Next Level Stuff
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Author:  Jayesskerr [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:07 am ]
Post subject:  Next Level Stuff

Now keep in mind that I'm doing pretty okay at this point, things are trucking along and I've managed to solve most of the stuff that was hanging me up. Every day is a feeling of improvement, and a definite regular step forward every time I practice and play. Not just sight-reading, but improvisation, composition, even repertoire - it's coming along nicely.

I'm at a point with the instrument where I can jam along with people on the fly, improvise my own solos, and quickly assimilate new material. Going good. It took a while, and a bit of trial and error, but it's going good. I pretty much had to teach myself a new way to learn, but it's helped me in every aspect of my musical development. I don't even play keyboards, and my keyboard playing has gone through the roof. My guitar and bass chops have improved, and my drumming is way more in sync. Thanks, Emmett!

To the point of the post. :D
I did not spend this kind of cash on this instrument to play Muzak. Doing various arrangements of songs with "chords+vocal melody" is great practice, but it's not my bag. No offence to the guys who do this, but my heroes are guys like Steve Morse, Steve Vai, EVH, Joe Satriani, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, Paul Gilbert, Bach, Beethoven, Paganini... For jazz stuff I love Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Django. I just wanna rock haha
Plus, there is all of this original stuff I do also...

So anyways, I am at a point now where I am getting ready to start tearing that sort of stuff apart.

Which brings me to the subject of the right hand;

1) Speed. I'm finding that I am maxed out at 16th notes at 175bpm. Particularly on single string scalar runs, skips and arpeggio sequences - y'know all over the neck.
2) Articulation. That f***ing pinky is something that I use, but it does not articulate at the same level as the other three fingers. It's indispensable as far as "getting" some notes, so it's not something that I want to abandon. But I do need a better strategy... I can explain more as for where I use 3 fingers vs 4 and vice versa, but I need to be able to "dig in" to notes, hit some harder, and mute (I tap right on the rails for this effect). Hammerons and pull-offs are well underway...
3) Actual hand position. When I am on the highest frets/rails and seated, My actual leg gets in the way of my right hand, and the angle that my hand is at feels a bit like I am in some sort of wristlock. Definitely an impedance, and it's not too conducive to playing notes quickly and getting any kind of tone - looking to solve this... Tag interface perhaps? Or the Stick Chair?

Now, obviously the best way to access those higher notes would be to raise up the Stick, however that would put the lower notes (which I also need to access) way over my head.

Any thoughts/ideas are welcome. Lemme know.

Author:  Brett Bottomley [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Next Level Stuff

I’ll only give you very vague and cryptic advice, fortune cookie kind of stuff.

First, you are right, you have been an amazing beacon of light with your practice regiment and reading chops...... now you need to get down to personalized expression.

Wanna sound like Malmsteen (whoever that is) then study Malmsteen the same with Bird Miles etc.

Raise up your stick a little so your leg doesn’t get in the way.

Use 3 fingers always when they serve you better, 4 always when I that serves you better.
I practice scales and arpeggios etc with the best fingerings many leave out the pinky.

Practice slow speed will come. Then practice fast. Then slow

Look to stick players who do one thing at a time for some techniques.

I would pick something and really concentrate on it, while hitting other things as well.

If you have 3 hours to practice I would split into thirds reading, rep building, and then the special goal ( transcribing a player or whatever)

Just my 2 cents


Author:  greg [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Next Level Stuff


If I may...

I think the angle you hold the instrument at is the root of any left-hand issues you might have.

Higher up at that angle would definitely be uncomfortable. Higher up at a more vertical angle would open up the higher-pitched notes for your right hand more easily (visual and physical access), and it would massively improve your left-hand experience.

Keep on working, you are making great strides.

Author:  rclere [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Next Level Stuff

Brett is right, practice slowly.... speed is over rated.... what makes something groove and swing is the breath and space that you embody while playing something... On the electric bass, I studied a lot of Jaco's solos and work. its nice to have the vocabulary, however I rarely use it. The point is, articulate each note clearly. When you listen to Steve A. play, he is a tapestry of nuance, articulation and breath.....Steve embodies relaxation and a global sense of awareness of the music, because he has digested most aspects of the instrument through practicing slowly.
If you listen to Wayne Shorter, even Coltrane, its the breath that really carries the fingering.... and as reflected by Greg H, I too have noticed the way you are holding your instrument may present problems.... Experiment with that.... put the Stick on.... just sit with it for a moment... then allow the arms/hands to "place themselves " on the instrument with out too much thought.... let your body and the breath guide you in this way.... relax.... you are an inspiration for sure!! Blessings!

Author:  The_Afro_Circus [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Next Level Stuff

I think Brett, Randy and Greg about covered it. If I had anything to add, its that bends and pulloffs will add a different expression to your notes. A sharp pull off down a half step followed immediately by a bend back into the note you pulled from will give almost a dug in, pick like quality to your notes. Sliding more will also add some real variance to the sound. On an instrument that lends itself so well to the attack of every note, adding smoothness to the sound palette really makes a difference. Looking forward to hearing what you do next!

Author:  BSharp [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Next Level Stuff

I'll "harp" on this theme again because I find it so useful. For very fast lead lines, try fingers 1, 2 and 4 per string until you get to that pair of strings that require an ascending pattern of a whole step followed by a half step. Here switch to fingers 1, 2 and 3 with a slight twist of the wrist.

It's all a three fingered technique, conceptually, that is, but you're using four fingers and can feel the torque strength at both sides of the hand. Of course you'd have even more of that if the thumb were involved as on keys (no so practical, however, on strings).

If this approach feels good on the fast melodic passages, then slow it down and use it everywhere. You'd never have a problem reaching across five frets wherever your right hand lands on the board.

Author:  Jayesskerr [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Next Level Stuff

:D Hmmn, I'm thinking that I have perhaps just not phrased my question very articulately. Maybe this video will help clarify?

Thanks for the replies thus far, I take everything you guys seriously, and as such I'll try it all. Repeatedly if I have to. I will resolve this one way or the other, but I thought I'd ask the same as I always do.

The video of suck...

Author:  Captain Strings [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Next Level Stuff

I would just keep the same angle you normally use and just raise the instrument a notch. My grand sits on the Lap Dawg so that when my right hand (in it's typical angle of attack) contacts on my right leg or on top of the Lap Dawg pad, my right pinkie can reach the highest note of the highest string comfortably and without any angular change or twist. I normally play the last 2-3 notes with my pinkie just because it fits in there cleanly and it's strong and articulate enough to play anything I can play with any other finger because I use it a lot. As far as the lowest notes being a little more of a reach, my view is that I would much rather have the 2 lowest rails just at the limit of my peripheral view and just glance if needed if it's a leap or just go for it by feel and practice (they're huge targets!) than struggle with weird contortions reaching the high registers which I'm enjoying exploring lately.

When you look at really articulate players like Andre Pelat or Leo Gosslin who wear it pretty high to shred in the high registers they're not really struggling to get around with either hand. So find your sweet spot where you can reach everything even if it feels like a compromise at first. That was the first thing I did before I could even play much Stick. At least I was proceeding without obstacles.

Looking forward to the Grand Railboard because the 34" scale compresses the playable fingerboard just enough to get to every note on both ends easily. I played a prototype the other day and I was overshooting the lowest bass notes by about 1 position because I was so used to the 36" scale. I could tell if I got used to it, it would be like a Porche compared to a Cadillac for that reason and of course the incredible tone, action and intonation. Still like the tone and feel of my 36" bamboo Cadillac tho.

Author:  greg [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Next Level Stuff

So I watched your video, and I think the thing that jumps out at me most is the completely different angles that the hands approach the instrument from, not just in relation to the "rotation" of the board (the "clock angle", if you will) but also the way they approach the fret plane of the instrument.

Your left hand is approaching it from the rear, and your right from the side, so the motions are not the same for the hands. When you showed us how you can play the left hand hammer-ons and pull-offs on the melody strings you're addressing the strings as a guitarist would, with a grasping motion.

Playing the same thing in the right hand will use different muscles and will feel very diferent, because the hands are not equal in how they come to the instrument.

Imagine playing the piano if you had one arm quite a bit shorter than the other, and maybe that will explain it.

Playing those same figures in the right hand will never feel the same as you showed with the left. In addition to the angles being different, the order of the strings is reversed, so the way the hand fits the line is also different.

So here's the real problem:

Left hand chord shape access is restricted at lower neck angles, while right hand pinky access to the highest frets/strings is restricted by higher neck angles. Since I don't use my right pinky for anything but chord tones on lower melody strings, this is not a concern, but I'm sympathetic to your situation

Find the happy medium. I don't think you're there yet, but I believe you're asking the right questions..

Author:  rclere [ Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Next Level Stuff

Greg is really "sage" here with the mechanics of the physical approach to the Stick. Also, I know we all approach from different attitudes about 3 finger or 4, however, I was a 4 finger guy, and once I "surrendered" lol, I have found that 3 finger technique much more fluid and powerful... The approach to set up the next finger, actually gives you many more fluid options, then if you are playing positional with 4 fingers. In saying this, when I practice, Markus Reuter's "Family " exercises, I use 4 fingers. But when I am playing tunes or performing its always the 3 fingers. Love the Lap Dog....

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