Does not being able to shred bother you?

dumdums

Member
Messages
317
I'm one of those guys. I can play with feeling, and I have good tone and dynamic control, but I suck at playing fast. It's the bane of my existence. I sort of think that I got good at the other stuff because I can't play fast, as though it was an overcompensation, if that makes sense. I feel as though I'm the guy at the gym that has a good looking physique but can't lift any weight. Haha. If you're one of those players, or if you WERE one of those players, and got fast and can now shred, please share. I'd love some inspiration for how to move forward and get out of my rut.

I really am trying to get faster, but the alternate picking is not my strong suit. I started another thread where I asked better players than me how to improve at speed, and there are some awesome replies in that one. This thread is mostly to see how other guitarists with a similar skillset feel about being a good guitarists, but not being fast. Does it bother you not being able to shred? It really bothers me. It's like there is this universe of music that you want to access, but your stupid fingers and brain won't sync and it's just incredibly frustrating.

Anyways, not trying to bum any other players out. I'm honestly looking for ways forward as a player, and maybe if you feel similarly to me, we can get some inspiration for how to improve. Cheers, fellow guitarists.
 

joebloggs13

Member
Messages
2,421
Start slow and use a metronome...I found that, over time I gradually was able to go faster. At first I was sloppy, and that's why it sounded bad. But for me, the trick to playing fast was playing cleanly. I just broke things down into sections/riffs, and learned them slowly, then gradually sped them up. Keep at it with the alternate picking...it will eventually come around. It did with me. Oh, and I don’t shred, per say, but I can play some 'fast' stuff...:aok
 

rizla

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
859
I can shred, kinda - long time ago.
Did all the tapping, sweeping and raking, bit of pruning etc.
But I just dont experience music that way. I hear different phrasing and melodies in different ways. I dont hear hard rock and metal, I hear rockabilly, jazz and some kinda country swing. I always hear fast passages but I dont hear shredding.

Side note, I was with a group of people and was trying someone elses guitar playing my stock trying out gear licks and one of the guys said that I could really shred. The other two guys laughed because I am not a shredder at all, but they are.
 

Nizzle

Senior Member
Messages
136
I rather would like to play like Keith Richards than for example a speed god like Stevie Ray Vaughn. Yes, on some level I understand Stevie might technically be better. But for me, when I hear the Stones I feel it in my bones. When I hear "shredders", it makes me think it's very skilled to be able to do that, ... and then I put on BB King, Eric Clapton or John Mayer [edit]: to feel the music again.

I watched the Keith docu on Netflix last week: "They can rock.. but they all seemed to forget about the roll"
I am only 38 years old but I guess I have an old soul when it comes to music.
 

Ramboorider

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
904
I’ve never been a shredder, but when I was in my 20’s and playing a ton, I was a LOT faster than I am now. From time to time, that speed came in handy, but most of the time I found I liked my playing a lot more when I slowed it down than when I played faster. I think in my gut I’m from the BB King / Peter Green school, slow and with a lot of feeling. Lots of vibrato, plenty of bending, a bit if sliding. A hammer on or pull off when called for but not for the illusion of speed they can provide. I guess I just lost interest in playing fast because I never did it in a way I found musical. I like listening to fast guys who do it musically, but so much of the fast stuff I listened to as a kid was just fast for the sake of being fast. I don’t have any patience with that stuff anymore...

-Ray
 

Nizzle

Senior Member
Messages
136
I’ve never been a shredder, but when I was in my 20’s and playing a ton, I was a LOT faster than I am now. From time to time, that speed came in handy, but most of the time I found I liked my playing a lot more when I slowed it down than when I played faster. I think in my gut I’m from the BB King / Peter Green school, slow and with a lot of feeling. Lots of vibrato, plenty of bending, a bit if sliding. A hammer on or pull off when called for but not for the illusion of speed they can provide. I guess I just lost interest in playing fast because I never did it in a way I found musical. I like listening to fast guys who do it musically, but so much of the fast stuff I listened to as a kid was just fast for the sake of being fast. I don’t have any patience with that stuff anymore...

-Ray
Perhaps when you get over a certain age there is a level of "loudness" you consider still musical but after that, it just becomes to much noise. For example, I can still listen to The Black Keys with all their crazy effects (not in the fast category for most lol) but listening to Jimi Hendrix playing the National Anthem...... yep, technically amazing.. but I will put on "Wind cries mary" for enjoyment.
 

thanemuzika

Member
Messages
215
I stop playing in 2013 due to injury, and get back to playing full time in 2017. Practicing and work on my speed and stuffs. The last time I could play up to 13 note per beat.

Now I am down to 9 or 10 note per beat. Go at it but take it slowly. Play with a metronome, work with simple scales pattern and then work on getting your lines, licks or whatever up to par maybe let say if your 16th notes/semiquaver are now 160 perhaps your lines would be around 120 to 130bpm.

Planting is a must since you would not be able to speed up your picking hand without support. A lot of people clench their fist of their picking hand. Relaxation is the key.

To relax mean that you need to get use to that speed. Spend at minimum 15 mins a day working on your speed at least, make sure to warm up properly. Set up one of your guitar for this purpose. Lower action and slowly set up it slightly higher. Love fender style either a good old telecaster or strat since it slightly harder (eventually you get use to it) It won't happen in a quick manner of course. Give yourself some time. Rinse and repeat.
 

Ray175

Member
Messages
466
There are plenty of top notch guitarists who don't shred but focus on the impact of the notes and silences - take David Gilmour as an example. Many times he's ackowledged to not being a guitarist with particulary high levels of technical skills - but that's not what he was aiming to be........
 

Mooselake

Member
Messages
1,221
Sometimes. I acknowledge my limitations but don't necessarily like them. Who wouldn't want to throw down Eruption* when handed a guitar and asked to play something on the spot? :dude

*Insert any desired example.
 
Messages
748
I'm in the same boat as the OP.
Do I sometimes wish I could play faster ? Sure....
But playing in tune, in rhythm, hopefully with feeling, and getting good clean and dirty sounds should count for something !
Neither Billy Gibbons or David Gilmour are known as speedsters, but they've done OK for themselves.
 
Messages
14,992
I'm working on playing the Donna Lee head and some Bach stuff up to tempo but that's about it. I don't worry or otherwise feel bothered about not being up to speed yet on those - I simply practice and enjoy the process.

The few times I've participated in the playalong threads, i've focused more on trying to say something interesting with my improvisation, than to try to impress. Too many regulars on those threads with actual chops. :p . The one or two times I slipped in a scale run sounded terribly boring and uncreative to me upon review.
 

Mark White

Member
Messages
1,124
I'd love some inspiration for how to move forward and get out of my rut
Though I totally appreciate the general view that it's not the speed at which you play that always matters, it does frustrate me that there are pieces of music that I know but cannot play up to speed.

To that end, I'm giving this a go (terribly click-bait looking but there you go)


I'm sure it's not the be-all-and-end-all of all things speedy, but I have seen about a 25% increase in tempo in a week*, with about an hour a day spent doing this over two or three 20-30 minute periods during the day. This has also translated to my general play which has become perceptibly more accurate and faster.

The main thing I'm getting for now is that this sort of work is probably required for those solos I play that just aren't up to tempo. Playing them a few times for 10 minutes every few days is one thing, but if I were to stick with one of those for an hour a day for a few weeks, I'd probably get it to where I want it. So it's uncovering the fact that I'm not physically restricted in some way to being able to play at faster tempos: I just haven't put enough time in, with an effective approach. And as the overall speed comes up, hopefully getting other solos up to speed will become easier.

For now I'm sticking with it and will see how it goes.

(* started at 80bpm 16ths which was messy, and now 90bpm is easy and clean, and 100bpm is doable but sloppy)
 
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City Kid

Member
Messages
275
To answer the question in the title, no it doesn’t bother me in the least that I can’t shred. It’s never been a goal of mine because I can’t stand listening to shredders.

It’s a good thing I can’t because if I could I would probably do it all the time just because I could and then I wouldn’t be able to stand listening to myself. lol
 

Catatafish

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
483
If anyone feels bad about not being able to shred, just go listen to Sultans of Swing or Since I've Been Loving You and you'll feel better. That's what I do. But yeah, I practice my scales anyway because what else is there to do these days?
 
Messages
2,451
There are plenty of top notch guitarists who don't shred but focus on the impact of the notes and silences - take David Gilmour as an example. Many times he's ackowledged to not being a guitarist with particulary high levels of technical skills - but that's not what he was aiming to be........
I read an old interview where David Gilmour praises EVH and talks about briefly trying to play like that. Gilmour is playing what comes to him musically within his skill level. Don't assume he wouldn't love to be more progressed.
 

JosephZdyrski

Member
Messages
3,345
I can shred(not the best at it but it’s there if I need it) but really don’t like the style anymore so I kind of have let my shred get a bit rusty and it usually takes a good amount of warm up and get to shred level speed with consistent and fluid ideas but a couple hours practice brings it right back and occasionally I still have some fun with the style although I rarely post videos of that kind of stuff because I feel my shred is pretty generic and not super musically inspiring to me anyway, in a word “unspectacular” comes to mind lol.

I kind of have started trying to avoid shred cliches aside from tapping which Ido use quite a bit, but long sweep patterns and repetitive speed licks that move in a repeating cyclical motion are things I intentionally avoid. I aspire to think of every note before I play it so it all has a purpose so I try to avoid all forms of playing based off patterns, and shred is basically playing off of patterns taken to its technical zenith imo.

Plus shred has a certain rhythmic symmetry that I find frankly boring, which is why I find the typical Jimmy Page Solo more interesting than a typical Eric Johnson solo, more rhythmic textures and odd patterns in Page’s playing vs the very smooth well placed symmetrical phrasing of EJ, I definitely prefer the chaotic creativity of Page... (Jimi had this too) and I feel most players have gravitated towards the very symmetrical, well placed, style that players like EJ, Steve Vai, etc made popular during the 80’s and some of that more interesting non symmetrical phrasing got left behind, which is why I try to be that unsymmetrical player and have avoided what have really become the shred cliches, in fact I try to avoid all cliches in my own music but that’s a whole other rabbit hole.

But it shouldn’t bother you if you can’t shred, I’d focus on sounding good first and worry about speed later.
 
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RevDrucifer

Senior Member
Messages
352
I can certainly see how it could drive people nuts to work at something and not pull it off after a given amount of time. I got that way with vocals for a while until I realized my approach was all wrong.

Back in high school, in the mid-90’s, I was infatuated with Vai, EJ and John Petrucci and obviously speed was a big part of that. I spent years with a metronome just running chromatics/scales/Vai’s weird exercises/etc. It all paid off and got me to where I was content with the speeds I could play at.

That said, this all occurred before I took an interest in writing my own music. I was only interested in pulling off Vai and Dream Theater songs. Once I was bitten by the original music bug, the last thing I gave a sh*t about was playing fast. I was more interested in creating moods and grooves than anything else. Still am.

But I suppose it’s like seeing someone that owns that one guitar or amp that you’ve been dreaming of and that guy barely touches it. To you, it’s like, “How could you not want to play that all the time?!?!?”, to him it’s just another piece of gear. To me, at this point, shredding is just another thing I can use at some point if needed, but I don’t spend any time thinking about it.

I will tell ya one thing that had me jump up quite a few BPM’s when I was young; I realized I had a death grip on the neck/fingerboard. I could start off really fast, but once I got through 8-10 notes, my fingers were dying already. After playing a buddy’s guitar, with super low action and barely any tension, I realized my setup was inhibiting. I was so used to playing with higher action and more tension that it was almost blasphemy to change my setup. After doing so, playing became a lot more effortless, whether by speed, bending or just basically playing.
 




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