The Wall and the Sorcery

I’ve spent months going over the seminars, getting my core techniques down, focusing on my pick slants, my wrist motion and eliminating string hopping. Basically unlearning all the bad habits that I’ve picked up over the years and I definitely feel like I’m making progress.


As I play along with the examples, get them down in muscle memory and then start to build up speed, I reach a wall and that wall is in the same spot in almost every example. The speed wall that I slam head first into is at 80%. Anything beyond that, I’ve been calling The Sorcery.

Does anyone else feel this barrier? I KNOW it can be destroyed, I KNOW The Sorcery can be learned but I’ve been stuck here for months. Guitar playing plateaus are a terrible place to be. Have I reached the limits of my capabilities? Or am I still missing something? Anything I play towards the level of Sorcery just sounds sloppy.

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Hey @deadpoet77!

Is the problem that you can’t get to the target at all, or is it that you can get to the target speed but it is sloppy?

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Very keen on seeing feedback on this thread as I am on the boundary of sorcery myself. For me, going back to drilling the basic single string has helped push my limit a little, but I have also made sure that the variety is still there. If I practice dbx 1nps and single note drills, I find that my scaler lines (alternate picked) are cleaner at higher tempo than before and my max speed with slop is higher too…

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What examples are you trying to play?

I’m physically capable of moving at those speeds, but being able to achieve that speed and remain accurate in my fretting and picking goes right out the window.

I guess my big worry here is that I’m practicing wrong, just like I had done for so many years prior and am trying to make sure I don’t fall into the same trap.

One particular spot I’ve noticed that I just don’t have the mojo working in my favor is the Cascade seminar chapter 28. Clip name “Cliffs Blues” 70% speed is good and then when I get to 80 and try to push beyond, it falls apart.

I can fly on a single string comfortably for a moderate amount of time. Seems that when I try to translate that speed from string to string, things start to get messy. The same feel I get at very high speed on single strings doesn’t seem to translate when moving up and down and thats even after applying pick slants and incorporating 2 way pick slanting.

Post up a video clip, that way any problems can be seen

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I’ve been kicking around that idea. Just not too comfortable with it. Not yet anyhow lol.

@guitarenthusiast is right - video ftw. you can be uncomfortable for 30 secs and stand a good chance of moving forward, or stay unconfortable searching for the sorcery! I’m not that fond id posting vids, but it is so worth it!


Will do! I’ll get something together in a bit here.

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Woop woop! Nice one!

That’s great news!

As a first step, when you practice higher speeds, it’s totally fine to be a bit sloppy. Just get a feel for it and try to gradually clean it up.

So instead of going 80%, 81%, 82% etc., you could try to just go 80% -> 100%. 100% may be very sloppy, but then you can try to bring it down a little, say 90-95% and see if you can clean it up.

Or do it the Petrucci way, just shoot for 105% and then bring it down to 100 :slight_smile:
In any case I agree with the others, a video would be good and most probably revealing :slight_smile:

You may have seen these classics already but I’ll paste them here just in case:

First one (Shawn Lane) should start at 2:36

Second one (John Petrucci) at 6:19


This is totally based on my personal experience, but being stuck in a rut for months is just part of the process. I’m sure posting a video will allow more eyes to find inefficiencies in your playing, and a different mindset like @tommo pointed out will help, but if the progress seems to have stalled or drastically slowed down, I wouldn’t be concerned.


I’m going to try this approach for a few hours today and see if that helps. If I’m still struggling from here, I’ll throw up a video.

Thank you for the advice, and I’ve never heard of Shawn Lane before! That guy is out of his gourd! :laughing:

I think you might find this guy’s approach to be very helpful:

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Just wanted to thank everyone for their input on this but I made the breakthrough I was looking for. I had been so focused on getting the techniques right that I had been neglecting the musicality of it all.

The catalyst to help me take another baby step forward was none other than my good friend (arch nemesis) the metronome.

Thanks again everyone for the insights and assistance! It’s still a very long road.

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