Tips for breaking speed barriers? (alternate picking)

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by tabqwerty, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. tabqwerty

    tabqwerty SS.org Regular

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    I seem to be stuck at around 140 BPM with 16th notes. I constantly have been slowing down, working on fretting hand / legato and alternate picking accuracy, then bumping back up to "kill yourself" tempos (what John says in "Rock Discipline") and back down to 140. Still, 'am struggling to accent each click/downbeat. The only thing that's seemed to work to get past this is to turn the tempo down halfway and play 32nd notes, but it removes context from the beat, which is unavoidable live.


    I can almost do legato at 200 BPM with no problem, but I guess synchronizing both hands instead of one takes twice as much work.
     
  2. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Where exactly is your picking hand running into problems? Synchronization along a single string? Synchronization when changing between strings? And, you say you can do legato at 200bpm. Are you 100% sure your legato is meter-perfect, or is your grouping becoming uneven at speed? Try using a drum program or drum loop with a 16th note hi-hat and playing against that - when you're playing against an even 16th note groove, is your legato audibly perfectly in sync, or is it alternately rushing and falling behind as you go from (presumably) four notes on a single string to changing too the next string?
     
  3. tabqwerty

    tabqwerty SS.org Regular

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    It was just a general estimate about 200 BPM. I can't even tell what my hand is doing at that point (yet anyway), but being able to follow the first note of every four, or the click, with the index finger going up / pinky going down (doing the standard four-finger, four-fret exercise up and down every position on an 8-string) is a lot easier to do with legato. I'm starting to record my practicing sessions in Reaper to be objective about them this time now that I'm more serious about my playing than ever before.
     
  4. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    So, I'm asking because I'm trying to diagnose where exactly the issue is.

    *Can you trem pick a single note on a single string perfectly on the beat at tempos above 140bpm? If yes, then your actual single-string picking is probably pretty good, and your issues are either coordination between your hands, or changing strings.
    *Can you play a fast repeated lick on a single string cleanly and accurately at speeds above 140bpm? If yes, then by elimination its probably your string changing.
    *Can you play meter-perfect legato across strings to a click - not just the downbeat, but 16th notes against a 16th note click, so you know you're 100% on the beat, at speeds well above 140bpm? If yes, then your fretting hand is probably ok and the issue is your picking hand is struggling with changing strings. If no, then your fretting hand isn't tight enough (your picking hand may be struggling both).

    It's easy to play 4-note-per-string legato patterns fast and ensure the downbeat is always falling at the right point... But that doesn't necessarily mean your legato is all that accurate, if you're rushing the four notes along one string and then there's an audible gap before you move onto the next one. Note duration and frequency should be exactly the same on a string as changing between strings, and if you're hitting the downbeats and then slurring the rest, that works... but you're not in the pocket.
     
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