Fastest Guitarists Lists.

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by Excalibur, Jan 6, 2009.

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  1. Excalibur

    Excalibur :O

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    Jan 3, 2009
    For those who haven't seen it, I've combined both Freepower off's and Willjay's from the Petrucci and MAB forums fastest guitarist lists, for those who are curious about their favorite players overall speed and alternate picking speed :wavey:

    The first part is from Willjay, and he's spent alot of hours compiling and clocking these speeds, so be gracious :bowdown:

    I often get asked for an actual list of results from my NPS Clocking Project for alternate picking, so today i've typed out a list of my results from clocking over 50 of the fastest known guitarists.

    I've split them into groups of speed, just to make it a bit easier to read.

    As you'll see, there are several people that are around the same speed, though i have made noteable comments for a lot of them, because as is obvious to me now, they aren't all necessarily on the same level of picking skill JUST because they pick at the same speed, there are other factors involved also (eg. level of accuracy, difficulty of shapes/patterns involved).

    I've also seperated the "Spasmic Arm Vibration" picking, from the normal picking. You may notice that Rusty Cooley is in both lists, that is because he changes how he picks after a certain speed (from controlled picking, to arm vibration picking).

    This is the only list of it's kind i've seen anywhere on the net that is fully scientific, where i can back up every single speed claim with audio evidence in the form of 1 second clips that i have created for each artist, and clocked them myself.

    Anyway.... here ya go :

    - Shawn Lane - 18 nps

    - Danny Joe Carter - 17 nps (not note for note accurate/coordinated at that speed)
    - Todd Duane - 16.5 - 17 nps (very accurate)
    - Marcus Paus - 16 -17 nps (inaccurate, tremelo picking)
    - Rusty Cooley - 16 nps
    - John McLaughlin - 16 nps (very accurate....on acoustic!!!!!)
    - Michael Angelo Batio - 16 nps (very accurate)
    - Joel Rivard - 16 nps (very accurate)
    - Tony Macalpine - 16 nps (very accurate)
    - Guthrie Govan - 16 nps
    - Rick Graham - 16 nps
    - Theodore Ziras - 16 nps (alternate picks accurate up to around 16 nps, after that he starts to switch to missing out pickstrokes/economy picking)
    - Chris Impellitteri - 16 nps (16 nps in his early years.....these days more around 14-15 nps)

    - Conrad Simon - 15 nps (very accurate)
    - John Petrucci - 15 nps (can be very accurate when not simply "tremelo picking")
    - Yngwie Malmsteen - 15 nps
    - Paul Gilbert - 15 nps (very accurate)
    - Al Di Meola - 15 nps (very accurate)
    - Jorge Strunz - 15 nps (very accurate)
    - Jason Becker - 15 nps (can be very accurate)
    - Vinnie Moore - 15 nps (very accurate)
    - John Norum - 15 nps
    - Michael Romeo - 15 nps
    - Ron Thal - 15 nps
    - Jeremy Barnes - 15 nps
    - John Sykes - 15 nps
    - Mario Parga - 15 nps (not very accurate, mostly tremelo picking)

    - Paco DeLucia - 14 -15 nps
    - Kee Marcello - 14 nps (very accurate)
    - Milan Polak - 14 nps
    - Bob Zabek - 14 nps
    - Matthew Mills - 14 nps
    - Nuno Bettencourt - 14 nps
    - George Bellas - 14 nps
    - Stephan Forte - 14 nps
    - Toshi Iseda - 14 nps
    - Mark Tremonti - 14 nps
    - German Schauss - 14 nps (quite inaccurate)

    - Buckethead - 13.5 nps
    - Jeff Loomis - 13.5 nps
    - Tony Smotherman - 13 nps
    - Steve Vai - 13 -14 nps (mostly around 13 nps)
    - Neil Zaza - 13 nps (i'm sure he can pick quicker than this... i just don't have many good quality recordings)
    - Joe Stump - 13 nps (though he does gain more speed with certain runs by economy picking)
    - Greg Howe - 13 nps
    - Steve Morse - 13 nps
    - Randy Rhoads - 13 nps
    - Zakk Wylde - 13 nps
    - The Great Kat - 13 nps (...of very inaccurate tremelo picking on 1 string)
    - Joey Taffola - 12 nps (very accurate)

    Here are some speeds i've clocked for people using `Spasmic Arm Vibration" picking :

    - Odracir (Michael Angelo forum) - 27 - 28 nps (Spasmic arm vibration picking on 1 note)
    - Shredmikael (John Petrucci forum) - 20 nps (Spasmic arm vibration "tremelo" picking; is 16 years old)
    - Tiago Della Vega - 18 - 20 nps (picks up to this speed with spasmic arm vibrations, left and right hands never match up, and often fingers more notes than he picks)
    - Francesco Fareri - 18 nps (...of uncoordinated, inaccurate, arm vibration picking on 1 string)
    - Rusty Cooley - 16.5 - 17 nps (up to this speed when using the vibrating arm picking method, which loses some accuracy)

    Hope this helps a bit! [​IMG]

    This is Freepower's list, he's also put in alot of time into it, but it's more of a community effort, so if Shred pops his head around these parts again, be sure to thank him as well :flame:

    Francesco Fareri sweeps 3 beats of an Am arpeggio at 33nps every chorus of “suspension”, and the tab was available off his official site. 12 notes to the beat at 165bpm.

    Michael Angelo Batio sweeps a few arpeggios in No Boundaries (2:01-2:05) using septuplets at 200, which is 23.3 nps

    Michael Romeo taps 32nds @ 172 in this video, so that's 22.93nps - thanks ZylitoL!

    Jason Becker - In Paganini's 5th, at around 1 minute 40 secondish, in Jason plays 10 notes in .451 seconds, which comes to 22.17 nps, so the 21.3 that the powertab supposes is pretty accurate.(eco picked) I am getting Becker hitting anywhere from 8 to 12 notes in around .5 seconds, so the sweep claim made earlier of around 19-22 nps is accurate. (sweeps)

    Steve Vai - 21.6 - the riddle, legato and tapping.

    Paul Gilbert on "snakebite" - sextuplets at 205, we have ourselves 20.5nps!

    Shawn Lane has definitely picked his trademark diminished string skips at 19.5nps (8 notes alternate picked, one economy picked. [​IMG] ). Also he preforms a 6 and a 9 in 0.735s on Power Licks, which is 20.4nps.

    Guthrie Govan - Tapping in Fives as performed for Blues Jam Tracks, 32 notes at 152 BPM for 20.267nps.

    Allan Holdsworth has the greatest legato technique in the world, but I've been hard pressed to find a run that shows off his sheer speed. I've found a lick in "Heavy Machinery" thats sextuplets at 200bpm (20nps), string skipped and stretchy! This doesn't illustrate his flexibility or imagination, however, and I strongly recommend you go and listen to some of this man's playing immediately.

    TheShred201 - Quote:
    20 NPS for a diminished, 3-note-per-string, string skipping legato lick in the song Outworld by Outworld (Rusty Cooley). The 20 nps makes sense since it's 32nds at somewhere around 150 BPM, possibly a little over that I believe. It lasts for well over a second too...
    Most of his alternate picking licks are around 16nps

    Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal clocks in at 19.8nps during “I can’t play the blues” , doing some stretchy tapping nonsense.

    Evil_Empire24-7 submitted this un- George Lynch - Wicked Sensations 19.8 NPS from total guitar magazine 2001. (No info on technique used, or bar, etc)

    John Petrucci sweeps 19.4nps on the song “Curve”, and pretty much all his Dream Theatre picking solos are around 14/15nps, so please don’t ask about them.

    Frank Gambale has hit 19.3 nps on 6.8 Shaker.

    ZylitoL -Marty Friedman in Concerto - Five 32nd sweeps at 140bpm @ bar 152 according to my GP file. That's 18.7nps.

    Yngwie Malmsteen on blitzkreig (32nds at 140) - 18.6 alt picked.

    John 5 -In Perineum, the song with Steve Vai, John 5 hits a nice 32nds @ 138 bpm = 18.4 nps

    Joe Satriani plays 32nd note 5's at 110bpm in the solo in Ice 9 (left hand legato) , which is 18.3nps.

    Buckethead - 16nps on a lesson vid. Alt picking - and 17.8 nps on a tapping thing on jump man. Those are the only accurate speeds I can find.
    Also -
    Originally Posted by TheShred201
    If the tempo's are correct in the GP on this site of Buckethead Lesson 3, he hits 17.33nps alt picking and later sweeping (32's at 130).

    gimme_fuel_89 - James Root from Slipknot plays consistent 5s at 200bpm on the first solo of "Welcome", which is 16.6nps.

    Prophet of Page- I clocked Eric Johnson earlier, he hits an EXCEPTIONALLY clean 15nps on a repeated pentatonic (2 notes per string) lick, all picked on "Ah Via Musicom", maintained for several seconds.

    Tony Macalpine plays 8th note triplets at 300bpm on “hundreds of thousands”. (15nps)

    Originally Posted by Philmore222
    Andy LaRocque plays some alt. picked sextuplets for a full bar in the second solo of Black Horsemen by King Diamond, at 150bpm. What is that, 15 NPS or something?

    Yes it is, actually. Andy LaRocque, 15nps.

    Al DiMeola's NPS on Mediterranean Sundance on the “Friday Night In San Francisco” album smoothly flies along at a superclean 14nps.

    I hope all of this information helps you all, and satisfies your appetites.

    Enjoy :)
  2. silentrage

    silentrage The DeRailer

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    Nov 1, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Every 14 year old on youtube needs to STFU and read this shit up so they can stop their incessant little whiny arguements on who's the fastest.

    If only you could measure taste like you can speed.

    awesome info btw, now spam this everywhere. :)
  3. auxioluck

    auxioluck Metal Teddy Bear

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    Jun 29, 2007
    Good Lord....that's all fast.
  4. Demeyes

    Demeyes Regular

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    Oct 11, 2007
    I've seen bits of that before. It's very interesting from a stats view, also it seems very objective which is nice. It is frighteningly fast. I know myself that I will never have the discipline to nail phrases or techniques to close to those speeds.
  5. ambrosius

    ambrosius Devil

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    Jan 4, 2009
    Fredericksburg, VA, USA
    Some of those really surprise me. Figured Paul Guilbert would be further up. Shawn Lane doesn't surprise me being at the top.

    Got curious and clocked myself on a scale run at 13nps. Anything over that is sloptastic for my fingers.
  6. tequila_sauer

    tequila_sauer Regular

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    Jul 13, 2008
    I'm very curious to see where Dallas Toler Wade fits in here. Roddy once said Dallas was one of only two people he'd ever seen locked at 250bpm.
  7. Stealthdjentstic

    Stealthdjentstic Banned

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    Jul 24, 2007
    Vancouver, BC, Canadia
    Wow that must have been a huge bitch to compile.

    Nice work :metal:
  8. DDDorian

    DDDorian Mantis Toboggan, M.D Super Moderator

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    Jun 11, 2006
    Middle of nowhere, Australia
    I was given a recent issue of Guitar World for Xmas that contained a "fastest guitarists" list and I was surprised at how comprehensive it was. Some of the guys that made the list weren't strictly speaking the fastest, but there were sections for jazz players, country players, 50's rock guys, even a "where are they now?" section with guys like "Maestro" Alex Gregory. Usually those things are written for the sole purpose of being contraversional, but it was a genuinely good article and probably the first one I'd actually give GW credit for.

    ...anyway, I brought it up because it included Willjay's list from the MAB forums and a rundown of how it was calculated, maybe I'll scan it later:yesway:
  9. -Nolly-

    -Nolly- Regular

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    Nov 13, 2007
    Bath, UK
    Very interesting stuff, thanks for taking the time to do it :yesway:
  10. Harry

    Harry Doom man of Doom. Contributor

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    Sep 5, 2008
    Melbourne, Aus
    Shawn Lane, what a god.
    He was tasteful as hell too, even with his insane chops.

    I wish I had that kind of alternate picking chops. On a good day I can get 16th notes at 210 bpm.
    Unfortunately, I barely have good alternate picking days, and usually I peak at around 11 notes per second for clean alternate picked player.
    I can get 16th note triplets at 155 bpm in legato, pretty clean too, so I'm happy about that.
    My sweep picking, tops out at about 9 notes per second played clean:lol:
  11. Metal Ken

    Metal Ken Hates the Air Contributor

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    Jun 27, 2004

    Considering Nile, it was probably tremolo picking on some kinda of pattern. Still pretty fast, though.
  12. Tybanez

    Tybanez Regular

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    Jan 16, 2007
    Fort Frances ontario Canada
    Very interesting list. That must have been a bitch to compile. Thanks for doing this!
  13. dream-thief

    dream-thief I Am The Anger

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    Jan 31, 2008
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Nice work. :yesway:

    I'm kind of wondering what category one had to fit to be included in that list.

    If only we could get an auto-Pm thing on youtube etc. that sent that to every whiny comment-er on videos saying "lol this guy sucks, X guy is soooo much better lol"
  14. Anthony

    Anthony Banned

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    Jun 2, 2007
  15. Apophis

    Apophis Banned

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    Jan 8, 2005
    nice and thanks :)
  16. voiceguitar

    voiceguitar Regular

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    Jul 18, 2008
    ontario canada
    GREAT THREAD! thanks! I know some of you are not fond of this name... but i wonder what marshall harrison is capable of??
  17. Excalibur

    Excalibur :O

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    Jan 3, 2009
    PM me your requests, and I'll ask Willjay to get working on them, feel free to rep me too, everybody needs an incentive :D

    I think Marshall Harrison can reach about 15-17 with a mix of economy and hybrid, Willjay probably wouldn't check him because he's not alternate picking, but I'll see what UG can do then :)

    Warning: Shameless plug alert coming up :p

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    They're in the GP Format, with the majority of them in GP3.

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    Mvotre and HammerAndSickle like this.
  18. Dyingsea

    Dyingsea Regular

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    Jul 26, 2008
    Nashville, TN
    Here's the thing... Shawn Lane played incredibly hard verticle patterns and voicings, not just 3 note per string bursts. You could knock about everyone on that list down at least 1-2 nps trying to play Shawns lines.
  19. S-O

    S-O t(-.-t)

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    Dec 28, 2006
    Dayton and Columbus, Ohio
    I know I can hang up there with at 16 with strict alt picking, but I know I am nowhere as perfect and clean as gods like Todd Duane and Shawn Lane, but it is by no means pure slop, but i use directional picking (similar to economy picking, but not planned out like Frank Gambale's, though he is awesome, see guys like George Bellas or Tom Hess to directional picking) and I can squeeze out a few more nps, but those are over practiced sequences and such.

    I wish I was as good as Shawn Lane though :(
  20. Stephen

    Stephen Collibus

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    May 16, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    I've noticed i can get to about 17nps alternate picking when trying to be as fast as i can but I'm not really into the whole speed competition sort of thing haha, Not like i practice to be fast. I'm only as fast as i need to be to be comfortable to play my own music.

    I still don't understand what the fascination is with trying to be faster than everyone. And no I'm not against fast playing as long as it sounds effective and musical.
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