Help a guitar pal out

Hello everyone. Most of the time I’m a silent reader and I occasionally offer some feedback on tommo’s stuff :smile: , but this time around I’m looking to start a general discussion around playing guitar at a high level.

I never wanted to make it big (or believed on doing that), I mean being famous, rich, etc. My life goal musically is to make a guitar oriented record that I’m proud of, even if I’m the only person paying for it.

Lately with enormous academic pressure I left guitar playing a bit behind, I’m just trying not to get any worse to be honest! :smiley:

While I’m studying, I ofter listen to a “shred” playlist I made on Spotify and I’m thinking “wow, this sounds fantastic, with my current discipline and lifestyle I will never play like that”.

Soooo, after all that introduction, I have a question for the “advanced” players around here. Since most of you have day jobs, families, etc, how did you develop your chops at that level? I’ve heard recordings of people here who are at a very high level, but they’re everyday normal guys like me, with many things to do during the day other than practicing. Any advice?

For the record, the song that made me think of all this was this one:


yeah, super cool song and he has a vid online where he breaks it down

Your question.

long story short, its like a war. …if u want to break through to a higher level u need to focus in and break through in ONE spot. Once u “breach the wall” u can then begin to plunder the city

practicing a little bit on a bunch of different things at once is like a bunch of guys throwing rocks at various points of the wall. Not gonna do much TBH. Better to focus all energies on one spot like a battering ram and break through

didnt Bruce Lee say something like “dont fear the guy who practices 10000 different kicks…fear the guy who practices one kick 10000 times”?

this is essentially the main message of many of Claus Levins vids. I took his advice starting back around the beginning of this year. I decided id really master the Yngwie style 6 note pattern. It took my picking several notches higher and essentially everything picking related improved quite a bit.

Then I bit the bullet and started working on the Paul Gilbert lick which had essentially shut me down for 30 years. Now I have it wired pretty tight.

In the end I think it all comes down to either “how to learn” or “how to practice” which is essentially the same thing.

Remember that a lot of the top pros got the bulk of their skills in 2-3 years…mostly all of them were self taught too. So the exact thing applies even more to us who have played for many years. In 1-2 years we can up our game massively.

But something has to change. if one is following whatever method for several years and it hasnt got them where they want to be…then following it for 5 more years wont improve the situation much

“you have to shift your focus from becoming good at playing guitar, to becoming good at practicing”

so what r the key skills to being a beast?

  1. Having a fast and smooth picking motion in general (Yngwie pattern on one string will do the trick)

  2. Mastering one of the various ways to pick across strings

after that the rest falls into place way more easily


another key for me was realizing that the key for improvement (or failure) is already built into the body!


This little free book is MEGA killer. The chapter on “Post Practice Improvement” (PPI) should fill us all with hope and clarity

Also please read the chapters or comments on “Velocity, choice of practice speed” and “slow practice”

He is stating more or less that around 150-200 good clean reps will produce an improvement that should be felt the next day if things r done correctly etc. That would be 150-200 GOOD reps…not sloppy half missed reps etc.

if u get the gist of what he is saying, you are using your intuition to feel your way into better technique. You should be able to feel if a small change will get u closer to your goal of being cleaner/faster/more relaxed etc. This can be found thru experimentation which WILL involve some missed reps/mistakes etc…but these are kept to a minimum and when u find something that feels as if its an improvement, you do your good clean reps with that technique and expect your PPI again etc.

To put it all together, I sort of mix some of Claus LEvins ideas with ideas from that book, and then we put them together with Troys mechanical revelations. We dont have to grope blindly in the dark because essentially we know what good technique is now. We have enough examples of the various string crossing ideas etc that we can then look at our own technique and (IMO) we start to move in that direction with slow reps and once we have our foot in the door we also do bursts to see if we are on the right track.

if we practice clean we are on the way to where we want to be…if we practice slop we are getting better at being sloppy and we are deeply ingraining those mistakes

if, as u stated, your practice time is limited, no big deal. Just pick a key area and start to master it. 150-200 reps can be as little as 10-20 minutes

how would it feel to have one of the Paul Gilbert style licks really grooved this time next month??


I would add Joshua Voiles’s Artist Acceleration program. Lots of powerful practicing and learning tools in that course. Worth the money.

A few years ago, I discovered this excellent book ‘Practice’ - on methods of practice for the Violin Virtuoso (or advanced student):

I find it to be a really valuable guide to practicing any elite level musical challenge. It’s very comprehensive: technique, tone production, learning + memorizing, breaking down complex runs into chunks and loops.

Obviously, the musical examples are from the violin rep and there’s no TAB - but I’ve gained a lot by applying the material to practicing the guitar.

I’d also recommend getting a practice journal and noting your goals, daily routines, and progress - then review and measure every week or so to make sure your optimizing the few hours you have to practice.


Yes - find a good teacher. Go to the local nightclubs that have the type of bands you like and when you find a band whose lead guitarist you think is great, talk to him after they get done playing their set and ask about taking guitar lessons from him. For the most part I’m not impressed with the people on YouTube who call themselves teachers, and have never had a career. If they were such great players they’d have had a career or they’d be in the midst of making a name for themselves on the local club scene at least… Find a teacher who at the very least is going all out to get his band signed and to play as many gigs as his band can get - you know, somebody with ambition!

A good teacher can save you huge amounts of time because he can spot mistakes you’re making that other people wouldn’t. He will get you started playing it correctly rather than allow you to continue to play something the wrong way and by doing so, further ingrain that bad habit into your playing.

If he’s any good he’ll do more than teach you songs. Teachers who do nothing but that should call themselves transcribers instead of teachers. Some of them are great at transcribing, and they can figure out any song you want to learn, but to me, if that’s all somebody does, he’s not a teacher.

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Haha I did exactly what you said! My teacher plays for a band that signed a world wide record deal recently, I love his music and my essential goal is to have a similar path.

We corrected a lot of bad habits that I developed from having mediocre teachers in the past and right now we’re focusing on learning basic theory/harmony and then take it from there.

In my opinion the teacher is the most important part of a person’s growth in the early stages of their development, but in my case this isn’t the issue. I just have some character traits that don’t go well with learning how to play guitar at a high level. I’m impatient, I lack discipline and I tend to compare myself to others without having put the same amount of work in my playing. All that leads to stalling, getting frustrated and not working towards my goals.

The good thing is that finally I’ve noticed those things. Time to do something about it.

Btw, shameless plug about my teacher’s band. The first song was released a few days ago and it’s from their second album. The other two are from their first record.

Excellent! It sounds like you were lucky to meet each other.

That’s good that you’re aware of your strengths and your weaknesses. Now that you’ve figured out those traits that are getting in the way of making better progress, you can, as you said, do something about it.

The idea that teachers are just for people in their first year or two of playing is pretty widespread, but it’s just not necessarily true. Depending on one’s goals, having a teacher even when you’ve become an advanced level player can help keep you from getting complacent and slowing down or even stopping your progress as a result. I took lessons from Dallas Perkins when I;d already been playing for over 4 years and I’m so glad I did because he taught me sweep picking (which he is a master of) among other things.

I’ll listen to your teacher’s band later and send you a message about it. Have a great day!

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Those links you post look very good, I’m excited to read them. Do you believe that they directly correlate to guitar?

Claude’s stuff is great. I watch his vids all the time

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well they are both links to one book. Its a piano book so he spends a lot of time talking about HS (hands seperate) and HT (hands together) so I dont think that aspect is neither here nor there for us but the principles of practice should be the same.

The section of practice tempo is great as it addresses what we all sometimes debate about…whether to practice “slow” or “fast” etc. He shows both aspects

Then the part on Post Practice Improvement is gold to me. The way he uses the bodybuilder and golfer analogies. You dont see the improvement DURING the session etc. Rather you practice in a way to set yourself up to be better tomorrow.

You ARE your practice habits. /end thread

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You should be highly commended for this!!!

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I appreciate that brother, really do.

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Are you kidding? I really appreciate your contributions here. They’ve helped me alot.
We both love Claus’s material.

You need tab? PM me.

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