Struggling with one string speed

Howdy folks!

I’m currently attending school for jazz performance on guitar. It’s going well overall, but something that’s always seemed to hold me back is my regular old picking speed. Not even fancy things like crosspicking, I seem to struggle to get up to a decent tempo on a single string. The video I have is focused on that, just droning on a single note. This is the first video I’m recording here, so any feedback on providing better material to analyze would be appreciated.

I’m interested in working on Gambale’s style of picking, but the person on this site I’ve been most taken with is Martin Miller. That alternate picking style of his is phenomenal.

A few notes:

  • I’m left-handed, but play right-handed.
  • I’ve played for around 13 years now, but most seriously for the last 7 or so.
  • Speed has always been a problem for me, going back years. I’ve tried adjusting little bits and pieces, going from planted to non-planted, then back again, bunch of other things, seemingly no luck.
  • I’m definitely not a shredder, at all. Some of my favorite jazz players are Stan Getz and Chet Baker. At the same time, I don’t want to feel as restricted by my picking speed as I currently do.
  • I use D’Andrea Pro330 1.5mm picks (they look like this).

The video is long, but there are timestamps. Video is 240fps, played at 100% and then 30% speed from two angles.


Hey Cedarhawk!

I am also lefty-playing righty, and I can assure you that it is possible to develop good speed with the right hand, it might just take a little extra effort. We’ve had this discussion on this forum before, and the list of lefties-shredding-righty puts you in good company (Batio, Stump, Moore (Vinnie and Gary both), Loureiro, Howe, Morse).

Anyway, it looks to me like you’re being a little too careful and not just going for it. Through my own experience I am a firm believer in the “start fast and sloppy and then clean it up” mentality that Shawn Lane talked about and that seems to be encouraged by Troy and others around these parts.

In the beginning stages you need to figure out what fast movement even feels like before you can refine it. It’s ok if it sounds like a bit of a hot mess or even if some unwanted tension creeps up. You’re “figuring it out.” Think of how coaches teach kids how to do movements in sports. No one expects a 10 year old hockey player to have NHL-pro level finesse, but they’re still going to go for the movements and suck at it for a long time before they figure out how to do them quick and with control and accuracy, and not using unwanted muscles.

In some regard, the desire to be musical can probably get in the way a little in terms of technical development. You really do need to treat it, to some extend, like a sport, and detach musicality from it, at least as far as getting the hang of things goes. Be a little kid about it for a while.

Here are two videos that really had a big effect on me:

Hope that helps!


Great video! Thanks for the diligent filming.

I agree with @BlackInMind and I’d also recommend working up a solid rest stroke tremolo. Troy explains it here:

That helps you configure your range of motion and can correct a bunch of other issues too. Make sure you’re not fighting through the string with too much strength. If it feels that way, vary your pick grip until it feels like you’re slicing through smoothly and it sounds mostly similar on both upstrokes and downstrokes.

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Is that your ‘flat out’ speed?
I used to be s lefty playing right, but despite trying every possible wrist motion it just felt like there was no fuel in the engine. This can be a problem for some, but as stated above there are left handed guitarists playing right who dont seem to have any problem.
Hopefully you’ll overcome this barrier. You are certainly in the right place to do it :slightly_smiling_face:

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the way your leaning leads me to believe this is DSX, so that being said get your elbow involved. I know most people like saying play from the wrist but if you move your entire elbow and wrist I bet you’ll be getting faster for sure.You do not even have to feel like your doing a curl or locking your wrist although at higher speeds (hyper speeds) that is done. If you do it right you’ll notice your rest stroking on the lower string.

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