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Fast Pickin

Posted by pcfive on Thursday, May 23, 2013

I know that trying to play too fast is the worst thing for timing and tone and accuracy. I think the best thing for timing, tone and accuracy is to spend a lot of time every day practicing at slow and moderate speeds.

Even though we all want to be fast enough to keep up at jam sessions, most bluegrass songs are somewhere between 120 and 160 bpm, seldom faster. So a goal of being able to play at 180 + is not really useful, according to the conventional wisdom.

But I found out that sometimes I can play songs I know well very fast, between 170 and 200 bpm or so. I think this might be a result of spending a lot of time on slow metronome practice and working on accuracy, which I have being doing since last fall.

I decided that being able to play at over 160 bpm may be useful after all.

Now I spend some working on speed, and I see nothing wrong with that. Even if you never get a chance to play at 200 bpm at a jam session, having the ability to play at 200 makes 150 feel nice and slow. So you can be more accurate at 150 than if 150 were your maximum speed.

When I first posted about this a couple of months ago, I didn't have time to make any good recordings at fast speeds, so I was not believed. But now I have spent a lot of time recording, and have posted some that I think aren't too bad.

I seem to be able to play Redwing very fast, maybe because it's one of the first songs I learned and I have been playing it for years.

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