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Old 01-23-2013, 01:43 AM   #1
DeathShredder23
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Quick question on downpicking..

I know there are probably a lot of threads relating to this topic, but very quickly, just hear me out. I can downpick pretty fast. I can handle rhythms like metallica's "Master of puppets" and Anthrax's "Caught in A mosh" with ease. I use movement from the wrist to pick efficiently, but what bugs me is that sometimes I get a bit fatigued after pick for too long. Is this normal? Also, I never experience pain, but I do notice that I can sometimes feel my bicep flex whilst picking. Once again, the movement comes only from the wrist, but is it alright for my bicep to flex during the picking? At this point for so long, I guess it just feels natural. What are your thoughts? Am I picking wrong?
One last thing; When downpicking slowly, (thinking sixteenth notes at 120 BPM) there is less of a flex with my bicep and absolutely no fatigue. So whadda ya think?
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:44 AM   #2
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If you're talking about pure muscle fatigue and no other kind of discomfort that's fine; downpicking at those kinds of speeds is a pretty hard thing to do and it takes a lot of stamina to be able to do it for the kind of lengths that those guys do. They've been playing that way for years, going on tour and doing it for 1.5+ hours every night for months on end for years. Obviously stamina is something you need to work on but the best way of doing it is just to keep pushing how long you play for; if you play a lot you'll probably find that you build up a lot of stamina quite quickly.

As for the muscle flexing... it's difficult to say. If you feel tense then obviously that's bad but if you're just flexing your muscle a little then it's fine. Keep an eye on what your muscles are doing and if it becomes an issue then deal with it, if not I wouldn't worry too much to be honest.

Finally: I don't think you mean sixteenths at 120bpm, that would work out to 8ths at 240... about 20-30 bpm faster than Master Of Puppets. Downpicking that fast is possible but you said slower so I really don't think that's what you meant to say.
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:42 AM   #3
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Playing by fast downpicking is an art... No really i'm joking, it's not so difficult. That was my first problem since i begun playing, cause i was mainly in hardcore punk. But with some training and a lot of sweat, i finally found my movement. I don't think it's something you learn with the time, or at least it wasn't this way for me. You just need to find and understand what is your "best movement" for it. How to do this? I'll tell you what i've learned by myself. There's two main different schools about it: picking with the wirst, and picking with the arm. Now, no one of those two is right, and they both are: it depends on you. Naturally there's some difference: with the wirst you will be more accurate, but less powerful and with the arm is the opposite, faster but it's a little mess at high speed (not a problem for a punk xD). Now, how to manage to get your movement? What i'll tell you for sure is that if after 2 or 3 minutes or more that you are playing, you feel your wrist/arm like "blocked", tired and you can no more play, then it means that something's wrong with the movement. The way i learned to downpick fast is: do VEERY SLOWLY a certain riff (or the one you need), doing the movement you like the most. Then, day by day increase the speed and check the sound, adjusting the movement it time after time. Everytime you try to downpick, increase the speed a bit and concentrate on your movement, it's like you gotta understand what you gotta move and what not. But, even not being too "meditative", just increasing speed time after time and feeling by instinct if you like the movement, and adjusting it by that, then you should be able to get your fast downpicking, fitted to your playing style (arm for a messy, powerful punk or wrist for more precision). But those are just "rules" and they can be broken: watch a Misfits live, and focus on the guitarist (Doyle). He has the fastest and most powerful downpicking i've ever seen, and it's mainly by the wirst: just personal style. I hope i helped you, good luck!
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:32 AM   #4
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You should probably try economy picking rather then down picking. Down picking everything is what nubs do. Yeah I understand that you will make the arguement that Master of Puppets should be played down picking but I see that as an excuse for not doing the work.
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:01 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. Yea there's never any fatigue in the wrist, just in my bicep. Maybe from the flexing? Anyway, when people say. "Pick with the arm" I don't know wtf they're talking about... I've tried to "pick from the arm" and I can't even imagine what it would look like to do so... Haha, anybody got a video link of some bad picking??? :P
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheProtoTYPE
You should probably try economy picking rather then down picking. Down picking everything is what nubs do. Yeah I understand that you will make the arguement that Master of Puppets should be played down picking but I see that as an excuse for not doing the work.

This post is so full of wrong, I'm not sure I know where to begin.

-Economy picking will not help with stuff like Master of Puppets. While it's possible to imitate the sound of down picking with broad, strong alternate picking, downpicking is the surer way of getting that sound. Not to mention that the "economy" component of economy picking won't make a damn bit of difference in riffs like MoP or Caught in a Mosh.

-Down picking everything isn't for "nubs". It's a specific technique to get a specific sound. Besides that, I find downpicking to be a lot more exhausting and difficult than alternate picking.

-"....an excuse for not doing the work"? Where does it say that I'm supposed to make the guitar hard to play? I'm a huge advocate of doing whatever you can technically and physically to make the guitar easier and more comfortable to play; insisting that your way is better because you think you put in more work smacks of misplaced elitism.
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathShredder23
Thanks for the responses. Yea there's never any fatigue in the wrist, just in my bicep. Maybe from the flexing? Anyway, when people say. "Pick with the arm" I don't know wtf they're talking about... I've tried to "pick from the arm" and I can't even imagine what it would look like to do so... Haha, anybody got a video link of some bad picking??? :P


If there's actual fatigue in your bicep then you're doing something wrong, make sure you're not tensing up at all; carefully examine your technique at a speed where it happens. Just make sure you're playing something so simple you can concentrate on what you're feeling in your hand and arm, for this even just riding the open low E will do the job.

For a really good example of downpicking I seriously recommend taking a good look at what Jon Schaffer does with Iced Earth, watching live videos of him is just... his picking hand is a thing of beauty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iU...etailpage#t=83s

There's a few shots in this where you can really see how good his economy of motion is:



From about 2:36 on there's a section that Jon plays with pure downpicking but there's a shot where the other guitarist switches to alternate because he plainly just can't keep up
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheProtoTYPE
You should probably try economy picking rather then down picking. Down picking everything is what nubs do. Yeah I understand that you will make the arguement that Master of Puppets should be played down picking but I see that as an excuse for not doing the work.


Downpicking and any other kind of picking techinque needs work to be done properly, would it be a physical job or a technical one. Saying that downpicking "is what nubs do" seems a bit immature, and makes me think that maybe you have never tried a real fast downpicking. And as you said, MoP must be played in downpicking and to me, it seems that YOU are trying to avoid working on downpicking... maybe too hard? Again with the idea that the only proper and legit guitar player is the one who plays alternate picking, hyper complicated shredding and and the most complicated and mind-fcking techniques you may think about. I just think that everyone who manages to convey an idea with its guitar can be called a proper guitarist, and to do this everyone got his way. And even downpicking has its difficulties and its pro. To not mention the fact that if you are playing power chords riff, strumming chords like on a classic guitar makes you play the fifth note before the fundamental, and on a fast riff it doesn't sound as crushing as all played in downpicking (fundamental THEN fifth note everytime). Even not-chords riffs sound less hard if not done in downstroke, they give me a feeling like "fluctuating" and unstable sound, unlike dowpicking style that gives the idea of a series of blows.

Now, Shredder... by playing "by the arm" i mean playing with your wrist tensed and moving just your forearm, making the bicep and shoulder work. I play faster punk riffs like this and i can keep up for 3 or 4 times the harder song i know, at max speed. You just need to try the movement slower and to absorb it. Then increase the speed slowly time after time, pay attention on what you are doing with yor arm and feel the strings bending under your hits. Remember this feeling then try again, this time faster. I did this way. And as Zaphod said, if you feel tired after having played something, then something's wrong. Hope i helped!
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Alexander Nero
And as Zaphod said, if you feel tired after having played something, then something's wrong.


I didn't say that at all; there's nothing wrong with feeling some fatigue in the right muscles after playing something that's really hard for a while. Something like Aftermath by Strapping Young Lad will tire out most people if they downpick it...

What I said was that if there was fatigue in the bicep then something is wrong; the bicep shouldn't be used in playing guitar to any kind of degree that should make it tired.

For the record I also very much disagree on your arm picking stance.
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Geldin
This post is so full of wrong, I'm not sure I know where to begin.

-Economy picking will not help with stuff like Master of Puppets. While it's possible to imitate the sound of down picking with broad, strong alternate picking, downpicking is the surer way of getting that sound. Not to mention that the "economy" component of economy picking won't make a damn bit of difference in riffs like MoP or Caught in a Mosh.

-Down picking everything isn't for "nubs". It's a specific technique to get a specific sound. Besides that, I find downpicking to be a lot more exhausting and difficult than alternate picking.

-"....an excuse for not doing the work"? Where does it say that I'm supposed to make the guitar hard to play? I'm a huge advocate of doing whatever you can technically and physically to make the guitar easier and more comfortable to play; insisting that your way is better because you think you put in more work smacks of misplaced elitism.


Woah there. Calm down por favor.

Down picking everything on earth is a beginner habit and I think it is healthy for someone to be able to down pick and economic pick the same songs. It just comes down to good practice and form. Sorry but it is possible to get the same "sound" with economic picking.

I see it all the time; People try to learn master of puppets because its awesome (which it is) and they down pick the entire thing. OK GREAT however if you asked them to play it with a different technique they cannot do it. If you bicept is hurting because you are down picking then maybe you should switch up your technique because down picking cannot account for faster playing. There are plenty of guides on ultimate-guitar.com and on Freepower's youtube channel that can assist you with picking and how to avoid bad habits.

Talk about being an advocate for making the guitar easier and more comfortable to play.

Last edited by TheProtoTYPE : 01-23-2013 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TheProtoTYPE
Down picking everything on earth is a beginner habit and I think it is healthy for someone to be able to down pick and economic pick the same songs.

There's very little overlap between passages that you'd economy pick and passages that you'd downpick. For instance, Caught in a Mosh and MoP don't feature any rhythm parts where economy picking would make any more sense (or even as much sense) as pure downpicking.
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Sorry but it is possible to get the same "sound" with economic picking.

It is indeed, though only on the alternating component of economy picking (which I believe I addressed in my first post).

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OK GREAT however if you asked them to play it with a different technique they cannot do it. If you bicept is hurting because you are down picking then maybe you should switch up your technique because down picking cannot account for faster playing.

If you can't execute a technique to start with, you practice. You don't swap techniques around hoping and praying that you'll be able to get it first try without practicing.

Downpicking is a legitimate technique and it's ridiculous to argue that it's some noobish mistake and then advocate swapping techniques just if at first you don't succeed.
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:37 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Geldin
There's very little overlap between passages that you'd economy pick and passages that you'd downpick. For instance, Caught in a Mosh and MoP don't feature any rhythm parts where economy picking would make any more sense (or even as much sense) as pure downpicking.


I never learned the song Caught in a Mosh so I can only speak for Master of Puppets. I am pretty sure the entire intro to Master of Puppets can be picked economy. Infact economy picking the intro to that song would allow one to significantly play it faster. Don't get me wrong because it IS very difficult to only down pick the song at a fast pace.

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Originally Posted by Geldin
If you can't execute a technique to start with, you practice. You don't swap techniques around hoping and praying that you'll be able to get it first try without practicing.

Downpicking is a legitimate technique and it's ridiculous to argue that it's some noobish mistake and then advocate swapping techniques just if at first you don't succeed.


That wasn't really the point I was trying to make so sorry if I confused you. You are right, down picking is a legitimate technique and it has its place. However the point I was making was "down picking everything is a nub mistake". I mean exactly what I typed. Someone who stubbornly down picks everything in existence and refuses to learn multiple techniques is going to have a bad time. You just misunderstood me.

BTW I like your style of music. I was listening to some of your originals in your profile.
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:59 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by TheProtoTYPE
I never learned the song Caught in a Mosh so I can only speak for Master of Puppets. I am pretty sure the entire intro to Master of Puppets can be picked economy. Infact economy picking the intro to that song would allow one to significantly play it faster. Don't get me wrong because it IS very difficult to only down pick the song at a fast pace.

You only have to get it up to the original tempo.
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However the point I was making was "down picking everything is a nub mistake". I mean exactly what I typed. Someone who stubbornly down picks everything in existence and refuses to learn multiple techniques is going to have a bad time. You just misunderstood me.

If that's the point you're going for, allow me to modify it - "Downpicking everything needlessly because you don't know any better is an amateur mistake". That said, there's no reason to use an alternative technique like alternate or economy picking when it's perfectly feasible (or even recommended) to use down strokes.

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BTW I like your style of music. I was listening to some of your originals in your profile.

Thanks. I like to think that even when I disagree with folks on the internet that we can, given the opportunity, appreciate each other as musicians.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:46 AM   #14
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What I said was that if there was fatigue in the bicep then something is wrong; the bicep shouldn't be used in playing guitar to any kind of degree that should make it tired.


The bicep does actually do a bit of work with fast picking, although it seems like it just flexes the elbow it's actually heavily involved in the "rotatory" motion. If I'm doing a lot of metal rhythm stuff my bicep gets tired, especially if the riff has string skips.

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From about 2:36 on there's a section that Jon plays with pure downpicking but there's a shot where the other guitarist switches to alternate because he plainly just can't keep up


That's hilarious!
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:18 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Freepower
The bicep does actually do a bit of work with fast picking, although it seems like it just flexes the elbow it's actually heavily involved in the "rotatory" motion. If I'm doing a lot of metal rhythm stuff my bicep gets tired, especially if the riff has string skips.


Huh, doesn't seem to for me, if I'm going at it for too long it seems to be the muscles in my forearm that feel the burn. Maybe I'm just not trying hard enough?
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:22 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
I didn't say that at all; there's nothing wrong with feeling some fatigue in the right muscles after playing something that's really hard for a while. Something like Aftermath by Strapping Young Lad will tire out most people if they downpick it...

What I said was that if there was fatigue in the bicep then something is wrong; the bicep shouldn't be used in playing guitar to any kind of degree that should make it tired.

For the record I also very much disagree on your arm picking stance.


I meant that if you feel tired just after playing a little part of a riff, then there's something wrong. It's natural that if you just downpick an hard tab, then you will feel tired then. But if your arm will feel like "stopped" like you can't move at all after just few seconds of playing, then it means that the movement isn't right.

About my stance, i don't get what's wrong with it: apart from the fact that's just my stance and of course it can be wrong for you, but it's right for me, i don't get why someone should disagree with it. I just can't get the meaning of what you are saying... If by "disagree" you mean you would never pick like that because you don't like the sound, then i can surely understand you, but if you mean that's "wrong" because it has something like "technically unealthy" or just because it's too simple or rough, then i can't agree with you. The sound it produces is perfect for my style, and it works pretty well, but if you know any reason why i shouldn't pick like that, then please explain them. If you just meant you don't like that because you prefer another kind of movement then no problem, just it's obvious everyone has his preferences.

Anyway ProtoTYPE, if you meant that everyone should be able to pick in different ways then i must apologize, i didn't understood what you said, i was tricked by that "pick everything". Surely if you limit yourself to the same kind of movement for every song you play, then you are limited and limiting your skills. But i can't agree with the sound it produces, probably it's just matter of how everyone perceives the sound. The sound produced by an alternate picking will never be able to bid against an hard downstroke (in terms of harshness), which in my opinion sounds really more "compressed" and hard, as the fact that the alternate picking is way more faster, just because you use both movements (up and down) instead of just up. But it's faster as less strong, after all you gotta sacrifice something to get something else: more speed, less power, different from the downpicking, more power and less speed. Those are just different styles, both worth to be known enough, but it's unavoidable that everyone will make his choiche as "main picking".

What i fear is the common mistake most people do, that is choosing for the most "acrobatic" and impressing-for-the-audience style, the most faster and the most complicated, hard shredding just because it looks cool, and then judging everyone else because their style may be simpler and less articulated, just like it means they are less skilled, or just like they thinks they are more "technical" or "educated". I got the feeling that the power is put in second place than the speed just because everyone can watch at the speed or to the precision of a picking, but not everyone can get the strength you need to pick, for example, a certain power chords riff all in dowstroke, or just because being more precise and techincal looks more "noble" than being harsh and rough. In any case, the speed is the choice for everyone that likes to "appear" (i'm not saying everyone who picks alternate wants to appear, i mean the other way). Playing in a more difficult way, doesn't mean play in an "harder" way nor that you are like "harder" (maybe you just look harder and cool). It's not like that, if you work hard, any kind of style has his difficulties to be mastered, as his pro and con. For the record, i'm not saying this because i'm accusing anyone of that, it's just a my personal digression about the first and bigger mistake in this art.

Said this, sorry for having wrote so much but i needed to say those things. Thanks for everyone who got the courage to read all this!! xD
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:58 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Huh, doesn't seem to for me, if I'm going at it for too long it seems to be the muscles in my forearm that feel the burn. Maybe I'm just not trying hard enough?


Same here, I feel the burn in my forearm never the bicep.
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Old 01-24-2013, 05:13 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Huh, doesn't seem to for me, if I'm going at it for too long it seems to be the muscles in my forearm that feel the burn. Maybe I'm just not trying hard enough?


Maybe for whatever reason you just use less bicep than me for picking. I do pick very hard usually, so that might be it. Like I say, mostly notice it when there's lots of string skips, ie - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb7rlrJTjiI#t=1m12s this riff, last time I noticed.

Not on standard trem picking or gallops.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:16 PM   #19
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From about 2:36 on there's a section that Jon plays with pure downpicking but there's a shot where the other guitarist switches to alternate because he plainly just can't keep up


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Old 01-27-2013, 03:27 PM   #20
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Wow thanks for all of the replies. This turned out to be quite a nice thread!!! Yea sometimes I notice just a slight burn in my bicep. When that happens though I just need to shake it out a bit. Then after that I'm usually ok. Now I don't downpick punk style like Alexander does. And zapphod, nice iced earth video. Jon is a ****ing machine. That was some pretty tight downpicking. It was impressive to say the least! \m/
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