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Tips for overcoming speed plateaus

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MickeyMickey, Apr 11, 2006.


  1. MickeyMickey

    MickeyMickey

    Dec 17, 2005
    This entire semester I've been working on increasing my accuracy and speed, and I've made tremendous progress. But for the past 3-4 weeks I've been stuck around the same tempo in speed.

    Usually towards the end of practice I'll do chromatic exercises and slowly go higher and higher with the metronome. Right now, I'm stuck around 125-135 bpm for 16th notes, and I'm finding it difficult to get much faster than that.

    Does anyone have any tips for overcoming plateaus such as mine?
     
  2. bassling

    bassling

    Mar 3, 2006
    Just keep at it. Practice just as you have before and you will get faster.
    The better you get, the harder it becomes to get better.

    If that made any sense...
     
    jaff likes this.
  3. emblymouse

    emblymouse Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2006
    W'Sconsin
    Lakland Artist Endorser
    Change something. Like the time of day you practice or even the location. Try altering your inner metronome through physical activity, THEN try playing. 135 bpm might seem slower to you. Shake it up!
     
  4. I find that I get confused at high speeds when I try to think about individual plucks, but when I group them I can go faster.
     
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    My best guess would be to give it a break for a while. Maybe start working on something else, a different style of music - scales and riffs that challenge you more than what you're currently doing.

    I'm working on some fast stuff right now (taking a break in fact) and I'm finding that the speed comes only with patience. I have to play things at a comfortable speed, and progress real slowly. Once my fingers memorize the progressions, the speed just comes. Something I also did was put a little bit of a bow in the neck of the bass I use in the house, and raised the action. It strenghtens my hands and when I get on the Bongo it comes a lot easier.

    The stuff I'm currently learning is also showing me some of my weak spots so it's good that I get to work muscles I'm not used to. I needed in one riff to do pulloffs with my middle finger and pinky. Never realized how weak I was at that. Don't know where you're at with playing, but trying to do triplets at a reasonable speed on the 2nd and 4th fret with those fingers is a beeoch for me. As my hand strengthens on that, I know that so will my overall speed.
     
  6. charic

    charic

    Apr 17, 2006
    Cambridge
    You didnt mention how your picking, i.e. downstroke downstroke downstroke etc.... if so this is a slower way to play, you could always try alternate picking (down up down up) which can be a right pain in the a** to get rite but can be useful especially for annoying guitarists when they try to play faster than you. Altho my favourite trick to annoy my guitarist by speed is that ive found a new way of playing (well for me atleast) which is similar to slap but using ur fingertips instead, so i have for extremely fast fingers hitting one after the other.

    Its just funny when he realises hes been beat again lol. By the way i thought up this method when i decided to try and bring ideas across from keyboard playing
     
  7. MickeyMickey

    MickeyMickey

    Dec 17, 2005
    I'm not using a pick. I'm using 2 fingers.
     
  8. What works for me when i get stuck is trying to play the piece/ exercise at a BPM that is about 20 higher than the one i am stuck at, ofcourse it comes out super sloppy and not good at all, but when i go back to the BPM i am stuck at it sounds and feels so much slower than the higher tempo that i can actually play it.. wierd huh? well it works for me, give it a try.
     
  9. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Generic input: join a band that has fast parts. I joined a doomy/stoner metal band, and I was expecting slow/mid tempo riffs, there are some pretty fast parts, but the band progressed faster. At first, I was just barely keeping up... now I'm writing some parts that are too fast for the guitarists. Playing with a loud drummer helps.
     
  10. That's a tough one. I think we all have some max speed that takes a lot of work to break through. Just a guess from reading a lot is to think about cross training. At some point the strength and flexibility of your fingers, hand, and forearm get in the way. Exercises that develop these things more than playing develops them does might help. I'd research that a bit and see what is out there. The idea to play faster than you can for short bursts is a good one. Athletes do that to develop fast twitch muscle fibers.

    Another option is to adjust technique. Simply as an example (since you are not picking), I watched an Eric Johnson guitar video where he showed a completely different picking motion than most players use that helps increase speed (circle picking for those interested). Maybe a lighter touch, slightly more bend to the fingers, or a different angle of attack would help. What works probably varies per player.

    Last thought is to change the tension on your strings. Maybe thicker sets (heavier tension) or thinner sets (lighter tension) would help. There is probably a sweet spot for speed.
     
  11. chaosMK

    chaosMK

    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    A 35" scale bass might help with your speed. It tends to keep the strings slightly more tense.

    Maybe try and practice alternate picking patterns. For example, the reverise of whatever you are doing. That has helped me quite a bit in the last few years, for gaining overall control and facility.

    If that doesnt work, learn how to use 4 fingers. :D
     
  12. HumanClay

    HumanClay

    Dec 19, 2005
    Australia
    didnt have time to read all posts and im not sure if somebody has already said it, but a good way to get your speed up is to practice scales (with a metronome) this helps alot
     
  13. MickeyMickey

    MickeyMickey

    Dec 17, 2005
    So, I took the advice of Joe Nerve and decided to give the speed exercises a break for a week or two, and concentrate on my string skipping and other chromatic exercises I do. Oddly enough, this worked. Concentrating on those two exercises has resulted in me being able to do both of them faster, and the other day when I started to do speed exercises again, things were a lot easier. I'm now getting getting very accurate at close to 140 and I hope to be able to do the same scales at 150bpm in a few weeks.

    That pretty much goes without saying. I play chromatic exercises and scales to a metronome to build speed.
     

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