90% vs 100%

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by nanthil, Jun 10, 2021.

  1. nanthil

    nanthil SS.org Regular

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    I've heard Petrucci, Richardson, and Vai all explicitly mention the amount of effort it requires to get to the level of polish they achieve in their live playing, and how much continual effort it takes to maintain a particular fast passage at the correct tempo. I have been working at some fast music for a while, which has pushed me to new levels of control, relaxation, and speed. I started very slow, and over the past year can play the faster sections perfectly with control and good tone (even matching vibrato), staying relaxed up to 85% or so speed. Sometimes 90.

    But I think I've spent more time trying to nail this last 10% then I have getting it up to 90. When I play full speed I find I can either be precise OR relaxed but not both at this tempo, which introduces slop in one direction or another.

    I'm writing to find out what it takes to get that last 10% of speed and control in fast music. Please share your attempts, failures and successes to achieve that last 10% of speed and articulation. Anyone can play controlled with good tone if you slow it down enough, but what does it actually take to get that level of speed with articulation?

    What worked for you?

    How long did it take you to get that last 10%?

    Was it worth the payout?

    Is it enough for you personally to be mostly clean with some slop, or does your slop haunt you at night?
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021
  2. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    Practice with clean tones, either exercises or music passages or whatever. Use the dirt tones only when you're bored or tired or in need to freshen up for a bit. If you nail it in the clean tone realm, you're there! Also, a compressor before the preamp may help...

    ... the time one takes to get there is not important, the journey is.
     
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  3. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Some folks will never be able to do it, no matter how hard they try. That's just how it is.

    But that's okay.

    Like @odibrom said, it's the journey.

    Just have fun with it.
     
  4. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    Why?

    If there's something wrong like missing fingers or hands then I can understand it but otherwise why would some people not be able to do it? Surely as long as people practice enough and in the right way then everybody should be able to play well?
     
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  5. nanthil

    nanthil SS.org Regular

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    Some days I enjoy it, other days I wonder who is even going to notice, let alone care? And that saps my motivation sometimez.... But I need to do it at least once just to know what it takes, since as you say, there are so few who have actually accomplished that who can tell me what it takes to play at that level.

    Sometimes I wish interviewers would just get down to the important questions rather than fan boying or soft-balling the great players so we can all learn what methods work for the greats.
     
  6. nanthil

    nanthil SS.org Regular

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    No I can see what he means. There are people who just won't put in the time, or don't have the time, or don't like the style.... or any other number of reasons. Maybe no teacher to point out their inefficiencies, or they just will never have the self awareness to identify their own shortcomings.

    It's like with any physical activity, some people will just never run fast. Let alone be an Olympic sprinter.
     
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  7. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    There's a thing called Emotional Disability that hunts us all. Some can cope with it better than others in different aspects of life. It is obviously related to our experiences in life and how we can direct our focus towards our challenges. It controls more than a perfect "we" or "I" would want, it limits us to the point that one says "I can't do it" when the objective is just around the corner. It is pictured in the movies so many times that most of us lost count. It is the story of being human. That's why the time one takes to get there isn't important, only the journey.

    It doesn't really matter if one gets there (where ever that may be), just the efforts one makes. You see, most of the times we ARE there and we don't even notice it, know how we did it or even how to replicate the experience. It's not about luck nor being a genius, only about work, either to break the rocks one has ahead as well as our inner most darkest thoughts. That is the fight worth fighting and that's where one is reborn.

    The path is towards consciousness at all the times, understanding that what I ate at breakfast will interfere with my thoughts later in the evening... or my guitar playing...
     
  8. USMarine75

    USMarine75 The man who is tired of the anus is tired of life Contributor

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    Anybody could be Einstein or Tom Brady if they just practiced enough.
     
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  9. TheInvisibleHand

    TheInvisibleHand SS.org Regular

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    This is completely untrue. Unfortunately, the world is a unfailingly unfair place. And I don't mean this in the "woe is me" sort of way. I mean that most people would be better off if they were able to honestly admit to themselves that they may not be capable of achieving the fetid " you can do anything you set your mind to" garbage we feed to children (I would know, I grew up in the 90s). Instead, do what you can to improve upon your capabilities in a way in tune with reality and ignore the 1%. They are outliers, not necessarily examples of some heroic work ethic.

    People can work their asses off and still fail, and some people will do far less and just get it. That is neither depressing nor empowering. It just is.
     
  10. spudmunkey

    spudmunkey SS.org Regular

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    Target 125% speed for a while, then try 100%. It's like swinging a bat with weight on it while you're on deck. ;)
     
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  11. USMarine75

    USMarine75 The man who is tired of the anus is tired of life Contributor

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    Sorry I guess you didn't detect the immense amount of sarcasm in my post :lol:
     
  12. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    Oh so some people are just born bad guitar players?

    I'm sorry but I call bs on that. Guitar playing is a skill we cultivate, not a genetic trait.

    However mindset is a hugely powerful thing. If we think that we can't do something, then we probably can't.
     
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  13. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    It's both.

    Something that needs to be worked on, and something that can or can't be inherent in natural ability.

    You ever see those videos of those kids, literally children, who can play the fuck out of instruments? How do you think that works? Were they woodshed'n in the womb, or is there perhaps a latent natural talent?

    I know it's a bummer to think that maybe, even with all the determination and practice in the world you might never reach a certain level, but that's life.

    Again, just have some fun.
     
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  14. Matt08642

    Matt08642 SS.org Regular

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    Similar to this, I use big chunky doofus picks when I'm learning something difficult or with string skipping, then I switch to the Pick of Destiny aka this thing:

    [​IMG]

    Everything is instantly easier.
     
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  15. nanthil

    nanthil SS.org Regular

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    I'm not suggesting anyone is destined to be bad. My question was about what it takes to perfectly recreate something immensely difficult.

    You can be a great athlete and not qualify for the Olympic team.

    You can get accepted to the athletic team and not win.

    His point was that there are those who strive, suffer, struggle and will never get a podium spot. In guitarland that might be having to admit to yourself you'll never play that solo perfectly at the original tempo, and either play at tempo with mistakes, or slow it down to a more comfortable speed.

    It isn't an esoteric, metaphysical idea, it is reality.
     
  16. nanthil

    nanthil SS.org Regular

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    Actually I made huge gains practicing with the Dunlop 4.20 chungus pick. The thick flow picks (2.0 and up) are now my go to practice picks because it helps me to relax my pick grip like I never could in the past.

    This is no bs, no meme advice, get the 4.20 Dunlop flow pick for alt picking and string skipping practice.
     
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  17. michael_bolton

    michael_bolton SS.org Regular

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    It's a fine motor skill. It's baseline as well as the degree to which you can develop it is controlled by your genetic makeup.

    Good news is even though guitar playing has a pretty hefty athletic component to it (esp when we're talking shred) - it's not all about just that as opposed to e.g. running or swimming. It's also an art form so things are way less linear.

    But again if you distill this down to the athletic component in its pure form - "can I play this super fast run as fast and clean as the top shredder" - your natural ability can defo be a limiting factor. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't push yourself to the limit of YOUR ability - it's just that this limit is different for diff ppl.
     
  18. HungryGuitarStudent

    HungryGuitarStudent SS.org Regular

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    @nanthil

    For me, it's a two phase process:

    1. gaining speed-endurance-relaxation to bridge the 10% gap;
    2. gaining control and polishing.

    For the first step, I found that slowly increasing tempo helps to practice timing, but was not optimal in terms of learning the mechanics (including relaxation) of playing fast.

    I followed the advice of Martin Miller, Andy James and Troy Grady on this: play above the tempo limit at which you're comfortable. Constant failure/analysis/experimentation is the quickest way to learn. Don't get me wrong, slowly increasing tempo helps develop a lot of other things, but in my experience has not given the quickest gains in terms of speed to close the gap.

    After that, it's all about polishing... There's no secret here IMO, putting in the work and recording my practices (being hyper critical) helps.

    The "problem" with "high performance guitar", is that you continuously have to maintain it and that you're bound to make mistakes anyways (e.g. Tony Hawk doesn't nail a 2080 or whatever every time).

    Disclaimer: I'm nowhere near being done with those two phases (gaining speed, polishing), and yes, my slop haunts me at night :)

    My 0.02 ...
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
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  19. cwhitey2

    cwhitey2 BlackendCrust Metal™

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    This. I physically can't do it. I have spent years practicing certain techniques only to be able to do them at maybe 80-85%
     
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  20. HungryGuitarStudent

    HungryGuitarStudent SS.org Regular

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    How can you be sure you absolutely can't do it? I noodled 3 years as a teenager and hit an alt picking plateau. Picked the guitar back up in 2018, got more serious about it, used the aforementioned approach and exploded my bpm cap. Maybe I'm just stubborn, lucky or my standard are too low so it's easy to measure progress.


    I remember talking about this to Troy Grady. What I got from that conversation is the impression that on average most people could probably get to alt picking 130 bpm sextuplets. The rest of the way (135-140 bpm like Taranto or Richardson) may be limited by genetic material. There's also a conditioning component since this is an athletic endeavor at that point, but yeah, there's a cap.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021

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