Sunday, August 3, 2014

Speed is the product of lazyness: Guitar techniques, shredding and rhythm (Guitar practice)

Is speed the product of lazyness?

This may sounds controversial or paradoxical, but it’s true indeed. Watch your favourite guitarist (here in the vid there’s Guthrie Govan with his wonderful Waves) and look carefully at his hands.
It seems they are not moving as they should: there are way to many notes coming out from such a few movements. Accuracy which is the base of speed - that's why we practice slow - somehow incorporates lazyness. In particular:

picking hand: there’s almost no motion, even when alternate picking gets really intense;
fretting hand: all the fingers are close to the strings and the frets.

It takes time to recognize which fret is fretting and how the picking hand is moving. I remember watching a video by Michael Romeo of Symphony X in which it was hard to figure out which fingers were fretting and which were not.

Unfortunately, this laziness is something you need to train. Here are two tips on what to focus.

picking hand: limit the motion, keep it short, do not wave the pick, move on a stright line (sweep picking helps you a lot to build this perpendicular to the strings approach, which does not imply that your picking angle has to be flat);

fretting hand: to not throw away your fingers once you fret a note. Keep them down close to the neck.

Concerning the picking hand, here is a practical list to start working on the perpendicular lazy approach:

1. grab your guitar and assume your picking position;
2. determine the area of the guitar in which you spend most of the time picking (if you have troubles, play a lick or exercise or song and find out). Consider this as a useful occasion to record yourself playing;
3. draw a line perpendicular to the strings on the body of your guitar, so that you can visualize your picking line (you can use some tape or refer to some line between the pickups. Mind your guitar body if you have some good guitar or if you are a Strat-purist);
4. to track your progresses, take a marker or highlighter and draw the same line, this time on your strings. The more you pick there the more it should go away (I've been told violin and viola players have to erase the marks while learning the fretting positions;
5. enjoy your practice and try to concentrate on your picking line. This shall also help to focus on making shorter movements, improving your lazyness and accuracy.

Ron Thal / Bumblefoot / Buckethead
[image source:]

Take a look at this wonderfull guitar lesson by Bumblefoot / Ron Thal on in which he stress how important it is to play with the beat at... 40 bpm.
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