How fast should you make progress with ideal practice?

Howdy, I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past few months reprogramming my picking hand after a decade of string hopping. I think my new motion is “the one” which is very exciting! I’ve been splitting my practice up between single string bursts, I can do around 8 beats at 180bpm 16th notes before things get tense. Every few days I’m able to add a beat or so.

I’ve also been practicing a 8 measure run (even notes per string change) with a goal of 170bpm 16th. I’ve been translating my fast motion to slower speeds in order to practice this, and making sure the string hopping motion isn’t occurring. I can do it cleanly around 120bpm. Also been practicing smaller chucks of it around 140bpm.

I’m just curious from those who have climbed the alternate picking ladder, how fast do expect progress? Will it take a week to increase my speed 5bpm? Should I see progress day to day ? Will it take years to meet my goal ?

I guess, How long should I practice a motion before asking myself if this is working.


Hey there! Glad you are making progress!

I think it really depends on what your goal is :slight_smile:

In general “raw picking speed” does not seem to increase much after the initial period in which you are figuring out the coordinations for a specific motion. Once you have a basic motion in place (which goes fast enough, feels comfortable etc.), we recommend players to work on expanding their vocabulary with lick/riffs etc. that work well with that motion.

But if you are interested in going even faster, e.g. you are in a death metal band where you have to tremolo pick at 220bpm 16th notes for half an hour (:smiley: ), you are better served by finding yet another motion that is capable of that speed.

But taking a step back:

  1. what are your short/medium/long term goals?
  2. feel free to post a video in Technique Critique so we may be able to point you in the right direction!

I think my short term goals are to continue programming out the string hopping behavior.

My goal is to play the intro to crossing the rubicon by the human abstract, it’s a straight forward 16th note run at 175bpm

What do you think is the cause of your picking motion tiring you out after 8 beats? Do you feel any resistance from the strings? Do you think its your body position? Maybe you could try different picks and see if it helps? How are you holding the pick? Are you edge picking? How much of the pick is coming into contact with the string?

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Hey, sorry for the delay in responding!

this is not really necessary if you think about it carefully. You already have a motion that can do 180bpm 16th notes. It would be impossible for (most? all?) people to reach that speed with string hopping. Therefore, when you use that motion you don’t need to worry about re-programming anything. Just work on using that fast motion on as many different licks as possible (a.k.a. building a vocabulary that works with the motion).

If there is a musical passage where you find yourself using a more string-hoppy motion, it probably means that passage is slow enough that motion efficiency is not really a concern.

Great, that is an example of a concrete objective where you can measure the outcome.

After memorizing the piece, I suggest you immediately try to play it at (or close to) the desired speed. It will likely not be perfect, but you will have a reference for (i) what it feels like to play at the target tempo (ii) what are the potential problems / what parts are not coming out clean and why.

If you shoot a video of that attempt, bonus points and maybe we (the CTC community) can help you / point you in the right direction :slight_smile: