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Interesting about the processed sugar. I regular eat 12 French Fancies plus three chocolate bars at a sitting (Work outdoors doing a physical job and there isn't that much to me). I looked at the RDA on the packet the other day and apparently one french fancy is 25 or 30% of your RDA sugar intake so I wonder if I'm setting myself up for type 2 diabetes. lol. Seriously my liver is knackered and I don't drink anymore, I wonder if it's the sugar. Luckily I smoke 20 cigs a day to counter any serious ill effects.
But anyway how does sugar affect your playing then? Just your train of thought or hyper lows and highs and fatigue or what? I think manic depression is just a part of my personality so why fight it? Although I am very methodological and analylitical myself, my pet hate is overly banal and composed people, especially when it comes to music, which I prefer for it's spontaneous and expressive qualities, rather than it's rehearsed technicalities. As even if you are playing fast, you should still be expressing something and your mood can change from hour to hour, let alone week to week.
I always find that the cleanest, fastest picking comes from not thinking about the notes, just thinking about what kind of sound you want. I mean you look to see where you are going next up the board to hit the notes, but you don't actually think about picking or your fingerings and there could be a lot of notes in there, but really it depends on the intervals, the maj/min mix etc. and what notes you land on.
I find that playing straight scales fast with three, four or five is next to useless in aiding the nest level progression of locking down picking co-ordination and speed alone, unless perhaps it is a two note per string Pentatonic or something.
Practicing picking two notes per string in a pentatonic in a single position over all the strings really helps co-ordination at speed, especially when changing from triplets or quadruplets to two notes and making them all sound smooth and as one kind of unit.
Also, I find going up (And down) scales in stepped patterns helps lock my brain much more effectively than just scalar runs. Picking like four notes of a scale from the route, then back to four notes one note up from the route, then four notes, two notes up from the rout etc. Also working your way up scales ilike this in a similar 'Adagio for Strings' kind of way improves your mental picking clarity/co-ordination far better. So patterns win over scales IMO.
For some reason I can go down scales in this kind of stepped progressions/patterns at supersonic speeds but going up is alot harder, going down it actually feels lke gravity is helping me, it's very weird, but I think it's ust the way the hand muscles are figured.
One other thing to improve speed is is to play licks that have always presented themselves as difficult. Like three picks per string, then down to the next string with two and then one on the next.
Going up scales or stepped progressions/patterns I always find I do two down picks when changing strings from a downpick on the last, where as everything else is alternate, including changing string from an uppick on the last to a downpick on the next. I don't know why I do this or if it is bad, but it is instinctive and when I try and make everything alternate I am kind of putting more exaggerated work into it and just can't get the speed or fluidity.
But certainly using patterns is more motivating to improve your speed and fluency. Rather than just scale exercises. It's basically just reiterating what others have said about changing and practicing your fingerings. make up your own patterns and then repeat them one step up at a time or whatever, up and down the scale, up and down the octaves, across the strings and up them. Sounds much more musical than scales so are more motivating and are much better for locking in your picking co-ordination and muscle memory as regards fingerings.
I am no shred demon but I always found a sound and certain required tone in notes put together and/or progressing patterns fast or just relative randomnes and sometimes this can be an epic bunch of notes over a 20 or 30 second run, but I always found I was one, two or three notes over at the end, missing the beat on the last bit. So to remedy this weakness, you want to practice doing something odd at the end of what you are used to so your picking becomes more dynamic and adaptable. It's what I did and it's where practicing picking two notes per string, cleanly executing difficult riffs in a phrasing that just goes against your brain grain and practicing patterns that you find really hard to remember the phrasing of, mainly in your head, rather than your fingers, really pays off so you can hit the beat at the end when randomly shredding, without adding any rests or bodgy bends to cover yourself.
That said my personal musical preference is for tone and bodgy bends however, as to me it sounds more musical and I hate these scooped and toneless, modern metal tones and I love bright and clean stratty sounds or high mids 80's rock tones. Still it's good to know where your faults lie and try to do something to correct them. Often it just comes down to an achilles heel in not being able to pick a simple and specific two or three note change in strings or fingerings fluently, rather than anything more complicated and the things I find that really sets your fluency at speed back is your head not being able to remember the phrasing and tonality of groups of notes, not your fingers or fingerings at all. So it definitely comes from your head and not your fingers and hearing and anticipating the tonality of groups of notes at speed only comes from being able to play them unfortunately so to an extent it's a catch 22.
This has been my experience and I still wing it and play too hard.
EDIT: So in conclusion, basically my advice, from years of trying to correct a bodgy technique born out of TAB books, rewinding tape cassettes, slowing down records and getting Grade three on the classical in my youth, to improve your speed, would be to just relax and try and concentrate on hearing the tonality and voice of the progressing notes, rather than concentrating on your fingers or picking.
I really love classical guitar as an expressive instrument and it's relatively easy to pick up a speedy technique with finger picking as well once you can finger the notes, but as I bite my nails the tone and consistancy I acheive just doesn't offer me the motivation to progress further on it so I mostly just look at it or play compositions sometimes. Progressing on the guitar, it's all about getting the tone and motivation to play, speed is no different I reckon in my eyes. You have to hear it and feel it to play it, you can't just go at it with a 2 dimensional view as even if you get really fast, you'll still, ultimately be shit and you'll know it. Or maybe not judging by the amount of YouTube shredding heroes about.
My biggest regret is not knowing or hearing that twenty odd years ago.....and Nirvana, Feckin Assholes! lol. Mickey Rourke was right about that one.
Last edited by sambostar; 12th March 2013 at 09:50 AM.
Methinks there might be a link between the huge amounts of processed sugar you're eating and that gigantic wall of text, Sambostar! :shock:
Cheers Sambostar, some good ways of mixing up the drudgery of scales there. You may not play guitar for a while now though after suffering from writers cramp
Your thoughts do echo mine slightly though as I am not after pure speed alone as the highlight of my playing style. It's just I want to go up a couple of notches for the odd part now and again.
I emphasise more on sustaining, bending, phrasing, touch and dynamics etc. I am also putting myself through the rigourous challenge of trying to move from "Shape" based playing to actually thinking about each chord I am soloing over and just as importantly I am looking at chord progs in certain styles of music and transcribing difficult songs with complex chord structures eg "Kid Charlemagne" Steely Dan.
I reckon there is a lot to be learned from that 1 song alone. Like when Larry Carlton knew he was going to have to compose or even improvise the solo for that song, he just sort of knew basically what to play straight away and exactly what he was playing over. That is my true goal, the speed is just icing on the cake. There we go mentioning sugar again
Oh and I'm also going headfirst into Funk Rhythm Guitar. Boy have I got my work cut out.