Working up Relaxation and Cleanliness (not speed)

I wanna preface this with this: I’ve had speed “worked out” in a sense since well before CtC - I just grabbed a metronome and tried to tremolo as fast as I could as a teenager. I did try to “work up” from there, how fast could I do triplets or 16th notes with a metronome before I started introducing tension etc. But translating this to picking lines didn’t always work, sometimes it did, but I didn’t quite know why I couldn’t brute force any alternate picked line I wanted to, so I worked in legato, worked in some muting/swiping but it was all a bit haphazard.

CtC helped me in analyzing my own playing within a framework of picking rudiments or styles and break down what I’m already doing, as well as incorporate some new movement that had not occurred to me.

So what’s the next step? I still can tell refinement at the level of very elite players is a long way off although I have been progressing just fine, I have bad practice habits that fit a theme -

  1. Rushing things and not noticing where I’m being sloppy

  2. Building up too much overall tension and continuing to play to fatigue instead of correcting it

Overall, I’ve realized I have this tendency to rush in to a piece just because I recognize a few patterns, and then I drill in sloppy playing. So I have to approach each piece and try and get in that more meditative headspace that “this is new, go slow on purpose and work up” otherwise, I’m sloppy, tense, and just drilling in bad habits.

So my approach that’s been working in terms of cleaning things up has been:

a) Closing my eyes and breathing, when I’m working through refining something, and really paying attention to the motion to shut out visual stimulation so I can more accurately perceive both discomfort and mistakes. I guess you could call it meditative - Steve Vai is very into the idea of meditating on technique or songwriting (to the point of injury so For the Love of God don’t build a pyramid in your basement and meditate on one Chord by holding it until you need surgery).

b) Working through a set handful of picking motions as though they are rudiments - I work on some etude for crosspicking, for DSX (I’ve chose the wrist+forearm lightly supinated approach for this) and USX (basically the standard Yngwie DWPS - I incorporate this with economy picking runs to ensure I’m positioned correctly). I don’t think it matters what etude you choose, just do it every day and focus on it carefully.

So, looking to discuss the following - do you recognize these in your own practice? How do you attempt to eliminate them? Are there any other tendencies you have noticed may be holding you back in your playing you’ve worked to eliminate?


ya this might have more to do with that rhythmical groove, right? his can be very tricky to analyze, probably just need to listen slowed up for awhile until you hear it as well as play along with it slowly. gotta learn how to speak it properly so just mimic along with it at a slow relaxed pace.

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Yeah somewhat, but it’s a combo of things, the groove ties in to hand sync - but there’s also making sure I’m going with the right picking pattern, because I have a lot of history with brute forcing a picking run with swiping etc. If I slow it down and feel out the string changes for a while, then try to play it faster again, it always results in it being cleaner than last time. I think drilling in to muscle memory
‘we got:
up, down up with outside change,
down, up, down with inside change,
up, down, up with outside change… etc’

There’s a lot of combinations you might get out of it, and the motion on different changes is a little different, so you have to really drill it in as if it’s a whole new sequence every time for a long time, until you really do have all those picking patterns down like the back of your hand.

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this is why i like the rest stroke because you get consistency out of it. sure it is a different genre, and heck i may never get it faster. but if i am inconsistent i am just fighting a double edged sword. plus i think troy is on to something when he likes all techniques. because he is trying to understand internally how his hand is moving to go back to build up his more genetic picking habits, his strengths, and building up those weaknesses, that his mind was consciously blind to, to help support his strengths even greater.

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Yeah I think that’s correct - that’s what I try to do also, I’m naturally left handed (a little bit ambidextrous but my right is not great) so I started with a lot of legato playing way back, I did a lot of tremolo picking to build up my right hand stamina and dexterity and would practice writing with my right and some other stuff to get some more finesse into it. Throwing in a few different picking styles fits in with that. I think the more you get down is just more tools to work with on any pattern, also gives you a nice way to change things up during practice to simulate memory. Work on it economy, work on it with a different pickslant, work on it alternate picked etc.

I guess it’s also important to keep in mind time frames. When I was a teenager I saw Troy on youtube well before CtC was a thing (or maybe it was in the 00’s? Not sure about timeline) doing pretty sick Malmsteen covers and some lessons, I’m guessing he was in his early or mid 30s, he’s been working on this in a very time intensive way for years and years.

EDIT: And more than just the time frame, the level of consistency of effort over time

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whats wierd about the rest stroke to me now is i have no way of knowing if i am even going all the way to the string. i mean i just go with it, i do practice something slowly for a few days or a week though before i speed it up. and i know the feeling of the rest stroke, but if i just go play along a stochelo solo that i know i just do it. i can only go 70 to 80 percent speed but its still so fast i wouldnt be able to tell if i am doing rests. although that hard encoding of the phrases, and doing them slowly first, then when i go from that baby steps, to walk, to jog pace, that feels like the most important part because i am fully aware i am doing the rest stroke, i feel it, and that is when the entire phrase comes together as a complete saying that i know i am using proper technique. then the faster jog starts to occur, and then i just eventually hit my limit. being fully aware of every motion slow is the key, every fingering needs to be carefully crafted sometimes so as to not make other phrases feel off, so find fingerings that work to switch between phrases and remain consistent with it.

i will say this as these seconds go by in my life i also am regretting not singing the phrases as i learn them slowly. i think this might be something that could help my musical mind. this might be the missing link in my practice that i have been doing wrong.


I’ve been working on some singing while playing, if nothing else it’ll improve my singing which is not good lol

Really I’m scatting the notes along with my playing, not sure if that’s what you mean or actually singing lyrics

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