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New year's resolution: reasonable picking-speed target?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by ninjaaron, Dec 28, 2017.

  1. ninjaaron

    ninjaaron Member

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    I've been playing for about 16 years, but I never really focused on technique, because I was playing mostly in chruch and that isn't very demanding music. I mostly just focused on learning songs, making up cool riffs, ear training and improv.

    My left-hand technique is pretty decent, I guess (it doesn't give me trouble anyway, but I admit that my pinky moves too much). I've recently encountered some parts in songs I wanted to learn that gave me problems -- faster songs with some fairly preciese (but not very complex) sixteenth-note licks.

    I did a test today, and to my shock and horror, I found that I can only alternate pick sixteenth notes cleanly and consistently at 100 BPM, so I decided it's time to work on that. Interestingly (to me), it doesn't really matter what my left hand is doing. I can be playing scales or just picking on an open string, it still gets sloppy at not-much-above 100.

    I can't decide if my goal for my New Year's resolution should be to get clean 16th notes at 160 or 140. I plan to practice my picking for like 10-15 minutes a day or something. What kind of progress is realistic to expect in a year? I'm leaning 140.

    Also note that I'm not a very coordinated person (I can't do sports ball), so I tend to expect slower progress than other people in these areas.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
  2. rawkguitarist

    rawkguitarist Member

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    I can't say what your progress should be. But of course if you play things perfectly at slower tempos and slowly increase/push those tempos you should progress.

    Have you looked at any Paul Gilbert lessons? He's one of the kings of alternate picking and a very cool and entertaining person. Plus - he's a *great* song writer - very creative.
     
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  3. ninjaaron

    ninjaaron Member

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    Funny you should mention it. I illegally downloaded some of his video lessons recently, but I haven't watched yet. Which lessons did you have in mind?
     
  4. rawkguitarist

    rawkguitarist Member

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    There are all kinds of Paul Gilbert lessons on youtube. His Intense Rock, Intense Rock II and Terrifying Guitar Trip are all full of great licks utilizing picking and legato techniques prominent in his playing. I think you can find full versions of these on YT. If you can get past the tone and hair Intense Rock is real informative of his basic techniques.
     
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  5. ninjaaron

    ninjaaron Member

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    I love '80s rock, so I don't expect there will be much to get past.

    [edit]
    let me introduce you to my new guitar.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. vintagelove

    vintagelove Member

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    I wrote a pretty length post about this at one point, the basics will help you.


    Essentially there are two groups, odd and even numbers of notes per string. Each have their own "speed limit".

    Even number of notes per string (I suggest practicing 4) should be played at a minimum of 144 to a maximum of 200'ish. So, you're not too far off from the bottom limit here, a bit of work with the right exercises should get you there.


    Odd numbers (or a combination of odd and even), I suggest practicing 3, introduces outside picking, which by the nature of the instrument slows you down, they should be between 120 and 170.



    If you can get yourself into these ranges you're in good shape. Hope that helps.



    Fwiw, I can pick at the top of both these ranges, so this information isn't theoretical, it's from experience and observation. And a **** load of practice.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
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  7. ninjaaron

    ninjaaron Member

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    Lol! I'm not going for "really good," more like "barely passable' -- at least within the next year.

    I dig PG (not so much MAB), but I don't have any delusions about getting to that level in 2018. I just want to where I never have a problem with anything on a P&W album... I mean, besides Lincoln Brewster. That dude is on the same level as any other guitar god. It takes a lifetime of dedication to get there.
     
  8. stevel

    stevel Member

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    This was my experience - I spent a summer trying to do this.

    While I could never get to "shredder" speed so to speak, when I started, I could not play cleanly and consistently at 100 BPM (or whatever) either.

    And while I never got to clean and consistent at 160 (or whatever) the 100 BPM playing got very noticeably cleaner and more consistent.

    So my advice would be to shoot for the moon - go ahead and try to push it up - you may not become incredibly faster, but your marginally slower playing will become far more articulate. Sort of like, if you run a mile every day, you may not be able to ever get up to 2 miles, or a mile under a certain time. But you won't get winded as bad in the 100 yard dash and will get faster at it.
     
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  9. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    What pick are you using ?
    The Dunlop Jazz III is the standard.
     
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  10. ninjaaron

    ninjaaron Member

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    Dunlop Ultex Jazz III

    I may suck, but I'm not a newb! ;):D

    [Edit] I sometimes use other picks, but they are all hard and pointy.
     
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  11. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    Nice choice. I alternate between the Ultex and the standard black one with the textured grip.
     
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  12. ninjaaron

    ninjaaron Member

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    Black ones are good. That was my first Jazz III. (I was in love with Dream Theater when I started playing) These days, I'm Ultex Jazz III or Little Big Stubby, which is sort of the same shape but with that Big Stubby bevel. I also have a few V-Pick small pointies laying around that I do like very much -- I just don't find they are enough of an improvement over Jazz III to warrant the price.
     
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  13. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    Honestly, once you get up to speed, you can use almost anything. 1/16's at 100bpm is not too shabby anyway.
     
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  14. frdagaa

    frdagaa Supporting Member

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    16ths at 120 is competent in most situations, but won’t handle most virtuosic playing. Shoot for 140 and you’ll be doing fine for what your goals seem to be.
     
  15. StevenA

    StevenA Member

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    Any ideas for players who don't use a pick?
     
  16. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    Get better at legato.
    Some players who tend to mostly fingerpick often go to a pick above a certain speed, Joe Bonamassa and John Mayer being two examples who come to mind.
    Good legato technique gives you a lot of notes for free.
     
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  17. Melodic Dreamer

    Melodic Dreamer Member

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    First and foremost one needs to define how they want to pick. That makes a HUGE difference.

    I'm not a shred head, but I have decent speed. Think close to Eric Johnson. I actually pick each note. I'm not saying I only pick and stray away from legato. A lot of guys pick fast, but they pick differently when compared to how they pick slow. I try to pick the same both ways to maintain a particular sound.

    I've met many who claim they can pick at 240bpm and above, but the way they pick sounds aweful. Some guys actually do a controlled version of trem picking.

    Again everyone is different. Tons of people love the shred guys. I actually dislike the way Paul Gilbert or John Petrucci's picking sounds. So first define the sound you want to get from your picking.

    After you achieve the tone you want to get from picking, slowly work your way up. Maybe a few bpm each week. In 3 months that would put you around 40bpm higher than your are now with a clean picking ability.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  18. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    Something else to think about........I spent a bit of time working on the chromatic exercises in Rock Discipline early this year, and then started some lessons, where I had to learn 3 nps string scales.
    I found that the 4nps chomratics had conditioned my fingers to just follow each other like stupid caterpillars, and I had a lot of trouble selecting between my third and fourth fingers. They both wanted to play every time I tried to use either.
    So..................I would be wary of too much chromatic picking. It's not a common musical motif, but I found it a bad habit that it took a lot of effort to break. I would not choose to do that again.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  19. vintagelove

    vintagelove Member

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    The same principles apply from my post above.


    Consider I a downstroke and M an upstroke.


    3nps and 4 nps excercises

    567
    567
    567
    567
    567
    567

    5678
    5678
    5678
    5678
    5678
    5678


    If you're interested in making it more musical, the 3nps can be played with the 7 positions on the major scale.



    Lastly, try alternating between P and I for fast runs (thumb and index for the non classically trained).


    Hope that helps.
     
  20. Sascha Franck

    Sascha Franck Member

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    Go for neither. Get 100 BPM done clean. Then go for 105. Or even just 102.
    Anything else is a bad idea.
     

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