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Ben Higgins
post Jan 8 2012, 06:10 PM
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Sunday 8th Jan 2012: Hey Geezers ! Guitar time has been sporadic lately but for the last 2 days it's been very cool cool.gif. I was inspired by something I read about called sprints. I know very little about this but I imagine Dark Dude and some others could shed some more info on the subject. In the book, Waking Dragons, the author, who is a karate practicioner, is training very hard for something called a 30 Man Kumite. Kumite is basically a one on one fight. A 30 man Kumite is where you have to fight 30 man one after the other. In this case, a short break was allowed after the first 10 and then 20. In this particular style of Karate, Goju Ryu, the kumite rules are: full contact punches to the body are allowed but not the head whilst full contact kicks are allowed to the body, legs and head. Serious knockouts do happen.

Anyway, I digress... he had to train for something which would require him to operate at a high stress level for about 30 mins. Part of his routine included sprints.. sprinting at full speed for about 400 metres. Resting, then doing it again for about 5 sets. Our bodies can only operate at maximum output for a very short time. Sprints was his way of slightly increasing that so he could perform at high pressure, with very little oxygen making it through his bloodstream and adrenaline on high alert.

This made me think about something I sometimes do, with the speed bursts on guitar. However, I approached it with more enthusiasm and faith than before. You all know about my picking approach by now so I concentrated on my fretting hand leading the way and maintaining total relaxation all over.. I nudged the metronome up to 150bpm, playing 16th note triplets on one string. I did short bursts that were only just manageable. After a while of that, did I go back down in speed ? Hell no, I went up to 160 bpm and did the same. I had to concentrate insanely hard on my left hand . The faster and harder things became, the more I relaxed.

Today I did the same thing.. when things got hard I just put the speed up even higher.. to 170bpm. Totally ludicrous speeds that seem totally unattainable (when you consider MAB's top speed was recorded at 165bpm for 16th note triplets). However, if you concentrate hard on being in the moment and being in time.. you can manage it for 1 or 2 bursts of a 3 note lick.

If it only does one thing, it gives you the experience of being in the super high altitudes, where the super shredders dwell... and if we know one thing, then we know that repeated exposure to new levels eventually desensitizes us to them and they become our new comfort zone. Not only that, but we stop fearing these 'untouchable numbers' because we keep exposing ourselves to them. So, if the idea of Muris's Extreme Neo Classic scares the hell outta you at 150bpm, then notch the metronome up to 160bpm until 150bpm doesn't seem so bad anymore ! If 160bpm feels too hard.. good. Go to 170bpm until no number on the metronome makes you feel like you're not allowed to attempt it !

Remember, it's about gradually exposing yourselves to the situations that previously intimidated you until they feel normal. If you want to be fast, think faster.

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Jan 8 2012, 06:12 PM


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dark dude
post Jan 8 2012, 06:54 PM
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A valid method, for sure.

Shawn Lane spoke about how this way of thinking helped him gain speed (http://youtu.be/DhkbSBxPYcU), and Steve Vai has spoken about the "become what you want to be" mindset (http://youtu.be/atGBKuCJ-Jc) - it isn't something to be ignored!

As Ben said, playing above your level for short amount of time is beneficial. Even if you can only play it a handful of times at that silly speed, you've still accomplished that level. Remembering quality over quantity here, the method shouldn't be applied day in, day out for long periods of time, as some of the sloppy playing you'll definately encounter may work its way into your technique.

In time, if you can persuade yourself that you can play it faster, you will.You'll overcome those mental blocks, your hands will be more relaxed, and you'll find that things will flow a whole lot better.


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Ben Higgins
post Jan 8 2012, 08:11 PM
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QUOTE (dark dude @ Jan 8 2012, 05:54 PM) *
A valid method, for sure.

Shawn Lane spoke about how this way of thinking helped him gain speed (http://youtu.be/DhkbSBxPYcU), and Steve Vai has spoken about the "become what you want to be" mindset (http://youtu.be/atGBKuCJ-Jc) - it isn't something to be ignored!

As Ben said, playing above your level for short amount of time is beneficial. Even if you can only play it a handful of times at that silly speed, you've still accomplished that level. Remembering quality over quantity here, the method shouldn't be applied day in, day out for long periods of time, as some of the sloppy playing you'll definately encounter may work its way into your technique.

In time, if you can persuade yourself that you can play it faster, you will.You'll overcome those mental blocks, your hands will be more relaxed, and you'll find that things will flow a whole lot better.


I finally got around to watching that Shawn Lane vid again.. I'd seen it a long time ago but it was really good to catch up with it again. It definitely goes to show that different approaches work for different people. I guess it all comes down to putting yourself to work and listening to yourself all the time.. go with what works (if it feels good, not forced) and trust it smile.gif His picking was seriously phenomenal though, wasn't it ?



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JaxN4
post Jan 9 2012, 01:31 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jan 8 2012, 07:11 PM) *
I finally got around to watching that Shawn Lane vid again.. I'd seen it a long time ago but it was really good to catch up with it again. It definitely goes to show that different approaches work for different people. I guess it all comes down to putting yourself to work and listening to yourself all the time.. go with what works (if it feels good, not forced) and trust it smile.gif His picking was seriously phenomenal though, wasn't it ?



Such a great point, and good links to the YT vids. I totally agree, the method 1 person has used may not work for the next, I guess its about finding the right way for you. Try everything and see what works best for you.....


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Ben Higgins
post Jan 9 2012, 10:03 AM
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QUOTE (JaxN4 @ Jan 9 2012, 12:31 AM) *
Such a great point, and good links to the YT vids. I totally agree, the method 1 person has used may not work for the next, I guess its about finding the right way for you. Try everything and see what works best for you.....


Go on and crank that metro' to 300 bpm today Jordan !! \m/ cool.gif


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 14 2012, 08:44 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jan 9 2012, 10:03 AM) *
Go on and crank that metro' to 300 bpm today Jordan !! \m/ cool.gif


Now I noticed why I don't play as fast.. My metronome only goes to 240bpm tongue.gif biggrin.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Jan 20 2012, 03:24 PM
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Friday 20th Jan 2012 Even though the days are cold and my hands are almost numb I'm still managing to get in some practice. I've been getting in about an hour every day for the last week.

I've widened my focus to include alternate picking, down strokes and sweeps.

Although the licks I practice seem to change a lot (just in the time you've been reading this journal) my approach remains the same: to constantly reach and marinate in the edge of the comfort zone whilst retaining a good, relaxed technique.

Before I was spending a lot of time practising ultra fast bursts which was beneficial for explosive, short tiny licks but in terms of increasing my general top picking speed, I needed to go back down to speeds where I could maintain the picking motion for more than 6,7 or 8 picks of the string.

Currently, I'm using an ascending and descending pattern on the high E string, which is played in straight 16th notes. My goal is to follow the same advice I give everybody else - to give yourself small, achievable goals in order to ensure progress and stay motivated. If I can make an increase of 5bpm a week then that's brilliant but 2 or 3bpm is great. I don't want to jinx things by writing them openly but so far, so good. smile.gif


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pikman
post Jan 24 2012, 12:35 PM
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Hi Ben,what is on tap for todays lesson bro?
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Ben Higgins
post Feb 3 2012, 12:37 PM
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Friday 03 Feb 2012 : Working on a level 8 GMC lesson by a former instructor. It's a great piece of music and a real challenge. However, I've got to work hard on my nemesis, which is sweep picking. More specifically, 3 string sweeps. Give me 5 or 6 string sweeps any day but 3 string sweeps are just evil. mad.gif I think it's the changing of direction in such short spaces of time that make it so damn hard.

Oh well, back to the grind stone ! biggrin.gif


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pikman
post Feb 7 2012, 03:14 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 3 2012, 11:37 AM) *
Friday 03 Feb 2012 : Working on a level 8 GMC lesson by a former instructor. It's a great piece of music and a real challenge. However, I've got to work hard on my nemesis, which is sweep picking. More specifically, 3 string sweeps. Give me 5 or 6 string sweeps any day but 3 string sweeps are just evil. mad.gif I think it's the changing of direction in such short spaces of time that make it so damn hard.

Oh well, back to the grind stone ! biggrin.gif

You are not kidding on 3 string sweeps bro....i also have that problem.....it is the the direction of the pick....some guys slice the stings while others pick head on.....i watched Jeff Loomis sweep pick and it is insane!

Also Ben forgot to ask what is on for today Feb.7.......
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Ben Higgins
post Feb 7 2012, 04:54 PM
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QUOTE (pikman @ Feb 7 2012, 02:14 PM) *
You are not kidding on 3 string sweeps bro....i also have that problem.....it is the the direction of the pick....some guys slice the stings while others pick head on.....i watched Jeff Loomis sweep pick and it is insane!

Also Ben forgot to ask what is on for today Feb.7.......


For the video chat ? Have you seen my latest Racer X Collab ?

http://www.guitarmasterclass.net/guitar_fo...mp;#entry568159

I'm going to be talking about this, trying some ideas etc cool.gif


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pikman
post Feb 7 2012, 05:17 PM
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yeah dude that is killer! i have no video just audio at the moment.is that ok? just to send in audio?
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Ben Higgins
post Feb 7 2012, 06:24 PM
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QUOTE (pikman @ Feb 7 2012, 04:17 PM) *
yeah dude that is killer! i have no video just audio at the moment.is that ok? just to send in audio?


Yeah, I'll need to put something in the video though during your take so maybe a still pic of you playing ?


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Ben Higgins
post Feb 22 2012, 11:33 AM
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Tuesday 22nd Feb- I've been busy with juggling several different things that needed practice. A couple of them were GMC lessons that have now been recorded !

I've gone back to practising not only the first diminished lick I posted in this thread but also the rest of that solo of mine. It's a very physical and exhausting piece for sure !

Aside from that, I've been playing around with some Vinnie Moore style ascending and descending patterns on the high E string.

Check it out at 4:15.. it's similar to this kind of thing except I go up 3 sequences, step back one and then ascend 2 again, step back 1 etc..



It's good for building speed and really tests your synchronisation to the limit. I like it because you can focus most of your concentration on the left hand and allow the right hand to be more relaxed whilst still pushing its boundaries of speed.

I previously had a tempo barrier that I couldn't seem to pass. I took a deviation from my normal approach of not focusing on the picking hand and I focused all my attention on it instead. I realised that I wasn't really trying to keep the tip of the pick as close the string as possible. I was just moving my hand faster as the tempo got faster. Instead I just concentrated on keeping the pick in as close to the string as possible and fighting the urge to let the hand movements get bigger.

This stuff seems so obvious but sometimes you're so close to the picture you can't see it. It's a bit like using a big road drill. When it's in use it shakes and vibrates and you have to try hard to keep it as still as you can.

As you pick faster, the pick wants to travel further away from the string as you put more effort in and you have to put the effort in to stop it from moving too far.

Anyway, I managed to break my barrier so I can go back to my previous approach of left hand leading !! smile.gif

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Feb 22 2012, 11:34 AM


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Ben Higgins
post Feb 24 2012, 02:56 PM
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Friday 23rd Feb - Nice little session today. With my 'drive with the fretting hand' approach I've always been puzzled how to make it work with the bottom E string. With the other strings it's easy enough to string together some 3 note per string shapes that you can repeat. However on the low E, repeating 3 note per string patterns just felt awkward and sapped my energy quicker than I could blink. Training speed by just blasting on one note doesn't allow you to shift focus away from your picking hand because your left hand isn't doing anything which is why you need a moving pattern to focus on.

Ah ! The light bulb went on in my head.. the 1,2,3,4 chromatic patterns that everybody learns way back when starting alternate picking. I must admit that I've never enjoyed those types of exercises but until now, I've never seen the benefit of them.

Due to using 4 fingers in a flowing motion, you use less energy than if you were using 3 fingers because the work gets divided between all 4. So, now I've got my pattern that I can move up and down on the E string and I can focus all my attention on the fretting hand, thus keeping the picking hand relaxed. Bingo !

I'm ascending from the 1st fret to the 12tth fret using index, middle, ring and picky and then descending using pinky, ring, middle and index. I'm doing 8 reps at each position and then moving up or down a semitone. The ascending part is pretty damn tricky, more than I thought it would be so I'm hovering around 155, 160, 165 bpm 16th notes. Not bad for the first day at trying it but I'm hoping it's going to crack the problem of applying my approach to the bottom E string.


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Ben Higgins
post Feb 29 2012, 12:28 PM
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Weds 29th Feb : One thing I noticed whilst playing through the chromatic pattern was that as I increased the tempo and the speed became more demanding, my pick was slipping so that I was holding the pick closer to the tip. At first, this felt uncomfortable so I kept changing it back. After a while I though thought that maybe it's telling me 'This is where I want to be' so I just went with it.

It was awkward at first because I'm not used to having my thumb/finger etc so close the the strings but it didn't take long to get used to it. Holding the pick closer to the tip means that it forces your wrist to move more, engaging the correct muscles.

Some of you will be thinking 'Errr..... yeah, Ben that's all really obvious stuff' and I know people are always saying about holding the pick closer to the tip but sometimes you just need to be whacked on the head by something at the right time ! If you're not in the right, receptive place to receive the information then it may be wasted. Things happen at certain times for a reason and all that..... wink.gif


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pikman
post Feb 29 2012, 12:56 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 29 2012, 11:28 AM) *
Weds 29th Feb : One thing I noticed whilst playing through the chromatic pattern was that as I increased the tempo and the speed became more demanding, my pick was slipping so that I was holding the pick closer to the tip. At first, this felt uncomfortable so I kept changing it back. After a while I though thought that maybe it's telling me 'This is where I want to be' so I just went with it.

It was awkward at first because I'm not used to having my thumb/finger etc so close the the strings but it didn't take long to get used to it. Holding the pick closer to the tip means that it forces your wrist to move more, engaging the correct muscles.

Some of you will be thinking 'Errr..... yeah, Ben that's all really obvious stuff' and I know people are always saying about holding the pick closer to the tip but sometimes you just need to be whacked on the head by something at the right time ! If you're not in the right, receptive place to receive the information then it may be wasted. Things happen at certain times for a reason and all that..... wink.gif

that is so true dude.i have trouble holding the pick close to the tip but when you do you definitely get more control.i have seen guys rip without holding it close so both approaches are great but that chromatic exercise is taken for granted but when you dig in and discipline yourself it will reward you and the vinnie moore video is great.... the whole thing is on you tube somewhere.if you want the link let me know Ben.............i have missed your lessons a lot lately.just nursing my finger back to health,it spilt right at the tip of my index finger so i had to take a break...but anyway man thank you for the inspiration..........
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dark dude
post Feb 29 2012, 03:05 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 29 2012, 11:28 AM) *
Some of you will be thinking 'Errr..... yeah, Ben that's all really obvious stuff' and I know people are always saying about holding the pick closer to the tip but sometimes you just need to be whacked on the head by something at the right time ! If you're not in the right, receptive place to receive the information then it may be wasted. Things happen at certain times for a reason and all that..... wink.gif

Aye, so many vital tips like this go unnoticed all too frequently. It's little things like this that bump your playing to another level!


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Ben Higgins
post Mar 2 2012, 01:52 PM
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Friday 2nd March : I've added a new challenge to my practice routine... I'm going to learn Gabriel's Yngwie lesson http://www.guitarmasterclass.net/solo-guit...msteen-lesson2/

There's lots of nice string crossing licks. I've been playing patterns lick this for years and years but I've never really tightened up my string crossing technique so this will be putting it to the test for sure ! smile.gif


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JaxN4
post Mar 2 2012, 02:13 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Mar 2 2012, 10:22 PM) *
Friday 2nd March : I've added a new challenge to my practice routine... I'm going to learn Gabriel's Yngwie lesson http://www.guitarmasterclass.net/solo-guit...msteen-lesson2/

There's lots of nice string crossing licks. I've been playing patterns lick this for years and years but I've never really tightened up my string crossing technique so this will be putting it to the test for sure ! smile.gif



Good on you mate... It's a great challenge that Im sure your ready for....

It will be a good journey to read about it in this thread.


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