2 notes are harder?

Anyone else struggle(d) with 2 notes per string? I am much faster at 4-6, even 3 notes alternate picking. Plain old 2 notes give me trouble for some reason. I want to practice pentatonic but it’s infuriating because I can only go about half the speed of my 6 notes per. I have no guesses as to why. It puzzles me so much I’m here whining about it. Thoughts?


Can you film the 3/4/6 nps, and also film yourself doing 2nps pentatonic licks? We can’t tell unless we can see exactly what’s going on. I have a good guess though. The fact that you’re only half the speed of when you are staying on the strings for a longer duration suggests you are probably using different motions in each scenario.

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So you can do 2 + 2 + 2, as well as 2 + 2, but not 2. :thinking:

I thing that @joebegly is right, post some video!

String changes are usually the difficult part of guitar playing (if not sweeping). So if you do 2 notes per string you are doing string changes more often than if you are doing 4 notes per string.


Right, but if you have a good efficient motion and are making choices that align with your inherent escape motion and you have a good string tracking strategy, the string changes should feel very natural. To me, that’s the heart of CtC. Making the string changes feel as though they’ve disappeared.

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Exactly. SO that must be his issue, inneficient escape motions which make a bottleneck in his overall speed. In his case, more string changes correlate with less speed. That’s why he can go faster when doing more notes per string, because as he does less string changes the problem is less apparent. I would imagine that if he tried 1 note per string (altrernate picking) speed would be even lower.

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Agreed, and I take your point that even if someone is doing an efficient motion…something can change when they start crossing strings frequently and the motion is no longer the same one they were using. And that’s most likely the case here. Once we get some video, we can move from 99% certainty up to 100% certainty :slight_smile:

That’s what o think is the problem. To much movement to close together. Pick pick move is less time to breathe. On 2-4-6 notes per string I use all the same technique but with 6 notes per string I have more time to move to the next string. When it’s 2 notes only the move down or up just comes to fast and it actuslly feels like the strings are farther apart on 2 notes.

@Troy talks about this in Cascade - 2nps puts a lot more pressure on your left hand to move across the strings at speed. So, assuming you picking motion is good, it’s a left hand sync challenge, and will probably take a bit of work. :slight_smile:

I lke @Jarrodpimentals “breathe” analogy: I can rip though Yngwie style 3nps descending runs with a sneaky pull-off, which are picked 2nps just like EJ pentatonics, but I find the pentatonics much more challenging as it all seems to happen so much quicker.

Thanks Jim. The left hand is certainly the issue. I just tried 6 vs 2 and right away noticed my left hand was trying to keep up and slow down at the same time if that makes sense. When I burn through 6nps both hands are fast but I have more breathing time between string changes. The 2nps I have no breathing time it’s just move move move. I though it was the right hand causing the problem this whole time. Seems so obvious now. Thanks so much guys.

Definitely slower with 2nps compared to 3+. Haven’t benchmarked that one in a while, but I’m guessing I cap out at 200 BPM 16ths 2nps compared to 210 BPM with 3+.

Changing over more than 2 strings will also slow you down slightly.

That’s a great point. I think it’s worth noting that Eric Johnson’s fastest playing isn’t typically 2nps in one direction, across 4 or 5 strings. He has these fast little flurries across a couple strings then usually throws in a downward sweep ever few notes, changing directions. For one thing, it sounds cool. I think straight scales sound a little boring/predictable. The constant change of direction gives lines much more interesting contour. Plus, the obvious speed aid.

Out of curiosity, who is considered the fastest 2nps slinger? Shawn Lane did some insane 2nps stuff also, though it wasn’t his fastest playing I don’t think. It was often similar to EJ where there were sweeps thrown in. I know there are others. Zakk Wylde? Neal Schon? Most super fast guys do more of the 3nps type of licks, I think:

That’s a long winded way of saying that for most players, 2nps probably is inherently slower than staying on one string for a longer period of time. Still…it shouldn’t be 50% of that speed :slight_smile: @Pepepicks66’s ballpark guess of his own playing seems closer to what we’d hope for, where the 2nps playing is like 90 - 95% of our fastest.

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@joebegly you mentioned the fastest 2nps guys I could think of (Lane and Wylde), then again I don’t think I listen to many guitarists that stick consistently to 2nps, as you mentioned most super fast stuff is 3nps or more.

Exactly, I didn’t specifically state it but @Jarrodpimentals it sounds like you’re just uncomfortable with the movement which is slowing you down. I didn’t start to feel a little more comfortable with it until I forced myself to learn a couple Lane riffs that had it in there at speeds that I never tried before (I only used to do them at whatever EJ does them at, which in comparison is not that fast). I know of dudes that idolize Wylde and can do them really fast as well, so I think it just boils down to playing them often at as close to the target speed as you can until they feel more comfortable.

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Ok as long as one other person here hypothesized that 2nps is slower than other nps counts I feel better. I really think now that it’s a sync issue that’s hurting me. I think my brain thinks it should be able to play faster than my hands will allow currently. I just need more reps. There is also a Testament song-eerie inhabitants that has a nice little 2nps lick in the intro (that I can’t play at speed… yet) it’s just an up and down repeat. I’m going to add that to my list of practice reps. Thanks again y’all.

Also I’d like to add I don’t use a metronome that often. I’m just lazy about it because it makes playing harder for my brain. Adds too much pressure for me. I have rhythm already(hopefully) But I forget that you guys are mostly math exact with speeds and I’m guessing. I’m not sure that my 2nps is actuslly 50% slower. That’s my ball park guess and it could be a lot more like only 15% slower.

Played with the metronome today. I can do 190bpm on pentatonic up and down. I can do 200 but only one up and down. At 180 I can just go all day. I guess it’s not that bad. Is it because it’s only the 2 notes it seems a lot slowe in my head? What is really fast?

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lol!!! I think that’s pretty fast, in all scenarios. Assuming you’re doing 16th notes. If so, you’re easily in EJ/Zakk Wylde territory at those speeds. I don’t know how fast Shawn Lane clocks in with pentatonics, but I feel happier about myself and life in general when I don’t compare myself to Lane speeds :slight_smile:

Ok. Maybe I don’t know how to measure what I’m doing. I’ll google it.

How many notes per click are you playing when you checked against the metronome?

2 notes per click. One string per click. If there is a faster option I can’t even imagine being able to do that.