Left hand is slow as f*uck

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Im starting to learn how to play faster. My picking technique is ok, getting there, but my left hand fingers are slow...really slow. I watch videos by Andy James and he just sits there thrashing out these super shreds and just expects you to crack on. The usual "start off comfortable and work up"...does that really work though? Feeling like it won't happen atm, any advice?
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7020
    Well best to start with an honest assessment of where you are now, and what’s holding you back.

    In terms of fretting hand technique, speed will require a light touch. As in if you’re gripping the neck hard or putting unnecessary pressure into fretting that will slow you down.

    There’s also efficiency of movement, which as a concept is self explanatory but it does take time to develop so your fingers aren’t flailing around needlessly.

    In terms of practising slow to play fast there are some split opinions on the topic.

    Personally I do subscribe to the practice slow and clean method. But I think it can pay off to approach it like physical exercise training, and give yourself some short sprints afterwards.

    So an example might be to spend 10 minutes on some exercises slow to a click, focussing on accuracy and technique. But then to spend a minute or two testing your top speed for the exercise.

    It doesn’t happen overnight and takes a consistent effort though. Andy James is a beast so it’s a high bar to set yourself, but a similar level of technique is achievable if you invest in it.
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  • Thank you @guitarfishbay I really appreciate that. The grip thing is something that may be an issue actually, I'll take a look later.

    I think as musicians (for want of a better term - that's a term I'd never use to describe myself), we/I expect things to happen overnight, but as you say, it doesn't. Your advice is invaluable, and balanced in terms of speed practice, thank you!
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1863
    edited March 3
    Light touch, low action and as little neck relief as possible certainly help a speedy fretting hand technique
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2926
    edited March 3
    Hands are really stupid and stubborn like donkeys. Repetition is the key really and its more boring than you realise to play fast. You should be spending at least an hour a day running scales and patterns to a metronome.

    I had my teen years to mindlessly practice Satriani and Eric Johnson for months, nowadays I barely find time to maintain basic shreddy speed.
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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 336
    https://youtu.be/6Ft6p6dqWWY

    TLDW: practice playing fast, not perfectly.  Set your metronome beyond the point where you can play the part well.  Just make sure you are playing correctly at a slow speed first.
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7656
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • @meltedbuzzbox looks great, does it encourage speed? Or at least get you to a point where you're playing faster by the end of the year? Think I'll invest in it, thank you.
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7656
    Every exercise covers 3 speeds. Slow, medium and fast. The difficulty increases per week, helps you learn the fret board, multiple musical styles and lots of techniques like country picking, string bends, sweep, legato, tap and other stuff. 
    It's great
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • @meltedbuzzbox amazing, thank you!! Also got my eye on this...https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0634049011/?coliid=IKNX3LKNCA7TX&colid=WJ2DBP9A9CUA&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

    You reckon it's worth getting both if your book covers the fretboard knowledge too?
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7656
    I can only answer from personal experience but I've always had better results staying the course with one book.
    I usually buy a few at a time but inevitably they all end up in a pile while one gets used, otherwise I will be flipping through books at random and not retaining anything pertinent
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18462
    Speed is a byproduct of accuracy.
    Work on accuracy and speed comes with it.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • DLMDLM Frets: 1823
    Feeling like it won't happen atm, any advice?

    You'll need to loose the first part of that! ;) Otherwise you'll never get the motivation together to put in the time required to learn to burn. \m/

    Second part: Small, achievable goals, ramping up. Top-level tuition material/tutors.

    Go here: http://martingoulding.com/lessons/

    Also check out Troy Grady's Cracking the Code (I've still not found time to delve into his forum)

    If you post specific phrases that are frustrating you on here, folks will help out.

    If you want a quick "turbo boost", learn some tapping licks! You can alternate between hands faster than between fingers on one hand. I saw Andy with Angel Vivaldi and was surprised at how much tapping both were using.


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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2743
    Hands are really stupid and stubborn like donkeys. Repetition is the key really and its more boring than you realise to play fast. You should be spending at least an hour a day running scales and patterns to a metronome.

    I had my teen years to mindlessly practice Satriani and Eric Johnson for months, nowadays I barely find time to maintain basic shreddy speed.
    Donkeys are not stupid and stubborn. They know what is right for them and are reluctant to do otherwise. A lot of people could do worse than learn from donkeys!
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • Jedi42Jedi42 Frets: 4
    There was a great book by the late American guitarist Howard Roberts titled Super Chops: Jazz Guitar Technique in 20 Weeks. It basically boils down to playing in 8ths and triplets over a sequence (examples were all provided). 

    You work out your breaking point (the point that you cannot play over the progression in 8ths or triplets without mistakes). You then take 3 marks of the metronome beat going back four days, so if you couldn't play over the progression at 99 bpm, you'd go back three days and start on 90, next day 93, next day 96 then you'd hit the target day of 99. 

    On each day you'd play through the progression for 2 mins without stopping, take a 2 min break, 2mins, 2 mins break, 2 mins...and that was it.

    It had the effect of raising moral and helping you actually see the progress which is often hard to view when you are working on certain techniques.

    Hope this helps and is food for thought.

    Ged 
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2926
    edited March 29
    Rocker said:
    Hands are really stupid and stubborn like donkeys. Repetition is the key really and its more boring than you realise to play fast. You should be spending at least an hour a day running scales and patterns to a metronome.

    I had my teen years to mindlessly practice Satriani and Eric Johnson for months, nowadays I barely find time to maintain basic shreddy speed.
    Donkeys are not stupid and stubborn. They know what is right for them and are reluctant to do otherwise. A lot of people could do worse than learn from donkeys!
    Clarification. Hands are stupid, Rocker and Donkeys are stubbon.
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  • @meltedbuzzbox started Guitar Aerobics on Monday and it's hard but great fun.

    The book gives no indication on whether I should be absolutely perfect in the slow tempo before moving up to the next tempo...should I? I feel like I should.

    Obvioulsy there's only so many hours in a day and I can't dedicate enough of them to getting absolutely perfect the way I'd like in some of the tempo's. Yesterday, I had to compromise a bit and I don't like doing that as I feel I'm only cheating myself.

    Then you've got the added problem of only one lick/exercise per day, I feel like I should practice some of them over a longer period...but then where do you draw the line and move on?

    How do you approach it, if you don't mind me asking?
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  • andypandyp Frets: 190
    I bought Guitar Aerobics after reading this thread. I’ve only done Day 1 so far, but my intention is to stick to it daily as rigidly as I can, but in reality it’s going to be more like 3 or 4 licks a week as I have lessons and stuff I’m already working on. So there’s a lot to fit into my daily 1-2 hours practice time. I’m going to try and force myself to do it every day but my free time to do this is often less than those 1-2 hours, especially at weekends.

    My thinking is that the way this will work for me is that I’ll get some licks quite quickly, some I’ll enjoy, some I won’t and some will be too tough. So I guess I’m going to try and get them all in order but if I’m struggling I’ll park it and move on and try the parked ones later but naturally I’m sure I’ll find if there’s one I don’t like I’ll just leave it. Like you say though, I think it’s worth toughing it out as it will be worth the effort.

    I think I’m going to go and check out Day 2 now.
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7656
    Hello fella. Glad you have picked up the book and like it.
    My time spent on a lick varies. Some are much easier than others. On average I'd say I spend about 20-30 mins at it.
    I think somewhere in the book he encourages 15 mins a day to help you progress. Don't sweat it if you struggle with a particular riff. It will usual be back again the following week with some variation
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • DLMDLM Frets: 1823
    The book gives no indication on whether I should be absolutely perfect in the slow tempo before moving up to the next tempo...should I? I feel like I should.
    Did you watch the video @mixolyd posted? In it, Martin answers your question.

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  • @DLM yeah I did (thank you @mixolyd), I actually managed to catch it before I posted here. Part of me fights against what he's saying though as it doesn't seem right not to perfect it slowly. However, I've found that it is almost easier to play things faster, but it just sounds a bit messy and unwieldy sometimes - so what he's saying makes sense. That guy comes across as really cocky doesn't he! Good job his chops match up! :-)
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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 336
    @DLM yeah I did (thank you @mixolyd), I actually managed to catch it before I posted here. Part of me fights against what he's saying though as it doesn't seem right not to perfect it slowly. However, I've found that it is almost easier to play things faster, but it just sounds a bit messy and unwieldy sometimes - so what he's saying makes sense. That guy comes across as really cocky doesn't he! Good job his chops match up! :-)
    You’re welcome.  My take on it is:

    1. learn very slow so your fingers know what they are trying to do
    2. Go very fast and then progressively faster over time in order to learn the technique for playing fast, after doing this for a while
    3. Go back and play it slow but using the technique from 2.  This is where you perfect it.

    Most of us are skipping step 2. with the result that we never realise that playing fast is actually usually pretty easy and that there are sometimes entirely different techniques necessary for playing fast (mini barres, sweeping, moving several fingers as one wave etc).
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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 336
    edited March 30
    Also: chunking combines well with speed practice.

    https://i.imgur.com/ygIydRn.jpg

    From The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.
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  • DLMDLM Frets: 1823
    @mixolyd That's super cool! It also matches up with a lot of stuff I've picked up over the years.

    I didn't think Martin was cocky, but then I'm really familiar with how Germans behave. They don't see any need to play down their abilities, and others don't expect it, either. He's a highly qualified master of the instrument. He has the paper, the experience and the references to prove it. Of course he can play. He knows it, we know it. I think Brits are different, more self-effacing. I have had to change how I communicate, otherwise people actually get angry at me for playing myself down. Still feels odd to me. (I'm talking more about my professional life than my guitar playing, I'd love to get closer to what Martin can do.)
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  • robertyroberty Frets: 533
    edited April 4
    It's important to eliminate any tension from your left hand (and anywhere else in the body) if you want to get up to high speeds

    This is a great exercise for identifying and correcting tension points and learning to control the different parts of your hand independently from each other:

    https://www.justinguitar.com/en/TE-102-MinimumMovement.php
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