Major progress,,, then major decline?

It seemed like in the last couple of weeks things where finally starting to make sense with what is going on with picking, especially with sweeping. They’ve become smoother and not rushed, and I felt like I could finally start rapping my brain around what’s going on. I can do the EJ 5’s up to 200BMP when I’m really on and it’s a very cool feeling. Then the inevitable happens. I start going back to the old habits of getting turned around in my brain with chunking, I start doing these twitchy things with my pick which leads to string hopping and various other bad techniques that are like ticks that I’ve had for years. Is it normal to show progress then go back to declining to where you were before you started getting better? When is the end game when your mind and fingers just get it together where it’s second nature? Frustrating. :man_shrugging:

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I know the feeling. I’ve found I tend to go backwards in my progress for up to a week…right before the next breakthrough. I’m not sure what that’s about…but I would say it’s not uncommon.


I think so! I also have better and worse days on the guitar. Especially when I’m learning a new thing, it keeps coming and going. I’m not a rockstar or anything, but here’s one more data point for you at least :smiley:


Alright. I don’t feel so bad then. :grimacing: haha

As in 5 notes per click? Or playing straight 16ths? Either way…that’s pretty damn fast! I’ve been really drilling EJ stuff lately. I’m happy with my progress but nowhere near that speed yet. I can play a lot of the runs in Pavillion and that’s somewhere in the 150 - 160 bmp range.

Point is, sure we always need to keep wanting to get better. I’d encourage you to celebrate the victories! I’d always tell my students (back when I was a starving musician and had students lol) that progress was like watching the hands on a clock. If you stare at it, the hands seem like they never move. If you can back in a while and look at that clock and compare it to where it used to be, you can see how far it’s moved.

I’d say keep up the awesome work. Maybe even take a short break from where you see regression and check back in a week or 2?


Playing straight 16th notes yeah, but that’s when I’m on my A game. For me most of the time it’s not the physical part of it that’s difficult it’s the mental part. As soon as I start losing track of what I’m suppose to be doing (which is a lot sadly) I stumble and fall. The good news for me though is I already know I have the capability of playing as fast as I’ll ever want to play at around 200BPM’s So playing at 150-180BPM should be fairly easy. I just have to mentally and physically clean things up and that’s the process I’m in right now.

Very cool. 200 BPM sixteenths is my personal goal. I don’t think I’ll be playing much at that speed, but feeling in control there should mean complete command at 150 - 180, like you said. I’m definitely not there yet, but I’m super excited that if finally seems possible and not just something only the elites can do :slight_smile: I mean, it’s of course amazing the elites do what they do without anyone telling them about escaping the strings. Nice to have access to some of the magic though :slight_smile:

Good luck in your efforts and keep up the great work. Sounds to me like you’ve come further than you have remaining to go in your goals.

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You’ll get there. It’s not as fast as you think it is. I’m starting to figure out that fast alternate picking is an allusion to the ear. It sounds faster than it actually is. If you start getting up to 220+ that’s a whole other ball game, but honestly when will you ever use that in any song content and why would you want to? I kind of think about it and laugh to myself that even if I get this stuff down I’m rarely ever going to be playing any leads at those levels with the kind of music I do in Nashville. Lol in my opinion when you’re over 200 bpm it starts losing its appeal and it starts sounding like rusty Cooley where you can’t even tell what scales he’s playing it goes by so fast so it’s not musical in my opinion. :man_shrugging:

I’m right with you on all that. My favorite ‘fast’ guys, gun to my head, no time to think, I’d probably yell out “Eric Johnson and Brad Paisley!!”. By the standards of players analyzed on CtC, neither of them are that fast. To the average listener who thinks Freebird is a fast solo, they’re of course really fast. Both super musical though and just use the speed really tastefully. Definitely in that 150 - 180 bmp pocket.

I know what you mean. Days where I ‘have it’, it really doesn’t even feel that difficult. It’s just getting to the point where I can do it consistently. I’ve only been approaching it what I consider the right way since I joined up in January. Prior to that, I had about 25 years of just brute force string hopping. I think my fastest playing was 16th note sextuplets around 112, and I burnt out quick due to all the string hopping haha! Now on good days I’m ripping through Petrucci style chromatic runs at 16ths in the 170 - 180 range, and that probably feels easier than the way I used to play 16ths at 150 bpm. I’m totally confident I’ll get where I want to be. 200bmp 16ths on good days, 150 - 180 bmp 16ths any time when warmed up. I don’t care when I get there, but now I know I’ll get there. Before it was just…frustrating haha

Learning and progress is not linear.

That being said, using BPM and speed the only primary indicator of progress may be misguided.

I realize that’s practically blasphemy in the context of CTC, but from the tone of the post, I feel you’re giving yourself a more hard time than you deserve :slight_smile:


Joebegly, do you mind telling how you beat string hopping?
I am a long time string hopper ( 25 to 30 years) and just cannot get rid of it.
I’ve tried many different grips and motions but as soon as i try to speed up i’m back to tension filled string hopping.
It’s very frustrating.

I’m sure I’m still doing it in places or I’d be faster. I did a good bit of practicing tremolo on a single string and watching my hand in a mirror so I could see the pick motion and make sure it was escaping. The suggestions on here to start at a moderately fast speed (~150bmp 16ths) with the tremolo, and even ditch the metronome once you know you’re in the ballpark of that speed were good and helped me. Also a good amount of rest stroke usage, which was new for me. Lastly, making sure I wasn’t using too much pick on the string. That was messing with the smoothness and consistency of the movement.

Trying to think of other stuff…Working on chunks where I could start introducing a couple string changes and make sure I wasn’t changing my motion when the string change happened. Right now I’m working really hard on EJ stuff and the challenge I face is that when the more frequent string changes, my string tracking sometimes falls apart, and that trips me up and makes me hop. Still a work in progress. I’m happy so far though. I’ve only been at it the proper way for about 5 months. One of these days I’ll get some videos together for show and tell and even technique critique maybe. I feel like most of what I don’t quite have, I know what I need to do, which is why I haven’t posted anything yet.

Hang in there!

Thanks for the reply. Plenty to think about there.

Hey @amazing_kargol, just wanted to jump in to encourage you to post an example in technique critique! We are always happy to have a look at cases like yours, because it can help us to understand how to better translate the “Cracking the Code principles” into practical advice.

Here are our standard instructions for filming you technique:

I wonder if it’s similar to bodybuiding ‘overcompensation’ effect…

@amazing_kargol I thought of something I did that was helpful - tying a piece of cloth loosely around the neck around the 5th fret to help with string noise. I used to do this all the time in the studio. It helps keep things clean enough that you don’t think you’re messing up more than you are haha! When you’re finding that fast smooth picking motion that works for you, there may be some initial unwanted string noise and that can be a distraction from the task at hand. I couldn’t stand hearing it so I used the cloth. I really do think just lots of time practicing that fast smooth movement and getting used to what it feels like is key to the whole thing. It’s definitely something preached a lot on here that I can’t believe I never thought of. Wanna play fast? Gotta practice fast. The conventional wisdom of doing it slowly and going a few bpm faster each time is probably good for when you need to clean stuff up. When you’re trying to find speed, we need to practice speed and train the body to adapt. I highly doubt sprinters get fast by jogging and then going slightly faster each repetition until they’re at the full speed.

I know the cloth is a crutch, but even without it now I can still adjust and clean things up to where they should be.

Thanks for the advice. I’m willing to try almost anything.
My problem is i just can’t get a tremelo motion going .
I know i’m string hopping. i just can’t stop it.
@tommo , i’ll try to record an example but it really is just me pecking at the strings as i try to speed up.
Thanks again for trying to help.

Ah makes sense. I very much feel that’s step 1. As I’m progressing, any time I’m playing real licks and feel that hoppy stuff coming back I immediately start a tremolo wherever I’m playing the lick to reset myself. Looking forward to when this all become automatic. Given the 25 years of the bad habit…I’m thinking I’m still 6 - 12 months out. I don’t care though. The fact that there’s light at the end of the tunnel is awesome.

Good to hear it’s possible to beat string hopping even with 20 plus years of bad habits.
Thanks for the encouragement.

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Beating things like string hopping isn’t that hard to do. Doing it permanently?? now that’s a different story along with other bad ticks that you’ve picked up from years of playing the guitar. :confused: The last week or so I was doing so well with my technique lining up beautifully and Now I’ve just drifted back to all the horrible habits that I’ve had before. Once I’m there I don’t really know how to correct it back to the proper form. it’s like driving to a Destiination that you want to go to but you don’t remember how you got there. :man_shrugging: