Next steps, looking for advice

Hey gang. I was a 35 year string hopper who got by with a pretty fast left hand technique with weak picking skills. I’ve always wanted better right technique to match . Found CTC, and Landed on a proper picking technique about a year ago. Settled on USX, in fact, resident cracking the code helper Tom Gilroy helped me lock it in. I’m able to carve out about an hour a day to practice, not always at once. As such, I need to be efficient with the little time I have. I’m making progress, playing licks I never could before, which is nice. My issue is hand synchronization, having my right hand catch up to my left with precision. I feel like I can play some Yngwie/Eric Johnson licks to speed (sometimes) but I don’t feel in “control” if that makes sense. I can play them slow, and at full speed (not perfectly clean), but feel awkward at 65-80%. Like I’m missing that gear with the new technique. Does anyone who took a similar path have any specific drills or strategies to advance the cause? I’m currently picking a lick and just grinding over and over. Not sure that’s a smart approach.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!



Hi there, welcome to the forum! Since you already have MiM I strongly advise filming a Technique Critique. One of the amazing mods will find ways to spend that hour per day in the most productive way possible. You’re in good hands with Tom Gilroy, I’m just posting because I’m in a similar situation.

I believe you just can’t practice everything at once; something, somewhere, has to give. Your top speed won’t be clean, long passages won’t be top speed or ultra clean, super-clean playing won’t be fast. IIRC one of the mods mentioned that speed-bursts aren’t the most effective approach, until you’re mostly done. Apparently (and I might be mistaken) you’re looking to work at things you can play for two bars or so, with pretty decent results.

Really hammering those accented notes is something I find helpful, also learning entire solos is an iffy way to spend time; short phrases or licks are easier to work into your own playing.

That’s my two cents, cheers!

No, it isn’t, IMO (and from what I gather of the science behind learning). It’s a bit hard to advise without seeing the specific licks but in general, you’re much better off playing a variety of things rather than grinding one lick. See if you can isolate what in particular you’re struggling with (is it a small 1-4 note phrase?) and then practice just that part rather than the whole thing, which is more efficient. Try to find or write a bunch of little licks or etudes that use that ‘difficult’ technique.

Also work on other stuff during your hour of practice (I do different things on different days, like classical one day, legato the next, picking the next, jazz the next) and you’ll find some of those skills transfer across. I’m certain working hard on my left hand has improved my picking over the years, for example.

When I first got the Antigravity seminar years ago, I played through all those licks/phrases and made notes of how quickly I could play each. Without specifically practicing them, I’ve come back to it over the years and I’m always faster than previously.

Thanks for the notes, gang. On a related note, when does one officially “own the skill?” I feel like I’ll finally have a Yngwie styled 12 note loop mastered, only to go backwards a day later, or sometimes later in the same day. I want these gains to be sticky. Maybe it doesn’t move in a straight line….

Any thoughts?

I’ve heard Troy talk about periods of ‘randomness’ like this and I got the sense it was a good thing, and it’s to be expected early on. I guess the idea is to try to really feel what’s different when you get it right. Best of luck and hope that helps!

I feel like I’m generally at that point now with my current single escape technique. I now have 130bpm 16th note trips basically on tap from the moment I pick up the guitar (something I wasn’t sure was possible before) and I’m slowly venturing into 145bpm 16th note trips and trying to get used to how that feels :slight_smile:

For me something that was really powerful was trying to recall my motion on a single string at my highest comfortable speed every time I picked up the guitar (at the time 120-125bpm 16th note trips). When practicing new licks I would take moments to tremolo on a single string and make sure I was still using the correct motion.

Randomness was really useful to me as well. I would purposefully try and inject randomness into my playing by switching guitars and picks a lot. First time I tried to play on my Strat after learning on my LP it felt impossible, now I feel like it really helped cement my technique in place.

I think owning a skill is exactly as you described it, being able to do something the minute you pick up the guitar, without warm ups, etc.

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Hi Dave,

Firstly, my apologies for the slow response. I’ve been very busy these past two weeks with work, lessons and family committments.

I’m very glad to hear that the USX movement we worked on has been helpful for you. We had one consultation together, is that correct? If I recall correctly, you were quite specific in regards to what you wanted help with.

My feeling is that the lack of “control” you feel is likely in some way related to some deficiency in how your movements connect to your internal sense of time. With my more recent students, I’ve taken them through a progressive system where I get them to practice very basic rudimentary patterns with their picking and fretting hands, which help to connect their picking movements to their internal clock.

I remember you playing some VH rhythm stuff very well, so your internal clock is already solid. I know you’re not an “exercise” guy, but the rudiments I prescribe are all high-value, transferrable coordinations which apply to real guitar playing, and the total practice time on them should not exceed about 15 minutes daily. There’s no metronome involved.

This approach has produced very good results with my other students (and in my own playing). I’ll email you the rudiments that I would usually cover in a first lesson with new students, if you’re interested?

I totally agree.

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I’m in! Let me know what the cost is. Thanks Tom.


Hi Dave,

I’ve sent the basic rudiments via email.