What's your go-to shredding-exercise?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by Tobias Von Lanthen, Sep 8, 2021.

  1. Tobias Von Lanthen

    Tobias Von Lanthen SS.org Regular

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    Hi everyone!

    To cut to the case - I've been playing for around 12 years now - mostly different metal genres, Djentier stuff, etc.

    I've always been the riff-guy when it comes down to composing and playing and therefore never invested much into solo-related stuff. My shredding abilities are getting better after months of daily exercise - accurate and fast but I'm simply lacking the exercises / diversity in exercises.

    So - what's your shredding-exercise? What helped you gain more speed and accuracy? Any recommendations? And, as a side question related to shredding: Did string gauge ever had a huge role in this for you? Heavier gauge for better playing "stability" or anything like that?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Matt08642

    Matt08642 SS.org Regular

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    The ultimate shredding exercise is the most boring one: Metronome at a slower speed until you can play it cleanly, then bumping up and up and up till you're at/above speed.

    That and simply playing a lot more made it easier
     
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  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    The problem with striving to be a good "shredder" is that there is no magic bullet. You only get to that sort of level by practicing anything and everything that challenges you.

    If you practice that one technique over and over, out of any musical context, you will get really good at that practice exercise, and nothing else. You have to integrate it with other techniques in different contexts before you even master the technique itself.

    And then to be a "shredder," you have to rinse and repeat with at least a dozen techniques.
     
  4. michael_bolton

    michael_bolton SS.org Regular

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    I was in a similar boat 3-4 years ago - been playing for couple of decades but mostly riffs (without too much of a "system" to boot), something like the Ace of Spades or Paranoid solos being at the top of my soloing ability.

    wasn't really aiming much higher but kind of got into a habit of playing 3 nps scales up and down - alt picking and economy picking, then proceeded to arpeggio sweeps mostly cuz I was interested in the theory aspect of these.

    not that I became an accomplished shredder but these did wonders for my overall playing ability. string gauges - don't think I've made any changes there, picks - yes - switched to smaller jazz 3 style picks.
     
  5. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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    I have a couple of good ones. I’ll post them up in a little while, but I really just need to fire up an Instagram for “jaxadam’s weekly shred tips and tricks and how to get chicks”.
     
  6. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace $$60,000,000,000

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    Troy Grady is helpful. It isn't really an exercise, but I use the Paul Gilbert "Everyone's First Shred Lick" from Intense Rock to warm up.

    I think it is helpful to pick the right picking for a lick (inside alternate picking, outside alternate, economy picking, etc.) and experimenting with them to determine the best per lick. Don't just use one and ignore the rest.
     
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  7. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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    I’ll say this though, I notice a lot of players have a really good pointer or ring finger, but neglect the middle and pinky. I think a lot of good exercises should train these fingers so that all are fluent in movement, bending, starting/stopping, and vibrato.
     
  8. wheresthefbomb

    wheresthefbomb SS.org Regular

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  9. SpaceDock

    SpaceDock Shred till your dead

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    Don’t neglect your theory because that will help you know when to play what notes.
     
  10. ScottThunes1960

    ScottThunes1960 SS.org Regular

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    I like to play this after warm-ups.

     
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  11. Tobias Von Lanthen

    Tobias Von Lanthen SS.org Regular

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    So I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to reply!

    I usually create an own pattern within the same scale that consists of single note shredding, double note shredding with string-skipping and a sweep from 5th to 1st string and back down.
    I started with "just" shredding out of context, as you mentioned @bostjan, and it definitely isn't helpful respective fluent playing within a song - wish I had that realization earlier!

    And @jaxadam - I'd appreciate the exercises you mentioned! I'm really on the lookout for just "new" stuff to practice. Same goes for you @Spaced Out Ace - thank you for the recommendation - I'll definitely check it out this weekend.

    For anyone else I didn't reply to in this post - thanks for the recommendations and sharing your experience - it is appreciated!
     
  12. Tobias Von Lanthen

    Tobias Von Lanthen SS.org Regular

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    Oh and...

    Please do and let me know when the account is up and running :D
     
  13. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    I have a few I do. After I warm up for a few minutes I do the chromatic 1234 up and down the neck exercise with a metronome to keep me honest. That just improves my coordination between both hands.

    Another I do is 1324 up and down the neck. Just a variation of the first.

    One I picked up from Steve Stine that I like a lot is take the 3rd string 5th fret. Hammer on 5-6 as fast as possible for 20 seconds. Then 5-7, then 5-8, then 6-7, then 6-8 and finally 7-8. I do that a few times with rest in between. I feel burning in my forearms doing this much like any real exercise.
     
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  14. j3ps3

    j3ps3 SS.org Regular

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    The lick at 1:41
     
  15. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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    Not bad but a little homogenous. I prefer this one as it's got a little bit of everything:

     
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  16. Tobias Von Lanthen

    Tobias Von Lanthen SS.org Regular

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    Oh that's a good one! Thank you! Especially the hammer on one seems like fun!
     
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  17. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I'm mixed, at best, when it comes to slow speed slowly increasing metronome work. I did a LOT of this in my youth, with decidedly mixed success. I think it has its place, especially when it comes to fretting hand accuracy... but if this was all it takes to become a good shredder, then pretty much the whole of the internet would be shred monsters. We're not, which is a pretty good reason to call some of that conventional wisdom into question.

    I think Troy Grady has the right of it, when it comes to faster playing, that a lot of the challenges that come with faster alternate picking (and I would add to a lesser extent legato, where muscular independence of fingers comes into play and there's only so much you can improve before you're hitting biological walls) don't really exist at slower speeds, so if all you do is practice slow you're not actually practicing any of the mechanics (namely, however your body figures out how to get the pick up and over the strings to facilitate string changes) that you need to play fast, and at least some "fast but sloppy" playing is necessary for figuring out how to do some of this stuff.

    So, I'd strongly recommend watching some of the Cracking the Code stuff, though keeping in mind the web series, while awesome and a lot of fun, is very much focused on Yngwie Malmsteen and Eric Johnson, who by chance both evolved pretty similar mechanical approaches (weirdly so, in fact) to do very, very different things, and there are more than one way to skin a cat (speaking for myself, I use the same sort of slanted mechanic that they do, but in the inverse, where my pickstroke escapes on downstrokes, not upstrokes, and I have a bit of a rotational mechanic that feels like I'm "cocking" or "winding up" my picking hand when I need to escape on an upstroke, which is a combination not all that dissimilar to what they see MAB doing in their analysis of his playing - again, which is weird, since our styles are nothing at all alike, but probably makes sense in that it's a pretty effective combination).

    Then, taking that insight, and figuring out how YOUR pickstroke works, will go a long way towards working out what sort of licks work well for you and are good "shred" runs, and what sort won't. Yngwie is a stuggle for me, for example, because while he has a very "complete" set of motions, they're basically the mirror inverse of my own, so it's tough for me to do some of the stuff that's effortless for him. Ditto with Johnson, which you wouldn'y expect, because as a shred-ish guy rooted in blues and rock, you'd think superficially we would be more akin. But, on the other hand, stuff like the fast run from the Technical Difficulties intro, what Troy refers to as the "Gilbert 6s" motif, while doing it at Gilbert's tempo is a challenge for me, that basic pattern is something that is pretty easy for me and I've spun tons of variations of it, even before I actually knew what I was doing or why some of those runs were easy for me.

    So, I guess spend some time figuring out how your pickstroke works, and what it's optimized for and what it isn't, and start to buuld out a vocabulary of tings that ARE efficient for you. That's the best advice I can give.

    (fretting hand, by the way... your finger independence between your 3rd and 4th finger, no matter HOW much you drill it, is never going to be great. You will never trill faster between 3 and 4 than you will between 1 and 2 or 1 and 3. For fairly "linear" movements that's not a problem - you can do a 1-3-4-1-3-4 pattern fairly efficiently over and over, but trying to do 1-3-4-3-1-3-4-3 over and over is mechanically very hard and very inefficient. 1-2-4-2-1-2-4-2 however is much smoother since your 1st, 2nd, and 4th fingers are all controlled by different groups of muscles, and since the human hand evolved with a focus on grasping, 1-2-4-1-2-4 is about as efficient a pattern of fingers as your body can make. After someone with a good undestanding of the biology of the human hand explained this stuff to me, I started to change up a lot of my fretting hand chouces and rely a LOT more on 1-2-4 combinations than I used to, and it's made a huge impact in the "liquidity" of my playing. Focusing on finding a fretting hand posture where your hand is relaxed and has no default-position tightness baked into it helps a lot too.)
     
  18. Emperoff

    Emperoff Not using 5150s Contributor

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    I have this approach that I read somewhere ages ago and I still think it's quite useful.

    - Get your excercise of choice and your metronome. Start slow and rise 5bpm/run.
    - You'll get to a point where you will start making mistakes, but still being able to play the lick. Repeat step 1 until you just can't play it at all.
    - Then move your way backwards and lower the metronome 5bpm/run until you reach the point where you can play the excercise comfortably without making mistakes.
    - You'll realize that point is higher in tempo than it was before. Do a few runs without rising bpm (3-5) to let your brain retain well executed (and not sloppy) motions.
    - Move to something else!

    This logic teaches your brain to play accurately and push your limits at the same time.

    Of course this is useful to build up speed or memorize patterns/scales. It doesn't add up to musical context. So be sure to mix what you practiced with other techniques over a backing track, your band, etc.
     
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  19. Lopp

    Lopp SS.org Regular

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    I love the concept of that exercise and look forward to trying it.

    Some players can get stuck because of all the advice emphasizing playing a riff cleanly before increasing speed. Thus, they keep practicing at slow speeds to avoid practicing mistakes. However, the body adapts when it is pushed, so you should sometimes practice at faster speeds past the point of which you are making little mistakes. This gets your body used to the mechanics of playing at the faster speed, which can become quite different from mechanics used to play at slow speeds.

    This sometimes gets frustrating when making so many mistakes while trying to play fast cleanly. Your tip about repeating step 1 until you cannot play at all is great, as well as reducing the tempo back to retain accuracy.
     
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  20. Dushan S

    Dushan S SS.org Regular

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    I started long ago with with bad VHS copies of Vinnie Moore and Paul Gilbert stuff (It was only possible to get blurry pirated copies in my country at the time) :)
    As others have said, using metronome and making sure to playing cleanly is important.

    Through the years of giving lessons there are some things I have noticed people tend to miss when working on their shredding abilities:
    - you should practice your patterns by starting also on count 2 3 and 4, not only on 1. Also play them as 2/4/8 notes on the beat but also try to play 3/6 notes on the beat.
    - when you learn a pattern, or a lick, play it through all the shapes and positions. I would use one key as my basic starting position, usually A minor, so I can "connect" new stuff with old knowledge easier, but after I got it, it is a good idea to practice stuff in different keys and places on the neck
    - some people tend to practice patterns separately, that is OK in the beginning, but try to make up your own exercises by mixing two different patterns or licks and move that up and down the neck or up and down through the scale in same position.
    - even when shredding have in mind what scale degrees are you playing and why lick sounds like it sounds, what notes it uses. That will help you to use it in a meaningful way when composing a solo or improvising
    - when learning lick or pattern, do not just learn it blindly and leave it at that. Think about what it implies and are there possibilities to turn it around, modify it. Play it in reverse. replace some notes. Play it stretched. Modify it so it uses string skipping. If it is legato try to pick it and vice versa, etc.
    - If you are learning new solo, analyze it and cut it into pieces where every piece is a lick. Than use those licks as material for practicing, play them in different positions etc. In that way, you will incorporate something new into your music vocabulary. I have seen to often guys who play amazing stuff note for note live, and then when it comes time for improvising, it becomes obvious that all the stuff they learned to play doesn't comes through in improvisation or their own solos.
    - some people neglect pentatonic stuff, but make sure to learn it and then add a twist to it by adding some additional notes, 2nd, dorian 6th etc, and mix it in with other stuff if you don't want to sound like Zakk Wylde or whatever.
    - shredding is nice but make sure that you know how to bend, that bends are in tune and vibrato sounds great. Nothing looks worst to me than a guy shredding thousands of notes and then ending solo with a amateurish bending note with a bad vibrato.
    - record videos of yourself with a phone, and record improvisations over backing track on your DAW, and analyze after. What is good and what is wrong? What works and what not?
    There is more but these are first things coming to my mind. I hope some of this is useful!
     

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