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Ben Higgins
post Mar 2 2012, 02:35 PM
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QUOTE (JaxN4 @ Mar 2 2012, 01:13 PM) *
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.


Cheers ! It'll be fun playing it. I've already learnt the lines etc.. I just need to get it up to speed smile.gif

To help me with the string crossing I isolated the inside and outside picking motions and practiced those. With my new pick holding technique it definitely works the wrist and forearm more. Not only that but I've noticed that I can play for even longer.. after a while of feeling the burn you can take short breaks and then go again but instead of getting harder each time I notice less strain.

There is a limit, of course.. I got to a point where I thought 'That's enough.. don't overdo it' but it felt like the more I pushed it and got it burning, the more warmed up and able to cope it was. Dunno if anybody else notices that ?


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JaxN4
post Mar 2 2012, 02:41 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Mar 2 2012, 11:05 PM) *
Cheers ! It'll be fun playing it. I've already learnt the lines etc.. I just need to get it up to speed smile.gif

To help me with the string crossing I isolated the inside and outside picking motions and practiced those. With my new pick holding technique it definitely works the wrist and forearm more. Not only that but I've noticed that I can play for even longer.. after a while of feeling the burn you can take short breaks and then go again but instead of getting harder each time I notice less strain.

There is a limit, of course.. I got to a point where I thought 'That's enough.. don't overdo it' but it felt like the more I pushed it and got it burning, the more warmed up and able to cope it was. Dunno if anybody else notices that ?



I have noticed that also.... Gabe gave me a bunch of legato licks to smash out, 30 mins min each day, and I started to stop when i feel the burn, but after a few days of doing it now, if i push the burn a lil longer, i notice it does pay off in strength and stamina... it's a fine line of course....


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Ben Higgins
post Mar 2 2012, 02:45 PM
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QUOTE (JaxN4 @ Mar 2 2012, 01:41 PM) *
I have noticed that also.... Gabe gave me a bunch of legato licks to smash out, 30 mins min each day, and I started to stop when i feel the burn, but after a few days of doing it now, if i push the burn a lil longer, i notice it does pay off in strength and stamina... it's a fine line of course....


Indeed.. you just gotta watch out for any sharp pains smile.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Mar 5 2012, 07:34 PM
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Monday 5th March : Really good session today.. and when I thought I was finished I eneded up doing another 30 mins or so.. ! laugh.gif

Am getting used to holding the pick differently and it feels really normal now. Focusing on some inside/outside picking licks over the last 2 days really nudged the speed up in my wrist.

Pretty much every practice day has been different but includes some of the same licks.. I've been warming up with my Picking Arpeggios lesson (which I always play on my own with no backing or metronome), then doing some sweeping.

After that it's alternate picking but I've been varying the licks so I might do 2 days in a row of the same licks and then do another set for the next 2 days. I do the chromatic exercise on the bottom E for top speed every other day.

I've been practising Gabriel's Yngwie lesson and today was much better. All the other picking work I've been doing has been an advantage to playing the runs in this lesson. Really looking forward to filming it ! cool.gif

I've been using a different tone for practice lately. It's a milder, crunch tone which you get on the JVM on the Orange setting of the OD1 channel. The reason I started doing it was to hear things better when practising the chromatic lick instead of a distorted mess.. and it's kind of stuck !! wink.gif

P.S. I'm always doing all this with my 'left hand leading' approach. Really helps keep the picking hand relaxed and makes the inside/outside picking licks much more manageable and effective. If I focused on my picking too much I'd screw up, especially doing inside picking !

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Mar 5 2012, 07:36 PM


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Ben Higgins
post Mar 12 2012, 11:23 AM
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Monday 12th March 2012 : I had a day off of guitar yesterday, except for doing some filming. I decided to have a shot at Gabriel's Yngwie Malmsteen 2 lesson, which hopefully you'll get to hear soon ! (I wonder how Gab is getting on with my Michael Schenker lesson ?) wink.gif

I was quite pleased with it except I found that I picked a bit harder than I wanted to.. although I'd been practising it on and off, I didn't wait until I hit the required 180 with the metronome so I had to go with what it was..

Sometimes, when you're just going for it, you can play stuff that may be beyond your level because of the extra energy and the focused mindset you're in. That's what I chose to harness for the performance of that piece and hopefully you'll enjoy it (and Gab too !) smile.gif

I think I'm going to focus my practise on some licks that address technique that is found in he current GMC lesson that I'm learning (and have been learning for ages now.. maybe one day I'll get to record it !!) laugh.gif

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Mar 12 2012, 11:28 AM


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Ben Higgins
post Mar 16 2012, 05:03 PM
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Friday 16th March 2012 : Today I just picked the guitar without intending to practice.. but of course, I got hooked !

Didn't use the metronome today.. so instead of focusing on specific exercises I just isolated some small fragments that have been giving me trouble and concentrated on speeding them up with a really relaxed picking motion and hardly any movement.

After a while of doing that I felt much more relaxed and that my picking was overall much better. One thing I didn't expect though, was that 3 string sweep arpeggios would be even easier. I don't know how I managed to improve those as I haven't practised them for weeks but somehow, they were better. Hopefully this means the level 8 lesson I've been working on sporadically for weeks is closer to being recorded..... ph34r.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Mar 20 2012, 03:03 PM
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March 20th 2012 : Decided to spend today working on 3 GMC lessons, which makes a change for me. I've approached my practice lately with a very free attitude, letting myself do what comes naturally. I think it's the best way of really becoming comfortable with your technique. At some point you just gotta dig in and cut loose, without casting a thought to the finer points of technique.. playing along with backing tracks makes it easier to do that.

I've always found that having a real drum beat and real instruments to play along with helps me stay in the groove more. Metronomes are great but you're always acutely aware of the fact you're working on your technique and it's hard to shake that notion off and truly relax.

One of the lessons I decided to play was one that I introduced as a Bushido Task a while back.. Mate Nagy's 'Zakk Wylde Killer Pentatonics' lesson. That's really fun as a 'warm up' wink.gif My left arm was the one that find it harder, with all that position shifting...

The other 2 I'm keeping secret for now ph34r.gif

P.S. Oops, totally forgot ! The first thing I did was finish recording a solo. The last one of 3 solos that I've recorded for a vocalist who has a Dream Theatre/Symphony X type musical project. Very challenging and definitely interesting !

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Mar 20 2012, 03:05 PM


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Ben Higgins
post Mar 25 2012, 01:40 PM
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Sunday March 25th 2012 : I've made quite a cool little discovery. It really proves that the best way to seek answers to your questions is through your own practice...

Over the years I noticed that my wrist has a tendency to want to 'roll' over the strings when changing direciton.. this occurs when picking and when sweeping. For a long time I thought this was an undesirable trait and that I should have a more planted, straight hand position all the time. When I watched other players do sweeping and play AP licks that cross the strings with inside picking and things like that, they appear to keep their hand on a constant plane and a lot of players seem to use their thumb and finger to push and pull the pick back and forth to perform sweeping, rather than rolling their hand across.

However, I realised that I should utilise this feature, seeing how my hands are telling me they want to do that. Plus, I'm a very rhythmical kind of guy who feels like I can get a better grasp of a technique if it has a physical, rhythmic feature to it. So I decided to embrace the 'rolling' effect and it's made a prety big difference already.

The principle is that the picking hand slightly moves into the direction of the next stroke that's required. Luckily, Jose Mena has exactly the same approach and has already made a lesson about it so watch the spoken video to understand what I'm talking about..

http://www.guitarmasterclass.net/ls/Altern...ing-MyApproach/

So, if you're having troubles with changing direction when picking or sweeping, it could be that you're a 'roller' and you'll find it easier to use that method instead of doing the push/pull method with your thumb and index finger... give it a shot ! smile.gif

P.S. What Jose says about it making you slower, didn't happen with me.


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Ben Higgins
post Apr 9 2012, 10:29 AM
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Monday 9/4/2012 : Lately I've been concentrating on reducing (or eradicating) excess forearm movement when I pick. Man, it's hell of a workout. It's just one of those things that sort of happened without me really noticing. At lower speeds my technique is how I would like it but at some point it switches to wrist and arm power ! laugh.gif

So, I used a mirror and noticed when I was using excess motion.. I started concentrating on stopping it. It works but I have to stay on top of it to make sure I don't allow Mr Arm to start getting involved !

Just goes to show, that no matter how many years you play for, you always keep learning and relearning, improving things... wink.gif


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SirJamsalot
post Apr 9 2012, 09:23 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Mar 25 2012, 05:40 AM) *
Sunday March 25th 2012 : I've made quite a cool little discovery. It really proves that the best way to seek answers to your questions is through your own practice...

Over the years I noticed that my wrist has a tendency to want to 'roll' over the strings when changing direciton.. this occurs when picking and when sweeping. For a long time I thought this was an undesirable trait and that I should have a more planted, straight hand position all the time. When I watched other players do sweeping and play AP licks that cross the strings with inside picking and things like that, they appear to keep their hand on a constant plane and a lot of players seem to use their thumb and finger to push and pull the pick back and forth to perform sweeping, rather than rolling their hand across.

However, I realised that I should utilise this feature, seeing how my hands are telling me they want to do that. Plus, I'm a very rhythmical kind of guy who feels like I can get a better grasp of a technique if it has a physical, rhythmic feature to it. So I decided to embrace the 'rolling' effect and it's made a prety big difference already.

The principle is that the picking hand slightly moves into the direction of the next stroke that's required. Luckily, Jose Mena has exactly the same approach and has already made a lesson about it so watch the spoken video to understand what I'm talking about..

http://www.guitarmasterclass.net/ls/Altern...ing-MyApproach/

So, if you're having troubles with changing direction when picking or sweeping, it could be that you're a 'roller' and you'll find it easier to use that method instead of doing the push/pull method with your thumb and index finger... give it a shot ! smile.gif

P.S. What Jose says about it making you slower, didn't happen with me.


Something I've been struggling with myself, but more so on the turn around from an ascending pentatonic to descending run in the following snippet - ( think I typed this correctly...)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>> Turn Around <<-------------------
E: ---------------------------------------------- (d) 9-------------- (d) 9------ (u) 12 -----||----(d)9
B: (d)9 ----- (u) 12 ---- (d) 9 ---- (u) 12 ---------- (u)12 -----------------------------||----------(u)12 ---------- (d)9


Going from a down stroke on the High E to an upstroke on the B, you have to really concentrate on getting over the High E, and back in picking position for the B string, then all the other strings on your way back to Low E. At high speeds, it's nothing less than IRRITATINGLY HARD! LOL. I've found that as Jose observes, you really have to pay attention to the upstroke (in this turn around) while ignoring the rest of the strokes to even have a chance at hitting that string correctly. I've been working on just this for the past several months in my daily exercises, and honestly, the improvement has been negligible for me. What is really odd, is that ascending (moving from low E to high E is a breeze - I'm able to pay close attention to the down stroke hitting its target, and can get really good speeds - 170 bpm, but the turn around is MESSY! I'm fortunate if I can make the descending AP sound decent at 100 BPM!

This topic by far is the toughest obstacle I have encountered in the years I've been practicing!

Chris!


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Ben Higgins
post Apr 10 2012, 08:53 AM
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QUOTE (SirJamsalot @ Apr 9 2012, 09:23 PM) *
Something I've been struggling with myself, but more so on the turn around from an ascending pentatonic to descending run in the following snippet - ( think I typed this correctly...)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>> Turn Around <<-------------------
E: ---------------------------------------------- (d) 9-------------- (d) 9------ (u) 12 -----||----(d)9
B: (d)9 ----- (u) 12 ---- (d) 9 ---- (u) 12 ---------- (u)12 -----------------------------||----------(u)12 ---------- (d)9


Going from a down stroke on the High E to an upstroke on the B, you have to really concentrate on getting over the High E, and back in picking position for the B string, then all the other strings on your way back to Low E. At high speeds, it's nothing less than IRRITATINGLY HARD! LOL. I've found that as Jose observes, you really have to pay attention to the upstroke (in this turn around) while ignoring the rest of the strokes to even have a chance at hitting that string correctly. I've been working on just this for the past several months in my daily exercises, and honestly, the improvement has been negligible for me. What is really odd, is that ascending (moving from low E to high E is a breeze - I'm able to pay close attention to the down stroke hitting its target, and can get really good speeds - 170 bpm, but the turn around is MESSY! I'm fortunate if I can make the descending AP sound decent at 100 BPM!

This topic by far is the toughest obstacle I have encountered in the years I've been practicing!

Chris!


Urgh ! Inside Picking strikes again !! ohmy.gif

Do you ever allow your thumb and finger to move when changing strings ? I would recommend doing so because it allows you to feel your way with a lot more accuracy than trying to change strings and keeping a rigid thumb. Some people are able to do it but you'll see a huge amount of famous pickers allow their thumb & finger joints to take care of the smaller movements. As we all pretty much agree, you don't use the thumb and finger for straight out alternate picking because it's just not possible but for smaller movements it's like the difference between using a scalpel or a big hammer smile.gif


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SirJamsalot
post Apr 10 2012, 03:27 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Apr 10 2012, 12:53 AM) *
Urgh ! Inside Picking strikes again !! ohmy.gif

Do you ever allow your thumb and finger to move when changing strings ? I would recommend doing so because it allows you to feel your way with a lot more accuracy than trying to change strings and keeping a rigid thumb. Some people are able to do it but you'll see a huge amount of famous pickers allow their thumb & finger joints to take care of the smaller movements. As we all pretty much agree, you don't use the thumb and finger for straight out alternate picking because it's just not possible but for smaller movements it's like the difference between using a scalpel or a big hammer smile.gif


There's a point in speed where I stop moving the thumb and finger joints and rely solely on wrist action. So I do when playing slow, but at some point those actions wouldn't be able to keep up with the speed. I just gotta practice more at that threshold and be (***shudder*** patient with myself smile.gif



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dark dude
post Apr 10 2012, 05:27 PM
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I know what you mean about ascending being easier, Jams, and I think I know why.

I play with a straight wrist/forearm, and if I did a downstroke from my neutral straight wrist position, it would travel further than an upstroke from that same position.

You can test this by putting your hand on the bridge, in the regular neutral position you use for playing, and test the range of motion a maximum downstroke and upstroke have. Your hand must be fixed on the bridge:

* For a max. downstroke, start on the low E and sweep down as far as possible, you should be able to pick all the strings and a bit further.
* For a max. upstroke, start on the high E and sweep up as far as possible, the distance will be smaller - I couldn't pick the low E with a fixed hand.

As the upstroke's range isn't equal to a downstroke, descending inside picking licks are tougher.

One solution, for me at least, would be to change my neutral position, and instead of having a natural, straight wrist/arm alignment, I'd have to angle my wrist downwards a few mm, to take away from downstroke range and add to upstroke range. Would take a lot of work, though.

----

As for the thumb movement, Andy James mentions the technique of 'snap picking' for some 2 string pentatonic stuff that he got from a Shaun Lane DVD (he said Gilbert and Buckethead use this technique, too), where he only uses the motion of his thumb and index finger to pick the strings. He said that you can get some stupidly fast speeds from this, and that Shaun used it in his playing a lot.

In the lick, he takes a 4 note pentatonic pattern over two strings, and using the thumb and index, essentially does economy picking (2 note downstroke sweep, 2 note upstroke sweep, 2 notes per string). Then proceeds to play it really quickly tongue.gif

I know it's not the same thing you were talking about, but figured I'd mention that speed pentatonic idea smile.gif


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Ben Higgins
post May 21 2012, 11:59 AM
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Monday 21st May 2012: It's been a long time since I updated this journal. Mainly because I've had lots of different things that have meant that I haven't kept a consistent routine for a while. However, I managed to fit in an intense short session today, practising an upcoming GMC lesson. I can't wait to show you guys this one. It's pushed me right to the edge and when I've done it I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief !! biggrin.gif



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Ben Higgins
post Jun 8 2012, 09:07 AM
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Friday 8th June, 2012 : Well, this actually an entry for the last couple of days. I've been practising some pentatonic runs after getting into a pentatonic frame of mind after Tuesday's video chat. I started a thread with some basic penta ideas, designed to help with picking co-ordination but they're also commonly used shapes as well, so they're not just an exercise.

http://www.guitarmasterclass.net/guitar_fo...showtopic=44716

As usual, I've just been working on it free time with no metronome, just feeling the technique and feeling the groove. Would be very interested in seeing some video takes from the GMCers too ! biggrin.gif



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Opetholic
post Jun 8 2012, 09:15 AM
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For me the ultimate pentatonic run is the one at the end of Tritone Terror lesson by you smile.gif If I can do that whenever I want, I am happy..


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Ben Higgins
post Jun 8 2012, 09:29 AM
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QUOTE (Opetholic @ Jun 8 2012, 09:15 AM) *
For me the ultimate pentatonic run is the one at the end of Tritone Terror lesson by you smile.gif If I can do that whenever I want, I am happy..


Well, thank you ! I actually look at that kind of pattern too in the video I posted in the Penta-Shred thread smile.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Jan 27 2013, 10:55 AM
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Sunday 27th Jan 2013

Man, it's been a long time since I posted in the journal. During that time I'm sure I've been learning and unlearning loads of different things, not to mention giving myself a crash course in learning some GMC lessons from people like Piotr and Emir Hot as a challenge thrown to me by some of the guys. That'll teach me for making them the Donut King ! tongue.gif

Lately I've been concentrating mainly re-learning some of my own guitar solos. I'd recently switched to gauge 10 guitar strings for added tuning stability. When I hit a hard E5 chord the bottom E tends to go a bit sharp, I'm sure you guys have experienced the same thing so I thought the extra weighty gauge would compensate. It did a bit but I'm still heavy handed when it comes to those low E chords wink.gif

That means I've had to get to grips with playing with 10's again. It was a shock to my fingers, let me tell you. At first I thought, 'I can't do this - I can't bend the strings right' but after about 4 days the pain started to subside and I could hold a bend without feeling like the string was trying to cut my fingertip like a block of Edam.

Now it feels totally normal and I'm bending those babies like they're elastic bands again. So far, so good.

I also notice a slight reduction in gain saturation with heavier strings. I've always said this and some may disagree with me (but they're wrong) but you do sacrifice a bit of sustain when going heavier. So if you like your slippery legato just bear this in mind. You have to put in a bit more work to get things sounding as smooth as notes have a tendency to die out mid-lick so your fingers will have to work harder but it's like anything: you get used to it the more you do it.

As y'all know I'm big on vibrato but I've also made an effort to reign it in when I don't think it needs it. Part of developing and using any technique is deciding when NOT to use it too. It's like the basic concept of contrast. How can something be big unless something else is small ? Or can something be ugly if there is not first beauty ? And things like that. So an effect is surely made more effective when it is used alongside its contrasting opposite. So sometimes it's fun to let the note just sing and let the amp do its job. It can be counter intuitive to experienced guitarists because we feel that by not using vibrato we're not taking charge but in fact learning when to let a note ring is a discipline in itself.


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