How to get faster, when you are not slow anymore

I think if you’re playing at 220, it’s nearly impossible for the motion to be inefficient. I’ll fall back on my theory that there is just a coordination issue at play.


I think that is accurate.


Considering these things, would you recommend banging the doors of these speeds every day for short periods with bursts and small breaks between them until the motion sorts out itself and becomes more relaxed?

Unfortunately, I’m not playing at 220bpm, and that’s the main issue :smiley: I give it a shot to play above 200 occasionally but always get discouraged and don’t make any attempts for a while. :frowning_face:

1 Like

Sounds like you need to spend more time at that speed to feel comfortable

I think so, yes, but I’m not sure myself – wish I was a bit better so I could run these experiments on myself, but were I at that stage, that’s exactly what I’d do, with a minor modification. I wrote about this pretty extensively already in another thread, check it out and see how it feels.

I think you’re at a really interesting stage, and to keep pushing the envelope and progress I think you’ll need to keep experimenting, and keep loose. Pushing through it / building endurance isn’t the answer, I don’t think … I feel it’s more about really paying attention, and finding what makes things click, even incrementally. The techniques above (bursts, rhythms, accents, volume variations) are all about working your nervous system to help it find out what works.

What I’ve been doing recently, which feels useful though it’s still early days, is keep a very simple practice journal for any given lick. I work at one lick for say 10-15 mins, trying various techniques/variations, and at the end of that I record what I did, and also the max speed I hit with that lick. I do a cool down too as mentioned in the above thread. I’m not expected to see speed increases every day, sometimes things won’t click, but over a week or so I would expect to see something.

Recently I posted a “breakthrough” post with a video. As you’ll see, I’m not as good as you, but I’ve definitely improved quite a lot over the past couple of months. I’ve only really started the journal idea very recently, but it feels right. I still have some tension etc to work through!

You’re a super player, so some thoughts:

  • always bear in mind how far you’ve come.
  • a lack of progress isn’t a failure, it’s an indication that your current methods maybe need some adjusting. It’s feedback and new info to incorporate into your search. Take a moment, take a breath, and think about how you can continue your experiments. And keep avoiding tension.
  • “don’t make any attempts for a while.” – yeah, keep chipping away at it bit by bit, if you take a break your body will likely not adjust. It’s like going to the gym, but in this case you’re not building muscles, you’re tuning your nerves and reflexes. Too long a break / infrequent tests = nothing adapts.

I have the same questions with my playing as you, so this is advice for me too.

Cheers! jz

1 Like

look at a player like Michael Romeo… he incorporates so many textures into his playing simultaneously… Hess sweeping, using legato, tapping, economy picking, wide intervals and note groupings all at once… he one of the most dynamic players I’ve ever heard.

Same wth Gus G. hes capable of very fast fully picked lines but he weaves in legato and has a very liquid “fire” type of phrasing.

A good majority of the Yngwies playing incorporates, fast picking with pulloffs throughout.

Rick Graham imo is one of the best guitar players on the face of the earth… and he always mixes

As much as i love Al Dimeola, i find his approach a little grating at times, especially his electric playing.

Same with players like Rusty Cooley and MAB… awesome picking, and great aggressive attack, but
there’s no variance in their playing. it’s not as interesting and sonically pleasing imo.

Cheating? lol? you’re listening to Al too much!.

When it comes time to developing picking, then yes the focus needs to be on that because we’re learning a specific technique…

@NCASO I think he’s trying to focus on strict alternate picking because his goal songs (like the Petrucci stuff) is mostly that.

1 Like

Yeah I understand that… I was responding to jbegleys post about mixed articulation

1 Like

By taking a break I mean playing a lick on that high speed and stopping for a few seconds and trying again.

I’m aware of the big jump here and happy for that, really. When I picked up the instrument in October, I couldn’t even play anything on 120 bpm.

I’m interested in @tommo’s opinion about bursts as I’m in an early stage and he’s mentioned in your topic that it’s not recommended in the early stages of development.

@NCASO I love Gus G’s style and my other favourite guitarist of all time is Yngwie. I have no objection against mixed technique, but my biggest dream is to play all songs from the Train of thought album one day and for that you have to have an alternate picking capable of those marathon runs above 200 bpm.

Maybe it’s too late for me, I’m a late re-starter, I’m 34, maybe my nervous system is going all downhills, who knows. I hope that’s not the case.

Dude I’m 34, calm down lol

1 Like

Got to say, i think you are a long way past the early stages. Im in a similar boat to you i think, exept i would say my ceiling is a little lower in the 170-190 range if im lucky. I Can burst short phrases faster but as you say, tension creeps in and things fall apart. Similarly i tend to back away from practicing this way. Probably not giving it enough time to see good results. I havnt been playing much recently and have noticed a definite drop in ability. I suppose the only way find out is to try out the burst method for a few weeks and see how it goes? Do you have similar top speeds if you seperate your hands?

1 Like

Yes, my top speeds are very similar with both hands. I have problems with some position shifts with my fretting hand but my fretting speed is about the same as my picking speed.

Similar here…

One thing I will say is that I don’t think that all things can be judged equally, especially the newer stuff. The Stream of Consciousness solo is very new to you, even if it has fragments that you may have played before (even at high speed). I personally find that sometimes I have learned the phrases involved, but not actually internalised them completely. This gives me the feeling that I ‘should’ be able to play it faster but when when it comes down to it, something isn’t quite right and there is tension - it feels so close yet so far.

I agree with a lot of the sentiments posted here - you have a level of consistancy and speed that many would envy. You are more towards the end point than the beginning and probably a little bit of a victim of your own success as you have made such progress in a short space of time. Keep challenging yourself, but also try and consolidate the upper end of your range. I think you will break new ground in a couple of months max. Rock on!


Let’s start the day cranking up the metronome to 140 bpm without warming up to try descending 6s. It equals to playing 16th notes on 210 bpm. It’s a swipefest but I think it sounds okay. I can do a few reps of this. Position shift with the fretting hand is the next challenge, I want to get that sorted.

I really hope that will happen what you are saying, at least some improvement so I’ll be closer to play consistently near 200 bpm. I give it 2 years, but of course it’s impossible to estimate this kind of things.

Edit: I also tried playing 6 string 3nps scales on this tempo. Well, it’s sloppy, but (maybe I have a lucky day) I don’t feel any tension at all in my picking hand.

That’s part of your experimentation. Play the whole thing and stop. Or cycle small chunks of it in one long loop.

To me, @tommo ‘s advice makes sense for beginners: when you start in bursts, it can easily be a different picking motion than you would in a longer stream of notes. It’s a completely different signal in your nervous system. I’ve been doing bursts and have noticed a specific set of conditions I need to set up to have them work, which would be a lot to take on for a real beginner. For more advanced players who have achieved speed, they’re good.

Isn’t it lucky for us that you’re no longer a beginner? :slight_smile:

Did you say “picked up in October”? Am I reading this right, you’ve been playing less than a year? If so, and based on some other prior comments, here is some actual advice, which I would like you to thoughtfully consider:

You are playing better than most players, at least technically. It is far too early to judge anything. You need to be constant and disciplined and loose and attentive in your approach, proud of what you’ve done, humble in what you know still remains to do, happy to keep hacking at it! Perfect is great, but perfectionism is not — at least for me, perfectionism was my weak ego trying to shore itself up, showing everyone that I could do something, look at how good I am, etc. The most important thing for this kind of practice: just keep showing up. Tied for first place with that: pay attention to what is going on, and keep evolving your process. Not “I can’t”, but “I haven’t quite found it yet.”

“I’m 34.” Sheesh. I’m 48, and have made big technical strides in the last few months.

Cheers! jz


Those 6s sound great, swipe or not they will sound great in a mix.

1 Like

@jzohrab I’ve played about 1.5 years when I was 15 and stopped for 8-9 years completely. I played roughly an other year again and put down the instrument again due to lack of progress and personal stuff. I couldn’t ever pass through the 110 bpm barrier despite practicing hours and hours and trying to increase my speed 1 notch at a time. My playing was also full of tension. I got really frustrated. I picked up the guitar again last October to give it an other try. So in total, it’s around 3 years now with two gaps lasting almost a decade each :joy:

I’m happy with my progress and I feel motivated nowadays. I pick up the guitar every day (I have roughly 1 cheating day/month though) but my practice routine got very different since February when my rapid progress happened. I don’t warm up for hours or anything, just start cracking on with stuff, playing licks I want to master and alternate between them, and I rarely play a single thing for a long time. I put down the guitar, pick it up again during the day, and so on. It works better than what I’ve done before February… Sitting 5-6 hours, without any real progress and struggling on slow tempos.

Ah super, great you came back as I bet you have a lot to offer.

Totally off topic, but WTH: I have a similar trajectory, time spans different: I played when I was 15 or so and knew enough to impress non-musicians. Then went on into my late teens when I just piled on the tension to hit moderate speeds for some flashy licks. But it was all musically empty and I couldn’t get past the limited technique, so I pretty much stopped played. I picked up piano again in mid-30’s, and had some problems with that: lots of tension (LOTS), limited technique. Hacked at it. Quit. Picked piano up again later and stumbled into some relaxation/technique gurus, made some good progress – not great but a good start. Learned a bunch of practice techniques. Then started picking up guitar again, trying to break through technical barriers, play different things … found CtC and other great players, tried to do technique work, still stuck! Finally thought of applying the piano relaxation methods to guitar and it worked really well, documented in this thread. And here we are! Cheers! jz

1 Like

So I’m not the only one who could never really get rid of the desire to learn to play the instrument above the beginner level. Yes, it’s been haunting me since I’ve picked up the guitar the first time. I remember my first year, I was using my elbow and everyone told me not to do so, but on top of that, I tried to move my wrist at the same time and I couldn’t do it so my entire arm got super tense and it really looked like butchering the instrument :smiley: It was slow as well.

1 Like

Exactly. Partly to satisfy a craving, partly to get a sense of closure or completion for an unsolved problem, partly to somehow get past an Imposter Syndrome. I tried to build a lot of identity around guitar and in some ways succeeded, but it was never solid. I also read somewhere — paraphrasing — “if you like X so much, you have a responsibility for it.” I kind of feel that way, but it’s a nice responsibility. All way off topic! Z

1 Like