Trying to start-with-fast

The continuing adventures of Middle Aged Guy, so top-40 in his youth that he thought Metallica might be a scrap metal company, as he tries to learn to shred…

WARNING: do not watch this if you’ve just eaten food

So I’m trying, I’m really trying, to get this ‘start-with-fast’ thing. First, just to prove I do have the notes down with the left hand, at an AARP speed of 92 big beats per minute…

Fine. Tommo should be getting royalties probably (it’s from his 6s etude). As for the right…

This took several attempts; what you see is about as good as it gets. But it’s not hopping, at least. Okay, so, put em together and what does that spell?..

Just take my word for it, I could do it 20 more times like that. Pretty disastrous - but at least I’m string-hopping again!

As for specifics, I’m surely open to all kinds of pointers and advice. But on a general level - really, I’m trying to buy in, but it’s hard to see how starting with speed (even 92bpm) is gonna work. If I need to do that horror show again 1000 times, if that’s what’s gonna get me there, I’ll do it. But please, somebody - spare me the agony!!

What’s the way forward here?!?

Sorry to be brutal, but you didn’t put both things together. Watch the last 2 videos again - on the second one the picking motion is way different and is string hopping (as you pointed out).

I thonk you need to stay on one string and play a chunk, ensuring that your picking motion isnt hopping. I struggle a bit on the lower strings, maybe you do too. So maybe try it on the G or B string.

Whats your max tremolo tempo? Start there.

First of all, your flicking away of the pick looks so assertive and elegant :slight_smile:

I’m pretty sure YJM (or maybe Paganini?) has to get the money for that pattern… I simply chained a few of them together :smiley:

Like @PickingApprentice said (and like you point out), it is obvious that you changed your right hand motion in the third video. And like you already know, the second video is what you want.

Against my monetary interest…I wonder if you should try a different riff for a while… written by someone else? :smiley: You have done this one a lot and may have ingrained some habits associated with it.

I can give you a bit of homework you didn’t ask: write your own riff / lick that is 6 notes per string starting on a downstroke.

Also… ditch the metronome for now! It’s just distracting you at this point. Just aim for fast-ish, if you end up hopping you’ll know it!

Not nearly as good as my Hendrix move, where I pour kerosene on the guitar and dance around it like a savage while it burns to smoldering ash (which I felt like doing). But thank you.

I really, really, and really don’t want to be misunderstood here, okay? This is not me being snarky, just trying to understand. (This is all text, no one can read body language or facial expressions, so I’m always gonna err way on the side of caution when it comes to being non-offensive.) But I’d say I actually suggested what you’re saying in my recent USX/fork-in-the-road post, and it was a big thumbs down.

You know, Zamfir rocks. I mean, sorta. (Anyone else here from the '80s?) Maybe I should take up the pan flute.

At least now I know I’m a real guitar player - cuz I’m having a bad guitar day! (Alas, bad hair days are no longer possible.)

Lmao I feel that pick drop.

I said this in another one of your threads, but at the speed you’re going, it seems like you’re purposely trying to cut the range of motion of your picking. Just from my playing, I feel like I graze adjacent strings, even at higher speeds.

I’m a bit wary of chasing forum post especially long ones that are incredibly hard to unpick and I can only give my 2 cents. Simply put, your picking hand needs to not stringhop. If you play too slowly, you will not be able to tell whether it will be effective at high speeds - therefore you need to tremolo fast and smooth. You get this by experimenting with different motions - when it clicks you will know it. If you are really enamoured with a metronone (like I am) you need to set it at least at 150bpm and tremolo 16ths at least for a few bars, but many others including Troy often feel that this can be done without the metrome and focus on smoothness.

Once you get this done, you can put a repeating chink on one string at that tremolo speed. It might be unsynchronized and sloppy at first but that will get better relatively quickly, but the key here is to ensure that your picking hand keeps that efficient speedy motion.

We don’t have the best lesson on this subject, like I said, and it should be more up front in the Primer, and less buried. But this is it:

These are the patterns I played myself when I worked on this. I started mostly with single string and single string in positions. This was before I figured out how string switching worked. Then once I figured that out I started doing them across the strings. Had I known about all this from the get go I would have done them all together probably.

In your case I think the “fail” video is great. Now you know your challenge — doing the hands together while maintaining the same motion. I experienced this recently when I tried to play lefty. I could do the picking motion but not with the hands connected. I was able to sort of get it after many small attempts. You would think the motion should just “work”, right? But it doesn’t, because it feels so new and unfamiliar to have the hands going together with this weird new motion. This is why I think spending tons of time practicing hands separately is probably not a great idea. Maybe it’s fine at first, but eventually you have to figure out how to pat your head and rub your belly simultaneously.

This is the feedback you need. This is the zone you want to be in. Keep trying all sorts of ways to get the hands working together. If you get it, then fail, then get it again, that’s awesome. The “hit or miss” zone is the zone you want to be in. i.e. All hit and no miss doesn’t teach you how to solve the misses.

You’re probably right. I’d guess that since I’m holding on for dear life, I’m restricting myself to hold things together. So wouldn’t you say that’s more a symptom than the disease itself? (For what it’s worth, I tried a wider pick path, but it was worse if anything.)

But it’s a wreck at 92 - I don’t understand how I’m going to get to a faster speed that obviates hopping, like you suggest, when 92’s more than I can handle. See?

Its not a wreck because its 92 bpm, its a wreck because you are stringhopping when you add both hands. If you pick like your second video when adding both hands, you would be fine. And sextuplets at 92 isn’t slow, but you don’t want to play any slower, because you will be in the zone where it is possible to play a lick with stringhopping - you want to avoid this. Instead you want to be able to tremolo pick in the zones where it isn’t possible to play with string hopping - that way, you know that the motion is efficient and will able to tackle the speed.

Think of your tremolo as your picking speed limit. Let say your goal is to play 6s at 120 bpm - if you cant tremolo pick at that speed for the length of the lick, you will not be able to play the lick on 1 string, let alone more. You won’t know if you can pick at that speed unless you try.

Right. But you see from the third that it’s not happening. Sorry if I’m misreading you. What are you suggesting I do to make #3 look like #2?

As @PickingApprentice pointed out, both hands together is where it’s “falling apart”. I would recommend a simpler riff to see if this is the case. I used to do the Troy Stetina trem practice thing from his book (this was like 20 years ago so don’t remember the name but I’ll do a video of the riff).

yeah, great, please do

Couldn’t find a tab so I just explain it in the video:


Hey @Yaakov - definitely in agreement with the other comments here - your technique is noticeably different when isolating the right hand versus using them both together. I’m seeing some very clear forearm rotation (supination) as you do the upstroke escape onto the next string in the isolated right hand video as well as a bit more pronounced of a downward pickslant; when you put it all together you look like you’re tightening up considerably and everything becomes very string-hoppy; you lose a lot of the forearm rotation.

I dun went and learned something like the lick it sounds like you’re working on:

Sorry for the bepop lick at the end :sweat_smile: couldn’t resist resolving that line, lol.

Here’s a closer look and slowed down to 50% speed:

I think you and I are both using more or less the same motion to achieve the upstroke escape on the 6th note of each string; the supination is pretty apparent when slowed down. The upstroke escape doesn’t come naturally to me either, it would be a lot more comfortable for me to start this kind of lick with an upstroke … so I practiced with these two drills for a little bit to help me figure the literal ins and outs of the lick:

I think the first one would help you especially as you need to exaggerate the escape motion in order to accent the final note on each string and it helps build that consistency with that motor pattern. And then shortening it up with just the string change chunk to again hammer that escape stroke motor pattern.

Hope this helps and that this response isn’t too long … I’m off work due to COVID and have a lot of time to kill :joy:

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What ever it takes! :grin: I don’t think there is anything that anyone can say to magically stop you changing your motion, you need to work on it (I’m not saying its easy).
it doesn’t matter what lick you use - maybe have a couple to give you variety. My 2 cents on it is that you ensure that the pattern is simple for the lefthand and doesn’t move around too much, taking your focus away from your picking hand. @Pepepicks66’s lick is good in that respect in that you can repeat the 1st tiny chunk in isolation and moving down tbe neck as it becomes more 2nd nature and staying on one string at a time. What I did which helped was broadly the below, but do whatever you fancy and try not too ftustrated- it will come. It looks like you have found a picking motion that might work, there are others that haven’t got that far so don’t lose heart:

  • get the tremolo going, with you fretting hand ready to play, ensuring that your tremolo is using your efficient motion.
  • Once you can smoothly play your tremolo long enough for the duration of the repeatable chunk, after a bar or 2 of the tremolo bring your fretting hand in (preferably without looking) and play a few bars of the pattern. During this your focus is on you picking hand maintaining that efficient motion - Do not worry about your fretting hand or how sloppy it might sound, this is to be expected. You only need to attempt a few bars at a time, this will conserve energy and keep the focus on getting the hands together. However, as it becomes easier/smoother, you will be able to play it repeatedly for much longer.

I’d definitely advise to do this without a metronome, because its a process of trial and error - the metronome will add a certain amount of timing pressure that again distracts you from the goal here.

Take a good handful days to attempt this and let us know how things go. Don’t make this your entire practice session otherwise you will acheive a Gollum level of obsession - not healthy. Make sure you keep it fun and inject this multiple times in between playing and jamming etc.


Thanks for posting that. The notes I got. Don’t know if I’m phrasing it exactly the same - i.e. some notes were repeated, others not - and that I may be changing. But I’m guessing that’s not the important part, right?

It’s more about giving your left hand some work to do that’s not too complicated so you can get used to the two hands working in tandem…?

I like that exaggerating the trickiest stroke thing; seen that in instructional material somewhere.

Ha! Exactly what Troy told me not to do;) I had suggested it myself, I think in my ‘USX work’ thread. But I getcha’ - try different things to get the two hands to make friends, right?

That’s a lot of food for though. Thanks all:)