Shawn Lane on developing speed

He talks about chunking and approaching it from your slowest speed and then going from your fastest speed. That way you attack the lick from both sides. I always love seeing players explain things that @Troy has compiled here on Ctc.


Funny thing is when Troy Grady released “starting with speed”, no one remembered this advice from Shawn Lane himself :wink:

Here is a new link


Shawn was so awesome. Not to mention an insane player, one of the best of all time, but you could also tell he was a great guy. Shame he died so young

And he told us MANY secrets to get speed and accuracy
Like the previous video : starting with speed AND cleaning guitar playing after

there is another part on his instructional vids about chunks and patterns

Martin Miller gives similar advice. He suggest playing at speeds where the mistakes start to show up and living there for a while until it’s clean. Petrucci gives similar advice in Rock Discipline, bumping the speed to impossible territory in order to make the desired speed feel easier.


Petrucci not exactly.
He tells ppl to raise progressively the tempo.
Whereas the trick is to START from high tempo.
Not raise it :wink:

Because when you raise the tempo, you start with slow picking technique.
And when you hit the wall … you hit the wall with slow speed technique.

So i disagree about Petrucci. It is NOT a “starting with speed” advice
It is a “raise tempo UNTIL you hit the wall”
It is like walking faster and faster … but NOT running from start.
Of course, some ppl will run. But a LOT will not.

I stopped playing for 20 years due to this unnatural “raise tempo” technique.
And now i’m back, thanks to Troy Grady and forum users here :wink:

PS : Ron Thal tell the same. He was shredding at high tempo BEFORE cleaning his playing with a guitar teacher


To play devils advocate here, I’ve been experimenting with slower tempos to clean it up. Honestly the go fast thing worked at the start but I plateaued no matter what I tried with hand synchronization. I’ve cleaned up one shape by slowing it down so far and now I’m working on fast pentatonics. But for getting the speed and checking if what you’re doing is gonna work - fast practice is invaluable.

While that’s the point that Petrucci repeats the most, I think @RobertFlores was referring the the section in Rock Discipline where Petrucci suggests attempting metronome practice at a speed far beyond your current known capability.

But even what Petrucci suggests in that section still isn’t quite the same the “start with speed” idea CTC has been talking about, where the idea is to attempt to play simple things fast (preferably without a metronome initially) in order to experimentally discover a picking movement that feels smooth/fluid at high speeds. Once you’ve felt the “click” of locking into a technique that’s smooth at high speed, you can apply that knowledge of “what works at speed for me” to your practice at any speed (and can apply that knowledge in metronome practice if you like).

And in further fairness to Petrucci, in Rock Discipline, he makes a great argument about the picking hand being a “motor” for your alternate picking. I think he even starts faster demonstrations with alternate picking on a single string for a few bars. I don’t think he quite got so far as saying “fast alternate picking is essentially tremolo picking with string switching added” (and he didn’t offer a roadmap for the string switching problem), but the essence of that idea is there (while you could argue it’s only true for single-escape picking, it was still a big mental leap for me). In general, his talk about locking into a fast movement with the right hand is very compatible with CTC’s advice (especially in connection with “chunking” e.g. on classic 6-note-per-string licks).

I’m finding that a mixture is best. Starting with speed gets your mechanic sorted and enables you to experience that smoothness that you want. However I really don’t think that the accuracy and synchronicity of both hands will come together with that alone - slowing down helps you develop that rock solid sense of timing. Also if I am really pushing the speed, I can play it at higher speed, but slower speeds are problematic. I advocate starting with speed, followed by “revving” from the top end of your comfort zone through the mistake zone just into disaster zone and back again.


My point was that the common theme essentially boils down to mixing it up. Which would be in agreement with the studies found in the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle as well as the material in the the book Make it Stick by Peter C. Brown and Mark A. McDaniel.

Speed is genetics, bros.

The difference between Michael Phelps and other highly trained swimmers is genetics. The difference between lane-swimmers at the YMCA and people who just dog-paddle or sink is swimming lessons.


This is what I’m wondering. Someone like George benson plays fast stuff(150-160 bpm 16ths) but it’s not blazingly fast compared to guys like Shawn. Is that level of speed attainable for most people? The stuff he plays is very hard to do.

Marshall Harrison and Shawn Lane have a common point : they played piano along guitar

Shawn Lane even told he was getting better at guitar … when he was just playing more piano :wink:

I think it comes down to an individual’s personal traits, and their personal approach to the guitar.

I can’t play sloppy and fast, and then clean up. I have tried that for years. I feel like I’m getting worse when I do that, and it frustrates me so much that I get discouraged, but the way Shawn described it and the way that Troy talks about it, they approach it differently and enjoy the whittling, so to speak.
I do not. At all. I hate it.
I have made progress slow to fast, and that works for me. I try it at speed, and then go back down to where I can play it comfortably.

We’ll have to agree to disagree here. Just got my results from 24fretsandme… Bad news… Results say I’m capped at 120 BPM 16th notes due to my genetics. This explains my complete lack of results following Troy’s advice (which you can see in my post history) since learning to alternate pick in 2017.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few John Taylor and Lisa-X videos bookmarked. Gotta post in the comments section that BB King can say with 2 notes what they can say in 4,000,000 notes. Peace out.


Shawn Lane/Jason Richardson levels of speed might be a result of genetics paired with extreme hours of practice (8+ per day for years), but saying that getting to 150-160 bpm 16th notes is only genetical is very wrong and it discourages many people here who are trying to get better by practicing their butts off.

I’ve seen real life examples of regular people playing close to 200 bpm, but they practiced specific mechanics for years and the result isn’t always that musical.

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Imo this only works if you have the technique down already. If you don’t know what downward pickslanting is supposed to feel like you can’t make progress slow to fast unless.

Claus Levin advocates long hours of focused practice using small sequences, to the point of mastery. He teaches slow speeds with emphasis on chunking/accents.

Once mastery is achieved in one area, it carrys over to other aspects of playing.

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Good news, my sarcasm detector just came back from the shop! :grin:

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