130 bpm unachievable?

#1

After practicing single string Yngwie 6 for a few months I see no improvement. I can’t get past 120bpm with 6 notes per beat. This has raised two questions hopefully one of you wonderful members can answer please? Or maybe even start a poll?

  1. Am I string hoping if I am stuck at 120bpm? Please see videos below. Maybe I am not 0 to 3 on the clock?

  2. Is 130bpm unachievable for some of the members in this forum? It appears everyone else is miles ahead with even cross picking and I am stuck at the first hurdle; playing 1 way slant :sob: Maybe a poll is required to show with Yngwie 6 on 1 string what bpm are members achieving?

DWPS 120bpm iPhone slow motion, then iMovie slowed by 50%

DWPS wider view again 120bpm (iPhone slow motion) to show arm/wrist movement

UWPS 120bpm iPhone slow motion, then iMovie slowed by 50%

UWPS wider view again 120bpm (iPhone slow motion) to show arm/wrist movement

I have tried everything from slow practise (now ill advised) to bursts. Now I only practise the Yngwie 6 at fast speeds (as fast as I can). I put the guitar down every few reps if it feels good, but still see no improvement. Any help would be really appreciated.

Thanks guys
Alan

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#2

Do you stick to the same number of repetitions of the phrase every time you practice it? 130 BPM is very obtainable, but that said it is virtuoso level speed and don’t think for a second that even 110-120 one one string is something your average guitarist can do. In other words, don’t be too hard on yourself! There is a tendency on guitar-centric forums to look at even entry-level elite speeds and think they are commonplace. 100% not the case.

I have hit 140-150 for sixes on one string, and that took quite a bit of practice. Al Di Meola hits around 140 with his signature sixes licks in concert, for reference.

I wouldn’t slant in the other direction - that’s definitely not the problem at all considering I can do that exercise faster with DWPS. The problem as I said above - I think might be if you’re not repeating the phrase the same amount of times every time you practice, and if you are doing too much volume that could have something to do with it. But the clips you have given us show a low amount of repetitions which should be doable if that is how you already practice.

I don’t have the exact solution. Can we have some full speed clips? You might also just be at a plateau but there is really nothing here to suggest that you can’t progress further with your current style. It looks fine to me. Sometimes the answer really is… Just practice more.

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#3

Just so we’re clear here, are you talking about 130bpm sextuplets, aka 195bpm sixteenths? Because if so, let’s be honest, that’s pretty damn fast! I would go as far as to suggest that most players at that speed can probably only play repetitive sequence-type patterns like the Yngwie phrase, if they can play anything at all. So if that’s your roadblock I wouldn’t beat yourself up over that. That’s a nice problem to have.

While you’re working on this, also keep in mind for all those players out there who are bummed bout about speed, that 150bpm with any fingering you can throw at it, pure alternate picking, is probably a significantly rarer skill than the ability to do the Yngwie pattern at 210bpm. And it’s arguably just as useful in a wide range of musical situations.

So even if there is some kind of physiological limitation to how fast you can move your hands - and I’m not saying there is - there are lots of other things you can work on in the coordination department that can complement your single-string high tempo work.

Great work on these - nice clear lighting happening here. When we’re talking about motions though I would include the normal speed video. I don’t think there’s anything we’re going to see in slow motion that’s necessarily going to tell us anything operative in this case. Instead, I think learning picking motions is about learning smoothness and we’ll get a better sense of what that looks like from regular speed video.

More generally, I will offer a counterpoint to the metronomes and repetitions crowd. Most of the fast playing I do has happened as a result of learning to be smooth with a particular motion, not by consciously trying to push past a certain bpm limit. And it has never, ever happened as a result of slowly working up to an arbitrary limit in tiny metronomic increments for X number of repetitions.

So I still think the big elephant in the room about all these speed-related posts needs to be addressed and that is what, exactly, metronome-style speed practice is supposed to be doing:

  1. Is it helping you learn smoothness of a movement?
  2. Or is it taking a movement you are already good at, like a bench press, and just adding more weight to that bench press?

Because these to me are two totally different activities. And I’m not even convinced that category 2 really exists. Or if it does, it’s doesn’t exist as significantly as people might think.

As an example, I’ve seen Technique Critique posts here of single-string motion that is not consistent. It’s fast for a second or two, then spazzes out and becomes another movement for a second, then spazzes out again and becomes the first movement. You’ll see all sorts of things happening - random combinations of finger movement, forearm movement, wrist movement. But in the short stretches where it’s consistent, it’s also fast. That to me is evidence for category 1, i.e. “movement is not yet learned”. And a non-learned movement is not smooth, and therefore not fast. Learning to do the coordination of the movement will increase the length of time you can do it smoothly, and you’ll experience that sensation of cruising along at highway speeds.

So this is my long-winded question for you. Are you category 1 or 2? Do your movements feel smooth and effortless, or do they feel a little awkward like they might be not totally learned yet?

If you think they might not be totally learned yet, than repetitions and metronomes are not the way I personally learn new motions. I use trial and error and I’m always trying to change something about my motion, or form or grip or pick choice or anchoring or even the phrase I’m working on to find a way that works better. And I’m always paying attention to those little “a ha” moments, because when they occur you want to notice them and try and reproduce them.

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#4

Just to add to what Troy said above when I said repetitions I was referring to the amount of times you repeat the phrase before stopping. In other words in musical notation form, the difference between playing 8 bars at 180 BPM is much different than playing 100 bars. The latter is much more taxing.

It might help to get the motion happening quickly with one repetition, to feel what it is like. It’s much easier to play a relaxed burst than it is to sustain a few repetitions or a few dozen repetitions.

I would agree with Troy that the smoother your movement the faster you will be able to go. That’s just a proxy for saying “do not play with excess tension”. Excess tension kills speed.

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#5

In this case I’m not really referring to muscular tension. That’s another boogie man that gets mentioned a lot in these types of conversations. But in general, yes, I agree that when you’re trying to learn a new movement, not killing it with force and trying to do the most powerful version of that movement will feel the most natural.

Instead what I’m referring to here with smoothness is the coordination aspect. In other words, making the movement correctly and gracefully, and doing that continually for a certain amount of time with no feeling like you’re going to screw it up and lose it. Can you do the movement a few times, or can you do it for an arbitrary length of time with no feeling like you’re going to mess up the coordination of it. And can I ask you to do it at the drop of a hat and you can do it, immediately, without thinking about it or concentrating at all, and it’s still smooth.

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#6

Interesting clarification, really made me think and I don’t mean that as a joke. I think that’s what makes the guitar such a complex instrument. There are all these notes in songs and licks we have to play, and ultimately the inner sensation/coordination/etc. of the guitarist and their honesty in evaluating its quality is what produces the result, good or bad, smooth or not. But there’s no real way to set a quantitative standard for that evaluation, and its all very personal. Maybe that’s why so few get there…

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#7

Have you tried John Taylor’s (Mile high shred) approach? Start at 60BPM play the lick once, if you get it right bump it up by 5BPM, play the lick at the new speed, once you get it right, bump it up by 5BPM. Rinse and repeat until you can’t get it right anymore then back it off by 10 - 20BPM and practice at that speed for a little while.

120BPM is fast anyway, I found that the last 10BPM to 130BPM where the hardest gains to make, John Taylor’s approach worked for me, maybe it will work for you if you :slight_smile:

All of this is conditional to your response to Troy’s post, if it doesn’t feel smooth at 120 that needs to addressed first

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#8

I find myself in this same situation. I can play the Yngwie lick pretty clean and accurately at 100bpm. At 110 it’s a little unpredictable but still do-able. At 120 its hit or miss.

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#9

What’s hit or miss about it?

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#10

@weealf, if you are anywhere near sextuplets at 130bpm, very cool!

Given the videos presented for examination, I’d look for global system issues. For example, and for what it’s worth, my fastest runs are not achieved with the guitar neck parallel to the ground, thumb wrapped behind the neck, and sitting.

I like @Troy’s “1” or “2” question. Also, do you have the full speed video for reference? Peace, Daniel

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#11

I think it’s a combination of things.
The picking accuracy starts to suffer so I’m probably not concentrating on the chunking aspect properly
And the actual fret hand finger speed is just a little fast for me right now.
I’ll tell you what…
Give me a day or 2 and I’ll get a video up on it. I’ll start another thread for it. .

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#12

That sounds plausible. There is a point where concentration is no longer necessary because the motions become learned and essentially pre-recorded. And this pre-recorded state can exist at some tempos and not others. Why is that? That’s the operative question. Guesses are:

  1. The motion you’re using at various tempos is actually different, and one of them is learned and the other is not.

  2. The motion is the same but the tempos are different, and that’s enough to qualify as “different” to your motor system. In other words, the baked-in “recordings” only work for certain speed ranges, because the speed at which the pre-recorded thing plays back is also a learned quality. And if you try and play that back at a different speed, it no longer works, so you need a new “recording” for that speed or speed range. If that’s true, how wide of a tempo range is one recording good for?

  3. ???

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#13

Ehrm, I see there are a lot of long replies already, I only skimmed through so forgive me if someone already said this.

Have you tried moving away from the “picking all notes” mindframe, and doing a mixture of picked notes and pulloffs? It can be an “easier” way to explore higher speeds without getting your picking hand exhausted (as the right hand essentially does some bursts and then gets some breaks while the left does the pull-offs). It results in a cool sound as well.

During the “bursts” you may be able to temporarily break out of your typical picking speed barriers. Someone called John Petrucci gives some nice examples here :wink: :

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#14

I’ll add to what @tommo’s presented here to add that in order to get the pull offs, or “all-hammers” a la the Holdsworth approach, as a sort of cross-training, adjustment of the thumb position behind the neck, elbow position, posture all come into play. I swear by it, as my picking speed overall jumped up very quickly when I started to get the left hand moving.

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#15

I don’t know if I’ve speculated about this on here before, but in the Martin Miller interview he mentions that the motor system also works in a chunky way, i.e. past a certain speed you don’t send signals and get feedback for every stroke but rather “check” a larger chunk for successful execution. I had the thought that problems might arise when your “mental” chunk is the wrong size for the currently operative motor chunk, that is, if on the one hand you’re thinking “I am playing a pattern of 6 notes” while your motor system is going “2, 2, 2” for example.

Does this make any sense?

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#16

Sure, why not? I don’t think we really know yet what’s going on at the level of the circuitry. And it could very well be something like this. I know Martin is enthusiastic about this subject and the researcher whose work he was quoting. I don’t know what specific papers that individual has publishes and how far these subjects have been looked into.

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#17

You could try doing bursts to a metronome, i.e. play one group of the six note sequence and then the first note of the second six. I find this effective for cementing a chunk in my brain. So for a bar, I conceptualise it as 4 chunks instead of 24 notes. Think this was something I saw Martin Miller advocate for speed, and found helpful. Might be worth a go.

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#18

Hi @Troy thanks for the quick response I think you have nailed what I am after. I will try and be concise here.

The reason I thought 130bpm sextuplets is the goal is this is what you play it at on the seminars. So I thought this was a benchmark before progressing. Also there are hundreds of metal & rock solos that require sextuplets at >130 which are all songs I wish to be able to play.

Last lick in Solo to “Bark at the moon” by Ozzy. Anything Yngwie, Steve Vai or Slash. These artists are all very well covered on YouTube by bedroom guitarists so this must be a common skillset?

Going back to your points above I think I am looking at 1. Learn smoothness of motion. My motions are not smooth 100% of the time and on reading your post I conclude that my motion is not totally learned yet. Like you say I am in the category of floating between movements. Thanks again for your input as it has given me motivation to go with trial and error and get the motion as smooth and effortless as I can.

I recorded a couple of normal speed clips but I think they are not required as I just need more practise to smooth out my picking. I can feel it is not smooth and effortless just now.

DWPS Yngwie 6 120bpm Normal speed footage

DWPS Yngwie with different view 120bpm

Thanks again
Alan

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#19

Hi @tommo I will definitely try this as you are a picking machine as shown on your 2WPS posts. I have tried picking 6 notes then legato 6 then pick 6 and legato 6 all back to back as it feels like I can lock into the rhythm with the picking hand better.

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#20

Hi @RockStarJazzCat I did think my left hand was tensing up and this was causing me to tense overall and it maybe was not down to my picking hand. I tried playing the phrase just picking the first note and then legato or a bit to get the phrase under my left fretting hand. Do you play classical sitting position or guitar on your leg?

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