Must... go... faster!

The last time I was struggling with speed you folks have helped me tremendously and I was finally able to hit 180 BPM tremolo.

This time around I have more general problem though - not only I want to push my picking speed further, but also I want my left hand to keep up.
I noticed I have a problem with it when I tried to play some faster solos and licks.

Here are some samples of my playing:

Tremolo at 170:

I use this exercise to measure my actual picking speed.
I do this sort of chromatic spider because a) it’s easier for me to keep the beat and b) there is no point to fast tremolo if you can’t use it to play melodies, right?

The fastest speed I ever achieved was 185, today I kinda burnt out my right hand on a warmup, trying to push the speed to much. I got really tense and could not pick fast at all afterwards.

Here’s the unmeasured:

Now onto left + right hand speed:

Here’s a chromatic spider:

Was far from perfect, I’d say it was kind of a sloppy day for me, but it still counts - if I can’t play flawlessly on repeat then there must be some kind of an issue present.

And some scales:

A lick from Behemoth’s solo to Ov Fire and Void (I think the tab is incorrect though, still makes a good exercie) - tab is in 130 BPM triplets, so it would be played as 190BPM straight 16s. Best I did was about 80% of the speed, but more realistically it’s closer to 70%:


Some riff in triplets:

And sweeps - those are real pain, some of them I do quite ok, others are a mess:

The reason for switching guitars is that some of those cannot be played on others, like the 6 string sweep on my 8 string Schecter, and my LP’s high E string is not matching the rest of the set (one step lighter) so it’s awkward sometimes.

Also I noticed that my finger nail is hitting the strings, and there are scratch marks on it’s surface and tips is getting filed to the side. Must be some error in my playing.

The right arm tension bugs me as well - I don’t expect to play fast tension-free, but this tension is making it difficult to keep picking fast for more than a few bars, and once I push too far my muscles got burnt out and I can’t play anything fast for the rest of the day.

I’ve also had this thought that maybe the max picking speed depends on condition?
I’m far from being fit, with my thin arms and beer belly. I’d max out at maybe 10 pushups. Maybe this is what is holding me back?

Anyways, does anyone see what needs improving judging by the samples?

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Shawn Lane would argue about the idea of being fit to play fast. He had a terrible health condition unfortunately.

I think your spider tremolo in the first video is really good, I can’t really comment about the issues you are having with the other licks, so let’s wait for others to chime in.

Btw 130bpm sextuplets is 195bpm 16th notes.

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Oh, you’re right! I guess I lost the 5 BPM.

I forgot to mention - sometimes when I play fast licks I stutter completely and stop playing. As if there was some error in calculations and my brain freezes.

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Brain freeze is what I’m experiencing a lot nowadays trying to push 6s to the 140-145 bpm range. It’s like my brain starts stuttering.

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I’d take your “unmetered” practice and start incorporating accents (not necessarily to a metronome, but at least try to accent every 8 notes or so). Once you feel comfortable doing it without the metronome, add it in and see how long you can maintain a “metered” trem.

Once you have that, do small circular patterns (like the gilbert one in sextuplets or something in groups of 4/8 for 16ths). I’d avoid long scales (pretty much all the other videos you posted) since you’re not gonna be able to really focus on the speed / coordination. Again without a metronome at first, feel the accent and see if you can reach your speed you hit in the first “exercise.” Once you do, turn on a metronome and see if you can play along to the speed, and how long you can maintain.

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Do you have any example of such pattern?

I’ll make a video for you or something in a little bit

Edit: @Rot here it is:

I arbitrarily chose the strings, but ideally you practice them all over (low strings feel different, the B/G string jump feels different). I default to 134 fingers so that’s what I did in the video, but ideally you practice all finger combos.


It seems to me that your tremolo technique and scale/lick technique are a little different. Tremolo has a forearm rotation to it (and it sounds great btw) where the scale/lick playing looks like more wrist.

Damn, looks like you’re right - it seems to be a tiny bit of rotation plus a whole lot of wrist movement.
I will have to check and see how just the rotation feels

Looks like I was doing at least some of these.
I will have to check again after my coffee though. I will post some vids later today.

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Finally could try it out:

100% forearm rotation feels really awkward, but I don’t think I was doing 100% wrist either. Looks like a combination of the two, with wrist being used mainly to have wider motion to switch strings.
I can’t say for certain though.

Tried that for a one string only tremolo - oddly enough it was slower than my “spider thingy” across several strings.
I hit a wall at around 170 BPM today anyways, I couldn’t get close to my max today.

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Do you think it was slower due to actually being slower, or have you been “cheating” the spider thing? From what I saw on your original vids the spider chromatic thing is noticeably slower than both threm vids.

I don’t really know how could I cheat that. It’s a sequence of four notes, each picked four times, equaling one full bar of tremolo picked 16s. It makes it easy to align to a click too.
If you allow me a moment I can post another vid with the tremolo, spider thingy followed by just one string in one clip.

EDIT: For clarity I meant the first two clips I posted - tremolo picked “spider” exercise and simple tremolo on one string. It seems I am able to do the former slightly faster than the latter.


Oh, I’m definitely picking incorrectly:

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Oof, looks like you caught it before it got really painful…

If that finger progresses any further, all you’ll need is a black and white filter and gothic font and you’ll have a potential album cover for a gore-grind project.


Also needs a picture of blood spray all over the strings / pickups


I barely noticed actually. I was recording some riffs for plugin comparison.

The point is - I must be doing something wrong with the way I’m holding my pick.
Back to the video I posted - is there anything in there worth noticing?

I think I’ve solved half the equation. By that I mean I think I’ve found one of the reasons I can’t play fast licks/scales as fast as I can do tremolo. And it’s blatantly obvius - I can’t pick odd numbers of notes on one string fast.
It’s not related to pick slanting, it’s more of a note-counting and anticipation of string change plus whenever I try to play just three notes instead of four or six or eight my motion is slightly different, trying to hit the brakes on odd number of notes.
When I play even numbers my hand knows what to do - I think one, my hand does up and down, so two notes. With odd numbers I need to be extra careful not to play the final upstroke.

That however is just a part of the reason - if it was all there was to it I wouldn’t have much trouble playnig licks I already am familiar with, or simple scale patterns - my hands already know what to do with those so this should be as automatic as tremolo picking with string changes every quarter note are - and as I’ve already demonstrated it’s not.
I don’t know what to do with that.

@Rot don’t know what to do with that as in, how to approach it to improve it?

The patterns I gave you I’m pretty sure are all odd notes per string, maybe work those up for a while and see if you start feeling more comfortable with odd number string combos.

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That, but also as I mentioned, it’s a slightly different motion doing 3nps instead of full on tremolo. I don’t know if it is supposed to be that way, but in essence my arm is pulling brakes on the third note to make time for upstroke on a next string.
It’s got nothing to do with pickslanting though.
Also certain patterns go faster starting on upstroke, some on downstroke and it seems to be completely random - like the same shape, but one descending, one ascending, or gowing from E string to B string but notes go up on each string vs the other way around…

I’ll have to post another vid to get into detail with this.

Yes, I’m working on them and it’s a fantastic exercise.
But I just can’t use the same motion as my tremolo (which should be the most eficient, right?) doing them.

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My guess is that your brain is not processing the movement efficiently? The third note for me feels “faster”, I imagine it’s because it has to make a bigger motion to set up the string change upstroke. It sounds like you, on the other hand, cut the third note picking movement a bit short to “make time” to set up the string change upstroke.