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  1. #1

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    This has been mentioned as a problem by guitarists as diverse as Larry Coryell and Jimmy Bruno.
    Larry Coryell said that his guitar teacher wanted him to do it, but he found his own way of doing it, without using alternate picking.

    Jimmy Bruno talks about having problems playing Clifford Brown and Oscar Peterson lines using only alternate picking, and then says that one of the first things he challenges a new student with is playing a two octave G Major scale in 2nd Position at a fast tempo as mentioned above- up and down.

    Invariably, he says, the student can't do it cleanly, so he demonstrates how he does it using his method of picking (not alternate).

    Using a metronome set at 160 bpm or higher, try to play a two-octave G scale using alt. picking, four notes a beat (16th notes) starting on low G and ending on low G all in 2nd position (no 3-note-per-string fingerings). Can you do it cleanly, without dropping a 16th note?
    If you don't use alt. picking, how do you play it, without using 3 note-per-string fingerings and slurs (hammer ons and pull-offs)?

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  3. #2

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    To help the thread get going, since I'm really interested in this subject, will just say, I can hardly tremolo pick one string at that speed.

    Can't wait to hear all the examples.
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  4. #3

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    Somebody please, help! I can't do it either. Experimenting, I find I do have a few phrases and runs that I tend to use, that I can do at that tempo or indeed a bit faster, although not entirely with alternate picking - I throw in the odd hammer on and pull-off in places. Not sure how I got those really - just evolved somehow. But I won't feel like a proper guitarist now until I can do that 2 octave G major semiquavers at 160.

  5. #4

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    Yes... I use to do that as kid... but you do need to have the right number of notes... same thing with different rhythmic patterns.

    The number of attacks need to fit within the time. In your example.... you need to include going up to A on first string and then down to F# on low string to set up starting over. Next is to start playing two octave arpeggios. triads, 7th, 9th and 13th chords'
    Them move on to Harmonic and Melodic Minors... and Harm. Maj. then Pentatonic both Maj/Min and Dominant it never ends

    I use alternate picking for starting reference... and then would play around with different patterns and picking etc...

    I think I've posted picking at 300mm just playing up beats years ago.... but this generally isn't the type of thing one should make a very important goal. Just something to help work on technique

  6. #5

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    Bruno or economy picking.

    Basically:
    1. Alternate pick on one string,
    2. when moving to a higher pitched string (lower toward the floor) pick down,
    3. when moving to a lower pitched string (closer to the ceiling) pick up.



    "The Art of Picking" by Jimmy Bruno.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    Bruno or economy picking.

    Basically:
    1. Alternate pick on one string,
    2. when moving to a higher pitched string (lower toward the floor) pick down,
    3. when moving to a lower pitched string (closer to the ceiling) pick up.



    "The Art of Picking" by Jimmy Bruno.
    Having worked on the JB method for a while now, I have a question: This method works great if your pick is in the right position as you move from string to string, for example if you're playing an ascending scale 3 notes per string D U D D U D etc. But what if you need to change to a higher (pitched) string after playing an even number of notes on the lower string, say D U D U; now your pick is on the wrong side of the lower string; it's the same as alternate picking. So, do you purposely try to play only 1 or 3 NPS, or slur or hammer on the last note, to keep your pick in the right position to move to the higher string? For example, suppose you want to play the Am pentatonic scale ascending in 5th position (the old "blues box"), which has 2 NPS. How would you pick it, Bruno school?

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    Yes... I use to do that as kid... but you do need to have the right number of notes... same thing with different rhythmic patterns.

    The number of attacks need to fit within the time. In your example.... you need to include going up to A on first string and then down to F# on low string to set up starting over. Next is to start playing two octave arpeggios. triads, 7th, 9th and 13th chords'
    Them move on to Harmonic and Melodic Minors... and Harm. Maj. then Pentatonic both Maj/Min and Dominant it never ends

    I use alternate picking for starting reference... and then would play around with different patterns and picking etc...

    I think I've posted picking at 300mm just playing up beats years ago.... but this generally isn't the type of thing one should make a very important goal. Just something to help work on technique
    Well, that's one of the questions I'm asking- is it an important goal?
    Larry Coryell's guitar teacher thought it was. Jimmy Bruno thinks it is. Johnny Smith thought it was.

    As Reg said, you have to alter it in some way to fit the time. I add a 'curley Q' of an extra F# and G on top to solve the problem, but you could also do it Reg's way, or even set your metronome to 7/4 if you have a DB-90.
    But the real problem is the second octave. Playing a one octave scale doesn't present the problem of having to alternate pick across the entire six strings. Playing the two octave scale using the three note-per-string method only uses five strings.But adding the second octave presents the main problem of this exercise.
    When you play the first octave up and down, everything is cool; the down stroke begins and ends on the low G. But when you begin the second octave, you're starting on an up-stroke this time.
    So you've got to be able to play the higher octave G scale starting on an up-stroke. Can you do this at 320bpm? Can you even do it at 300bpm? Can you even do it repetitively as 16th notes without a metronome, and not screw up the picking, lose the feeling of 'one' as you repeat it, and wind up collapsing like a quivering bag of jelly like the utter failure you are?

    That last part was stolen from Brother Theodore.

    So maybe Reg is right; this is a meaningless exercise that you play in Mel bay as a "kid", and then concern yourself with more important matters. But maybe it points out what could be thought of as the main flaw in alt. picking. Or maybe it points out a challenge that must be conquered if you want to play like Martino or JS?
    Or maybe it forces you to switch to the Chuck Wayne school of picking (as his students, and students of his students did).
    This can lead to subjective arguments that I have no desire to get involved in.

  9. #8

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    No chance ... can‘t pick 16th at 160 bpm; doesn‘t matter what the string changing strategy is ... couldn‘t do it on a single string. Maybe burst pick with hope to do sustainably xxx years down the road ... I have listened a lot to David Gilmour lately - it doesn‘t matter how fast we can pick - it matters how we express ourselves with music. Just sayin‘

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ren View Post
    Having worked on the JB method for a while now, I have a question: This method works great if your pick is in the right position as you move from string to string, for example if you're playing an ascending scale 3 notes per string D U D D U D etc. But what if you need to change to a higher (pitched) string after playing an even number of notes on the lower string, say D U D U; now your pick is on the wrong side of the lower string; it's the same as alternate picking. So, do you purposely try to play only 1 or 3 NPS, or slur or hammer on the last note, to keep your pick in the right position to move to the higher string? For example, suppose you want to play the Am pentatonic scale ascending in 5th position (the old "blues box"), which has 2 NPS. How would you pick it, Bruno school?
    Well you know better than I, I don't use it. I'll take a stab at the ascending side though.

    Playing from A on the 6th it's D-U all the way up to C on the 1rst string. Same as an alternate picker would do. Pick down on all ascending string moves.


    It's descending that get's tricky for me to guess and I don't have the book handy at the moment. I pick alternate style and starting on C on the 1rst it's still just D-U all the way down to A on the 6th. It's slower for me to descend. It feels less efficient/economical.

    I think Bruno style would be:

    D-U on the 1rst, then U-D all the way from there. I think you could start with U-D and stay with that all the way too. Pick up on all descending string moves.


    Just guessin' though.

  11. #10

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    Thanks, this is getting to the crux of what I’m trying to understand; the Bruno method can get you into the same glitches as alternate picking, where your pick is not optimally positioned when you change strings. This glitch will occur ascending if you play an even number of notes on a string, ending in an upstroke. So I’m wondering if some of our speedy players get around this by slurring, hammering, or avoiding this glitch some other way.

  12. #11

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    I think they practice their butts off.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    ... Using a metronome set at 160 bpm or higher, try to play a two-octave G scale using alt. picking, four notes a beat (16th notes) starting on low G and ending on low G all in 2nd position (no 3-note-per-string fingerings). Can you do it cleanly, without dropping a 16th note?
    If you don't use alt. picking, how do you play it, without using 3 note-per-string fingerings and slurs (hammer ons and pull-offs)?
    Tried it more seriously today. Some observations:

    - I can almost, just almost do it. However, I do not know how clean is clean enough? Is some sort of strings muting allowed, or not?
    - Starting "on beat", I can do all down strokes in 1/8, both the scale and G13 arpeggio. Hard part is pinky bar/ roll on fret 5/ strings 3 and 2.
    - Starting "off beat", I can do all up strokes in 1/8, both the scale and Am13 arpeggio. No hard parts.

    From above, it's obvious that I move my hand fast enough. I should be able to play alternate 1/16, using motions btw consecutive "strokes" in one direction as strokes in another. After one D I have a motion to position my hand for another D. That motion should be used as U. That is the logic behind alternate picking.
    Unfortunately, my brain can not do it. I have to think of each D and U as a separate motion. I can not just use the motion that is already there.
    - Learning to use what is already there is the way to go.
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  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ren View Post
    ... suppose you want to play the Am pentatonic scale ascending in 5th position (the old "blues box"), which has 2 NPS. How would you pick it, Bruno school?
    If you're following the 3 rules, it's D-U, D-U, D-U, all the way, because then you're observing rule 2.

    1. Alternate pick on one string,
    2. when moving to a higher pitched string (lower toward the floor) pick down,
    3. when moving to a lower pitched string (closer to the ceiling) pick up.

  15. #14

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    Yea... I believe it's important if your going to play professional and with many different performers and different music....

    The main reason I started and still use alternate picking as my Basic Reverence.... is because it has no physical articulations. It's strong weak and naturally becomes less defining .

    The other obvious reason... there is no thinking or memorization required.... it's the same any and every where.

    The downsides are you need a very relaxed and efficient picking hand. Also the arm etc...

    I do believe those 1 2 3 4 finger patterns I posted years ago, are the only true approach to developing pure picking technique to help with crossing strings buy itself...Maybe not only... but they work fast. I used them as a kid... took about a year to get picking chops up.

    The other thing.... which is required... no one needs to play fast etc... but much of performing jazz, (and other music), requires being able to feel music with subdivisions that are usually much faster than the basic tune or performance appears and sounds. It's difficult to perform with musicians when they don't have technical skills.... it's like getting stuck in the slow zone... not bad or wrong, but can put dampers on the music. Part of the difference between memorizing something fast and being able to perform at faster tempos.

    Again... this is one skill set and needs to be worked on with all skills etc...

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    Yea... I believe it's important if your going to play professional and with many different performers and different music....

    The main reason I started and still use alternate picking as my Basic Reverence.... is because it has no physical articulations. It's strong weak and naturally becomes less defining .

    The other obvious reason... there is no thinking or memorization required.... it's the same any and every where.

    The downsides are you need a very relaxed and efficient picking hand. Also the arm etc...

    I do believe those 1 2 3 4 finger patterns I posted years ago, are the only true approach to developing pure picking technique to help with crossing strings buy itself...Maybe not only... but they work fast. I used them as a kid... took about a year to get picking chops up.

    The other thing.... which is required... no one needs to play fast etc... but much of performing jazz, (and other music), requires being able to feel music with subdivisions that are usually much faster than the basic tune or performance appears and sounds. It's difficult to perform with musicians when they don't have technical skills.... it's like getting stuck in the slow zone... not bad or wrong, but can put dampers on the music. Part of the difference between memorizing something fast and being able to perform at faster tempos.

    Again... this is one skill set and needs to be worked on with all skills etc...
    I agree with all of this; the only reason to practice stuff like this is so that you can swing and be relaxed at whatever tempo the tune is being played at.
    Shredding is the opposite of this, and has nothing to do with good jazz.
    Can you post a link to the 1 2 3 4 finger patterns you posted?
    Are they the permutations of the the four chromatic notes- e.g. 1234, 1324, 1342, 1324, etc...?

  17. #16

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    After some more time ...

    I can do it all upstrokes, scale and Am 13 arpeggio, in 1/8 starting on off beat, not a big deal actually. The day before, I was wrongly trying to do something much harder. (I edited previous post)

    Switching to shorter scale neck, with hi gain distortion. I can do the scale 1/16 @ 151 bpm, clean enough for my standards. Likely it would not pass with Bruno and Zucker might say I'm truly locked at not more than 60 bpm, but, hey ...


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  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    I agree with all of this; the only reason to practice stuff like this is so that you can swing and be relaxed at whatever tempo the tune is being played at.
    Shredding is the opposite of this, and has nothing to do with good jazz.
    Can you post a link to the 1 2 3 4 finger patterns you posted?
    Are they the permutations of the the four chromatic notes- e.g. 1234, 1324, 1342, 1324, etc...?
    Yes... I believe so.... you can organize how ever you chose.
    I use to play from 3rd position up to 10th and back down
    Starting on low E string and up to high E string and back down, then up one fret etc...
    Then on 4 string groups, (arpeggios), starting on low E string and back down... then up a fret etc...
    Then start on High E string and play in reverse, 4 string group but down and back up etc...
    They get both hands working together fast... I might have made a video? I'll look.

    1234....2341....3412....4123
    1243....2314....3421....4132
    1342....2413....3124....4231
    1324....2431....3142....4213
    1423....2134....3241....4312
    1432....2143....3214....4321

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    I agree with all of this; the only reason to practice stuff like this is so that you can swing and be relaxed at whatever tempo the tune is being played at.
    Shredding is the opposite of this, and has nothing to do with good jazz.
    Can you post a link to the 1 2 3 4 finger patterns you posted?
    Are they the permutations of the the four chromatic notes- e.g. 1234, 1324, 1342, 1324, etc...?
    A lot of material on this in this thread. Videos and text etc:

    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    Found these again looking for something else:



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  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank67 View Post
    No chance ... can‘t pick 16th at 160 bpm; doesn‘t matter what the string changing strategy is ... couldn‘t do it on a single string. Maybe burst pick with hope to do sustainably xxx years down the road ... I have listened a lot to David Gilmour lately - it doesn‘t matter how fast we can pick - it matters how we express ourselves with music. Just sayin‘

    Practicing just picking on one string has helped me a lot. just speed it up gradually. I bet you could play 4 16th notes consecutively at that tempo.... just keep playing those short bursts and then gradually increase the number of notes in each burst, until you can just play them over and over.

  21. #20

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    Apologies for not having read all the other replies thoroughly, but to answer the survey, if picking every note, I can do this easily if:

    1. 3nps or cage fingering + economy picking, all up and all down easy, changing directions mid line a little harder.

    2. Combination of 2 notes and 4 notes per string (Even number of notes per string) and 'one way pick slanting' while alternate picking (it's technically both alternate and economy in this case)

    At this point I might be able to alternate pick the 3nps in each direction at that tempo but I'd have to sit with a guitar and fiddle with it to get it clean - not something I work on much.
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  22. #21

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    I think playing at 150 bpm
    and learning or getting used to jumping to double time would be much more productive.

    And halftime..

  23. #22

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    Most effective method that I know for increasing speed is doing short speed bursts during scale practice. It's amazing how much faster you can play accurately if you only played say 3 to 8 notes as opposed to longer runs. The idea is to get a feel for the next level of speed initially by "getting there" in short bursts. Once you start hearing yourself in that speed and get used to the coordination you can increase the number of notes played fast.
    So, say, initially you set a tempo that's just beyond your reach for 2 octaves of major scale. Then, start playing 3 quarter notes and 4 16th notes per bar (or 3 quarter and 3 triplet). Then 2 quarter notes and 8 16th notes and so forth. There are different was you can do this of course. You can play 8th notes instead of quarter for the slow notes. The goal is to play all in 16th notes in that tempo. Then you can increase the tempo and start over. That's over the course of several weeks most likely.

  24. #23
    I just posted this to point out that the reason why it's so difficult to alternate pick a two octave major scale in one position at a fast speed is because you have to pick the second octave starting on an up stroke.

    Try picking just the second octave scale on an upstroke, and adding the ninth at the top and the leading tone (maj7) at the bottom, so you wind up starting on an upstroke each time you repeat it- eg. G A B C D E F# G A G F# E D C B A G F#/ G A B etc...

    What tempo can you play it at if you keep playing it over and over again with a metronome? I can play it as 16th notes at only 132 bpm.
    I thought I could blow through the two octave scale at 160, but i realized I was always off one note, because of the difficulty that starting the second octave on the upstroke presents.

    This might explain the comment one poster made saying "I think they just practice their butts off". The most accomplished jazz players who use mainly use alternate picking, Pat Martino and Johnny Smith have been reported as practicing 12 hours a day (Smith) and Martino was once reported as practicing 36 hours straight once!
    Both stressed the importance of being able to pick everything both ways; starting on a downstroke and starting on an upstroke.

    While you can have fine technique practicing Reg's 1 2 3 4 permutations, such exercises don't involve solving the picking problems mentioned above.
    You can solve the problems by using Troy Grady's pick slanting and other techniques, but it's clear that they don't work in all situations or for everyone.
    Or you can adopt some type of economic picking, legato technique etc...
    Last edited by sgcim; 03-07-2018 at 02:37 PM.

  25. #24

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    As it relates to actual playing situations, isn't this all too calculated? Counting how many notes per string you are going to play so you can land on either a downstroke or an upstroke. It reminds me of the downward/upward pickslanting thing. Do players actually calculate how they are going to pick as they are playing? "OK, now I have to play three notes on this string in this ascending lick so I can land on a upstroke on the next string." Shouldn't improv be more spontaneous than that?

  26. #25

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    I'm a bit unsure what you mean by 2nd position. Could you post where on each string you can the scale played.

    Do you mean just the simple
    (low E sting) 35
    (A) 235
    (D) 245
    etc.

  27. #26

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    IMO, 2nd position can mean only one thing:
    index finger on 2nd fret, middle finger on 3rd fret, ring on 4th pinky on 5th,
    index and pinky can stretch to adjacent frets.
    Sliding would not count, IMO.

    - Standard major scale fingering is (string/ finger, no stretches),
    Roots are: 6/ 2, 4/ 4, 1/ 2:

    6/ (1) 2, 4
    5/ 1, 2, 4
    4/ 1, 3, 4
    3/ 1, 3, 4
    2/ 2, 4
    1/ 1, 2, (4)

    - I do not see any problem in starting 2nd octave on upstroke, probably because i do not hear it as octaves in succession.

    - Troy Grady, at least in his free offerings, will not be of help, IMO. Maybe the material he charges for, I do not know, but his free stuff is more less useless.

    - In any case, the trick is in properly applied well known standard approaches and techniques, like positioning hand above the string, using different groups of muscles for different things, aiming fairly precisely ... all the slanting BS falls into place on it's own, you already do it that way, whichever way you do it, standard, Benson, circle ... does not matter. It is not something you should think about. Just take care not to do it overly sloppy.

    - The hardest part is to develop right hand to reflexively switch motion in seemingly controlled manner, to really use return motion as picking motion without sending separate command. That is the core of what Troy Grady does, he just talks a lot about other stuff.
    It can happen, though, that while struggling with unimportant, you accidentally fix something that really matters. For example, you could be working on "slanting" BS, or other "revolutionary discovery" from some other presenter, and have accidentally improve hand positioning in the process, or something ...

    - Practice your butt off .... Exactly!!! For example, all the "special technique solution" sellers have no other thing in their lives to do except for to practice their butts off on example licks they use to sell their products.
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  28. #27

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    I'll try this tomorrow.

    I predict, upward, no problem.... downwards will be an issue for my technique.

  29. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by gnatola View Post
    As it relates to actual playing situations, isn't this all too calculated? Counting how many notes per string you are going to play so you can land on either a downstroke or an upstroke. It reminds me of the downward/upward pickslanting thing. Do players actually calculate how they are going to pick as they are playing? "OK, now I have to play three notes on this string in this ascending lick so I can land on a upstroke on the next string." Shouldn't improv be more spontaneous than that?
    That's the whole point of practicing stuff like this; so you don't have to think about technique when improvising.
    As I've said a few times in this thread, I only practice technique so I can be completely spontaneous in my improvisation, and play relaxed.
    IMHO, that's the fun part about playing jazz; you're going on a new musical journey each time you have a solo.
    Improvisers like Lee Konitz claim that nobody really improvises anymore. Read gary burton's autobiography about Pat Metheny "putting little fixes in the studio" on all his solos on all the albums he played with Burton.

    Metheny is concerned with putting out a perfect product that people will enjoy. There's nothing wrong with that, but don't call it spontaneous jazz.
    Today there is more pressure than ever to put out a 'perfect product' in jazz. As Konitz says, it's all rehearsed improvising rather than spontaneous improvising.
    I've mentioned before that I saw Jim Hall and Ron Carter live at the Village West club once, and he was playing all the solos from his 'Alone Together' album almost note for note. Ron Carter was improvising all of his solos.
    There are tons of examples of Miles Davis playing the same solos in his out takes that he played in the released versions of his tunes.
    Pepper Adams said that when he played live with Miles, he was able to play Miles' solos with him down 8va because he played the same solos every night, and Pepper memorized them. He also got himself fired because he did that.
    Anyway, the reason I practice this stuff is so I can get to whatever I spontaneously come up with. Otherwise, I'd be playing classical music or other non-improvisational music.

  30. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov View Post
    I'm a bit unsure what you mean by 2nd position. Could you post where on each string you can the scale played.

    Do you mean just the simple
    (low E sting) 35
    (A) 235
    (D) 245
    etc.
    Yeah.

  31. #30

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    Re: calculation: Calculate things in the practice room, get them ingrained and internalized to the point that you can improvise with them. It's the same with any harmonic or fretboard stuff - might be pretty mathy in the initial stages, but a good 'integration process' allows the concepts to start becoming a natural part of improvisation. I don't think we should ever really fear technical details, either of harmony/rhythm/technique/positioning, etc, we just need to know that if we find something valuable it may take a while before it is ingrained and ready to be used for improv.
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner