You Can Teach A Monkey To Play Fast

Zakk Wylde said something to that effect, basically dissing the League Of the Ungodly Fast (LOUF)-- essentially the lead guitarist in every death metal band in the past decade. His point was the speed doth not a good guitarist make. It's about passion, note choices, feel, phrasing, blah blah blah. Yadda yadda yadda. Ho ho fuckin ho.

I don't know anything about Zakk Wylde except that I used to put his strings on my Jackson before I switched to Elixir baritones. But I found that comment weirdly inspirational.

In fact, I've been practicing every day for nearly a year now since I heard him say that. It runs through my mind every time I start to doubt if the practicing is doing me any good. When I'm setting the metronome slower instead of faster. Every time I start to think that I should've spent that hour doing something with tangible results it passes through my mind.

"Even a monkey can learn to play fast."

It's true. People dumber than I can whiz up and down a phrygian scale and follow it with a sweeping arpeggio flourish across all six strings. In the blink of a friggin eye.

Articulated speed is a learned skill. Like typing. It's not something you're born with, despite what Yngwie would lead you to believe. It's just a matter of coordinating the right and left hands in unison.

"Even a monkey can play fast."

I already know the other stuff; phrasing, feel, evocative note choices. I can do that. It's playing fast that is the most difficult and the most impressive. I respect BB King but I'd like him more if he threw in a shredding lick once a year.

Still, I find it chuckle-worthy that my source of inspiration is an insult. If I ever put out an instructional DVD, that's what I'm gonna call it.

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