Hi, I’ve been playing guitar for 8 years (mostly funk and blues) and i want to play some ‘shred’ type stuff but i really need help with my practice routine. I have more than 10 hours for practicing, but i don’t know how to practice effectively. I’ve been practicing for the ‘changing direction’ (downward pickslanting-yngwie malmsteen-chapter 4) over the past two days (10 hours per day). Should i practice more than one exercise or more than one technique at the same time? There are a lot of questions in my mind and this is really confusing for me. I can feel that i’m speeding up when changing strings, i can play the ‘changing strings’ lick at 120 bpm [as sextuplets (240 bpm as triplets)]. (140 bpm sextuplets on single string). Should i continue to practice only one lick or what? What should i focus on while practicing? Thanks for your time and answers.
What are your goals with the guitar? Be specific. Practice time should be goal-oriented in my opinion. If your goals are vague like “I want to play faster” the guitar will just end up being frustrating. Faster at what? If you practice a certain lick every day to a metronome or using speed bursts, you will get really fast at that lick over time. But what does that accomplish? There are a million other licks that you probably can’t play very fast.
I would suggest breaking up your practice routine into sections. You can spend some time warming up/stretching. If you want to work on technique as a whole, you can break technique up into different categories like “Alternate Picking”, “Sweeping”, “Tapping”, “Hybrid Picking”, “Legato” or whatever technical elements you want to improve on. I would then find examples in music where these techniques are used. Cracking the Code has plenty of examples you could use I’m sure. I would maybe work on one example of each technical aspect you’re working on. I highly recommend changing it up frequently! Don’t just practice a single lick over and over again, month after month. Find something new to challenge you! Steve Vai has said that the key to his success was that he learned to play something brand new every single day.
For me personally, my practice is 100% music-driven. I have some gigs coming up in a couple months and there are some solos that are definitely not “concert-ready” yet. So I warm up then dive right in. I take the most difficult passages from every song and practice each of them by slowly speeding up with the metronome, using speed bursts, and using dotted rhythms. I can explain each of these methods in more detail if you’d like. The point is my practice routine is goal-oriented. The goal is to perform well. I know that in order to perform well I need to be able to play every song in my sleep!
That’s my ramble. Hope there’s something useful in there. Cheers!
Thank you for your answer! I was playing Hendrix, Frusciante and Mayer type stuff mostly. My goal is to reach a level that can play Malmsteen or Becker songs. I have never practiced sweep picking or legato type runs before. While practicing alternate picking (downward pickslanting), can I also practice sweep picking, legato, tapping etc. at the same day?
I quit my job (was playing guitar for a touring band), I’m entirely free now and I have enough money for a while (about 10-12 months), I want to spend this time by improving my guitar skills. I can practice for more than 10 hours/day but I really need a guide.
Hey, welcome, good questions! One thing I’d suggest is browsing / searching around on the forum a bit, we have many conversations on this topic already Here’s for “practice routine”, you could try similar queries as well:
As far as what to practice, definitely go through the Pickslanting Primer if you haven’t already. Experiment with the motions and work on getting one (or more) working comfortably, and try applying to a range of musical stuff you’re personally interested in.
And when it comes to how to practice, yes mixing things up (“random” or “interleaved” practice) is a good idea, alternating between several things rather than spending a whole day on a single thing. We got some good tips on this from talking with Noa Kageyama; see:
The “Starting With Speed” video in the Primer has some good tips as well:
Also fwiw 10 hours per day is quite a lot, likely way more than necessary, be careful to take lots of breaks and stop if you feel pain / tension!
Hopefully some useful stuff linked above (and good tips from @tjfgx6 - thanks!) We’ve learned that “practice” isn’t really one thing, and an ideal routine may be very different for e.g. acquiring a new picking motion vs. learning a new song using a motion you’re already comfortable with. Often a bit of a mix / determined by your current goals. Let us know if this helps at all, and please follow up here on any specific q’s you’d like to discuss further!
That’s awesome you’ve created so much time to pursue guitar mastery! I would definitely agree with what Brendan posted, especially in regards to practice times and breaking the routine up into chunks. For reference, the great Andres Segovia would practice in fifteen-minute sets with a short break between each set to stand up, stretch, have a drink of water, etc. After three sets of intensive practice he would take a longer 15-minute break. This went on through the morning. He would have his main meal of the day around 1:00 or 2:00, take a siesta, and then resume practicing in fifteen-minute sets in the late afternoon or evening. If you’re going to pursue 10 hours a day of practice I would definitely take lots of breaks and also venture into other things that would help you be a more complete guitarist, like sight reading music, ear training (very important!), and improv. If you want examples of well-rounded practice routines you could check out Steve Vai’s 10 hour workout he did for Guitar World magazine (I think). You could also try John Petrucci’s Rock Discipline video which is basically just one big practice routine for shred technique. You can kind of use them as a guideline to model your own routine after.