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Old 01-05-2017, 10:42 AM
Pine Pine is offline
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Default Strumming Speed Problems

Hey everyone. I'm a late stage beginner (JustinGuitar.com), trying to get my strumming speed up to some beginner song videos I purchased. Bad Moon Rising is one of them, and is played at 180BPM.

I've been practicing using Justin's Strumming Techniques V1, which consists of 20 8th note strumming patterns.

I've gotten my speed up to between 130 and 140, depending on the exercise pattern, but my strumming falls apart badly above 140. I've been focusing on relaxing. have been stuck at this speed for a month and a half. I practice these strumming patterns for half an hour a day, 6 days a week.

Any helpful tips would be appreciated. (Or have I reached terminal velocity?)

Some other info:
Guitar: Blackbird lucky 13
I'm using a metronome for this practice
I use a Neck-up, so headstock is shoulder high
Pick: Blue Chip TPR.35
I'm a lefty playing RH
66 years old
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Old 01-05-2017, 11:14 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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See if this helps:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H06_0ApzkzY
Notice the arm movement is quite small, not a big swing; that lets them play faster. There's still movement at the elbow (the arm is relaxed), but the main move is from the wrist.

Its also important that it's swing feel, so any 8th notes (upstrokes in between) are delayed. (That's a whole other skill to master, to differentiate between straight and swing rhythms.)
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Old 01-05-2017, 11:49 AM
Pine Pine is offline
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Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
See if this helps:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H06_0ApzkzY
Notice the arm movement is quite small, not a big swing; that lets them play faster. There's still movement at the elbow (the arm is relaxed), but the main move is from the wrist.

Its also important that it's swing feel, so any 8th notes (upstrokes in between) are delayed. (That's a whole other skill to master, to differentiate between straight and swing rhythms.)
Thanks for the video. I like how he sings "there's a bathroom on the right". LoL

I hadn't noticed the swung rhythm until you mentioned it. Like most of the rhythms I've practiced, I'm ok up to 120-130-140. Above that all bets are off.

I've taken videos of my practice with the iPad. Strumming movement is small, but not as relaxed as I'd like. like most, I tense up when pushing speed. I'm getting better at relaxing though.

I have the "Guitar Player's Guide to Developing Speed, Accuracy and Tone" book I got at the same time as the first 2 Flatpicking Essentials books. It has a nice section on right hand mechanics. He talks about relaxation, body position, holding the pick, pick choices, attack, strum arc, and lots of other information. Unfortunately, all this info hasn't helped with my strumming speed issues though. It just feels like I've hit a barrier at 140BPM.
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Old 01-06-2017, 04:27 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post
Thanks for the video. I like how he sings "there's a bathroom on the right". LoL
Oh yes, one of the great "mondegreens". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen
The famous one from Purple Haze is "'scuse me while I kiss this guy", as Hendrix often used to sing it live (grabbing Noel Redding).

My own favourites (definitely OT) are "the ants are my friends, they're blowing in the wind"; and listen to this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxtfdH3-TQ4 - why is he singing "me ears are alight"? Cracks me up every time.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:03 AM
jstegeman jstegeman is offline
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Good question

You are on the right track - being relaxed is a big part of it, as is strumming from the wrist. It will come with practice. I recently did a song that, when I initially practiced it, I thought I would never be able to strum at that speed, but with some practice and focus on technique, it worked out fine:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRI1wtJjv90
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:11 AM
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Well, I think my musical knowledge is nearing completion. I now know what the term "mondegreen" means, and the actual words to "blowing in the wind"

It reminds me of the Beach Boys song where they admonish the woman with a breast prosthesis to treat others more kindly. You know the song .... "Oh wooden tit be nice".

Well, I'm better educated, and in better humor now, but still not strumming up to speed. I called a local guitar teacher I know to get a couple of hour sessions to see if he can get me fixed up. We'll see....
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:16 AM
jstegeman jstegeman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
Oh yes, one of the great "mondegreens". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen
The famous one from Purple Haze is "'scuse me while I kiss this guy", as Hendrix often used to sing it live (grabbing Noel Redding).

My own favourites (definitely OT) are "the ants are my friends, they're blowing in the wind"; and listen to this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxtfdH3-TQ4 - why is he singing "me ears are alight"? Cracks me up every time.
There's a whole genre of videos on YouTube with Mondegreens, including Open Condom Star: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXdkbL6sRic
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:34 AM
Pine Pine is offline
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Originally Posted by jstegeman View Post
Good question

You are on the right track - being relaxed is a big part of it, as is strumming from the wrist. It will come with practice. I recently did a song that, when I initially practiced it, I thought I would never be able to strum at that speed, but with some practice and focus on technique, it worked out fine:[/url]
Thanks for the encouragement. I'm hoping it will come along.

I know these things are pretty undefined in the guitar world, but is strumming at this tempo (180BPM) a beginner level skill? Perhaps this song is more intermediate level due to the tempo. I don't want to skip over important skills before I move on to the intermediate course.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:59 AM
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fazool fazool is offline
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One of my (two) guitar mentors once said to me:

"you guys need to stop trying to figure out the up-down-up strum patterns and just *FEEL* the music".......

That one line changed my world as a guitar player.

I think it applies here as well.
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Old 01-06-2017, 01:48 PM
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SprintBob SprintBob is offline
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If you are not already doing so, consider practice with a .38 to .46 mm thick pick to develop the speed and technique and then get thicker as needed or desired. I've been playing almost 4 years and I hit a wall at 150 bpm with 8th note strumming. I keep working at it, it will come. I use a .46 to .60 mm thick pick for this practice.
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Old 01-06-2017, 02:04 PM
reeve21 reeve21 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fazool View Post
One of my (two) guitar mentors once said to me:

"you guys need to stop trying to figure out the up-down-up strum patterns and just *FEEL* the music".......

That one line changed my world as a guitar player.

I think it applies here as well.
Amen--can I say that ? :-) -- to this. It took my a long time to find out that consistent strumming patterns are a sign of good timing, not a cause of it.

To the OP--try counting out loud to get your head out of the mechanics and let your subconscious mind take over. At the speed you want to achieve you may have to count every other beat. I find this even more effective than a metronome on pieces I'm struggling with. I'm also a big foot tapper, it goes back to my saxophone playing youth. Some will say it is distracting, but if it is good enough for Tommy Emmanuel.....
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Old 01-06-2017, 05:00 PM
jstegeman jstegeman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fazool View Post
One of my (two) guitar mentors once said to me:

"you guys need to stop trying to figure out the up-down-up strum patterns and just *FEEL* the music".......

That one line changed my world as a guitar player.

I think it applies here as well.
I agree with that - I find if I try to actually think about the pattern and what it should be, it doesn't work, but if I feel the rhythm, the strumming comes naturally. If someone asks me how to play a certain strumming pattern, I have to actually stop and pay attention to what I'm doing, because most of the time, my brain doesn't really know, it just happens.
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Old 01-07-2017, 08:48 AM
rmoretti49 rmoretti49 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jstegeman View Post
I agree with that - I find if I try to actually think about the pattern and what it should be, it doesn't work, but if I feel the rhythm, the strumming comes naturally. If someone asks me how to play a certain strumming pattern, I have to actually stop and pay attention to what I'm doing, because most of the time, my brain doesn't really know, it just happens.
Practicing with a drum machine can be really helpful in this regard. With so many drum rhythms to choose from, and being able to alter BPM just like a metronome, it is easy to respond naturally and intuitively to what is being heard.
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Old 01-07-2017, 12:11 PM
jomaynor jomaynor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post
Hey everyone. I'm a late stage beginner (JustinGuitar.com), trying to get my strumming speed up to some beginner song videos I purchased. Bad Moon Rising is one of them, and is played at 180BPM.

I've been practicing using Justin's Strumming Techniques V1, which consists of 20 8th note strumming patterns.

I've gotten my speed up to between 130 and 140, depending on the exercise pattern, but my strumming falls apart badly above 140. I've been focusing on relaxing. have been stuck at this speed for a month and a half. I practice these strumming patterns for half an hour a day, 6 days a week.

Any helpful tips would be appreciated. (Or have I reached terminal velocity?)

Some other info:
Guitar: Blackbird lucky 13
I'm using a metronome for this practice
I use a Neck-up, so headstock is shoulder high
Pick: Blue Chip TPR.35
I'm a lefty playing RH
66 years old
I'm not familiar with the tutorial that you are using, so it may already emphasize this, but keeping the wrist limber is crucial to strumming rapidly without fatigue. For extremely fast tempos, someone once told me to think of putting out a lit match, which gives the wrist the necessary snap.

Stay with it. One month may seem like a long time to be practicing the same thing over and over, but this is a long journey, so relax and enjoy the ride.
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Old 01-07-2017, 05:31 PM
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SprintBob SprintBob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmoretti49 View Post
Practicing with a drum machine can be really helpful in this regard. With so many drum rhythms to choose from, and being able to alter BPM just like a metronome, it is easy to respond naturally and intuitively to what is being heard.
+1, it's much more fun to do this type of practice to a drum track.
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Taylor - GS7, 562ce 12 fret, 812ce 12 fret, K-22ce 12 fret, T5, T3 (for sale)
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Pono 0020 12 fret
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