how can people alternate pick so fast?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by rich2k4, May 20, 2008.

  1. rich2k4

    rich2k4 Supporting Member

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    i'm talking about on 1 string and just alternate picking an open string.

    i try to do it, and i can't get fast at all. but my friend who doesn't even practice speed can get it going pretty fast.

    it makes it seem like some people are able to play fast, and others, no matter how much they practice or try will never be able to shred/play fast etc.

    i've been returning to the speed thing every once in a while. it's something i want to accomplish as a goal even though i know it's not musical if used wrong. but it's just something i've always wanted to do. stuff like guthrie govan.

    i've been working at it for the past 2 years and it seems like no matter how much i practice, even with a metronome etc. i just can't do it. there is always some kind of barrier i hit where i can't get any faster. no matter how long i sit down and try to find what i am doing wrong, and no matter how long i spend playing at 1 particular speed. i can never pass this certain barrier.
     
  2. jazzandmetal?

    jazzandmetal? Supporting Member

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    I spent a lot of time learning songs by Slayer, Metallica and Fear Factory.
     
  3. Noah

    Noah Member

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    Paul Gilbert - buy his Intense Rock 1 and 2 vids. Practice the licks and you will improve your speed. Just about every fast picker(in rock music) I've known got their alt. picking chops from watching those.
     
  4. iaresee

    iaresee Member

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    Those and Petrucci's Rock Discipline. Excellent for accuracy and speed. Warm up (you're going to be pushing your muscles pretty hard at first), practice with a metronome, and practice often.

    Disclaimer: I follow none of my own advice and have relegated myself to playing plodding lead lines and the anti-thesis of speed metal.
     
  5. rich2k4

    rich2k4 Supporting Member

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    rock dicipline, the paul gilbert videos. been there done that. can't ever get the licks up to the speed i want, which is the speed they play them at.

    i have a huge collection of instruction videos. i pretty much seen them all
     
  6. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    Dunlop Jazz III picks

    You are only 19, takes years to develop. You are right, some people are just faster.

    How fast are you ??
     
  7. Noah

    Noah Member

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    If those vids don't help, you may want to consider having someone with the picking skills you desire give some constructive criticism on your picking technique. You might have to try changing the way you play to improve. Some people never get super fast speed, but if you put in the time and really practice you should be able to get there. Try using Dunlop Jazz III picks if you don't already.
     
  8. rich2k4

    rich2k4 Supporting Member

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    yea i use jazz III XL's i am trying to pick more from the wrist now instead of from the arm which i was doing before.
     
  9. ivers

    ivers Member

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    Why focus on speed on one string, when the thing that really slows most people down in practical applications is trying to cross strings?

    If you get good at crossing strings, then you've acquired a rare skill, and technical resources to try much more interesting lines than picking as fast as you can on the one string probably can give you.
     
  10. Noah

    Noah Member

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    I think he means he can't tremolo pick at a high rate of speed on 1 string.

    That is a fairly common problem I think, even with guys who can do fast alternate picking triplets across the neck.
     
  11. ivers

    ivers Member

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    Yeah, the thing that confused me was that he mentioned Guthrie Govan, whose style I don't think rests on the ability at tremolo picking on one string at all.
     
  12. rich2k4

    rich2k4 Supporting Member

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    my main concern is after 2 years of working at it on and off, i can't really play any shred type lick at the speed it is meant to be played at.
     
  13. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    Two things here jump out at me:

    #1: "working at it."

    Many times our instinct can be to practice and try to improve by brute force. We practice hard, and don't notice many results.

    That's because if something feels hard, you're probably missing something. The guys who play really fast and clean do not usually appear to be trying hard because they are usually not trying.

    So you might try less "working" at it, and more "playing" at it... slow going, paying attention to what you are doing both left hand and right (amazing how often the detail of attentiveness is overlooked!) Rather than trying harder, relax into it. Find every way to exert as little effort as possible.

    Guitar is not weight-lifting. It is more like a relationship with a person or animal or plant. Ever notice how children try intensely to capture the affection of cats, only to have the cats get more and more aloof the more attention they receive? But if you just feed the cat every day and give it the care it needs--no more--it will be in your lap all the time. Do you make a plant grow faster by watering it more? No. It comes around in its due time, and if you over-water it you will just smother and kill it.

    #2: "off and on."

    Tying into the above, many times we practice like sprinters: Very intense workouts for very short amounts of time. Putting everything into it with lots of effort until we either a) burn out or b) feel "full" or bored and ready to move on to something else prematurely. This results from trying very hard and making practice feel like work. It will also result in sporadic practice habits and subtle intimidations, where we avoid working on certain things because of subtle subconscious 'failure' triggers that are unpleasant and that we unconsciously or consciously avoid.

    Think more like a distance runner or marathoner. You don't have to dive into it wholeheartedly or practice intensely. You don't have to rush through an artificial "requirement" that you set for yourself either, even if that requirement is very modest in nature. Don't be as goal-oriented. Flirt with the idea of playing fast. Zone in and meditate on your right hand for awhile, then your left, as you play the way you normally play. Observe. Try some new things. Notice your shoulders, neck, back, body. Are there any aspects of what you do that you do subconsciously, habitually? Sure there are! Those aspects of your technique which feel automatic or habitual are the ones that beg for conscious observation the most. Do whatever feels comfortable and flirt with it, don't smother it. But flirt with it every day for awhile, then take a day off. Then go back to it. Then forget it all on purpose and go back to it again and re-learn it.

    It seems from what you are saying that you may be alternately over-watering and then under-watering the 'plant' that represents the skill of fast alternate-picking. See if you can't pursue a path of giving it just enough nourishment, consistently, evenly, with balance. Don't get frustrated if it doesn't come quickly, and don't get too excited if it starts to get easy. Balance. :)

    --------
    On being "born with it:"

    99% of "I wasn't born with it" feelings of limitation from players can be traced to those aspects of their technique or performance that haven't been considered or addressed in years because they believe or assume to have 'mastered' them. Things like how you hold the pick, where you wear the guitar, position of your left hand across all axes, position of your right hand, contact of your right hand with the bridge or pickguard/fingerrest if applicable, contact of your right forearm with the guitar top/body if applicable, strap position, strap height, guitar angle, wrist rotation or side-to-side movement, use of coarse shoulder and upper arm muscles, upper back tension, etc. etc.

    Not to say that you should hyper-focus on these things or attempt to modify them, just observe and be aware of them and any others you can think of every time you practice for awhile. Weird things will become apparent and fix themselves. This happens because your adult mind is a very sensitive, remarkable instrument with the ability to automatically correct problems, like body positioning to gain balance and control when falling or walking across a balance beam. It's automatic. You need not sabotage that natural process by trying. You do need to be aware of what's going on though, just like you are aware of losing your balance if you are falling. The crazy thing is the degree to which so many of us are habitually unaware of what we are doing when we play.
     
  14. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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  15. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    +1000 - that's where I find my biggest improvements. Don't think that it will feel right with effort. Strive for effortlessness. Keep playing, faster and faster. If you feel burned out, or if you're not improving, then put the instrument down for a while. Your brain and your muscles will remember. Then try to play without effort, but still confident, and you'll tear it up!
     
  16. mike walker

    mike walker Member

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  17. Jon

    Jon Member

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    On a practical level Tom Hess has some good articles:

    http://www.tomhess.net/Articles/HowToPracticeForMaximumSpeedPart1.aspx

    Also Guitar Speed Trainer software has some very interesting info on it's site.

    http://www.guitarspeed.com/

    And Guitar Principles is good for all aspects of how you approach the guitar:

    http://www.guitarprinciples.com/

    Part of the process is learning to enjoy and appreciate the journey that you take to improve your picking speed (or any other aspect of your playing and musicianship) - don't focus so much on the end result but rather on what you are doing on a day-by-day basis - try to be fascinated by what you are doing now rather than frustrated by what you can't yet do.
     
  18. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    It's often overlooked but you should look at the angle at which your pick is hitting the strings, both on up and down strokes. Rotating your wrist just a little or otherwise moving your hand a bit to change this angle can have a huge affect on your speed (and sound), especially if you're using those little pointy Jazz III picks.
     
  19. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    I also noticed that the camber of your wrist is a big factor as well, especially with the little pointy picks. Try to angle the pick and not angle the pick to see what is faster, but keep in mind the tone your getting too.
     
  20. funkycam

    funkycam Member

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    what a great post Brad .... really nice :)
     

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