#1
When I first read about alternate picking I used it to tremolo pick, but as my tremolo picking got faster it also got less accurate, and it still isn't very accurate. But the tremolo picking only works on one string, and isn't very useful at all in playing several notes in succession, especially on more than one string. The result of this is that when I play lead parts all kinds of false notes ring out because i hit strings above or below the string i want to hit, and sometimes i miss a string completely. Sometimes I even hit the string earlier than I fret the note, which also results in a false note. I've also become quite used to anchoring.

When I look at videos of guitar virtuosos, or even some people here on UG, I see their picking is very accurate, they use minimal movement, and their notes never mute because they pick earlier than they put the finger on the fret.

No longer do I want to practice picking to gain speed, but it is becoming quite a thorn because whatever I play, at least some false notes will ring out. I want to clean up my picking technique and achieve pin-point accuracy, but I don't know where to start. Do i need to relearn picking completely? My alternate picking isn't even consistent - I am not always going down-up-down-up, and am mixing alternate picking with economy picking.

How do I achieve that pin-point accuracy that i've just described? What do I need to work on? How long do I need to work on it, per day?
#2
OK, I'm no expert, but:

Start again, slow down, like really slow
Make the same movements when going fast or slow
Gradually, fasten up
work out as much as you want.
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#4
Quote by Petar
OK, I'm no expert, but:

Start again, slow down, like really slow
Make the same movements when going fast or slow
Gradually, fasten up
work out as much as you want.

Thanks , but i need more information than this.
#5
Just practice slowly enough that you can play accurately. If your picking gets sloppy, slow down to a speed you have complete control over it, and don't let yourself speed up until you are playing cleanly and accurately. Watch Freepower's vid on correct practice, and read the relevant bits of the techniques sticky.

If you really want to get accurate, which will eventually also enable you to get fast, the practice everything slowly enough to play it accurately. That way you are constantly working on coordination between your picking and fretting hands.
#6
Quote by zhilla
Just practice slowly enough that you can play accurately. If your picking gets sloppy, slow down to a speed you have complete control over it, and don't let yourself speed up until you are playing cleanly and accurately. Watch Freepower's vid on correct practice, and read the relevant bits of the techniques sticky.

Before I read that sticky, one more question: You say I must not let myself speed up until I am playing cleanly and accurately. Does this mean that I should slow down EVERYTHING i play including songs I have learnt? For, if I would play that at the speed i always play at, i would be speeding up again. Or do you mean only playing that slow when practicing picking accuracy, but speeding up again when playing songs? I prefer playing the songs I know at full speed.


If you really want to get accurate, which will eventually also enable you to get fast, the practice everything slowly enough to play it accurately. That way you are constantly working on coordination between your picking and fretting hands.

Playing everything that slowly seems boring to me.
#7
well if its boring then maybe guitar isnt really for you, or any instrument i suppose. I Do know how you feel, no pain no gain
"Don't worry about anything, and play no matter what. Play regardless of what anyone says, regardless of any fears you have, regardless of whether you think you're good enough or not, and regardless of what the world thinks." - Steve Vai
#8
take something like

e|-------------------
B|-------------------
G|-------------------
D|----------7-------
A|-7-9-10---10-9-
E|-------------------

Start off slowly with a metronome making sure you are alternate picking (down up down up) once you feel comfortable at that tempo, increase the tempo a little more, and again work on consistent alternate picking, making sure each note is clear and even in duration. It's boring but it does work, you will get more comfortable at changing strings this way. Work out little patterns like that to practice slowly, and slowly increase tempo.

Another pattern would be

e|-----------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------
G|--------------11-12-11---------
D|-11-12-14--------------14-12-
A|------------------------------------
E|------------------------------------

It will help with your accuracy. Just start slow.
#9
Quote by P.B.H
well if its boring then maybe guitar isnt really for you, or any instrument i suppose. I Do know how you feel, no pain no gain

I'm not saying I find playing my guitar, or any other instrument, boring. I have no problem spending a few hours working on my guitar accuracy. However, I enjoy playing chord songs and singing on top of them, and if I would have to slow THAT down i would have to sing it slowly too. I do not want to slow that down, but that would mean that I would play everything slowly until up to speed EXCEPT chord songs, so when I want to play some of those chord songs I would have to switch to a much higher speed, which kind of ruins the accuracy, because if you go above your comfortable speed you start to play crappy again. So I need a solution to this.
#10
^ Before you read this post, please read the post above ^


Quote by NecroMaster
take something like

e|-------------------
B|-------------------
G|-------------------
D|----------7-------
A|-7-9-10---10-9-
E|-------------------

Start off slowly with a metronome making sure you are alternate picking (down up down up) once you feel comfortable at that tempo, increase the tempo a little more, and again work on consistent alternate picking, making sure each note is clear and even in duration. It's boring but it does work, you will get more comfortable at changing strings this way. Work out little patterns like that to practice slowly, and slowly increase tempo.

Another pattern would be

e|-----------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------
G|--------------11-12-11---------
D|-11-12-14--------------14-12-
A|------------------------------------
E|------------------------------------

It will help with your accuracy. Just start slow.

Thanks for these exercises.

Do you also have exercises for three strings?
Last edited by robinlint at Aug 30, 2009,
#11
Quote by robinlint
Before I read that sticky, one more question: You say I must not let myself speed up until I am playing cleanly and accurately. Does this mean that I should slow down EVERYTHING i play including songs I have learnt? For, if I would play that at the speed i always play at, i would be speeding up again. Or do you mean only playing that slow when practicing picking accuracy, but speeding up again when playing songs? I prefer playing the songs I know at full speed.


Playing everything that slowly seems boring to me.
I don't mean play everything really slow - I mean try and play everything really accurately when you're practicing. So if you can play some stuff accurately at normal speed, practice it at that speed, but if you start getting sloppy slow it down.

And if you find that boring, then limit it to when you are practicing, as opposed to just jamming. Give yourself some time to just play for yoursef at the end of your practice session, so you can just have some fun.

Its really down to you, what you want out of your playing and what you're prepared to put into it. Nobody else can answer that but you. If you want to be really really good then yea play everything at a speed you can play it perfectly, if you just want to have some fun then practice for a bit then just play stuff you enjoy. Up to you
#12
Quote by robinlint
I'm not saying I find playing my guitar, or any other instrument, boring. I have no problem spending a few hours working on my guitar accuracy. However, I enjoy playing chord songs and singing on top of them, and if I would have to slow THAT down i would have to sing it slowly too. I do not want to slow that down, but that would mean that I would play everything slowly until up to speed EXCEPT chord songs, so when I want to play some of those chord songs I would have to switch to a much higher speed, which kind of ruins the accuracy, because if you go above your comfortable speed you start to play crappy again. So I need a solution to this.


Yeah been there before lol

Heres a good one from one of the masters of picking Paul gilbert

E|------------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------
G|----7-5-4---4-------------------
D|------------7---7-5-4-----------
A|------------------------------------
E|------------------------------------
"Don't worry about anything, and play no matter what. Play regardless of what anyone says, regardless of any fears you have, regardless of whether you think you're good enough or not, and regardless of what the world thinks." - Steve Vai
#13
Quote by zhilla
I don't mean play everything really slow - I mean try and play everything really accurately when you're practicing. So if you can play some stuff accurately at normal speed, practice it at that speed, but if you start getting sloppy slow it down.

I get it now. Thanks


And if you find that boring, then limit it to when you are practicing, as opposed to just jamming. Give yourself some time to just play for yoursef at the end of your practice session, so you can just have some fun.

This is what I meant. I like the idea of only slowing down when I am practicing, but playing at comfortable speed when jamming and playing songs . Doesn't this ruin the accuracy, though? Because I switch from a slower speed to a much faster speed?


Its really down to you, what you want out of your playing and what you're prepared to put into it. Nobody else can answer that but you. If you want to be really really good then yea play everything at a speed you can play it perfectly, if you just want to have some fun then practice for a bit then just play stuff you enjoy. Up to you

I like the idea of practicing for a bit at slower speed and then playing stuff that I enjoy at comfortable speed . Thanks
#14
Quote by robinlint
This is what I meant. I like the idea of only slowing down when I am practicing, but playing at comfortable speed when jamming and playing songs . Doesn't this ruin the accuracy, though? Because I switch from a slower speed to a much faster speed?
You might not get as technically good as quick as if you spent the whole time you were playing focussing on your technique, but playing guitar is as much about feeling as technique - plus, the whole point of playing is to have fun, right? So you've gotta give yourself some time to just play what you want how you want
#15
Quote by robinlint

I like the idea of practicing for a bit at slower speed and then playing stuff that I enjoy at comfortable speed . Thanks


That's exactly it...you have to draw a distinction between practicing and playing.

Practice slowly.
Play faster.

The practicing is what you do to make you better at playing, even learning a song should be done slowly at first to get you used to it. However, you can't practice all the time and sometimes you just need to thrash around on the thing. Just so long as you're aware that the practicing is what actually helps you improve, the more of your time you spend playing slowly and working on minimising those movements - in everything you do, the faster you'll ultimately develop. It's up to you really, do you want perfection, do you want to be downright awful or do you want something inbetween?

In reality most of us will be somewhere in the middle - we want an acceptable level of skill but we may not have the time, inclination or ambition to get up to shred speeds. And it doesn't matter, because playing the guitar is a different journey for everyone. Just be aware of what you're doing, ultimately there's no shame in telling yourself "that could be better, but y'know what, it's good enough for me" provided you're honest about it.
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#16
Quote by robinlint

Do you also have exercises for three strings?


A bit boring, but this works. 3 Note per string scale stuff works well because you practice changing strings on a down stroke and an up stroke,

e|------------------------------------------5-7-8-
B|----------------------------------5-7-8---------
G|-------------------------4-5-7------------------
D|-----------------4-5-7--------------------------
A|---------3-5-7----------------------------------
E|-3-5-7------------------------------------------
#17
What helped me a lot was watching all the Paul Gilbert lessons that I could find on youtube. Especially the ones where he concentrates solely on improving your picking technique are really worth checking out. If you watch or listen to Paul Gilbert's playing then it's pretty obvious that whatever he does apparently works! haha! So I would advise you check out his picking technique videos on youtube. They helped me so maybe they'll help you.
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#18
Quote by steven seagull
That's exactly it...you have to draw a distinction between practicing and playing.

Practice slowly.
Play faster.



The practicing is what you do to make you better at playing, even learning a song should be done slowly at first to get you used to it.

I've never learnt any chord songs by slowing it down first. I've always learnt the chords, learnt to switch them around fast enough, and then just played the chords on the tab. So why would I need to slow down songs I want to learn?


However, you can't practice all the time and sometimes you just need to thrash around on the thing.

I know what you mean :P

Just so long as you're aware that the practicing is what actually helps you improve, the more of your time you spend playing slowly and working on minimising those movements - in everything you do, the faster you'll ultimately develop.

But when I play songs, does that not make me better at playing? _ONLY_ practicing techniques will make me better?


It's up to you really, do you want perfection, do you want to be downright awful or do you want something inbetween?

I want somewhere inbetween. I want to play the songs I desire to play with good accuracy and tone. I definetly DO NOT want downright awful.

Thanks for the helpful advice yet again, Steven Seagull.
#19
Dude the thing that keeps me playing is desire, makes you practice a lot more if you have the desire to be up there with the best
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#20
You do get to a point where there's some things you can pretty much just play, but it's important to be critical of yourself...like I said, just make sure it's good enough, and if it isn't be prepared to go back and "re-learn" it so you can do it better.

Practicing songs as opposed to playing them will make you better, so will playing songs. However, practicing is when you sit down and say to yourself "right, I'm going to nail this - I'm not going to allow myself to make any mistakes". It might be chord practice, picking exercises, it might be a bit of a song that's giving you bother. It's important to set time aside to be extra critical of yourself, the more you set aside the more you benefit from it and that discipline will filter through into your playing. However at the same time it's vital to see some progress and there's no greater feeling of satisfaction than getting to the end of a song.

There are songs I can play, but I know I could play them better and when I feel motivated to do so I'll go back and work on that. It all boils down to your own motivation and expectations. Guitar is simple, the more work you put in the more improvement you see, but it can take a lot of dedication and sacrifice to get to the level of the top pros and the reality is not everyone has the time or the inclination to do that...a lot of people don't even listen to that music and only want to sit on their porch and strum some songs. And you know what, that's fine, because the beauty of the guitar is that it can be anything you want it to be.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Aug 31, 2009,
#21
also depends on how you hold pick. for tremolo picking, hold it so the nib of pick is just sticking out from your fingers
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