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> Comparing Your Speed With The Pros
SirJamsalot
post Jun 4 2012, 06:59 AM
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I know I will likely get some heat for this post, but it is a common question I hear a lot. That question is, "how can I determine how fast I am in terms of 'shred speed', compared to my guitar idol. In my opinion, this is not a terrible question to ask. I consider the answer to this question somewhat important, not because I equate speed with musicality, but because the answer gives us a realistic view of where we stand in terms of our current physical ability to play a fast piece written by one of our heros: someone like Jason Becker, John Petrucci, Jeff Loomis, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert... insert your hero here -> ( x )

I've scoured the internet in a desire to find out where I personally stand, and also to be able to answer the question "what speed is considered shred-speed". Let me throw in the disclaimer here -> speed does NOT equal musicality, and most of the famous songs ever written rely solely on tasteful playing - the ability to bend string with emotion, to allow a song to breathe by knowing when not to play, to transfer what you hear in your mind to your fingers, etc; None of these can be replaced by speed and take years to accomplish. But sometimes a very fast run is required to express an emotion that silence or a bend just cannot. So building speed is just another tool for the musician, and so I want to share what I have researched.

Let's begin with talking about how to guage speed. It is easiest to think in terms of notes played per second. An equation you can use to find this out is to multiply the BPM of your metrinome with the notes played per beat, then divide that number by 60 to get notes per second.

Let's say you are able to play 6 notes per beat (sextuplet) at 100 BPM.
6x100 = 600 notes played per minute.
600 divided by 60 = 10 notes per second.

A good starting litmus test for determining your Alternate picking proficiency across the neck is to do a 3 note per string scale,from the low E to the high E string, then slide up to the next note in the scale and descend back down to the low E in the next mode, then the last note of the scale on the low E string, slide back down to where you began. Repeat this exercise 3 times without pause, to a metronome, playing 6 full notes per beat (2 strings of 3nps). If you can play this cleanly 3 times, then you can consider yourself able to AP that many notes per second.

I'm currently at around 12 nps doing this exercise, which is slow compared to the pros. Let's see what the internet says about our heroes. Please note that the samples listed below reflect single quick runs that people have studied using slow down software, etc., and not all runs are AP. The higher nps listed are economy, legato and in many cases sweep picking. So obviously, you will have different nps depending on the type of phrase you time yourself. I haven't timed myself on sweep picking or legato yet.

I hope this is somewhat helpful - for me, it is inspiring - inspiring because I can't play this fast, but at least I have a goal to work towards - it takes some of the guessing out of it. And again, playing is not about speed - it's about articulation and feel - general musicality, but we all want a method to measure our speed to settle our curiosity, so I thought this would at least help you settle that and if nothing else, get a new respect for these guitarists who have played all their life.

from the JasonBecker board (and I've seen other boards discuss and prove these numbers):
http://jasonbeckerguitar.com/board/read.php?22,1996,2024

Hi Beckerfans!

Just thought i would post a list of the fastest players!
But first I am aware that guitar playing is not a competition and in my opinion, the fastest guitarists here sound like utter tripe (except Jason!).

Francesco Farrieri: sweeps at 33 notes per second (nps) in "Suspension"
Michael Angelo Batio: sweeps at 28 nps
David Shankle: sweeps at 26 nps
Michael Romeo: taps at 22.93 nps
Jason Becker: eco. picks (i think) at 22.17 nps (Paganini's 5th)
Steve Vai: Legato at 21.6 nps (The Riddle)
Paul Gilbert: sweeps at 20.5 nps (Snakebite)
Guthrie Govan: taps at 20.267 nps (Tapping in Fives)
Shawn Lane: string skips at 19.5 nps
Allan Holdsworth: Legato+string skips at 20 nps (Heavy Machinery)
Rusty Cooley: string skips at about 20 nps (Outworld by Outworld)
John Petrucci: legato at around 20 nps (Animate-Inanimate)
George Lynch: unknown technique at 19.8 nps (Wicked Sensations)
Marty Friedman: sweeps at 18.7 nps (Concerto)
Jeff Loomis: sweeps at 18.67 nps (Devil Theory)
Yngwie Malmsteen: alt picks at 18.6 nps (Blitzkreig)
Joe Satriani: legato at 18.3 nps (Ice 9)
Buckethead: taps at 17.8 nps (Jump man)
Chris Impelliterri: alt picks at 17.8 (Race into the light)
Theodore Ziras: sweeps at about 16 nps
Tosin Abasi: sweeps/eco picks at 15.6 nps (CAFO)
Eric Johnson: alt picks at 15 nps (Ah Via Musicom)
Tony Macalpine: alt picks at 15 nps (Hundreds Of Thousands)
Al DiMeola: alt picks at 14 nps (Mediterranean Sundance)

Well there we go, if anyone has any suggestions or corrections please do not hesitate to comment and thanks for taking the time to read this,
Bill976





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Ben Higgins
post Jun 4 2012, 10:00 AM
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I love the 'George Lynch - Unknown Technique' !! laugh.gif


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Opetholic
post Jun 4 2012, 10:03 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jun 4 2012, 09:00 AM) *
I love the 'George Lynch - Unknown Technique' !! laugh.gif

Hahaha biggrin.gif biggrin.gif biggrin.gif
I can do unknown technique at 100nps, it is playing notes silently tongue.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Jun 4 2012, 10:37 AM
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QUOTE (Opetholic @ Jun 4 2012, 10:03 AM) *
Hahaha biggrin.gif biggrin.gif biggrin.gif
I can do unknown technique at 100nps, it is playing notes silently tongue.gif


In that case, we're all the fastest guitarist in the world when we're using 'unknown technique !' biggrin.gif

Here's a list I found on MAB's forum for top alternate picking speeds..

http://mabforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?bo...amp;thread=2676

I always knew McLaughlin was as quick, if not quicker, than a lot of the shred guys so it's cool to see it confirmed


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Todd Simpson
post Jun 4 2012, 10:50 AM
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Very spiff post with wads of info smile.gif It's only natural, especially in the early part of one's musical journey, to want to size up ones own playing against those who set various bars at crazy high levels, like the list of pros mentioned. A healthy sense of drive towards a goal is a great help getting over the hump of resistance presented by not being born a musical savant. I suffer myself quite badly from being born with very little musical ability, talent, small muscle control etc. So I get how hard it is to climb that particular mountain. Speaking of small muscle control, I still can't write very well, but I type quite briskly so I gave up using pens. Adapt or die eh?

The numbers presented are interesting, but maybe adding youtube videos will help put it in context. I'll try and add some myself. It's almost abstract on paper somehow.


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Ben Higgins
post Jun 4 2012, 10:59 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Jun 4 2012, 10:50 AM) *
The numbers presented are interesting, but maybe adding youtube videos will help put it in context. I'll try and add some myself. It's almost abstract on paper somehow.


Yeah I'm not sure how reliable these lists really are. Also, what material was used for the data ? Did they trawl the musicians entire recorded / live work or just selections ?



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Dinaga
post Jun 4 2012, 11:04 AM
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QUOTE
But sometimes a very fast run is required to express an emotion that silence or a bend just cannot. So building speed is just another tool for the musician


This is exactly how I think of shredding! It shouldn't be the only purpose, but a tool to express emotions you can't express with slow playing! Steve Vai's great at this. Many of his songs start mellow, then just explode in shred licks which perfectly capture the mood he wanted to create.

Although Yngwie shreds a lot in his songs, I personally find his shredding very musical and it always involves an interesting phrase - something it's usually hard to do when you're mindlessly driving for speed.

On the other hand - Gilbert's Superheroes solo is really explosive but it isn't something you'd really remember.


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SpaseMoonkey
post Jun 4 2012, 11:41 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jun 4 2012, 05:37 AM) *
In that case, we're all the fastest guitarist in the world when we're using 'unknown technique !' biggrin.gif

Here's a list I found on MAB's forum for top alternate picking speeds..

http://mabforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?bo...amp;thread=2676

I always knew McLaughlin was as quick, if not quicker, than a lot of the shred guys so it's cool to see it confirmed

YES! The people I look up to for playing are the slowest in that list! Yey! I may have a chance! laugh.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Jun 4 2012, 02:56 PM
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QUOTE (SpaseMoonkey @ Jun 4 2012, 11:41 AM) *
YES! The people I look up to for playing are the slowest in that list! Yey! I may have a chance! laugh.gif


Haha, classic !! biggrin.gif


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SirJamsalot
post Jun 4 2012, 05:37 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jun 4 2012, 02:59 AM) *
Yeah I'm not sure how reliable these lists really are. Also, what material was used for the data ? Did they trawl the musicians entire recorded / live work or just selections ?


These were based on the titles (songs) mentioned. They just examined and clocked the speed of certain runs. More than one person did the numbers and there seems to be a pretty high confidence of their being pretty close to actual. But we can also pull a selection, determine what's being played, and check against the beats in the phrase to verify for ourselves.

QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jun 4 2012, 02:37 AM) *
In that case, we're all the fastest guitarist in the world when we're using 'unknown technique !' biggrin.gif

Here's a list I found on MAB's forum for top alternate picking speeds..

http://mabforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?bo...amp;thread=2676

I always knew McLaughlin was as quick, if not quicker, than a lot of the shred guys so it's cool to see it confirmed


In case the link some day mysteriously disappears, I'm copy pasting the content here. Thanks Ben.
from: http://mabforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?bo...amp;thread=2676

- Shawn Lane - 18 nps

- Danny Joe Carter - 17 nps (not note for note accurate/coordinated at that speed)
- Todd Duane - 16.5 - 17 nps (very accurate)
- Marcus Paus - 16 -17 nps (inaccurate, tremelo picking)
- Rusty Cooley - 16 nps
- John McLaughlin - 16 nps (very accurate....on acoustic!!!!!)
- Michael Angelo Batio - 16 nps (very accurate)
- Joel Rivard - 16 nps (very accurate)
- Tony Macalpine - 16 nps (very accurate)
- Guthrie Govan - 16 nps
- Rick Graham - 16 nps
- Theodore Ziras - 16 nps (alternate picks accurate up to around 16 nps, after that he starts to switch to missing out pickstrokes/economy picking)
- Chris Impellitteri - 16 nps (16 nps in his early years.....these days more around 14-15 nps)

- Conrad Simon - 15 nps (very accurate)
- John Petrucci - 15 nps (can be very accurate when not simply "tremelo picking")
- Yngwie Malmsteen - 15 nps
- Paul Gilbert - 15 nps (very accurate)
- Al Di Meola - 15 nps (very accurate)
- Jorge Strunz - 15 nps (very accurate)
- Jason Becker - 15 nps (can be very accurate)
- Vinnie Moore - 15 nps (very accurate)
- John Norum - 15 nps
- Michael Romeo - 15 nps
- Ron Thal - 15 nps
- Jeremy Barnes - 15 nps
- John Sykes - 15 nps
- Mario Parga - 15 nps (not very accurate, mostly tremelo picking)

- Paco DeLucia - 14 -15 nps
- Kee Marcello - 14 nps (very accurate)
- Milan Polak - 14 nps
- Bob Zabek - 14 nps
- Matthew Mills - 14 nps
- Nuno Bettencourt - 14 nps
- George Bellas - 14 nps
- Stephan Forte - 14 nps
- Toshi Iseda - 14 nps
- Mark Tremonti - 14 nps
- German Schauss - 14 nps (quite inaccurate)

- Buckethead - 13.5 nps
- Jeff Loomis - 13.5 nps
- Tony Smotherman - 13 nps
- Steve Vai - 13 -14 nps (mostly around 13 nps)
- Neil Zaza - 13 nps (i'm sure he can pick quicker than this... i just don't have many good quality recordings)
- Joe Stump - 13 nps (though he does gain more speed with certain runs by economy picking)
- Greg Howe - 13 nps
- Steve Morse - 13 nps
- Randy Rhoads - 13 nps
- Zakk Wylde - 13 nps
- The Great Kat - 13 nps (...of very inaccurate tremelo picking on 1 string)
- Joey Taffola - 12 nps (very accurate)





Here are some speeds i've clocked for people using `Spasmic Arm Vibration" picking :

- Odracir (Michael Angelo forum) - 27 - 28 nps (Spasmic arm vibration picking on 1 note)
- Shredmikael (John Petrucci forum) - 20 nps (Spasmic arm vibration "tremelo" picking; is 16 years old)
- Tiago Della Vega - 18 - 20 nps (picks up to this speed with spasmic arm vibrations, left and right hands never match up, and often fingers more notes than he picks)
- Francesco Fareri - 18 nps (...of uncoordinated, inaccurate, arm vibration picking on 1 string)
- Rusty Cooley - 16.5 - 17 nps (up to this speed when using the vibrating arm picking method, which loses some accuracy)



Hope this helps a bit!


Read more: http://mabforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?bo...6#ixzz1wqKcR4cK

QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Jun 4 2012, 06:56 AM) *
Haha, classic !! biggrin.gif


BB King is my personal favorite biggrin.gif He's the man.


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Ben Higgins
post Jun 4 2012, 05:57 PM
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The bit that makes me laugh is the 'Spasmic Arm Picking' description !! laugh.gif


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