How long did it take you to learn to shred?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by nkri, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. mdeeRocks

    mdeeRocks SS.org Regular

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    (When I was about 19) It took me about 4 months of about 1 hour practice a day to learn Paul Gilbert's famous picking lick to play it totally effortlessly at high speed. Took me about a month to have very good control of dynamics of it. I had very good left hand technique and I could tremolo pick forever with zero fatigue and minimum movements (that took me about 4 years or so, I have started "late"), 4 months were spent on string crossing and dynamics.

    Now, I didn't do any of this metronome 5 bmp per day nonsense, or I'd be still playing this lick at 90bpm. I basically figured it out first how to play it fast (mostly by short high speed bursts and going by the feeling of tension), then slowed down to get it in control, then did some metronome practice. The technique is different when playing at mid/slow speeds. The major thing was playing what felt (no tension) and sounded right. Playing funk rhythms at moderat/high speed with a drummer or metronome helped a ton to loosen up/get good sense of accents.

    From real live observation, a person with good, minimum tension medium speed basic technique, good ears and rhythm sense, will probably learn high speed playing in about 3-4 years of 1-2 hours a day dedicated, focused practice. The trick is that many, many people never figure out what is the right fast playing technique for them and they get stuck (you can't do it with metronome 5 bpm per day thing - try sprinting very slowly, see what happens :) ). it's extremely hard to teach and explain, but some people get it right away, usually by accident.

    Maintenance is another story. Paul Gilbert once said that fast picking is like tropical fishes. They look pretty but require a lot of constant effort or they die.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
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  2. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I can't help but ask "why"? I've always thought of myself as being a pretty solid guitar player, but I don't "shred". IMO it's unrealistic to set goals that high - to only aim for the best. To each their own, but for me that's not the point of playing- and even if it was, only very few people are ever going to be "the best". I don't want to be the best, I just want to be good enough to enjoy it and be able to express some stuff. I hear about people practicing picking techniques for hours a day so they can be the best sweep picker in town, and I guess I just don't care enough about my playing to go that far. I've got better things to do. :lol:

    No knocking people who do practice that much, or who set high goals, but it does strike me as an odd mindset.
     
  3. Jackson kelly

    Jackson kelly SS.org Regular

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    Bitchin insight man.i really hope i can learn it faster than 4 years. Ive been putting 2 to 3 hours in a day on week days an 6 hours a day ( not in a row ) on weekends. It hets to a point during practice that i peak an also a point where i start to lose it, so i take a break from it. So frustrating though man. So repetitive. Anyways...thanks for the info.
     
  4. mdeeRocks

    mdeeRocks SS.org Regular

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    I'd not rush it. You need time to internalize, sometimes a day of break is a good thing. If you feel it's repetitive change something - play 15-12-14-15-14-12 instead of 12-15-14-12-14-15 etc. Assuming you are aware and control the tension, you should see steady progress nonetheless and this will reinforce your learning. The confidence that you will get there (because you already figured out how to play fast or have a good idea what technique will get you there - I'll repeat it again, tension is the key here, fast playing with good technique doesn't feel any different than playing an E major chord) should give you a lot of patience.
    I am still learning myself, even after all years, I don't feel as comfortable as I want to with 2 nps alternate picked patterns for instance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  5. donniekak

    donniekak SS.org Regular

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    Early on I spent 6-10 hours a day on picking. After about 2 years I guess I could shred.

    I'm still not perfectly happy and spend a few hours a week on technique. I always thought my alternate picking was solid, but after watching the Troy Grady stuff and slowing down some video of myself I found out I wasn't doing what I thought I was. Lots of economy picking was mixed in and some swiping.
     
  6. steinmetzify

    steinmetzify CHUG & SLUDGE

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    I'm still waiting.....
     
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  7. xaptronic

    xaptronic SS.org Regular

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    I'm still learning. It doesn't take long to learn how to play scales fast. What is hard, is having a melodic motif behind what you're playing and having ways to begin and end phrases.
     
  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    When I was pretty new playing, my main goal was to learn how to play "From the Beginning" by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. A couple years later, it was "Erotomania" by Dream Theater, then "Technical Difficulties" by Racer X, and so on and so on. But every time I'd learn a song that would have been capable of impressing the old me, I'd already know of a song that was on another level beyond that in terms of technique, and I think that's just a never-ending process. Even writing my own parts - always trying to digest new techniques and integrate my own take on those in my own playing, but doing so in a context that is musical and still fun to listen to and to play - it's a journey. You never get to the end of that road.
     
  9. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    I started out in the 70's, learning to records (33rpm, 45rpm) in addition to regular theory lessons. I started learning records more exclusively in the 80's and even after playing for 45+ years, I still practice constantly to maintain my current speed, efficiently, cleanliness, etc...
     
  10. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire self-appointed sso pickup tester

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    I spent years practicing scale runs and legato/other techniques for hours at a time before i felt comfortable playing any shreddy stuff. i'm still a sloppy player compared to a lot of the shreddy guys. the only thing i have going for me is that my ADD actually helped me pick up a bunch of disparate techniques that i've been trying to mold into my own style. the only way to really get good at playing shreddy stuff as far as i'm concerned is to constantly practice and push yourself technique wise.
     
  11. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire Contributor

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    Key as some others have mentioned is FOCUSED practice. Half an hour a day of intense practice to a metronome will get you further and faster than 4 hours of noodling in front of a TV.
     
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  12. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula Indeed.

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    Came to say just that. You can play the same thing over and over without much or any improvement if you aren't fully attuned to what you're doing.

    The one thing I've ever practiced productively in front of the TV is classical guitar tremolo - just getting the hand movement more and more fluid on muted strings while watching some stupid TV show like Weeds for hours. I came into university with better tremolo than some of the grad students in the guitar studio. And that, by the way, is probably the closest I've come to "shredding." Most of my effort since then has been spent on my reading skills and other more remedial things. :lol:
     
  13. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire self-appointed sso pickup tester

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    tremolo is by far the hardest classical guitar technique. it took me ages to get even half decent at it. learning how to play recuerdos de la alhambra still haunts me :lol:
     
  14. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire Contributor

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    So much this. I usually spend 2-4 hours a day playing in total. Two hours of that is just couch noodling but the other two hours is divided into half hour segments of practising one thing over and over, paying attention to dead notes, missed notes, open strings ringing etc and correcting them. For example, at the moment currently I'll do half an hour of one of the Jason Richardson sweeping exercises, then half an hour of each of 3 songs I'm learning at the moment.
     
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  15. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula Indeed.

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    Dividing stuff into segments makes learning new stuff so much more efficient! I struggle not to get trapped by one difficult passage for too long - I'm predisposed to want to get something down in one day and can end up with unbalanced practice routines as a result. Dividing my time into predetermined chunks with their own individual goals has made me way more productive. It's hard to put down something that isn't 100% and move on, but over the course of a week I end up getting way more done.

    The other thing I've discovered is that taking breaks makes me more productive as well. If I periodically get up and make myself tea, or do a chore or two, it helps reset my focus and I'm way less likely to end up in a loop where I'm not really thinking about what I'm doing. One my guitar professors told me the brain can only retain optimal focus under normal circumstances for 40ish minutes at a time, and that seems about right based on my own practice sessions.

    I think that only really basic mechanical things can be practiced without complete focus. Aside from the aforementioned tremolo, I've actually gotten some improvement on my sweeping technique and some classical right-hand patterns while watching TV - again, just on muted strings, getting the clicks in time. Even those techniques would benefit from greater focus, but doing them in front of the TV was better than nothing.
     
  16. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula Indeed.

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    Have you checked out Scott Tenant's tremolo exercise? The secret is actually to practice it staccato on one string, with each stroke muting the one before. I'm sure the video's on youtube. It does take some dedicated practice to get down, but once you get it you're kind of "done," moreso than other techniques, at least.

    Tremolo is really the only difficult thing about Recuerdos honestly. The Bach suites for example are way harder IMO.
     
  17. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire self-appointed sso pickup tester

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    yeah but recuerdos is almost all tremolo. doing tremolo isn't a big problem for me anymore, it's doing it consistently in terms of volume and fluidity.
     

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