Creative difficulties with practicing


I’ve been working on a few picking techniques for a couple of months but I feel like I’m hitting a creative brick wall.
I do the Gilbert ascending/descending 6’s and I’ve been doing a variation of the MAB 4’s pattern.
I see a lot of improvement since I started doing them but I feel like every time I pick up the guitar those are the only things I do (outside of my regular lesson material).
I have watched probably most of the videos here as well as the licks Troy demonstrates but I can’t seem to find inspiration.
For example:
I’m a primary UWPS player so naturally I gravitated towards the Strunz and Farrah seminars. However I feel like a bunch of the licks demonstrated are chromatic type licks and I’m hesitant to drill them because they seem to have less of a musical application than say, a diatonic practice drill.
I struggle to get DWPS licks working, however I did just begin to experiment with starting those licks with an upstroke so I’ll see how that goes.
Anyone else feel like they are having a lack of creatively coming up with licks to practice? How are you/did you overcome this?


Very true for me as well! Sometimes I sit down and try to write “etudes” containing the techniques I’m interested in (typicall using the 12-bar blues as the underlying harmony), but it can take a lot of time and effort to write something vaguely musical, so I don’t manage that often :sweat:


There are a million cool things you can do with any setup. You’re gonna have to get used to starting licks with upstrokes sometimes though. The 2nps shapes are loads of fun. You can play pentatonic stuff, 7th arpeggios, diatonic scale fragments, all kinds of rad shit. Just get used to starting licks and phrases on upstrokes and it’ll open up your entire world.


It’s nice to know that I’m not alone!!
You know, this site is chock full of more licks that I could master but yet I feel like I’m just not finding them.


Yeah, I suppose I can go back and look at some Yngwie and EJ licks provided I try starting with upstrokes.
Even though you made some suggestions of things to try I sometimes feel I don’t know where to start or if the things I’m practicing are the “right” things to practice.
If that makes sense.
For instance, sure I know how to fret a 7th arpeggio but I’m not exactly what to practice concerning that arpeggio. Straight up and down only gets you so far, and I’m not sure how to sequence an arpeggio or if that’s even a thing…etc etc etc


I guess it comes down to what kind of sounds you want to make. Ripping up and down scale shapes and arpeggios is fine at first just to learn the technique and get used to the movements but it’s when you link these bits and pieces together in creative ways that the real fun starts. I’m an UWPS guy too, btw.

So here’s what I would do.

Learn some 4-note scale fragments that you can arrange into 2nps shapes and practice them up and down the fretboard on the 2nd+3rd strings. These little guys are great to link our standard box shapes together. Learn them in your favourite diatonic key so that they sound good when you link them together. Learn them going up and down. Maybe try pentatonic fragments if you get bored. Just drill them under your fingers a little bit.

Next, use 2nps 7th chord arpeggios and pick a key, like G major. Try ascending through a Gmaj7, then descending on the Amin7, ascending on Bmin7, so on. Just little drills to teach yourself some shapes. Then hit up the Malmsteen-6-note pattern. Then try some EJ 5s. Whatever.

I would only spend maybe 10%-20% of your practice time on stuff like this.

For me, the creative element comes into play when I try to turn these shapes and figures into actual melodic phrases. No one actually plays scale-tone 7th arpeggios in a solo, but you could start with an Amin pentatonic lick in your standard box, then slide into a Cmaj7 argpeggio (which you’ve been drilling lately!) which could guide you beautifully another Amin pentatonic box higher on the neck. Or maybe the next chord is a Dmaj, so you resolve into an F# with some sexy vibrato instead! Or whatever!

The sooner you give yourself musical problems to solve, the sooner you’ll start using this stuff and finding interesting and creative ways to apply it.


That’s fantastic advise…thank you for taking the time to help.
Much of my problem is that I never worked on the technique aspect when I was developing. Oftentimes, when I encountered something difficult I tried, but pretty easily gave up thinking that I just couldn’t do that particular thing.
I knew early on that I was an UWPS even though I didn’t know there was a name for it or that it was a thing, even. And for all these years I thought I was doing it wrong, believing that I was supposed to slant the other way. It was never comfortable so I just continued to do it my way.
Now,there are plenty of techniques that I can execute well but these that I’ve been working on are the one I could never tackle. Now that I know that my slant isn’t wrong and that it’s perfectly acceptable it’s like I’m sort of beginning again.
I just need to find a way to take the first step of taking these technical aspects and turning them into real life musical ideas.
You’ve helped point me in the right direction so again, thank you!!