Hello, my fellow sorcerers and welcome back to the Wizard's Tower! Now that we've looked at the more abstract elements of practicing, it's time to actually start practicing! If you haven't already read the first lesson in the series, I'd strongly recommend that you check it out before you read this. For this lesson you'll need a metronome and a positive attitude.
Picking Techniques: Although there are plenty of different ways to pick (some of them rather odd), we'll stick with the four basic methods. Single Picking, Alternate Picking, Sweep Picking and Economy Picking.
Single Picking: Single Picking is the method of picking in which the player uses down-strokes or upstrokes exclusively. Down-Down-Down-Down etc. This can give riffs or slower leads a very percussive sound, but it isn't very conducive to speed.
Alternate Picking: This is the action of using alternating down-strokes and upstrokes in succession. D0WN-UP-DOWN-UP or (less commonly) UP-DOWN-UP-DOWN.
Sweep Picking: Sweep Picking is much like a controlled strum. The player usually picks the notes with one fluid downward or upward motion. This is most commonly used for sweep arpeggios. It is very important that notes do not ring together when using this technique.
Economy Picking: Economy Picking is a lot like a hybrid of Alternate Picking and Sweep Picking. It involves picking the notes in a given phrase with as little motion possible.
Although there is a lot of debate amongst guitarists as to whether Alternate Picking or Economy Picking is more efficient; I personally find that they have fairly the same efficiency. Economy Picking may require less motion, but Alternate Picking is a more consistent (you're always playing a succession of upstrokes and down-strokes). In my experience, it boils down to this: Alternate requires more motion at times. Economy requires more thought at other times. Each has its own unique sound, so either way, both should be mastered. All but one of the following exercises uses strict alternate picking and are in 16th notes. The other will allow you to experience the difference between Alternate Picking and Economy Picking and uses triplets. Sweep picking will be covered in later lessons on Arpeggios.
The first exercise is very common for beginning guitarists, but it is still a very important means of developing picking speed. For this, I'd recommend that you use Alternate Picking, first starting with an down-stroke, and then (when you've mastered that) try it starting with an upstroke. It's important do do this on each of the six strings.
For the next exercise, we'll be taking that same 1-2-3-4 pattern and moving across the fretboard. The same rule from Example 1 applies here. Try it first with Alternate Picking staring with an upstroke, then starting with a down-stroke once you've mastered that.
After you've ascended and descended, move the pattern up to the 2nd fret and start again. Keep doing this until you've reached the 12th and then start moving back down.
Now, we'll take the basic movements of the first two exercises and turn them into little brain twisters. These will help your fingers get used to different movements. The more versatility your fingers have, the more easily you'll be able to play things. It utilizes 4 different finger patterns. The first is the 1-2-3-4 that was already covered above, the second is 2-3-4-1, then 3-4-1-2, and finally 4-1-2-3. After that it repeats again.
As in Example 1, this can and should be done on all six strings.
Notice there that although the fret positions changed, your fingers were always going in a 1-2-3-4 pattern. I'd also suggest trying it in a 4-3-2-1 pattern or even one of the patterns used by examples 3 and 4.
The last one allows you to experiment with the difference between Alternate Picking and Economy Picking. First, try it with strict Alternate Picking. You'll notice that you occasionally have to cross over a string before striking it with the down-stroke. This can be awkward at first, but it becomes second nature with time. Now, to utilize economy picking on this particular pattern, you'd want to use a DOWN-UP-DOWN, DOWN-UP-DOWN picking pattern. You'll notice here that you're making far less movement, but that the interruption of your picking pattern may be awkward. Just as with Alternate Picking, this will also become second nature with time. While all of the above lessons used 16th notes, this one is in triplets.
So, there you have it! As with any exercise, experimentation is VERY important. In order to provide readers with every possible exercise, instructors would have to write a book that would weigh too much to lift. Whenever you're looking at any lesson, you should always play around with different ways of doing things. Not only will it make you more of a well-rounded guitarist, but it will also help you develop your own "style".
For all of the String Sorcery lessons, I am making Power Tab files so that students can hear the exercises. I decided to use Power Tab Editor because it is free for anyone. If you search "Power Tab Editor" online, you'll find it. If you would like the Power Tab version of the exercises from this or any future lessons, feel free to send me a private message on here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be glad to send them to you.
Part Three will focus on Scalar exercises and Fretboard Memorization. Until then, Shred it up!