Mini rant - anybody else get annoyed at people discussing "pick speed" in such a general way?


Economy picking is not at all limiting. In fact, as you say… it helps solves many guitar phrases that are tough to do without it. A majority of lead guitarists use it. Even I use it… but as my cross-picking is getting more accurate… probably less so.

But by sweeping, I’m refering to arpegio sweeps up and down that I hear non-stop at the guitar store. (they typically will include a hammer-on at the top and/or bottom) I am starting to cringe when I hear it now, because it’s a ‘look what I can do’ movement. To get an idea of what I’m talking about, type in guitar sweeping on youtube, and over half of them are doing almost the exact same thing.

But again, I have nothing against economy-picking. It’s a great tool for many guitarists.


I think it’s more exercises that all help and get progressively more difficult (require more complex movements)-don’t stay only on one thing and don’t dare to move on. Do them all and they will continue to build your picking speed and accuracy.

Simplest is UnSynchronized Tremolo, then Single String Patterns, then 1WPS Licks (also including any swiped licks), then 2WPS Licks, and then crosspicking. Of course working on your 1WPS won’t help your crosspicking so you will have to be specific with the movement you use for the pick- possibly having to repeat the steps for DWPS, UWPS (becoming comfortable with both to benefit 2WPS), and Crosspicking.


One of the hardest things here in my opinion when trying the random/interleaved practice is being able to temporarily accept failure and move on. This might be part of the reason why players are “choosing” to focus on the single string stuff - if the goal is 200bpm 16ths and they are at a 150 bpm plateau, drive to get there can be very powerful, especially if you are if the mind that your single string stuff is likely to be the fastest you will play.

I even set a timer for my randon practice, but still manage to stay on the same passage/lick because it wasn’t quite good/fast enough.


If that’s what’s happening, that would be a really weird way of looking at things!

Meaning, if you’re continually improving by a little bit here and there, a few bpm more, a little smoother, better hand synchronization, and so on — well that’s not “failure” to me! If I see any sort of improvement day to day, I know I’m on the right track. Hell, incremental improvement is realistically the only kind that’s possible in most situations.

Taking the kinds of things I work on as an example, learning new hand movements with every possible grip, anchor point, guitar body, and so on, in no way do I actually expect to get there completely with each combination before moving to the next. That would be crazy. I don’t even know how half of them are even supposed to work! I just know they do and I have to figure out how. On some days I’m better on electric with one grip, one movement and muting. On other days I’m better on acoustic with a different grip, different movement, and no muting. Even if none of them are really working right yet.

But again, if I am seeing any sort of improvement from one day to the next, one week to the next, in any aspect, then I call that success. Given the sheer number of things I generally try to work on, and the number and complexity of the unknowns, I can’t see any other way of doing this. But I think everyone is in the same boat when it comes to learning something as complicated as guitar, whether or not we realize it or acknowledge it.

Guitar motor learning is, almost by definition given the number of variables, “interleaved”!


This is great Troy, thank you.

To me this is kind of like saying that we have to accept how chaotic all these variables are and it’s nice to attempt to control things as best as possible, but to a large extent we have to accept that improvement doesn’t always happen in this cut and dry nice and tidy way. We can’t measure ‘guitar progress’ like we can weight loss or a one-rep-max for a bench press, or net profits or things like that.

We have to accept the madness, hah…


Like most statements that I post on here, I fire from the hip and what comes out doesn’t always A) make sense
B) adequately convey my point :grinning:

All I’m getting at is that sometimes the progress isn’t there or your playing is worse than last time
When this happens, it can feel like a bit if a fail… Now, what I should do in the random practice scenario is to say “shit happens” and move onto the next item as planned and return to the troublesome lick later, or the next day and let the random/interleaved practice do the magic. However, I often get caught in the trap of thinking “If I just keep practicing it, I’ll crack it!”. 9 times out of 10, it is a waste of valuable practice time as fatigue and tension kills it!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in a constant state of dissapointed depression :grinning:, but if the goal is to go up a couple of bpm and it doesn’t happen - thats failure to reach the goal right? Its not the end of the world and will happen more often than not. “Success is on the far side if failure”.


I get it, sometimes guitar feels like being a 12-step program! You have good days, and bad days. And that’s probably disrespectful to people in 12-step programs so I’ll stop with this analogy.

I think the issue here is not that there aren’t good days and bad days. It’s that if the only thing you are working on in guitar playing one super specific thing like the number of bpm you can play a certain line at, then that’s doing learning a disservice. You are way less likely to have a confidence-destroying “bad day” when your actual musical projects are wide and varied, and include all sorts of things of which “bpm” is only one facet. But there’s also good evidence to suggest that feeding a certain amount of variety to your motor system increases the speed of all the things you’re working on.

If I want to, I can have a “good day” every day. So long as I have enough stuff to work on, one of them is bound to work out!


100% agree

Extra characters…


I agree.

Yes and no. Of course there will be days when you can’t reach the speed you had the day before. It’s the same as trying to loose weight and being disappointed because you weigh 300 grams more than yesterday. It’s just nonsense. Go pee and voila! you lost 200 grams. What I do is tracking my max speed for certain exercises, licks or whatever in an excel-sheet (and display the progress in a line plot, but that’s just for easier access). This way you see the progress compared to the last weeks or even months ago and still feel good. You can also identify certain plateaus you hit or not overestimate big leaps compared to yesterday when in reality yesterday was just a “bad guitar day”.



Best post of the week! Haha, pure gold!

I used to do this and it was kinda fun - it also set the practice regime so I don’t skip anything.


Yeah, that’s kinda a fun way to do it. And you can see your progress. But it can get frustrating at times, because progress becomes non-linear. Sometimes, its just about waiting for a breakthrough after several months of no progress.


If I see no progress for more than one or two weeks I either exchange it for a different one with the same purpose (good) or I start to cheat by playing just one sloppy repetition or just 2 beats compared to the 2 bars I did before (bad).
Hammering away the MOP-spider-riff for 10 minutes at 204 bpm over half a year is probably senseless, I’ll trade it in for Number of the beast :wink:
But yes, I can only recommend tracking the progress for motivational reasons, because one seems to forget how much worse you were 2-3 months ago and overvalue the short-term porgress you didn’t make.


Well after reading many of the above posts I’m glad I’m not the only one who has bad guitar days :sweat_smile:

…or maybe I should be more selfless, and feel sorry that other people have bad guitar days like me? :thinking:

I also like a lot @Tom0711’s suggestion of writing stuff down so to have a more realistic assessment of how things are going.

However, I have a concern about guitarists’ obsession with BPMs (myself included). I think we should also pay attention that the sounds we produce are pleasing to the ear (tone, phrasing etc. - harder to measure I know). If we just look at bpms as a target, all this other information gets lost!