Guys, I need serious help


I’ve been a member here for a while but haven’t logged in or posted much lately.
Here is the problem. I’ve been playing for 30 years and I’m a reasonably good guitar player. I’ve played in many bands over the years… both cover and original (early on). When i discovered CTC i thought it would unlock a lot of the issues i have had over the years. Like many of you I began playing in the late 80’s and love the shred style but could never conquer it.
I took lessons from a Berklee guy but his teaching style just didn’t click with my learning style. I’m currently taking lessons from a guy that has taught me a ton of new material but he isn’t a shred guy, so the things discussed here aren’t really thing we do in our lessons. And that’s ok with me. I don’t want to spend lesson time on these things as i can work on them on my own.
the problem is that i feel like i have so many aspects of my playing to work on that i am overwhelmed.
I’ve been working on the Yngwie 6 note pattern and the Gilbert 6 note ascending/descending thing for months and I still suck at it.
Last time i logged in a few weeks ago i was blown away at the progress that Tommo has made in the last few months. I follow Jake Estner on IG and i can’t even comprehend his level of playing. Add to all this that my cover band had a very mediocre gig recently ( well, I had a mediocre gig) and my confidence is shot.

I know i need to make a practice schedule but i don’t know where to begin.
I am having trouble finding inspiration in anything and I really feel like giving up sometimes.
I don’t really know what i am asking of you guys here but i don’t know how to get over this hurdle. I have been stagnant for a long time now it seems.
there are a few clips of me playing crappy here on the forum if anyone cares to seek them out.
Any insights here from anyone?

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Now that i have looked back at my old threads I remember that i deleted the vids…

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Hey, if I remember correctly from your old videos, your 6s didn’t suck and they were reasonably fast - perhaps they were not 100% clean (who is) but 90-95 I think :slight_smile:

What’s the thing that gives you most trouble with “shred style stuff”? Is it the speed in general, syncing left and right, or some particular string changes? I think it’s good to identify the problem first!


I think on some level it’s all of that.
I’m primarily an UWPS player.
I do the Yngwie lick starting with an upstroke. The Gilbert with a down.

Don’t know if you recall my “what are we calling fast” thread. The discussion veered off a little bit. I think I didn’t ask the question correctly.
What I should have asked was ”what is a good target bpm for a given exercise or note grouping”.
In other words, what is a good bpm to shoot for, for sextuplets, 16th’s etc.
That might help with the speed aspect…knowing when what I’m playing is generally accepted as “fast”.
The sync issue comes and goes…some days I’m good and some not so good.
A big problem I have is changing speeds/note groupings mid solo. Especially when going from a slower grouping to faster. I think I try to go too fast or faster than necessary to stay in time. It’s a mental thing where I know the part coming up is faster, so I overcompensate. Tbh, I never really put the metronome work in that I should have.

Again, the string switching/tracking problem comes and goes. Some days it’s good…it’s just inconsistent and unreliable. I never know for sure if I’m going to pull it off or crash and burn.

I can record more video and post up too…

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seems I always come back to some of Claus Levins advice since he is one of the only guys who mainly discusses how to actually practice. Without knowing “how to practice” or even “how to get better” you can sort of forget about pickslanting being much help. After all, how much does pickslanting matter on the Yngwie 6 note pattern?

So I guess it comes down to 2 things:

  1. DECIDING what ONE thing to work on (spending 80% of your time on it)

  2. knowing how to go about practicing

The Yngwie 6 note thing is a great one, but I find myself using the Joe Stump version way more often which is just starting on the 2nd finger along these lines:


Maybe its a bit easier because the ring finger is stronger than the pinky. if u get it worked up to decent speed, essentially you ARE shredding. Its so easy to move it around either across strings or up and down one string etc

Im a 2 way slanter per se though I try to avoid big slants either way. Id feel weird as crap trying to start the Yngwie pattern or any pattern on an upstroke lol.

There are many cool uwps licks though…for instance this type of 16th thing wherever u want to fit in into your fingerings:

B------------------------------------------6–10–6--8–10 etc

in any case its all a moot point until you learn how to practice and establish good practice habits.

Honesty (with yourself)

no clue where your speed is now. Tommo said u were doing ok in your old vids though. I think one is getting pretty speedy somewhere around 12-13 notes per second. Thats easy to measure on sextuplets because u just divide your bpm by 10 lol. Sextuplets at 120bpm = 12 nps. for 16ths you divide by 15. So to get that same 12nps on 16ths you’d need to be at 180bpm.

to get to 12 u probably gotta be REALLY good and smooth and effortless at 10 and 11 etc. Spending time where you are smooth and fast and grooving that good thing will open doors to higher speeds IMO. if its “sometimes im good and sometimes not” then maybe u need to back off slightly to where its 100% and then gradually work up from there.

in the end its all about grooving your central nervous system etc. if u practice slop u get better at slop. if u practice clean u give your brain a chance to find better ways to do things even if u arent fully aware of them.

Please read the part about PPI (Post Practice Improvement) in the book I link

Im not going to reiterate my whole philosophy as people on the forum r probably tired of seeing it on every thread but ill link u to a recent thread where I laid out a bunch of good ideas. Ill also link a few vids that might help.

please read this and the post right after it.

one thing is for sure. You CAN get way better even after 30 years of playing. When I first saw the CTC stuff I got maybe 10-20% better because of the light coming on as to why I struggled with string crossing etc. That was like 4 or 5 years ago. That being said, I didnt get THAT much better until I starting focusing more and learning how to practice. That only happened earlier this year which is my 31st year playing lol

first word out of his mouth…practice slow lol

Cheers, JJ

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Thanks for that post…:give me some time to read through it all. I’m positive I’ll have some follow up questions!!

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he rambles a bit here but I think this is something that is so obvious that we miss it.

same basic thing stated slightly different (accents)

Picking depth

Keeping the tension down as u speed up is so important. If we are already picking fast and smooth then we are probably doing okay with accurate and consistent picking depth. If we are struggling with staying relaxed as we speed up, picking depth and accuracy may be a factor. Inaccurate/inconsistent picking depth may cause us to have to “pick harder” which will probably lead to speed walls we cant get over etc

The accent thing is related to chunking. Once we reach certain speeds we can no longer think of every individual note etc. the accents help the brain to chunk things together. I admit this is probably something I have somewhat neglected but its all good. Everything in its own time


I was just practicing with the metronome and on a whim I decided to up the speed significantly and concentrating counting triplets instead of sextuplets…
Suddenly I can play much faster
I was doing the Yngwie six note for 4 reps and then a 3 string arpeggio figure for 4 reps.
I got up to 230bpm and it began to get sloppy…
I think with a little more practice I could get it faster.

Very interesting…

I’m going to record some video later today…
Gotta get the house chores done first.

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make sure you are doing about 90% clean work vs less than 10% sloppy.

recheck that Kiko vid where he answers that first question. The perfectly controlled slow and medium reps set u up for faster reps later

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Will do. I haven’t yet checked the vid. Almost ready to head down to play/watch the vids.


16th notes @ 140 bpm (I think)

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16th triplets (counted as triplets @ 210 bpm…again I think that was the tempo)

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Hey, I can definitely relate - it is humbling as all get out to work your fingers to the bone trying to get some stuff together, only to realize that there is something tragically wrong “somewhere” in your approach. I mean, it feels like a lot of false starts and heaps of energy invested into something that doesn’t quite yield the results you are really questing for…

Now on the other side of the coin - blistering, shredding, mind-boggling picking technique is a very, very small piece of the puzzle when it comes to being a good, well rounded guitarist. lol However, I must admit I want that piece quite badly hahaha

Good luck! You got this!

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I agree. But still, I want that tool in my toolbox.
One of the reasons I don’t use my lesson time on this stuff is because I DO know that there is so much more to being a good musician. That’s what we cover during lesson time.
But yes, it’s been frustrating.
Thanks for responding!


This is so huge. And in particular, with respect to building confidence: if you are struggling with a complex lick, decompose it into mutliple simpler picking problems and verify whether you have mastered those simpler problems as thoroughly as you think you have. If you trace back far enough along the complexity axis, you’ll arrive at “tremolo picking a single note on a single string”. One of the big eye-openers for me was the idea that at least in the single-escaped world, it largely makes sense to view fast alternate picking and “tremolo picking” as the same mechanic.


This is a good approach but in general it may lead you to a lot of different practice items. Something I am trying to do a bit more these days, to make the best of my practice time, is to actually try to simplify the hard parts of a lick so that I can play them with my currently available techniques. Whatever works - changing fingerings, sneaking in a couple of hammerons/pulloffs to simplify the picking patterns, a bit of hybrid picking, or in the worst case scenario even changing a note or two.

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What I really need to do is sit down and make a list of maybe a half dozen thing I want to work on. Not all necessarily CtC stuff. But rather my lesson stuff, my cover band stuff, technique stuff etc. then plan out a method of attack.
I started to read through some threads here about organizing practice time yesterday…I need to read more and then actually do it. Thats a problem too. Actually doing it and not letting my mind wander on to easy things I can already do.

Any critique on the videos I posted, guys?

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Pretty sure the first video includes some “double escaped” changes, which makes it a challenging place to start. Second video link didn’t work for me.

Can you post an example of a six-notes-per-string repeating lick like the quintessential one discussed at 8m20s of the below CTC episode?:


See if that works.

By double escaped do you mean that it’s sort of pendulum motion and not strictly a one way picking motion?
Is that good or bad?


It presents a sign-in page from google.

Pretty much yes. But to be a little more clear, I’m talking less about pendulum motion and more about the idea that to alternate pick the lick, you need to be able to escape in more than one direction (i.e. not only escaping on upstrokes, and not only escaping on downstrokes).

Double-escaped licks are great, but they add a layer of complexity that can potentially make them more difficult to get feeling smooth. I’m curious whether the frustrations you experience with this lick are still present for single-escaped licks, especially with less frequent string changes.

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