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Have you improved your technique at a later age?

tonejunkie1

Member
Messages
137
I have made some major improvements in the last couple of years in particular with legato... I am much better at working on things slowly until they are ready to be played fast at my age now. I used to try and speed things up way too soon! Another thing I'm much better at is assessing where the weakness is and hitting that directly so my technique practice is maximized. I do practice technique much less than I did when I was in my 20's.
 

Rabbitears

Member
Messages
289
Yes definitely. I'm 47 and only started really applying myself (with very limited time) in the last couple of years.
I'm currently learning chickin pickn fundamentals.
Also really improving with bending, fretboard knowledge and theory.
 

macrofor

Macro
Messages
430
I don’t think I had the temperament, patience and perseverance to advance with guitar at a younger age. So I spent 30+ years never practicing and only able to play rhythm and really bad pentatonic solos in 2 spots. At 48 I got super serious and decided to take deep dive, getting a jazz teacher and devoting 2-5 hrs/day to real practice. I’m 4 years in and can play all my arps and scales at a decent speEd and I’m building my chord and line vocabulary, work through tunes etc. I love the work, look forward to it daily, and can see the progress. Sure, I wish I started in my teens, but it’s definitely possible in your later years. And it’s such a good workout for the brain.
 

el chuco

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
533
I use to think that the only way to improve your speed, technique, phrasing, and overall playing was to physically do it with a guitar in hand. But in the last 2 years or so, I have forced myself to sit or lay in bed and mentally do the same thing without holding a guitar. I have noticed that it translates to the guitar when I pick it up. My playing has really progressed through imagery and my fingers don't take a beating. My fingers are doing what my mind practices! I wished I had started doing this when I was much younger.
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
13,480
I slowed down the amount of playing I did drastically in the last year - to the point where getting going again was actually pretty painful, and also clumsy. But after a month or so of daily practice it is really almost like I never stopped.
 

ouchies

Member
Messages
106
Big time. But also my standards for what I want out of my technique has changed. I don't really care to shred anymore, but I need to be able play fast enough and freely enough to sound musical at faster tempos. So I don't really want to be able to play Guthrie Govan tunes, however I do want to be able to very freely play 16th note lines at 150bpm... for example.
 

bobcs71

Member
Messages
5,562
Physically no. By 18 I could play 16th notes at 120bpm. At 49 I can usually play 16th notes at 100bpm.

I know better when & how to use vibrato now.
 
Messages
15,738
If, by the time I'm in my 70s, my life is as full of joy and love as Robert Fripp's is today (he's in his 70s) it would mean more to me than playing some scale at higher bpm than when I was a teenager - well, I didn't even know how play guitar as a teenager. :p

He's barely recognizable in 2020, compared to his younger self that projected a much more stern, exacting image.


 
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Yamaha 1421

Member
Messages
1,442
I think looking back I had several break throughs, one in my early 20s and another in my 40s but I have made several small ones after that . I got into jazz late teens and had a great teacher and a real fine guitarist in his own right, that really set the stage for me as far as how it all worked and fit together. I'm 68 now and several years ago I not only changed the type and style of pick I use but how I use it and that made a noticeable difference in ease of playing. It's never too late.
 
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MGT

Member
Messages
1,957
My technique is directly proportional to how much time I spend playing/practicing. I used to play & practice 6-8 hours a days for my first four years on the instrument but don't come close to that now.
 

truebadix

Member
Messages
58
I've always found it weird how guitar-athletes would train solely for speed as if music was just something else to be overtaken and left behind on the race track. Some become even faster and lap it. ;)
 

JosephZdyrski

Member
Messages
3,774
For me personally I always seem to improve my technique and musical understanding so long as I’m motivated enough to play every day. Start skipping days and letting life get in the way progress slow or even stop completely.

I personally haven’t noticed anything changing with age except having less time. Case in point I’ve had the time for the past two years or so and have made similar progress to when I was a teenager because I put in similar time.

Now if I’m being completely honest I may have honed I good deal over the muscle memory at a younger age but just refined it as I got older idk. As I spent a lot of time just working sheer technique as teenager often having no way to apply it or any understanding of it at all. I just had this thing where if I saw it or heard it I had to be able to do my own super sloppy version of it. A lot of what I do is simply refined old ideas so I can’t say for certain how much all that comes into play.
 

Lopp

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
295
Oh man... This thread is perfect right now, as I just had a breakthrough in technique at age 51, where I just leapfrogged what I had been able to do and suddenly could do it relatively comfortably.

You see, I'd never been able to play the main riff of Ozzy's Bark at the Moon at speed and could only get it to 80% speed, and even a little sloppy there. I always figured it was some genetic predisposition that certain elite guitarists had, like Usain Bolt's God-given speed.

Well... on Saturday, I picked up a guitar while watching football, started easing into it, and suddenly I was playing it at 100% speed (not super clean, but by then I just needed to refine it)! The next day, I played it at 105%.

How? Well, it brings us to this:

This is silly, there is a bunch of research that shows and proves that playing something excruciatingly slow at first builds the muscle memory needed to play it fast... <snip>
Well you can believe whatever you choose, the only issue is that that muscle memory you're training isnt using the same muscles/motion as playing fast. Just as walking...planting your feet is different than running/staying on your toes... <snip>
Both of those concepts can be reconciled (which you two already did, but they help to illustrate the groundbreaking change in my playing).

The groundbreaking change was learning I needed to practice the riff TOO FAST. I had previously developed the muscle memory by first playing riffs slow so they was perfectly clean and then practiced the riffs to the point of the speed I could _cleanly_ play it fast, maybe pushing a couple of BPM, but then bringing it back to clean to avoid reinforcing sloppy playing.

However, I needed to train my muscles to play faster than my current ability. Kind of like weight training where you keep pushing heavier and heavier weight. I started practicing the riff 10% faster than my current clean ability. And it sucked having to exert the energy to play it too fast and too sloppy while trying to focus on trying to play it cleaner (while also taking breaks to not overtax my joints). Yet, in the end, it paid off.

One fun thing was the fact that I had just taken a week off of playing due to a brutal amount of work and leapfrogged from (what felt like) 80% speed to 100% speed after taking the break. Once again, that was like weight training where you need rest to let your muscles recover.

Kinda fun to know you can drastically improve your technique after almost a half century of playing.

Can I ask you a question then? I’ve got a little part that I can play fluidly at 70BPM but it needs to be around 95. I’ve played it a zillion times correctly and I have it, just not at “tempo”. Can’t seem to move it really.

How would you get that to where it needs to be, besides crawling your way up?
Others could add other tips but, instead of crawling your way up, try sprinting your way up, like I did. Start playing the part at the 70BPM clean speed and then bump it up to 80BPM to get your muscles used to moving that fast. Stick with it, repeating over and over to train your muscles. On another day, do the same thing, starting with the clean playing to warm up and then bumping it up. Once you are at clean 80BPM, bump it up to 90BPM. Once at 90BPM, bump it to 100BPM. Once you are there, you will be able to cleanly play at 95BPM.
 
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Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,913
Oh man... This thread is perfect right now, as I just had a breakthrough in technique at age 51, where I just leapfrogged what I had been able to do and suddenly could do it relatively comfortably.

You see, I'd never been able to play the main riff of Ozzy's Bark at the Moon at speed and could only get it to 80% speed, and even a little sloppy there. I always figured it was some genetic predisposition that certain elite guitarists had, like Usain Bolt's God-given speed.

Well... on Saturday, I picked up a guitar while watching football, started easing into it, and suddenly I was playing it at 100% speed (not super clean, but by then I just needed to refine it)! The next day, I played it at 105%.

How? Well, it brings us to this:




Both of those concepts can be reconciled (which you two already did, but they help to illustrate the groundbreaking change in my playing).

The groundbreaking change was learning I needed to practice the riff TOO FAST. I had previously developed the muscle memory by first playing riffs slow so they was perfectly clean and then practiced the riffs to the point of the speed I could _cleanly_ play it fast, maybe pushing a couple of BPM, but then bringing it back to clean to avoid reinforcing sloppy playing.

However, I needed to train my muscles to play faster than my current ability. Kind of like weight training where you keep pushing heavier and heavier weight. I started practicing the riff 10% faster than my current clean ability. And it sucked having to exert the energy to play it too fast and too sloppy while trying to focus on trying to play it cleaner (while also taking breaks to not overtax my joints). Yet, in the end, it paid off.

One fun thing was the fact that I had just taken a week off of playing due to a brutal amount of work and leapfrogged from (what felt like) 80% speed to 100% speed after taking the break. Once again, that was like weight training where you need rest to let your muscles recover.

Kinda fun to know you can drastically improve your technique after almost a half century of playing.



Others could add other tips but, instead of crawling your way up, try sprinting your way up, like I did. Start playing the part at the 70BPM clean speed and then bump it up to 80BPM to get your muscles used to moving that fast. Stick with it, repeating over and over to train your muscles. On another day, do the same thing, starting with the clean playing to warm up and then bumping it up. Once you are at clean 80BPM, bump it up to 90BPM. Once at 90BPM, bump it to 100BPM. Once you are there, you will be able to cleanly play at 95BPM.
Actually recently i started when learning line just using it at time, 1 1)2 time and double time.
So I'd learn a line with 8th notes at like 120 to 140... Then play the same line into triplets instead of 8th and/or 16th instead.
And swap them.
Also i started working on breaking up lines in all kind of rhythmic subs.
Say you have 4 notes to the beat...it can be an 4 16th, 4 swing 16th, an 8 and 3 16 triplets, a 16th rest a 16th and the 3 16th triplets, 16-3×16trip-16, 3×16trip-2×16, 3×16trip-eighth, 3×16trip rest 16, or you can do it even with 32nd and rest...anyways interspersing that in a steady stream makes for fun.

My current fave is going in a line from a few swing 8ths to 4 16th notes to 3 16trip to a few swing 8th to triplets.
 

Lopp

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
295
Can I ask you a question then? I’ve got a little part that I can play fluidly at 70BPM but it needs to be around 95. I’ve played it a zillion times correctly and I have it, just not at “tempo”. Can’t seem to move it really.

How would you get that to where it needs to be, besides crawling your way up?
Others could add other tips but, instead of crawling your way up, try sprinting your way up, like I did. Start playing the part at the 70BPM clean speed and then bump it up to 80BPM to get your muscles used to moving that fast. Stick with it, repeating over and over to train your muscles. On another day, do the same thing, starting with the clean playing to warm up and then bumping it up. Once you are at clean 80BPM, bump it up to 90BPM. Once at 90BPM, bump it to 100BPM. Once you are there, you will be able to cleanly play at 95BPM.
I'll elaborate on that, as increasing your BPM by 10% of the top speed was the gist of what leapfrogged my playing, but I just did a leapfrog today in speed where I paid attention to other nuances of how I did it, which I will share here:

When bumping up your playing to the next 10%, such as 80% to 90% speed, *chunk the riff down to a measure or two, play a repetition of that chunk, take a break, and repeat*. I.e., practice one chunk of the riff, like a couple of bars of your sticking spot at the 10% higher speed, take a few bars as a break, repeat the chunk, take a few bars as a break, repeat the chunk, and continue break/repeat/break/repeat. It will first be a mess, but will begin improving the longer you stick with it.

You are not training for endurance of repeating the same riff over and over beyond how many times you will actually play it in the song. You are training for speed of one pass at the lick as you will play it in the song.

Think about it like weight training. If you want to bench 225, you don't keep doing reps at 135 over and over. Instead, you do some warmup reps, take a break, then increase the weight, and do less reps at the higher weight until you are doing only a couple of reps at the highest weight possible, and maybe repeat that set a couple of times. (You will be repeating your riff a lot more than with weights, but you get the idea of the analogy).

So break out the metronome. Warm up at a slower speed, then play a bit at your fluid 70BPM, and then bump it up to 80BPM. Play one set of your two bars (or whatever chunk you chose) at that speed. It will be a mess. Take a few measures as a break, and do it again. It will still be a mess, but you are training your fingers to play at the faster speed, not for cleanliness (yet). The cleanliness will come in time. Stick with it for at least 20 min. It will suck and take lots of concentration, but you want to play it at speed, so you will persevere! After 10 min of constant play-break-play-break-play, you should notice that you are starting to hit a couple of notes more accurately, which will give you some positive feedback and encourage you to keep at it. It might take a couple of days, but I guarantee you will start playing it cleaner at the 10% faster speed.

That's exactly what I did today. Learned a new lick yesterday that was on my impossible licks list. Got 12 bars of it up to about 75% speed and not even perfectly clean at that. Today chunked it down to the first four bars (it repeated each bar) and got it up to 80% fairly cleanly. Thought about trying it at 85%, but decided to heed what I learned and instead tried it at the impossible 90% speed.

It was a mess.

And I mean I don't think I hit a single note correctly.

Figured I'd keep trying if only to get my fingers used to moving that fast even if it wasn't clean and then dial it back. Played 4 bars, took an 8 bar break and shook out my arms while the metronome kept clicking, played 4 bars, took an 8 bar break, etc. It started getting monotonous after a few minutes, but kept at it, aiming to keep it up for 20 min. Didn't expect to make progress today aside from getting my fingers used to that speed where it will improve over a week or so. At 10 min, I noticed I was hitting a few notes correctly, so I kept at it. By about 25 min or so, I was actually at a point where I could get away with it at a rehearsal (if we were playing at 90% speed). It was no longer the complete mess I started with and I was playing it faster than I thought possible at my current skill set.

So bump your metronome up 10% past what you can play clean. You are training speed muscles right now, not accuracy muscles. You already have the accuracy, as shown at your 70BPM playing. You just need the speed.
 
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Messages
456
resounding yes. I'd say over lockdown I've made the jump from intermediate to advanced, after 20 years sticking at the former.

I've played in bands since I was 17, and I can knock out riffs, chords and write little parts but it was all very indie or punk stuff. When I started doing the exercises I struggled to even do alternate picking at 80 bpm 16th notes with any real consistency (I mean, I can obviously play things at 80bpm but hitting every note on a run for 5 mins straight was a challenge). Last night I was practicing them at 117 bpm, my short term goal right now to be at 120.

My string bending is infinitely better, I learned tapping, I am getting ok at sweeps and I've learned to incorporate my finger picking classical (probably my technical strength prior to this) to be able to hybrid pick quite well. It does take effort but it's been surprising how far sitting down and working on something actually goes.
 




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