Brad Davis' Right Hand Practice Routine

Hi Everyone.

I know the importance of hands synchronization and I remember Troy talking about that in Pickslanting Primer or some other topics. I’d like to know your opinion (maybe also @Troy ) about the Daily Practice Routine suggested by Brad Davis in his “Guitar player’s guide to developing speed, accuracy and tone”. In this kind of routine you have to mute the strings with left hand and execute some right hand patterns for at least 10 minutes a-day with a starting point of 60 BPM.
Quoting Davis: “The right hand muscle memory that you ingrain working these exercises at 60 bpm for one month will stay with you. Although it will feel like you are not progressing much during that month, at the end of the month you will be amazed at your results”.

I did it for a short period of time and I remember that my sound, tone and strenght improved significantly. Then I discovered the wonderful discoveries of Troy and Ctc team. I’d like to know if, in your opinion, this routine is compatible with Troy’s suggested practice or if could be counterproductive.

Thank you so much
Giovanni from Italy

1 Like

Really good question, man. First off just having a practice routine that you are working on every day is already a great step and will definitely benefit you.

As far as the debate of slow practice goes, I can only offer my perspective: Awhile ago I had hit a plateau where I felt like I had made no progress on picking for over a year. There were certain licks that I couldn’t get up to speed no matter how much I practiced. I followed the common advice of start slow and gradually build up speed but I just kept hitting a wall.

After finding Troy’s stuff it opened my eyes to the fact that I actually just wasn’t making the motions correctly, and that’s why I couldn’t play the things I wanted to play. It made sense why after all this practice it didn’t work for me because how can you practice slow what you don’t know how to do in the first place.

So basically it’s a long way of saying I think the method of flooring it and feeling it out with your body is the best way to learn the complicated motions that we need for high level guitar playing.

I feel it’s helpful to practice slowly, but it has to be balanced with playing fast.

Playing fast helps you find the (potentially) correct motions and forces needed. I added “potentially” because I feel it can also lead to you using more energy than necessary to try to control your hands or force something.

Playing slowly lets you really notice what’s going on, and lets you discard excess force and tension. That’s extremely important. But it can also lead to bad motions that don’t function at high speed — also, slow playing is fundamentally different from fast playing from the nervous system point of view.

So both are totally necessary, and complement each other. My opinion. :slight_smile: cheers! Jz

Echoing JZ’s comment here

What I’ve been doing the last year is try as many different approaches as I can, and really try to pay attention to the exact mechanic that is recommended by the play - be it Paul Gilbert, MAB, Dean Lamb, Jason Richardson whoever as long as they have some teaching experience and can play what you want to play.

Pay attention to how different players approach something, like with sweeping, I try it with palm and finger anchoring and floating. I try it with and without barring to discover new fingerings I hadn’t thought of. I’ll try it with exaggerated thumb movement and then with only shoulder/elbow movement, and then with only wrist movement and different combinations. But you have to stick with each approach long enough to dedicate some time to it. You can even do them in the same practice session and chunk your time between them.

You’ll probably see what’s gaining speed and what isn’t as you continue to try new things. After a while, you might even try out with a ‘dud’ approach to playing and find it works better than you thought after its settled in.

Hi Giovanni. I’m not familiar with Brad Davis’ routine described but I can speak to some of what you describe from the downpicking camp.

Muting strings may help with focus and analysis of one’s right hand technique, probably doesn’t go much further than that however in terms of developing speed.

You mention slow bpm practice and muscle memory being ingrained - that is noteworthy and worth some discussion.

There is merit to slow bpm practice and analysis when working on development of right hand technique but this also has some hidden traps you have to be conscious of.

How many people fall into the trap of practicing lines as straight 8ths slowly, develop corresponding picking motions, then fail miserably as the metronome ramps up - MoP is the prime example but the concept applies broadly.

Take MoP for example, you learn this as straight 8ths slowly, there is a picking motion associated with that approach, then you try to apply that picking motion at speed and it doesn’t work. How many fail at this and blame their downpicking? Downpicking is generally not the issue. It’s not a straight 8ths riff to begin with - your learning the wrong picking motion slowly and then trying to apply that picking motion at speed - which is the reason for failure.

James is emulating a kind of a drum drag/ruff type of rudiment for this. The 2 notes on the E are like a couple quick grace notes and then you hit the A with a bit of accent. The riff actually has a groove to it that has to be emulated to get it right and get it at speed instead of mindless straight 8ths that everyone is so inclined to practice. Yes - there is just as much a difference in the downpicking mechanic of straight 8ths vs. emulation of a drum drag rudiment as there is to a drummer doing the same with their sticks. 2 different things altogether but both can be characterized as 3-note groups. 2 very different ways of achieving 3 notes however and certainly yes, it’s all downpicked; no, there are no sweeps.

Learn it slowly with the correct drum drag/ruff type of picking mechanic and you will get it accurate and at speed but learn it slowly with the wrong straight 8ths mechanic and it won’t work at speed - this is what seems to baffle many.

But rotjab, when I slow the song way down, it sounds like straight 8ths - yes it does. The reason is when James plays this at a very fast tempo and the timing between notes is minimized - it morphs into something pretty close to such. But practicing slow as a set of mindless, grooveless, 3 note 8ths - 1&2, &3&, 4&1, &2&, 3& 4&…is an absolute recipe for failure to get up to speed.

Kind of hard to describe but easy to demonstrate on video, I’m not video savvy so I won’t be making one but hopefully this makes sense and hopefully it helps.

Again, there is merit to slow, deliberate right hand practice but unto itself - but it doesn’t always capture the picking mechanics applied and those mechanics are not always obvious from that type of practice.

Good luck!

Hi Giovanni, sorry for the late reply and I must confess I haven’t had time yet to read all the replies, but will do :slight_smile:

In the meantime, I wanted to address this:

There is not really such a thing as a “Troy’s suggested practice routine” :slight_smile: . The only general recommendations we tend to give are:

  • make sure you don’t do things that hurt / are too uncomfortable
  • be honest with yourself and evaluate if what you are doing is working or not
  • if something is not working, try something else :slight_smile:

this sounds similar to what i experiencef when i switched to gypsy jazz rest stroke. i literally was probably playing slower than 60 bpm. :smiley:

But 60 bpm is probably that like crawling to walk phase of cementing in the rest stroke into motor mechanic coordination and consistency.