New vid: Don't "Work Up" To Picking Speed — Start With It!

Just felt the need to tell you that this is one of the best CtC videos (in my personal opinion).

Though the advice might feel basic to some, i experienced it as a very well summarized reminder about the principles of successful practicing for speed. I am apparently officially old now because this triggered a “I wish we would have had this back in the day”.

Some stuff was even pretty mindblowing to me, like the idea that tension itself isnt really whats in your way, but a result of bad form, which is the real obstacle.
I ll go so far and say that switching the focus from “avoid tension” to “look for smoothness” helped me right away, i had a great practice session today.

I ll definitely make sure to rewatch the Andy Woods interview. Learning about this guys approach is extremely valuable.

Thats all, guys. I hope i got the english more or less right. Dont miss this great video.


Thanks! Yes, I think the “tension” thing is so often repeated to the point where it has become almost meaningless as a type of feedback about the trouble someone is experiencing. It just means “not correct” to me now.

I will grant there is potentially a gray area, where someone can do a motion correctly and still be “tensing” muscles that simply aren’t needed. But my best guess is that this is not really what’s happening most of the time. And this comes simply from looking at footage right here on the forum. Most of the time when we see a Technique Critique post about “tension” with a video showing speed-limited playing, something about the motion looks visibly wrong.

Once a person starts making movements that are correct and look correct, my hope is that they’re going to be much less likely to “tense up” unnecessary muscles, even if that’s what they’re doing at first. Eventually, they’re going to learn to identify what it feels like when only the necessary muscles fire, and the unnecessary ones don’t. And that’s the “search for smooth” that you’re referring to.

Even with 100% accurate instructions, there’s always going to be some trial and error involved in learning to do a motion on your own, and recognizing by feel, without looking, that it’s right. We just want to reduce the amount of fumbling around it takes to get there.


Great explanation! Like many others I did the hundreds of 30,000 reps practice exercises to program my hands. I found you basically plateau at some point - and then you try just try it out and its there.This video is a great vid on just-do-it and plan to put it into practice :-). These days I am getting over many years of bad training scars because of bad practice advice (that I have passed on myself to others).
Wish I would have found this site 30 years ago!


One of my favorite videos recently. Thanks @Troy

The reason why Troy’s videos resonate so much with me is because it’s counter-intuitive and not just for the sake of it being contrarian, because it actually dilutes it down to the essence instead of sugar coating it with verbosity. All this attention to detail serves a purpose of just that, although I concede at first glance some may be intimidated by the amount of information and dedication to detail.

As I was watching the video it confirmed a couple of my thoughts:

  • More is definitely more :stuck_out_tongue: (excuse the cheeky reference)

  • You can only get fast playing by playing fast. Of course, if the technique itself is very foreign then it’s worth going baby steps, but I feel this slow area between really slow and proper tempo is kind of useless. What does however help is synchronization, which I feel is a little different from speed. The “speed” is already there so to speak, it matters how you sync the left and right- which won’t really be helped by going at turtlebreak speed. You need a certain amount of speed in order for the sync to actually develop.

  • A bit tautological and yngwie-ish but if you really want to go fast, then you have to practice fast to really lock it down. Just because you finished at 70% bpm yesterday doesn’t guarantee you’ll go 80% today- it only means you’re good for 70%…which brings me to, in the case somehow you could do 80% today, then what on earth were you doing spending that much time at slower speeds (really talking to myself here haha).

  • It’s analogous to walking after crawling around, running for the first time after strutting about as a young toddler. At some point you just have go for it. Of course it will be ugly but no amount walking will help him/her run. Of course in cases of injury/physical therapy you should walk before you attempt to run after taking off your cast, but I digress. Same with hitting a tennis ball hard, sprinting, etc. I guess it’s a neat metaphor for life in a way; one’s never ready but the attitude of “just run with it” is not as suicidal as it sounds.

  • Techniques develop a new kind of signature motion and life if you will under high speed that doesn’t quite translate in 50% bpm. At high speeds, I can’t really put it into words but there is something else going on which is made possible by the sync that goes away the moment I slow it down a considerable degree.

  • Really good suggestion on practicing without a metronome. Even at Ferarri speeds there is still much room for feel and tempo and that swing is what either makes it sound like YJM/EJ or an AI shred-robot.

  • And really, floor it. Once you hit that sweet spot (and you’ll know it), just do it again without even thinking what the name of the technique is.


This is pretty much how I feel about all the CTC material. Really, I can’t imagine how many nights I used to “try and figure out” what my heroes were doing, and now, we have this superb resource that lays it out for us. This is a great example of the Internet crossing all borders, providing the right information to those who need it.


@Troy or @Brendan is 0:34-0:47 available on tab somewhere? I have the pickslanting primer :slight_smile:

No, that was just something we put up on Instagram the other day and threw into this chapter because it sounds hard without actually being super fast. We can try transcribing it. We were also going to do a very quick mini-lesson on one or more of these country-style phrases, for Instagram, to see if we could fit it under a minute. Always a challenge. We’ll link it on the forum if we get around to doing that, but following us on Instagram is a good idea if you like these one-off things, if you haven’t already.

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That would be awesome :cowboy_hat_face::love_you_gesture:

Short pieces like this, where you can put your new picking skills to use, could be a cool addition to the primer. I like the idea of longer sections, that I can practice like an etude.

We’ll be adding much more of that. Maybe not quite etude length, but at least more phrase type stuff that fits certain musical styles. I just never liked “exercises” and the older I get, the less time I have for things that don’t also give me something musical I can actually use. That’s just a wasted opportunity right there.

I feel like these sorts of videos are very accessible and help introduce new students. More of the meat and potatoes sort of thing that helps get results.

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Oh I totally agree with that. It has to be interesting to learn. I was never any good at doing abstract mechanical exercises for the same reason. And now I have kids and work, so less time for sure :grinning:

Great to hear you will be adding more like this. I am enjoying the primer, really interesting stuff! You guys are doing great work investigating all things guitar :+1: :guitar::love_you_gesture:

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The reason for this is that although you can(or that is to say thought can think about itself) it’s a game, a charade an articulations does not exist except as itself but the mind functions in the realm of discrete bits. Articulation is not from there. The wave is already happening and we have to catch it(you can’t slow down the ocean). I have seen this and it is life changing.

If this is true for picking, then it is true for fretting. All that is said about one side(everything about posture and physiology), applies(absolutely). But this is very hard to (witness) by picking every stroke because the amount of information to process is amplified by the process itself. So I have chosen to legato for now.

I just can’t say more. Crack deeper as they say.

Somebody from the team correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the whole point of CTC? That you’re suggesting people approach technique in an analytical way rather than an intuitive way? As far as I know, anyone who is considered or has been considered a “guitar hero” learned primarily or solely by using intuition. Some aren’t necessarily aware of how they do what they do just because they did learn using an intuitive rather than an analytical way.

Maybe there is somebody who has become a star, or a “guitar hero” using your analytical approach as opposed to the intuitive approach, but if there is, I haven’t heard of that happening.

Who would you say is the biggest name in the music industry whose technique is mostly a result of going about it by using your CTC approach, rather than just using their own intuition, to learning technique?

Teemu, Ben Eller and Martin Miller are professional guitarists at the top of their game (certainly in terms of technique), and they all claim that the CTC information has been very helpful to improve their playing.

I think making a binary distinction between using CTC and intuition is an oversimplification. The CTC method still leaves space for mechanical intuition, but provides better guidance on what needs to happen for efficient picking. In my opinion at least!

Can you name a more analytical approach to learning technique than CTC? They use a camera mounted on the fretboard and watch the picking hand in slow motion. If that isn’t analytical I don’t know what is.

Yes of course, that is the way Troy and team collect the information and test their theory.

But in terms of using the material, I don’t think Troy would discourage the use of intuition / random trials. The theory is only there to guide the learning process which still happens at the level of feel. @Troy, @Brendan, please correct me if I’m misinterpreting!

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I think it’s very clear especially from some of the recent primer material that @Troy absolutely recognizes and communicates the need to “work things out by feel” through trial and error experimentation. We could split hairs, but I would say intuition plays a major role in that sort of self-experimentation and discovery. What CTC has done is identify some key “green flags” in the technique of highly accomplished players, so we can recognize when what we do exhibits those same “green flags” and when it doesn’t. It’s analytical in that it breaks down key elements of technique for us to experiment and evaluate on, but intuitive in the sense that solving each of those elements (and even getting them to connect smoothly) is an intuitive process. The difference, and where the “analytical” side of CTC comes in is that we’re not left to grope completely randomly in the dark, and we have a template for recognizing when what we’re doing has similarity to one of the families of “known successful techniques”.

I think that to say intuition is not a big part of getting CTC to work for you is to imply that it’s much more rigid and prescriptive than it actually is. And the reason is because, as @Troy has been repeating a lot in recent weeks… drum roll… variations and working things out by feel is how motor learning works IN GENERAL, and not just for guitar technique.