Building Speed

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by arched_top, May 2, 2008.

  1. arched_top

    arched_top Member

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    I'm a jazzer so I'm not looking to thrash or anything. I was just wondering what you guys do to get your picking speed up a little. Are there any specific exercises
     
  2. 12345678

    12345678 Senior Member

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    There are lots of books and videos out there. I'm sure most of them will work for you to a greater or lesser degree.

    But what I recommend to my students is "Guitar Technic" by Roger Filiberto published by Mel Bay.

    I firmly believe it is the best book for improving technique...all forms of proper guitar technique...which includes speed.

    Another upside of the book for you is that it is aimed at the jazz player. Roger Filiberto had a studio in New Orleans and taught more students than God. I know this book works!

    For the rock player I would suggest getting a copy of the Steve Vai 12 hour workout.

    Also, invest a few bucks in a metronome.

    I think the main thing is just doing it over and over and over again. Soon, the speed will come.

    You should also investigate different ways of holding the pick as some ways are better than others. I would suggest watching Al di Meola or John McLaughlin and examine the way they hold the pick as I feel it is key.

    I would also examine picks. I would recommend the Dunlop Jazz III for it's accuracy. I use the Ultex kind because I feel it slides off the strings a little better.

    For a shameless plug, visit my myspace page www.myspace.com/ursinderoche

    I play a few speedy licks toward the end.

    My best to you!
     
  3. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    First thing to keep in mind is that to play fast you need to practice slow. Make sure you're as effecient as you can be in your technique.


    Next thing is what you practice- a lot of guys getting into jazz start practicing a lot of scales and get to a point where they can run them pretty fast. But in a real playing situation you're not playing scales, you're playing lines. If you have to practice something practice arpeggios, but as soon as you get them down start making lines with them. I think the best thing to do is to start with a couple common rhyhtmic phrases and really hammer on them- figure out the best way to pick them. Get your right hand feel down for some cliche phrases and the rest will follow.
     
  4. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    economy of motion is key. check your posture. keep your shoulders parallel. stay relaxed. work tireless with a metronome. pay careful attention to right/left hand synchronization. learn to play legato, even when picking every note (it's all about fretting hand release).
     
  5. Glide

    Glide Member

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  6. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Best post so far... Relaxation... Metronome... Economy of motion...

    This one post is worth more than 100 DVDs, books, etc. to the OP, imo.
     
  7. deforce

    deforce Member

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    Absolutely. Relax. And keep your wrists straight!
     
  8. ivers

    ivers Member

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    I do this every day, cuz it's my favorite pickin excercise in the entire known universe:

    8s

    Code:
    
    -9-------8---------7----------8----------------
    ----10-------10---------10--------10---------- x2
    
    
    16s

    Code:
    
    -9-----------8-----------7----------------------
    ----10-9-10----10-9-10------etc---------------- x2
    
    
    16-triplets

    Code:
    
    -9-------------8---------------etc--------------
    --10-9-8-9-10---10-9-8-9-10-------------------- x2
    
    
    32s

    Code:
     
     -9-----------------8-----------------------------
     --10-9-8-7-8-9-10---etc--------------------------- x2
     
     
    When you start with this, start very slow. Part of the idea is to go seamlessly between the subdivisions, so have the metronome set on the same beat, and just move through from the top, then repeat.
     
  9. arched_top

    arched_top Member

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    Problem is that when the speed increases I find my right wrist and forearm goes berzerk! Isn't there some rule like the only movement should come from your wrist? I forgot what it is.
     
  10. 12345678

    12345678 Senior Member

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    I try to pick only from the wrist. There will be times when my forearm gets involved, but I don't really mean for it to.
     
  11. elgalad

    elgalad Senior Member

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    I've just realized this in the last few months (after seven years of playing). I never had any lessons until recently, so I was just picking however, but it was seriously holding back my speed.

    My teacher pointed me to the metronome - spend at least a half hour a day doing exercises to work on picking technique at a really slow tempo (I've been doing eight notes at 50-60 bpm). Use simple patterns, like the chromatic four notes and three notes per string exercises, and focus totally on picking solely from the wrist. Once you can do it without thinking about your picking hand, then increase the tempo by 5 bpm, and start over. I've only been doing this for a couple weeks, but it's already helped increase my speed noticeably.

    :)
     
  12. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    +1,000

    One thing I feel I should mention...when you work with a metronome make sure you're actually listening to the thing. You should be able to set it at 1/4 = 50 and play quarters with it and hear absolutely no flamming between the guitar & metronome...and that's pretty slow. Going faster will compound the problem.

    And, what Matte says here about 'economy of motion' and full note duration by way of fretting hand release is VERY important
     
  13. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    The only thing I could add to the excellent advice by matte, ken, et al is to make sure that everything you do feels easy. More than practicing with the goal of "getting it down at 60 so I can bump the metronome up to 65," think more along the lines of "let me be able to do it at 60 without even trying."

    As soon as it feels difficult or excess effort is expended, that leads to tension, which is the enemy of all the things Ken and Matte were talking about.
     
  14. Noah

    Noah Member

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    Economy of motion is key. If your picking hand is flailing to far away from the strings you need to try and correct it. It doesn't hurt to find another guitarist to give constructive criticism on your playing either. Also, some guys can pick fast, but are not always in sync with their fretting hand, so be aware of that also. Get inspiration from fast pickers like Mclaughlin, Dimeola, and Django and try to get in the mindset that picking fast is possible and can even become somewhat easy over time. Listening to Al Dimeola was definitely one thing that got my chops up to speed fast. No matter what, you're gonna have to put some work into it.
     
  15. j_uc

    j_uc Member

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    As to motion coming all from the wrist... I'm not so advanced that I'm qualified to contradict that, but maybe a wrist only approach could create a disconnect with the larger arm and shoulder muscles and the rest of the body? Tuck Andress in his article on Benson picking advises to practice first picking from the shoulder muscle before involving the finer wrist and finger muscles. Knowing sports a little Andress's recommendation makes a lot of sense to me. For instance in tennis the forerarm and the hand are only the last link in the kinetic chain. They are not where the power is mainly coming from. Does that make sense? I'm just wondering here, I know this sounds a bit out of place, so please don't flame me ; ) As to economy and relaxation, that is key - consistent with what good athletes do. Fast players are very relaxed too.
     
  16. ivers

    ivers Member

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    Yeah, I believe in the total body approach, where I get the weight on the string by using larger muscles, and the speed with the wrist. This way, I can get a full tone without much force from the wrist, with the risk of tensing up.

    No either or here though, AFAIC.
     
  17. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    Yep.

    Something else I thought of is the importance of the left hand to "right hand" technique. The coordination between the two really counts.

    To that end, there's a 'habit' or tendency of a lot of players, even some very good ones, that is worth pointing out. I used to do it myself and never noticed until a light bulb went off one day.

    Many players have the tendency to always or nearly always have the first (index finger) of the left hand always touching the neck somewhere. This makes sense to do in a way, because then it's always ready to play a note. But in actuality, playing this way is sort of like trying to type while holding down the "shift" key on the keyboard. It seriously hangs you up and causes the balance or 'center of gravity' of the hand (so to speak) to shift and be weighted toward that finger.

    Watch yourself and if you find that you tend to have the index finger contacting the neck at all times, experiment with letting it touch the neck only when it has to fret or bar note(s). This will allow you to sort of fly freely and allows for better coordination between the left and right hands as the left hand is now more in balance. This leads to faster picking and playing in general. It also allows you to relax your left hand more instead of 'clawing' the neck. You can get your hand into a more 'open' position allowing wider stretches. You will notice that most all 'fast' players play this way. Watch some Shawn Lane et al YouTube vids and you'll see what I'm talking about.
     
  18. AndrewMartinMusic

    AndrewMartinMusic Member

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    One thing that I like to do (especially late at night when I just want to shut my brain down) is to turn the metronome onto like 50bpm's on 2 and 4 and just play a constant, never-ending stream of 8th notes. I'll just turn on the tube and sit down and go for a while. I think this is much better than practicing scales, which are also useful too, but are limiting. The problem, as someone mentioned, is that you don't play scales at the gig, regardless of style, and all that time I spent practicing scales never seemed to connect when I was playing in the moment live. You could also adapt this constant 8th note thing to playing over standards too. I usually just play over one chord, but if you can play over changes, just you and the metronome, and make it interesting, then you really have arrived.

    I would say that playing from the wrist vs. the shoulder isn't so much important as having no tension. I think as guitarists, when we tense up we tend to play from the shoulder only because our wrist is flexed and too tense to bend. I think beyond that, it's better to play from the wrist than the elbow or the shoulder. I don't think sports analogies are appropriate, primarily because you don't need nearly the force required to torque on a tennis ball or whatever. I view it more like painting. When you use the smaller motions that come from bending at the wrist it's like getting right up to the canvas to paint with a normal-sized brush. When you are bending your elbow or shoulder, the actual size of the movement becomes much larger, and it's like trying to paint a picture while holding the end of a three foot long paintbrush. Sure you can still paint, but it's much harder to be accurate.
     
  19. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    ^^ There are some great posts on this page.
     
  20. ivers

    ivers Member

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    Great point, I sorta evolved into this without thinking about it through just searching for the musical vibe I was looking for. These days, when I play, I only have one finger on the fretboard at any given time for most single note phrasing, and control the duration of the note with how long I keep it there, so if I want choppy phrasing, I let go early, and keep it a bit longer for longer notes.

    Edit: The vibe I was looking for, was a percussive sound, but not like Al Di Meola, where you deaden the strings, because I wanted to hear the note ring out, only shorter.
     

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