I have been beating my head against the wall with this alternate picking Fiasco for 20 plus years now and I just have to come to the harsh reality that I don’t have the brain, or the fingers to ever be able to wrap my mind around getting it down. It’s honestly like I’m trying to climb Mount Everest and solve a math equation at the same time that would even stump Einstein. It doesn’t seem like I ever retain anything thing I do on the guitar even if I loop some lick over a 1000 times. It’s very, very strange and beyond frustrating. The only thing that I have retained unfortunately are beyond horrible ticks that I’ve picked up thru the years like these spastic jerking motions that derail me from even hitting the strings at all, twitching motions like string hopping, circling around the strings instead of going up and down on this strings, A pick that feels unstable in my hand like it could fall out at any second, the list seems to go on and on, there’s definitely some kind of wall that is between my brain and my fingers that I just can’t seem to shake. Trying to play the licks at slower to average tempos screws me up even more ironically. Trust me I have put in the work! Probably more than 99% of you, and I really am no better off than I was two decades ago. For me it’s just one color on my musical pallet and tool that I would’ve loved to of been able to possess, but I guess we all have our limitations. I wish you all luck on your journey and hope yours isn’t as big of a failure as mine regarding the guitar.
Are you self-taught? If so, try a teacher!
By the way, there is a reason that an eight-year old violin student will crush 99% of guitar players, and that is because:
- they have a teacher
- there is established technique that they are forced to perfect
- there is a huge body of repertoire that they are forced to memorize
Gutiar players suck because (a) they are self taught, (b) there is no established technique but a concept of relativism, ( c) there is no repetoire, and (d) everybody wants to “improvise” or write their own music, although muses do not whisper beautiful music in their ear.
So don’t feel bad in any way, don’t get frustrated, just get a teacher.
- They have parents that make them practice even if the kid hates an instrument
- Many of violin/piano/etc players never pick up an instrument after graduating a musical school, so we have some kind of natural selection.
@Regotheamigo there’s nothing wrong with giving-up in building shredder skills. But don’t give up on a guitar. Speed is just a tiny part of wonderful world of music.
Have you ever tried a guitar teacher?
“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong , then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”
I feel like this about every other tuesday.
Hope you don’t give up “if” its really important to you.
I spent decades not being able to pick every note.
I still had a lot of fun and no one ever thought about it.
At least no one ever mentioned it to me. Lol
with a violin, bowing across the strings is simpler than picking across strings with a guitar.
Teacher or not, if you’re not already fast after the first 5 years, you’ll probably never be.
That is simply not true.
Every fast player I know has been fast at a young age.
I wasn’t able to play really fast stuff until I was above 30 years old, and with more than 15 years of playing on my back. The reason was that I have never been a focused and very disciplined practitioner, so what a lot of people can learn to do in a few years, took me a lot more time. But as I have always continued to play, it finally arrived naturally. And I’m not the only one like that.
I have known people that started playing past their forties and they have become accomplished players.
If you are healthy, put the time, and have a good teacher, you can get proficient at guitar. It doesn’t matter at what age you began, or how much time you have been doing it before.
I feel your pain however this summer i have had some huge breakthroughs. It really is about getting the right information to stick. I have heard the same advice for years but recently it seems to make more sense. Have you tried the pick slanting primer section of this site? it is great and will help.
Perhaps post a video of you trying to play something with alternate picking such as a scale run and people might be able to see something they can point out to help.
We are all really teaching ourselves this stuff. Even when you have a good teacher you still (i believe) are ultimately teaching yourself.
DON’T GIVE UP!
Things to check
Tension: in the arm, the hand, the wrist, the pick holding fingers, the non pick holding fingers of the left hand
Pick depth: try a shallower picking depth
Picking motion: are you a wrist, elbow/arm or forearm picker? or a blend?
Anchoring: where are you anchoring against the guitar with your hand and arm.
Picking motions: what picking motions do you use? DSX USX?? Double stroke escape? Can you do each of them? If you are trying particular lines/runs you need to make sure you have the correct picking motion for that moment in time.
I have spent hours up on hours drilling the same 6 note sequence for months and years on end in the hope that if i just put ion the hours of work the fruits of my labour will show. WRONG.
I feel your pain and i admire your work ethic but as Einstein said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”
You need to change something, once you find what it is mate you’ll smash through the wall!
I was slow AF for 30 years. One year of CTC sorted it.
Really? How do you come to that conclusion? Bowing is an art of its own - you have to maintain 100% control 100% of the time. The pressure applied controls the dynamics qualities of the note and if you bow 1/8 of a cm in the wrong place, it sounds like trash!
That is shocking advice dude - if that was the case, Paul Gilbert would never have played fast.
I second everything people have said:
I also gave up guitar for three years and one of the reasons was that it wasn’t fun anymore, because I wasn’t making progress like I wanted. I spent 15 years banging my head against the wall why I couldn’t play certain passages (suprise: these can only be played with sweeps instead of alternate, when all I knew was alternate picking).
Then I found CTC and my love for guitar came back immediately.
Sometimes you need to know only a small thing that can have HUGE consequences for your playing. For me it was DWPS / USX.
What I would suggest is:
Find a teacher who you like the playing of; either on this forum or in your area. Nothing can replace a real teacher.
Even if you had some superrare disability that prevents you from blazing on the guitar, there is still stuff that is immensely satisfying to play that is relatively slow, but very intricate, say David Gimour solos, or rhythm playing.
Don’t give up my friend
Because I played violin when I was a kid. If your guitar pick is that much in the wrong place you’ll often miss the whole string!
Please no straw men, notice I said “probably”. Which means it’s more likely, not that it’s 100% the only outcome.
So, what’s you point to the OP? Just give up?
@Regotheamigo, sorry about the frustration!
Do I understand correctly that your issue is related to picking only, and that there are other things you can instead do like hammers and pulloffs?
Have you tried some lines that involve a mix of picking and legato? It can be very liberating to move away from the “all notes should be picked” mentality (and often more musical)!
@SlowButSloppy my speed has shot up in the last few weeks. I have been playing for 20 years and was never a shredder. Using the info from this site I’m making huge gains. I think they’re is always hope for anyone who has the patience to self evaluate and find the technical faults in their playing.
I think the OP is just at a point of flustration with his playing and wanted to hear other people say they have been in the same place and made it to the other side. He is clearly passionate about playing guitar.
To be clear I’m not quitting the guitar, just basically giving up on being able to pick fast. In the grand scheme of things it’s not the end of the world because I’m a singer/songwriter first. I’m really not a fan of most shredders, because they play too fast and there’s really not much behind what they’re doing melodically or musically. I do however absolutely love guys like Eric Johnson because he somehow has made shredding sound musical and that’s what I’ve really been trying to accomplish and get down to no avail. The best way for me to describe my struggles is my brain seems to have everything ass backwards with what I’m really supposed to be doing. I’m the worlds worse dyslexic guitarist. I’ll spend hours upon hours practicing something like 5’s and will find out that I was really playing in 4’s or 6’s and 7’s and not even realize it. Playing in those note groupings are fine, but i’ll Get completely screwed up mentally and physically because my brain thinks I’m doing something else if that makes sense. The other major frustration with me is never being able to get things down muscle memory wise no matter how long I practice it. As I said before I can loop a lick like this one
Just to throw in another anecdote that as a kid I was fairly decent but could never get my alternate picking too fast. I could play allman bros stuff but not steve vai stuff for example. Quit playing for like 15 years.
Fast forward to today at 37 … I’ve picked it back up and luckily discovered Troy Grady and thanks to his and the team’s insights plus the wealth of info that’s now available I’m getting there. Way faster than I was at a young age. In another year I’ll be there. I just think it goes to show what a difference having the right information can make.