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Playing Fast...Talent Versus Practice

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by mlongano, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. mlongano

    mlongano Member

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    I started playing over forty years ago and, although I have only played guitar about ten of those forty years, I have never been able to play fast. When I was thirty I spent one year practicing scales for one hour per night. Although I noticed an improvement in speed, I never became anywhere near what I would call fast.

    I'm inclined to believe that "talent" or the "ability" to play fast is a big part of the equation. What are your thoughts on the subject?
     
  2. doublee

    doublee Member

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    me neither! I am 50...something, and still no speed to speak of. A kid I grew up with had lots of speed because well, he took lots of it and sat there under a bare light bulb for years practising. I dont really work on it too much I guess because I think I dont need it...maybe, not sure

    ee
     
  3. yakyak

    yakyak Supporting Member

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    I haven't got much speed either. I am also in my '50's. It seems as though I have more now than when I was younger and playing more. My opinion on speed is - it is great if you have it but if you don't, it doesn't mean that you aren't a good player. I learned long ago to use my strengths. My most valuable strength is my ability to play with conviction and emotion. IMO that makes up for what I lack in shredding wizardry.
     
  4. Izy

    Izy Member

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    Being able to play fast is an ability that is nice to have.

    However, IMHO being able to play tastefully and musically far more important.

    Both i think i am unable to do so far.

    But i press on and practice. Hopefully one day it will all come together!:dude
     
  5. mlongano

    mlongano Member

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    +1...look at David Gilmour.

    I hope a lot of people reply to this thread...both those who can shred and those who cannot.
     
  6. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    I think it is a talent backed up by the muscle ability.
    Just as some cannot run fast, some of us cannot play fast.
    Townshend, from what I read, faced the same dilemma.
    Fortunately, there are other things you can do; if you play loud enough you can draw enough attention that you don't have to be fast.....
     
  7. BattleAngel

    BattleAngel Member

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    I think a lot of it is having something to say at those speeds- if you're just talking about blazing up and down a scale, I think a lot of that is practice; and not 1 hour a night for a year, but more like 8 hours a day. I think it'd be pretty hard to put in that kind of time and not come out of it with the ability to "shred" - ie. play those scales up and down really fast. But chances are you won't be able to just shred up and down a scale on top of music that has any soul or originality. I think the ability to play "fast" comes not from the kind of 'shred' training described above, but rather from a comfortability thinking melodically at very high speeds.

    I think it's a very mental thing, and probably something that you could unleash in yourself with a lot of visualization work backed up by hard practice; but definitely some people just feel naturally comfortable thinking about notes at that speed and that's a talent, and probably the people who feel natural thinking that fast have some corresponding physical dexterity already.
     
  8. edward

    edward Supporting Member

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    Ahhh, you could play fast AND loud!! :)
    :BEER

    Just kidding. No shredding here, but "can" play fast for short bursts. It's fun and kinda cool, but it's just kind of "show offmanship" really (prob because I can't do it as well as SRV, Paisly, or whoever). Tasty playing and finding the spaces is what it's all about. Guitarists play with a band ...how he melds with the others is paramount; whether that's in adagio or prestissimo is not nearly as important. It's synergistic: good guitar playing in the context of a band is more than the sum of the parts. ...IMHO :)

    Edward
     
  9. DonW

    DonW Velocity Town Angel Silver Supporting Member

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    I never worked on speed as a result of a Keith Richards interview many years ago. He said playing accurately was better than playing fast. On top of that I loved riffs so I wanted to be an accomplished rhythm guitarist. I can play plenty of lead guitar now because of the time I've been playing overall but it isn't speed lead.



    Hell man, I just love playing songs!
     
  10. XKnight

    XKnight Member

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    I think it's more due to practice than talent, although it obviously comes easier to some.
     
  11. dspblues

    dspblues Silver Supporting Member

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    + 1

    The ability to play fast is just another tool in your tool box, not required but nice to have from time to time.
     
  12. Zhangliqun

    Zhangliqun Member

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    Some people have fast feet and legs and others don't (as someone said earlier), though stretching and training (and even diet) will improve the speed of a slower runner, no amount of practicing running will give them world-class sprinter speed.

    Same goes for playing an instrument -- some folks just flat-out have faster hands, faster reflexes than others. No amount of practice will change that.
     
  13. Phineas

    Phineas Member

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    speed in a free jazz context rips! i'm sorry but you can't put down one tool over the other. it's how u use it and in what context. does it serve the song, moment etc? in that same respect, monk, ayler etc rip just as wellas coltrane's sheets of sound.

    BUT...i feel like listening to sonny sharrock and pharoah sanders rt now. laters!

    oh, here's the obligatory disclaimer: YMMV.
     
  14. eric-d

    eric-d Member

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    I don't see myself as a fast player but a lot of my friends say I am... Hmmm...
     
  15. TheGuildedAge

    TheGuildedAge Supporting Member

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    When I was younger, I was more into technique guys. Whenever I used to read an interview with anyone who said something like "playing fast isn't important, you have to be tasteful...blah blah blah," I thought, well, they are only saying that because they CAN'T play fast.

    But when I got into Gilmour, U2, Radiohead, Fogerty, and the like, I realized the emotion behind the notes, as well as how you put them to use, is what counts.

    Creating music is my love, not playing super fast scales because I can. I went down the other night and decided to jam along with some Van Halen cds, which I never do, and I realized, what's the point. It took about 2 minutes to turn off the cd, turn on the 4 track, and get lost in my own music for a few hours.

    I still think it's important to have some speed in your arsenal just so you have more tools on which to draw, but speed in and of itself only impresses guitarists, whereas good songwriting reaches more people.
     
  16. mlongano

    mlongano Member

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    Please keep answering guys...I really want to know how many can and how many can't. So far it sounds like more cannot than can.

    I realize that shredding for the sake of it is not desirable. I believe tasteful playing is great...but I would still like to play fast at times, and have been unable to to do so all of these years. If I can't, well then I can't...but before I invest (or waste) more time trying, I'd like to know if it's possible. I'm in my fifties and don't have time to waste!!
     
  17. DrPCR

    DrPCR Member

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    amen that that bro.

    I'm a shredder and I love to play at fast speeds. I guess it came from my violin training and paganini. I need to sit down and really learn some bluegrass chicken picking, cause those guys just know the fretboard, specially the acoustic ones.


    Although whenever these threads come up its always:

    1) Posted by people who can't shred
    2) shredders never post, wow, I wish I could slow down and play with "feeling"
    3) too many people lack proper musical theory and training, they do not know the fretboard " play in the box " 12 bar blues and are forever stuck on a few frets.

    I also agree to a point, increasing one's speed is a skill. Practice one riff, as slow as you can, get it right, then speed up with a metronome, and do not progress to the next speed unless you can do it over and over correctly and then do it again. Do this for more a few hrs a day, every day. Most people, just give up and that is most of the problem.
     
  18. Rotten

    Rotten Silver Supporting Member

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    To me music is like a language, with different vocabularies and phrasing. Have you ever gotten much out of listening to an auctioneer, other than being impressed with how fast he or she talks. I agree that it is powerful to have as many skills in the bag as possible. However, if you think less about guitar and more about music, fast playing on guitar doesn't necessarily equate to good music.

    Try transcribing a fast guitar solo. More often than not, it will consist of a lot of scalular runs because those are easier to play on guitar. Next, transcribe a fast piano or sax solo. Chances are the player can move much faster than any guitarist ever could. More importantly, look at the range of the black dots on the page - you will see a much wider spectrum with notes all over the place, not limited to major and minor seconds.

    I think that because of that limitation, guitarists should focus more on making a musical statement, regardless of the speed. That's why David Gilmour reaches so many listeners, musicians and not. That's my 2 cents.
     
  19. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    Every accomplished super-shredder has spent at least a year of their life doing nothing but practce guitar.

    Talent helps but practice is dominant.

    Gilmour actually plays pretty fast at times, so even thiugh speed is not ominant in his playing, there will always be a bit you can't play if you don't have at least a bit of speed.

    I agree with the post about the chaoitc nature of guitar teaching.
    Most teachers teach the basics, then get the student to start "jamming" over some changes, rather than continuing to build and refine technique by disciplined playing of appropriate (which can still be heaps of fun) pieces.
    Just because you can learn guitar without doing this has led people to think that learning pieces is restrictive and evil.
    Contrast that to the progressive nature of classical training and it's easy to see why those systems consistently produce competent players.

    So, my answer to the OP is, practice combined with an organised progressive approach. Whether you a great musician at the end of that is an unrelated question.
     
  20. slowhand66

    slowhand66 Member

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    I agree with the philosophy stated above that "speed" is a lot about hard practice and discipline. Not just playing or jamming, which is definetly fun-- but not the same. Of course, practice will only take you so far, as some people (not me, by the way...) have natural predispotions that allow them to do fretboard gymnastics better than others. It comes natural to them (I hate them, everyone knows someone like this). What I mean by this is that their physical make-up (finger size, dexterity, etc) plays a roll as well.

    In sports, for example, Lance Armstrong didn't need to train as hard as his competitors, and could outpace and endure longer. Training got him far, but in the end it was his natural abilities (ie, genetics) that got him across the finish line time after time.
     

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