The truth about playing fast

Discuss playing styles and techniques, or share your own here.
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Posts: 98
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 10:19 am

I have come to realization that speed is genetics and talent, sure, you can improve speed over the years, but you will come to a limit, no matter how much you try, some people will never be able to play as fast as Vai, want proof of this?

just look at youtube, out of the thousands of people, only a few can play as fast as vai, to make covers of his tunes, with perfect notes, timing, speed, accuracy.

The rest, simply just suck, they don't have enough technique, speed, despite most of them are busting their asses, practicing for years, still cannot hack it.

How come this guy cesar huesca, matt rach, gustavo guerra, can play Vai and satriani covers for years now, yet people who have been playing for the same amount of years, and even longer than him, cannot even come close to their levels. This kid mattrach, he had only been playing for a few years, when he became big on youtube, was playing vai tunes, like it was nothing, yet he was like 16 years old, are you kidding me?

is all talent, it separates the average joe from the people like vai, guerra, huesca, satriani, and all these youtube kids who can play at that level, which are a dozen

majority of us are not meant to shred, it will never happen no matter how much you practice, I know, because i have tried to reach this level for 12 years, I still cannot play at a speed fast enough to play vai, satriani, and all those shred tunes

This explains why everyone wants to shred, because very few are actually capable of doing, therefore, if you achieve it, you will impress everyone else, you separate yourself from the masses, since very few can do it. In fact, impressing others by playing fast tunes, is the main reason why you want to shred in the first place, because you know the value and status that comes from being able to do that. It is the fact that very few can do it, that is so sought out and why you want to achieve it so bad.

If everyone could easily achieve it with just years of practice, then it would become obsolete, the norm, boring, and it wouldn't be a goal, it wouldn't impress anybody, it would be like playing a power chords, or some scale a normal speed

it would be like learning to play bar chords, anyone can do it, and it impress no one

The fact that thousands have shredding as a goal, yet despite practicing for years, still cannot reach the level of huesca, matt rach, satriani, vai, tells me something, that is not just practice. I'm not talking about playing fast only, but the whole technique as a whole, these people are out of this world. It makes the average joe question themselves, like they are superior, how can they play like that, is unreal, especially if they are just kids like you from youtube.

Everyone is made different, the brain, hands, fingers, muscles, tendons, intelligence, coordination, some simply got lucky to have been born with a physiology that allows them to play fast and better, easily, they progress faster, their hands and brains are optimal for shredding and guitar playing in general. What it would take an average dude to achieve in 10 years, they do it in 2 years.

Sure, you can always practice your ass off, and over the years increase speed, but since you have no talent, it will take you such a long time, decades to even come close to those guy's level, and even then, you won't even sound as good and proficient as them.

That's all you can do, keep practicing, and hoping, dreaming that someday, you will able to play VAI tunes with accuracy and speed, for the majority, it will never happen, for others, it will take so freaking long that you will just give up in the process, is very hard to stay motivated when you see almost no progress in months, people assume that you are not practicing enough, or practicing incorrectly

It is frustrating to watch those kids be able to play those tunes, that you want to play so bad, yet despite your greatest efforts you cannot even come close, so you keep trying, but sooner or later, you will just give up, is impossible to keep something up, if progress is very slow
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Posts: 110
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:38 pm

I disagree, it's a learnable skill. These kids practice ten hours a day and live, breathe, and speak guitar. Practice perfect, practice hard, practice til you can't any more. You can do it. I remember when I couldn't do any of this stuff, but with a regime change, a set schedule, some great online lessons, and determination you can do it too.

Some will learn faster, and some hands will memorize quicker, but we all can play what we feel with enough perseverance. I wasn't able to play a vai track for years, but after a few months of dedicated practice I got it.

Now as an adult with responsibilities, it's harder to keep the speed, but it always comes back with a couple weeks of practice.
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kyle am I
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Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:19 pm

I'm 16 and I can play pretty fast. That's not me being pretentious, it's just when I was younger that was my goal and I worked on it. Now I can play fast.

Sounding like steve- It's just understanding his approach to the note. If you listen to him enough you'll start to understand his musical style (although you can't play like him, you can only emulate it)

Emulating Vai as in these covers- listening. Listen hard. Understand the staples of his songs, what he values in his playing, emphasis etc. listen to live versions more because he tends to dramatacize it more live. The only thing that makes covers sound like the artist is just how much the person covering the part listened and payed attention to the form he/she tries to emulate. In other words- these people have talent; but they're not special because they listen. The just take the time and effort to.

Also- what you're saying makes no sense. You're not born playing fast. Steve said playing the guitar didn't come naturally to him, and that he had to work on it. A lot. And Steve can play fast. Playing fast is just a matter of developing technique, and using it enough so that it becomes natural to do. Anyone can do it, it just takes the attitude and persistence.

Also- you're not special because you can play fast. Your PLAYING is special (to the owner of said playing) if you can play fast and make it sound melodic.
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Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:01 pm

I think its got to do with when you are younger your bones in your hands are not fully formed yet and have more ligament or elasticity so when learning the physical aspects of guitar you are training your bones etc where they need to be, then as you get older and your bones get more rigid and set in place you will find it harder to achieve the same level if you even can. That doesn't mean you can't but its gonna take a hell of a lot more work as you get older. That's my belief.
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:58 pm

The OP mentioned: genetic's.

To that end, I would say the hands you were born with may impose some limitation's... A hand with longer, more slender fingers may be able to pull off some high speed moves a and stretches a short stubby model, much like my own, can't pull off - as fluidly or with the same finesse. But greater control over bend's and vibrato may be the stubby hands playing card.

Maybe. Just some thought's.... Now "shut up and play yer guitars". :wink:

Missing Frank!
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Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:51 am

i'm not going to debate whether or not the ability to play fast is related to genetics or practicing. I just want to reiterate something I think that Steve said in an interview or music magazine column that he did several years. This is a paraphrase of what he said and I can't even remember, per diem, what he said but it goes like this: "focus on what you can do best and whatever else will come in time." so if you can only play slower stuff, that's ok. focus on that. if you desire speed, more dexterity and ability, it'll come in time. but, then again, it might not. when i look upon those people, such as steve or jeff loomis, or any other guitar player who can shred as fast as the speed of light, i'm amazed at their ability. do i wish the same for me? absolutely! but can i, realistically, play like that? no, at least not yet. will i ever? maybe but i'm not worried about it.

i think what everyone should focus on is the ability to create original riffs, leads and solos that are memorable and construct songs in such a way that they flow very well.

reading that from steve made me feel very good because i was always beating up on myself for not being able to play really fast and no one should beat up on themselves for not being able to do something that someone else can do. i think that each person should find their abilities and hammer away at them and if the desire to go faster is there, push yourself little by little. sometimes i think playing really fast sounds generic or blah compared to something that's played much slower and has more impact. speed blows my mind and does have a lot of impact to me. for example, when i'm listening to a band like cannibal corpse and their music is so fast and brutal but the riffs and solos are so good, it gives me goosebumps. but there's some players who just seem so cliche and boring when they play fast. but if they come along and play this riff that's a slow chunking arrangement and the solo is also slow but melodic and sounds like it's part of the story, that gives me goosebumps as well.

in summary, don't worry so much about playing really fast. if you can, awesome! if you can't, awesome! either way you'll need to write songs that flow and use music theory correctly and sometimes use some experimentation and don't crowd the song with so many different things that you run out of ideas before a single album is done.
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Posts: 853
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2004 3:36 am

Yes people are different in many ways, also in physical capacity if that is the right words to use.
But I believe most people can get fast enough on guitar if that is what you desire.

Personally I would rather have the rhythm feel of Edward Van Halen or Nuno that be able
to play as fast and smooth as Yngwie Malmsteen. Don't get me wong, I am a big fan of
Malmsteen. I read an old interview with Malmsteen and he was asked about his crazy fast
and accurate alternate picking. His answer was interesting. He said he did not alternate pick
that much. Most of his fast licks was a combination of picking and legato. He used a lot of legato
runs, and found his alternate picking far from perfect.
Interesting words from Malmsteen.
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