Right hand and the Goldilocks zone

RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
edited June 2023 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 323

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to effortlessly move your right hand from whole notes to 1/2 notes to 1/4 to 1/8 to triplets to 1/16 while playing any tune and have not yet done so, try this.

Take out a metronome and play tremolo on a single string as fast as you can, while being TOTALLY relaxed.

For sake of example, let’s say you are able to play 1/4 notes at 60 bpm with complete relaxation. Now you have located your baseline for your current Goldilocks zone.

This means that you can play:

Whole notes at 240 bpm

1/2 notes at 120bpm

1/4 notes at 60 bpm

1/8 notes at 30 bpm

Triplets at 20 bpm

1/16 notes at 15 bpm

Now you can play any tune at 15 bpm and get the experience of being able to have a descent amount of mastery with you right hand, freeing you up to focus more on tone and feel.

The same will be true for 20bpm, but you won’t be able to play 1/16 notes.

The same is true for 30 bpm, but you won’t be able to play 1/16 notes and triplets 

The same will be true for 60 bpm, but you won’t be able to play 1/16 notes, triplets and 1/8 notes

The same is true for 120 bpm, but you won’t be able to play 1/16, triplets, 1/8 notes and 1/4 notes

The same is true for 240 bpm, if you play only whole notes

Any faster and you are leaving the Goldilocks zone.

Edit -

Note: Create a separate Goldilocks zone for double downs.

It's fun



  • Posts: 4,736

    This is cool but how do you push through the upper limit of your goldilocks zone?

    One thing I've done and found it works, I think... is to sacrifice the picking quality briefly in order to plow through something. Not more than 20 minutes but usually a lot shorter. Do this occasionally throughout your practice over a period of time and slowly start cleaning up the notes you play at a faster tempo and hopefully they'll both come out well on the other end, ability to play something faster with the same precision as before.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
    Posts: 323

    The reason I mentioned the Goldilocks zone, is because for a long time I never played 1/16 notes. I told myself that, as my technique improved, that I would start to play them more. Playing in the Goldilocks zone gives you an instant pass which is helpful to get familiar with what 1/16 notes feel like. Getting a feel for things can lead to increased speed.

    It seems that the method that you mention and the GZ are going towards the same direction. Some questions might be, which ones do you enjoy and what gets you there quicker. I've found that taking the relaxed approach has a paradoxical effect, as little burst of speed begin to present themselves. At this point, I'm more interested in tone and feel and so I'm willing to sacrifice the speed, but I know the speed will continue to increase.

  • Posts: 4,736

    Oh yes, 16th notes. I have a wall across from where I sit when practicing plastered with sticky notes reminding me what to work on and one of those says to slow down and play 16th notes. Especially gypsy bossas where it sounds really nice to just solo over staying in the scale. My rule of thumb is to go half tempo. Half of whatever I think I'd call a tune in a jam or a gig. That usually slows it down enough to allow me to play anything. On occasion I go even slower or nudge forward a touch. I like to say slowing down will get you there faster. It certainly did it for me.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
    Posts: 323

    The sticky note thing is pretty funny. Yes, 1/16 notes while staying in scale on Bossas sounds amazing!! Also one of my favorite places to use them. Great way to warm up, given the right tempo.

  • Posts: 4,736

    I have so many notes written, printed and on various devices. Think I ever look at them? Stickies are like "hey, I got my eyes on you...yeah you".

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
    Posts: 323

    That’s awesome. Never let a good idea go to waste! Feel free to post some ideas!

  • Posts: 4,736

    Well, when it comes to playing 16th notes at tempo, it's a great practice to play them at slow tempo. I play at slow tempo a lot. This is where you develop the feel for how it feels rhythmically and also build a vocabulary or how I like to see it, start finding pathways around the fretboard.

    But what do you do about being able to play at performance tempo? Two things, once you have something to play;

    - Plow through it playing longer phrases without much regard for how clean you play

    - Play through it cleanly in very short bursts, even if it's two notes at a time and then scale up

    Either way make sure you're completely relaxed.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
    Posts: 323

    I will sacrifice 1/16 and double downs. If it’s to fast I’ll even sacrifice triplets. If it’s crazy fast I’ll just do 1/4 note’s and whole notes. I can’t sacrifice tone and feel however, it’s my red line.

    Also, any subdivision can swing if you syncopate it for that purpose.

    With that said, I respect your plowing through it approach. I also like chuncking the short bursts of clean notes. Take what you can get.

  • edited June 2023 Posts: 4,736

    But to clarify, the plowing through it approach isn't to train to play that way. It is to hopefully show a person that it is within ones abilities. What's important is to do it in a relaxed way. You wouldn't practice this extensively, 5-10 minutes out of hour practice is plenty. It helped me break through a platou a few times when it comes to picking hand playing something at tempo where my left could do it but the right hand couldn't keep up when gypsy jazz picking is used. That combined with with a very short intervals at tempo can help someone make a breakthrough.

    This isn't anything original. Some of it I came to by my own experimenting but also it's along the lines of what Kenny Werner talks about in his Effortless Mastery book. Then I ran into interviews with top shelf classical musicians advocating this small intervals at tempo practice etc... Even metal shredders like late Shawn Lane said that at some point after practicing slowly, you have to try to push through it at tempo regardless of how well you might do. Troy Grady talked about that as well in one of his videos. There's gotta be more out there too.

    Now, all of that said, I'm of a same opinion as you when it comes to my own playing. Tone and grove and clarity of playing is far ahead on my list of priorities when it comes to soloing than anything else. More than once at Django in June I listened to players whose soloing I'd enjoy so much more if they didn't go for these ultra fast lines sacrificing the tone. So I told myself I won't make a same mistake once I get to a point where I can play fast. I'm not sure how good of a job I'm doing because a friend once told me after a gig, like "you know, you could take some notes out and still sound good". And I was so glad he was that open to tell me that. At least I'm often aware of that when I play live. It's weird but when I play live sometimes I have this feeling of too much space and not enough richness in my soloing. Part of it is acoustic guitar not being able to sustain well, part is just confidence to know how it sounds to a listener. Sometimes at home I record myself playing intentionally lazy and it sounds just fine. Go figure...

    You once mentioned you know Koran. He's a prime example of a player who will never play a fast line for its own sake, always prioritizing tone and clarity and harmony etc...and his soloing if often no more than 1/4 notes.

    PS I didn't waste valuable practice time writing this small essay, I wrote it while making Sunday morning crepes.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
    Posts: 323

    Great points! I agree with, and can relate to, all of them! I always think of louis armstrong when it comes to saying a lot without playing a lot, and django, who could burn through something and also say a lot.

    I love crepes!

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