Speed and fluency - Related to speaking?

Has anyone ever noticed a relation between their playing and their speaking style? I’ve always had a stutter and have gotten better over the years to the point most people don’t notice, but if I try to speed up I get stuck on words like mad. Certain vowel and consonants are worse than others just like certain guitar licks. I feel the same sensation between both when I get stuck on a phrase or not even being able to start a phrase speaking or playing. It feels like no matter the time and practice I’ve put in over 30 years playing I can’t crack the code and feel maybe it’s just how I’m hardwired? I’m so motivated to get better, but so want to say forget it, my brain just won’t let me.

If I didn’t have this speech issue I’d just doubt my practice habits, but since I’ve always spoken this way it’s make this a cop out that I don’t want. I haven’t gotten to that point of giving up, but the hours I spend trying sometimes start to feel pointless.

I wish someone would studied this topic since I’m certain there is correlation. Too bad Troy isn’t a speech therapist too. H’ed be perfect to head up this research.


Interesting question.
Based on my non-existent education in this area, i am quite sure that physical skills dont exist in isolation but correlate with skills in other areas.

To apply the negative: I often realise when i have a bad day on guitar, i also tend to perform worse in my nightly videogame-session (i am actually kind of an adult, yes).

But whether that is the case with speech is difficult to answer. “Speech” is quite a wide field. Are we talking about the used vocabulary, fluidity, creative expression, ability of expressing complex issues, foreign language, speed ?

Maybe some of these fields where tested with classical musicians, it sounds like something a researcher could earn a PhD for, however the operationalisation of such parameters is difficult.

On a more approachable level, while i cant think of a virtuoso guitarist who speaks like a 4th grader, its fair to say that many greats like beloved yngwie are not the most colourful orators (y’know?). So a direct link is at least not obvious.


Very interesting question. I don’t think Troy is necessarily the guy to answer it, but I’d be curious to see if there’s any correlation.

I guess is anyone aware of any highly accomplished guitarists who have some sort of speech impediment? I’ve seen both Satriani talk about how he’s extremely shy and how guitar has been very helpful with that (Vai too I think but don’t quote me on that), and Buckethead of course finally unmasked himself and gave an interview on the topic, on a podcast, where he’s so shy he’s kind of audibly struggling to get the words out. Both are extremely fluid players, but this may not be physiologically the same as a stutter.


This is an interesting question. I read the post to a Speech Language Pathologist that works where I do and she had some therapy approaches that vocalists use - which we both wondered if it would be of value for playing an instrument as well. Basically, vocalists that tend to stutter on certain vowels when both speaking and singing will start by adding a non-stuttering sound to the beginning of the word (e.g. singing the word ‘man’ as ‘oooman’. Once that is locked in, the next step is to make the ‘ooo’ silent - sing it in your head while bringing out the ‘man’ audibly. At this point, in theory, you would have the function of singing ‘man’ without the stutter, eventually it would feel like any other word - or at least pretty close.

We hypothesized, what if a guitar player first started with a pick-up note or phrase before the ones that you get stuck on, next step would be to make these silent (miss the strings) and engage only when get to the part you want to hear.

I’m sure this would be a process and require a lot of patience…but it might be worth a shot?

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As others have suggested, I’m indeed not the guy to answer this. But I once proposed to my friend the neurologist (Parkinsons researcher) that he study “guitar face”. And by that I mean not the poseur variety where you make an intentional “cool rock” expression, but the Robin Trower variety, where certain players make specific facial expressions seemingly in direct response to certain hand coordination challenges. Is there a link? I’m sure of it.

I’m in the middle of reading “Psycho Cybernetics” by Maxwell Waltz and the chapter I’ve been chipping away at describes a few studies involving people who stutter. One thing he mentions is that people who stutter tend to excessively monitor themselves for “negative feedback” while talking to the point that they try to correct themselves mid-word. A lot of this stems from intense self-consciousness and nervousness, possibly related to certain people or specific situations. These feels can become habitual. One study he references describes people who stutter reading out loud from a book while white noise plays through headphones. The inability for these people to hear themselves while talking actually made them speak more clearly and confidently in these tests.

In other threads the topic of practicing guitar while watching TV/YouTube has come up and a few people believe that the distraction of the screen helps take them out of their own head when practicing patterns. This may not be super comparable to the stuttering example but it’s kind of interesting.

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Thanks for the replies.

Yeah I tend to get worse the more I focus on what I’m doing so I’ll practice a lick and many times I get worse as I go. Now and then I get that magical moment in some random time in the future out of nowhere when I’m distracted and I play the part great.

In my band I tend to keep myself low and play better when I’m not dominated the mix on my side. That probably goes into the theory of speaking while distracted helps stutterers. Something else that amazes some stutterers is having a delay on their voice fix them instantly. Too bad delay on my guitar doesn’t do that for me.

I’m going think through some old theory techniques I used to use as mentioned in a previous post and see if I can find something. It certainly helped with my speech. Now I just need to find a way to apply it to guitar. I’ll never be a golden tongue speaker, but I get by without most noticing. My guitar lately has felt like I used to when I couldn’t even answer the phone. Crazy.

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Thanks Troy. I know you aren’t the best to run this study, but man if you had a speech therapy background you’d be ideal. Please keep this topic in mind during your code cracking travels and I’d love to hear if you ever discover anything that could help me.

Have you ever posted a video of you playing some TAB to insure that there are no mechanical problems going on? 99.99% of guitar players are limited in speed and this is exactly to be expected, and 30 years of prior guitar experience is irrelevant for speed because one should only count after learning the CtC ideas. And in fact I’d say that CtC’s understanding improved a lot over the past few years (away from slant and towards escape). Does this make sense? In other words, you are probably totally normal (not as fast as you want to be) and it might still be the case that your mechanics are not sound. And then if your mechanics are sound, you might still be too slow because you want to clearly hear every note (and don’t “chunk”)… only after all of this is resolved would it make sense to consider research, because your ultimate goal, I presume, is to reach a speed that makes you happy.

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100% of guitarists are limited in speef. Though they have different limits :wink:

I think that when they can play the necessary material they are fine. I don’t think there is much point in any speed above metronome at 200 bpm 1/4 notes.

Did you mean 16th? -/-/-/-----

Exactly, 13.3 notes/s unlocks anything that I would ever need.