this speed for a few more runs until the mistakes come back at this slower speed, then continue to back off until you're going slow again.
- Keep record of your top repeated (accurately played) speed every day. Some days you'll be slower than others, more on that below.
- Think of this technique like warming up for a heavy sprint and following it up with a cool down jog.
EXAMPLE: You start at 16th notes at 80bpm and work your way up to the point of making mistakes (let's say around 120bpm), then back off until you're perfect again (usually around 90-95% of where you messed up). Stay there until you start making mistakes again. Then back the speed off every subsequent attempt until you're back down to 80bpm.

Interval Training (don't need a metronome):
- Choose a common 3 note scale pattern on one string (5-7-8, 7-8-10, or 8-10-12)
- Play it at a moderate pace and increase to your top accurate speed for a short burst (5-10 seconds max), then go back to the moderate pace.
- Repeat this up to 10 times using each of the 3 note patterns.
- Eventually work your way up to doing the same thing using patterns that jump from string to string.

Muscle Memory (requires a metronome):
- Difficult to write this down without demonstrating or writing several pages of tabs. Essentially, don't just practice going up and down scales in one way.
- Choose one scale pattern/position and start there.
- Do 2 note, 3 note, 4, 5, 6, or heck even up to 16 note patterns within the scale.
- Play the same patterns and skip strings along the way.
- Do variations where instead of moving up the scale diatonically, jump intervals (do the entire scale by jumping up and down in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, and 8va).
- Alternate pick the arpeggios of each chord in the scale, with and without the 7th added.​
- If you do this, you'll find dozens of exercises in just one scale pattern/position. When you want to get really brave, do the same thing but slide up and down between the different scale positions. Hundreds of exercises for just one scale. Eventually, practice them all, in every scale mode and the pentatonic & blues scales.
- The idea here is that you've done every possible combination of fingering/picking that can be done on the fretboard so many times that it is essentially just muscle memory. In the long run, it makes learning fast/difficult solos REALLY easy.

Learn Some Fast Solos:
- Enough said. Lots of great fast players have come before us. Might as well enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Those are just a couple of examples. There are literally thousands of exercises and methods to choose from. Find the ones that inspire you to keep practicing and do them. It is a long road to develop speed, especially if you've already been playing guitar for a long time. Slowing down to fix the bad habits is the most important thing to do in that case.

IMPORTANT, don't get discouraged! AKA How To Track Progress:
Developing speed on the guitar is just like developing your strength in the gym. If you're new to it, you'll make consistent and seemingly easy progress for the first while. Then you'll feel like you're hitting a plateau. That's when you need to start changing how you track your progress. If you're playing at 132bpm one day, but can only do 120bpm for the next few practices, it doesn't mean you've gotten slower. Just like days in the gym, you're not going to be able to train at 100% every single time. Like anything, progress is best measured by overall improvements over time. Maybe one month you go up and down between 120 and 132. Maybe next month you'll be doing 128 to 132. Despite the top number not going up, you could say you've gotten faster because you are more consistently accurate at higher speeds. When improvements in top speed and average speed tapers down on the day to day or week to week basis, you need to start playing the long game and consider how you're improving month to month or quarter to quarter.

John Petrucci's Rock Discipline DVD was my life in the late 90s and early 2000s.

That and Steve Vai's 10 hour guitar workout, Satch's lessons (taken from magazines, etc.)

My Experience On Speed:
- This is a subject close to me because I spent my first several years playing guitar trying to develop blistering speed and accuracy. Which I accomplished (to some degree). The problem is, it never translated musically for me. I could learn fast stuff and play fast, but anything I improvised or wrote just sounded like a guy trying to play fast all the time, or it was just "blah". These days, I spend much more time trying to develop my ear (which I really wish I did earlier). Things like note choice and embellishment/technique are far more important to me these days, and my playing is (arguably) better than ever despite the fact that I can't play even 75% as fast or do as many tricks as I used to be able to.
- To be clear, I'm not saying you'll fall into the same trap I did. I'm just sharing what happened with me and my playing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I will second that Tomo has a crazy good right hand. John Mayer studied under Fujita at Berklee.

Another thing that you may be interested in working on is economy picking. As well many great players employ legato as a big part of their 'fast' playing.
You'll note in the video that initially I'm doing alternate picking (which is what I'm trying to work on) and when I switch to the neck pup, I also switch to legato. It sounds and looks way faster (imo), but feels like copping out. I know it isn't - I used to learn (try) a lot of satriani stuff when I was younger to my detriment - , but I see guys cleanly doing the alternate thing and want to do it as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Nice! Keep up the good work. Have you tried to isolate what it is that you think sounds weird?

Since we're on the topic, here are my thoughts on developing speed.

Basic rules for building speed and accuracy (in a useful way):
- Turn off all effects and play with a pristine clean tone (a little reverb won't kill you if you need it to make the sound palatable, but definitely no gain).
- Every exercise should eventually be repeated with every finger pattern (preferably in the context of playing actual scales or arpeggios).
- If you're always making a mistake in the same spot of a scale, isolate that section to find out what is causing the mistake. Create an exercise to practice just the thing that is causing the mistake.
- For instance, one common point of failure is where the right hand switches between outside picking and inside picking. You could make a short riff or solo type of thing where you go back and forth between two strings working your way up and down the fretboard (still following the scale to make it musical and transferable).
- Other common points of failure are when your hand has to shift up or down the fretboard, when your fingering changes between two different patterns across two strings, etc.​

The Sprint (requires a metronome):
- Start slow and make sure you are not only playing every note perfectly but with the same volume, note length, and technique. No accidental legato/staccato.
- Speed up each subsequent attempt until you start missing notes, then back off the speed a tad to where you're playing perfectly but struggling to do it. Repeat at this speed for a few more runs until the mistakes come back at this slower speed, then continue to back off until you're going slow again.
- Keep record of your top repeated (accurately played) speed every day. Some days you'll be slower than others, more on that below.
- Think of this technique like warming up for a heavy sprint and following it up with a cool down jog.
EXAMPLE: You start at 16th notes at 80bpm and work your way up to the point of making mistakes (let's say around 120bpm), then back off until you're perfect again (usually around 90-95% of where you messed up). Stay there until you start making mistakes again. Then back the speed off every subsequent attempt until you're back down to 80bpm.

Interval Training (don't need a metronome):
- Choose a common 3 note scale pattern on one string (5-7-8, 7-8-10, or 8-10-12)
- Play it at a moderate pace and increase to your top accurate speed for a short burst (5-10 seconds max), then go back to the moderate pace.
- Repeat this up to 10 times using each of the 3 note patterns.
- Eventually work your way up to doing the same thing using patterns that jump from string to string.

Muscle Memory (requires a metronome):
- Difficult to write this down without demonstrating or writing several pages of tabs. Essentially, don't just practice going up and down scales in one way.
- Choose one scale pattern/position and start there.
- Do 2 note, 3 note, 4, 5, 6, or heck even up to 16 note patterns within the scale.
- Play the same patterns and skip strings along the way.
- Do variations where instead of moving up the scale diatonically, jump intervals (do the entire scale by jumping up and down in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, and 8va).
- Alternate pick the arpeggios of each chord in the scale, with and without the 7th added.​
- If you do this, you'll find dozens of exercises in just one scale pattern/position. When you want to get really brave, do the same thing but slide up and down between the different scale positions. Hundreds of exercises for just one scale. Eventually, practice them all, in every scale mode and the pentatonic & blues scales.
- The idea here is that you've done every possible combination of fingering/picking that can be done on the fretboard so many times that it is essentially just muscle memory. In the long run, it makes learning fast/difficult solos REALLY easy.

Learn Some Fast Solos:
- Enough said. Lots of great fast players have come before us. Might as well enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Those are just a couple of examples. There are literally thousands of exercises and methods to choose from. Find the ones that inspire you to keep practicing and do them. It is a long road to develop speed, especially if you've already been playing guitar for a long time. Slowing down to fix the bad habits is the most important thing to do in that case.

IMPORTANT, don't get discouraged! AKA How To Track Progress:
Developing speed on the guitar is just like developing your strength in the gym. If you're new to it, you'll make consistent and seemingly easy progress for the first while. Then you'll feel like you're hitting a plateau. That's when you need to start changing how you track your progress. If you're playing at 132bpm one day, but can only do 120bpm for the next few practices, it doesn't mean you've gotten slower. Just like days in the gym, you're not going to be able to train at 100% every single time. Like anything, progress is best measured by overall improvements over time. Maybe one month you go up and down between 120 and 132. Maybe next month you'll be doing 128 to 132. Despite the top number not going up, you could say you've gotten faster because you are more consistently accurate at higher speeds. When improvements in top speed and average speed tapers down on the day to day or week to week basis, you need to start playing the long game and consider how you're improving month to month or quarter to quarter.

John Petrucci's Rock Discipline DVD was my life in the late 90s and early 2000s.

That and Steve Vai's 10 hour guitar workout, Satch's lessons (taken from magazines, etc.)

My Experience On Speed:
- This is a subject close to me because I spent my first several years playing guitar trying to develop blistering speed and accuracy. Which I accomplished (to some degree). The problem is, it never translated musically for me. I could learn fast stuff and play fast, but anything I improvised or wrote just sounded like a guy trying to play fast all the time, or it was just "blah". These days, I spend much more time trying to develop my ear (which I really wish I did earlier). Things like note choice and embellishment/technique are far more important to me these days, and my playing is (arguably) better than ever despite the fact that I can't play even 75% as fast or do as many tricks as I used to be able to.
- To be clear, I'm not saying you'll fall into the same trap I did. I'm just sharing what happened with me and my playing.
Thanks - there's a lot of useful information there. Some of it is a bit over my head (muscle memory section), but I think I'll be taking two licks from Laristotle's lick library and then grabbing a metronome and applying the advice above.

I'll have to look at the petrucci video later (I'm overloaded from the DVD at the moment).
 

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what a great post - thanks. I can't believe that never occurred to me.
When i started learning to chicken pick, I practiced exclusively unplugged with my Tele. It helped to get my plucked notes to have an equal attack with the picked down strokes .
 

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My Experience On Speed:
- This is a subject close to me because I spent my first several years playing guitar trying to develop blistering speed and accuracy. Which I accomplished (to some degree). The problem is, it never translated musically for me. I could learn fast stuff and play fast, but anything I improvised or wrote just sounded like a guy trying to play fast all the time, or it was just "blah". These days, I spend much more time trying to develop my ear (which I really wish I did earlier). Things like note choice and embellishment/technique are far more important to me these days, and my playing is (arguably) better than ever despite the fact that I can't play even 75% as fast or do as many tricks as I used to be able to.
- To be clear, I'm not saying you'll fall into the same trap I did. I'm just sharing what happened with me and my playing.
this comment makes me think of bands like mega death and such. no feeling, just speed. but i like heavier music for sure..

as for me? i really haven't tried to get fast. i found it more interesting to improvise so exercises simply fell by the way. it becomes its own exercise and speed just slowly develops. not blinding speed...lol...not even close. but i dont feel the need. i'm might be lazy. and thats probably why i put improvising ahead of learning other peoples music. i'd hear something interesting, learn the rhythm and bass. then i might learn some of the solo but i would just rather improvise it. yep...lazy...lol.
 

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this comment makes me think of bands like mega death and such. no feeling, just speed. but i like heavier music for sure..
While I tend to agree in general, you singled out one band that didn't fall in to that when they had Marty Friedman. One of the tastiest shredders I've ever heard (Dragon's Kiss is amazing). Him and Dimebag stood out to me. Other than that though, I concur.

Sorry can't help @adcandour . I'm finally at a place where my speed has caught up to my taste.
 
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What a lot of excellent information. I will never be a fast player. It's not really important to me anymore. I thought that's what I wanted but things change with the progression of your skill sets.
 

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I've always wanted to be able to shred and I definitely fall into the lazy category as well. I used to be into metal much more than I am now but still feel the need for speed. I think I'll be annoyed with myself for not actually giving it a solid effort because I know thats what it will take for me to get there. Some peoples hands can get there faster than others and for a while I think I just gave up trying because I figured my hands will just never be able to move that fast. I was probably just making excuses to justify my lack of commitment putting in the time to get there. I did put in a lot of time when I was younger playing solo's of all sorts (metallica, pantera mostly) but out of the 2 Dime was the shredder and I never could play along with. Iron maiden is another band where I improvise over the parts I cant play. Maybe its time to put down the lester and pick up a super strat...
 

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I envy those that have speed but I just don't have it. If I practiced I might pick up some speed. I would actually rather spend practice time on a slow grinding blues progression. It makes me a lot happier an I feel there is a lot more of my emotion shown. Nothing like a slow bend and release to get me kick started.
 
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