For Swirly -- Michael Angelo "Speed Kills" Review
You had asked a few weeks ago about the Michael Angelo "Speed Kills" DVD. I just got it in and thought I'd post a quick review of it for you and anyone else who might be interested. As I'm a HUGE Angelo fan, I'll spare you the more subjective details such as his sense of humour (which is very, very corny) and shred flash, and stick to the more objective bits like the material it covers.
I hope this is the appropriate venue -- I'm not sure if this belongs in the "Players, Bands, People, Music, and Tours" section. Hope the moderators can figure this out for me!
The instructional material is EXTREMELY dense. The printed tab that comes with the video is only five pages long, but it covers a ton of ground. Michael covers alternate picking, economy (sweep) picking, and hammer-on/pull off.
The alternate picking section stresses careful examination of tremolo picking and keeping the motion of the right hand the same from fast to slow. The licks Michael uses are really good for picking up speed ... they tend to be repetitive and very easy to get down and speed up, similar to the stuff Troy Stetina uses in the "Building Speed" section and in examples 47-50 of "Speed Mechanics." Mike throws in a healthy deal of advice about good mechanics between the licks.
The "economy picking" section is quick. Very quick. Michael, as far as I know, tends to use alternate picking for nearly everything ... his coverage of economy picking is sort of like throwing the idea out there, giving two REALLY good (short loop) exercises to work on, and that's that. You're pretty much on your own to work with it. It's not Frank Gambale's "Speed Picking" by any means, but it'll do for beginners. Anyone really interested in developing good e-picking should look elsewhere.
For hammer-on, pull-off, Michael goes through a "tongue-twister for your pinkie" workout that's simply vicious, and then rounds it out with "string skipping hammer-on arpeggios," which are seriously cool and fun.
Michael's coverage of sweeping arpeggios is adequate. Hats off to him for being the first person I've come across in guitar video land for demonstrating the infamous "finger roll" when sweeping that Am classic arpeggio (Mike calls that lick "Arpeggio 101"). Mike goes through a "monster arpeggio" lick one bit at a time, which alone is probably worth the price of the DVD. Though he demonstrates tapping to extend arpeggios during his "inspirational" fast playing, he doesn't ever talk about them, and his arpeggio forms really stick to the traditional "Am, Dm, Dmaj" fingerings. Nuts.
Finally, Mike wraps up the instructional part with a demonstration of his trademark 3-note-per-string diminished arpeggios that incorporate a seven-fret spread skipping over strings. He did a very similar (though MUCH more intense and thorough) lick in his "Star Licks" video (lick MA5). If you're looking for a finger-bustin' good time, this is certainly it.
The DVD is nicely rounded out with examples of him playing the double-axe guitar, and a "2002 revisit" that highlights the most frequently asked questions that Mike got regarding the first version of the video.
All in all, I loved it. There's some great stuff in there and I really think it will help build speed, dexterity, and clarity with careful practice (what wouldn’t?). Outside of diehard Angelo fans like myself, I'm not sure how much "replay" value it has ... if the Stetina book is New York City, then the Angelo video is New Haven -- once you've seen Yale and hit Wooster Street, you're pretty much done in New Haven; but every time you go to NYC, you find something totally new and exciting to do. Either way, you're better for the experience. And besides ... New Haven is inexpensive, and it has Sally's Apizza, which some people like me could eat every day of the week!
Hope this was helpful.