#1
Hey, I'm new to these forums and have been browsing some random things. This is something I posted on another thread, but I thought it would be interesting to see your opinions on this.

Why do you pick with your wrist? Why not with your elbow? Why not with your whole arm? These are some questions everybody asks when trying alternate picking. Everybody says wrist picking is the best way, but I believe otherwise. If someone could provide me with some information, that'd be great.

Thumb and index ftw :P

Aside from the strain injury problem, wrist picking does provide more efficient picking than elbow because you're moving less mass through less distance. It's efficient and consequently faster. Ultimately what you're trying to do with respect to speed is minimize the motion to a point where the pick barely moves to either side of the string as you pick. Now with that in mind, it's far easier to do that when you have maximum control of your pick. Wrist is more efficient than elbow for that reason. Considering this, is it not logical to say that using just your index and thumb is the ultimate way to pick efficiently and thus fast?

I've been playing guitar for about little over a year and a half, about half a year ago I adopted the index-thumb method, and it was difficult at first, but my picking sped up greatly in that time. I'm not at any greatly fascinating speeds, consistently I can pick 16th's at 210BPM, something like 14NPS I think, and in small bursts, I can pick up to 16NPS no problem. In fact, I have a solo recorded for a song in which I do pick 16NPS, i.e. 32nd notes at 120, (unfortunately the recordings messed up and it ended up muffled). I feel this method gives you the greatest control as well: you have power over every motion the pick does because unlike with the wrist, the motion is not a fulcrum, that is you are actually moving the pick as opposed to moving your wrist with your pick in hand.

Having said all of that I wonder, why don't more people use this method? Of all guitarists I've seen, I'm the ONLY person that uses this.

I'm 16 now, so I have much time for improvement, hence I'd like all the criticism possible.

On that note, check out this song :P

http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/KillerAP/

Btw, it's unfinished, but we lost all our recordings so we can't finish

EDIT: Here's a quick video showing it from frontal view; hopefully I can get a better angle soon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3FrrQmZCBw
Last edited by KillerAP at Jun 20, 2010,
#2
I think that doing that would completely destroy my tone. I change my pick attack in almost any riff I play, not sure if I could really dig in with tha method
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#4
Also, my wrist is so strong from jacking off, that picking any other way would just be ridiculous
"If you're looking for me,
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#5
Quote by DeathByDestroyr
I think that doing that would completely destroy my tone. I change my pick attack in almost any riff I play, not sure if I could really dig in with tha method


This is what I thought when I first tried the method as well. I felt that I had no real control over dynamics and that I did not get the right tone out of it. Fortunately, I guess, at the time I was somewhat obsessed with speed picking, so I continued the method on the assumption that it was theoretically the best (at least by my logic). After the muscles in my hand and forearms used for that motion developed, which only took a few weeks due to the natural inactivity of those muscles, I realized that this technique had just as much dynamic and tonal control as at the wrist when need be, all while being more fluent and efficient.

I understand that people try this method and think, this is horrible why would anybody do this; you must understand that your hand/forearm muscles are not used to performing those actions. It's for that very reason it does not take very long to get going with this method. Sure it'll take more than one sitting, perhaps a week or two like it did me, but the end result is worth it. It's like working out for the first time, your body functions terribly, but after a few weeks you'll be doing double or more the amount you started with before the slope of improvement starts to lessen.

On another note, with this technique, I anchor. I can see why naturally anchoring might be bad for picking at the wrist, but are there any other reasons why anchoring is looked at with so much contempt? That is, reasons that may be applicable to this method?

Thanks for the feedback.
#6
How well does this technique work with sweeping?
"If you're looking for me,
you better check under the sea,
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#7
Quote by DeathByDestroyr
How well does this technique work with sweeping?


I'm not much of a sweeper, but I've tried it, and it works fine so long as my left hand can cope. I use Jason Becker's Serrana to practice, and I can do most of it fine. At about half speed CLEANLY. Not my right hand's fault, my left hand is just not so good at rolling. Inevitably as I move through strings my hand and consequently my wrist moves slightly, but I wouldn't consider it using my wrist to sweep as much as my body forcing my wrist to move lol

I hope to find my camera soon so that I can post a video of it up here to get some real criticism, but until then
#8
i say do what works for ya, i technically prefere wrists, and it has always worked best for me, the songs in my profile are mainly wrist work, although if im doing rhythm parts requiring some chunchy dirt if im really getting into it(mostly classic rock style riffing) i tend to use more than my wrist due to really feeling the energy in a jam session etc.
#9
I dunno, for the most part I pick with my wrist
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#10
Quote by DeathByDestroyr
Also, my wrist is so strong from jacking off, that picking any other way would just be ridiculous

Sigged

Why do you pick with your wrist?
Versatility, speed, and muting technique, being fast isn't everything though.

Why not with your elbow?
because my elbow cannot hold a pick xD
seriously though, for me it has to do with control issues
Why not with your whole arm?
Is that even possible?

Considering this, is it not logical to say that using just your index and thumb is the ultimate way to pick efficiently and thus fast?
everyone has their own style on how the pick is held. some pick fast like that and others not so much.
now if you want to talk about speed,
32notes at 120 bpm isnt bad, but then again it depends on what genre you are going for. (finally learned enough freaking theory to even comprehend that)
general rock, kinda over doing it
metal, bare minimum (and I mean actual metal, not the "core" suffix either)

Having said all of that I wonder, why don't more people use this method? Of all guitarists I've seen, I'm the ONLY person that uses this.
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#11
if i understand what you're saying - that you don't move your wrist and that you pick in small increments with your elbow keeping the pick static - then you might be using a lesser amount of muscles overall, but you're exerting more force on the muscles you do use (and therefore using more effort) to pick. basically, you're just limiting the benefits you'd get from your natural fluidity. you're probably just used to it, so you don't feel the extra force being exerted.

by tightening your grip and picking from the elbow, you require more effort to move the pick as said, but contrary to what you think, you actually lose control. this is why you have to anchor; you need to find stability. that will allow you to pick at the same speed as someone who picks from the wrist and does not anchor - but you lose the fluidity he gets. that's pretty much the only thing you lose, though. it becomes more difficult and less natural to do things like strumming. as far as sweeping is concerned, it's a trade-off. the great control you have of the pick with this method is a plus, but as said (like 5 million times), you lose the fluidity necessary to cross the strings seamlessly. i'd think it might also become difficult to make your extended techniques seamless (for example, sweep tapping).
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#13
Quote by kcorkcar

Why not with your whole arm?
Is that even possible?

Economy picking with the whole Pete Townshend windmill? Genius? Maybeh
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#15
Quote by AeolianWolf
if i understand what you're saying - that you don't move your wrist and that you pick in small increments with your elbow keeping the pick static - then you might be using a lesser amount of muscles overall, but you're exerting more force on the muscles you do use (and therefore using more effort) to pick. basically, you're just limiting the benefits you'd get from your natural fluidity. you're probably just used to it, so you don't feel the extra force being exerted.

by tightening your grip and picking from the elbow, you require more effort to move the pick as said, but contrary to what you think, you actually lose control. this is why you have to anchor; you need to find stability. that will allow you to pick at the same speed as someone who picks from the wrist and does not anchor - but you lose the fluidity he gets. that's pretty much the only thing you lose, though. it becomes more difficult and less natural to do things like strumming. as far as sweeping is concerned, it's a trade-off. the great control you have of the pick with this method is a plus, but as said (like 5 million times), you lose the fluidity necessary to cross the strings seamlessly. i'd think it might also become difficult to make your extended techniques seamless (for example, sweep tapping).


I think you have misunderstood my post. I do NOT pick with my elbow. I would NEVER advocate picking with the elbow. I pick by moving my thumb and index finger up and down. In that regard, there's no way that it exerts more force than picking at the wrist; less motion results in less muscle being used. About fluidity: I don't think I lose any fluidity with this method when anchoring, because the motion is entirely between my first two fingers and thus the finger anchored plays no role. I find it more fluid in fact to sweep like this instead of my wrist (probably because I try to imitate Jason Becker). To be honest, I've never put any real time into sweep tapping (unless the arpeggios in the beginning of the Sea of Lies solo counts, but that does not involve picking lol), but once I do, I'll let you know how it feels.

Quote by kcorkcar

32notes at 120 bpm isnt bad, but then again it depends on what genre you are going for. (finally learned enough freaking theory to even comprehend that)
general rock, kinda over doing it
metal, bare minimum (and I mean actual metal, not the "core" suffix either)


Well, judging by my current preferences in playing and music, I'd probably be heading toward progressive/heavy metal playing, and in any case, I do understand that 16NPS is not fantastic, but so far as I've seen not many guitarists go over that speed in any style of music with strict alternate picking. I do understand that I have room for improvement, but (cockiness alert) do keep in mind that I've been playing for less than two years. So far as I know that's not too bad.

Thanks again guys for the feedback.
#16
Quote by kcorkcar

everyone has their own style on how the pick is held. some pick fast like that and others not so much.


Speed is an absolute element; you can't say that style can override the necessity for the efficiency of motion. Someone can pick with their pinky and ring finger, while another picks normally, and they could be at the same speed, but the difference is that the person picking normally probably spent a minute fraction of the time the other did getting to that speed.

I understand that everybody regardless of how they pick can probably reach say 20 notes per second or whatever eventually, but I'm looking for the difference between 4 years and 40.

Thanks for the response.
#17
Surprisingly, this is how I naturally pick. I think it's maybe because that's how i write.

Its like in computer programming: syntax vs. style. your program runs just the same if you put it with no returns as if you broke it out. Does the same thing, looks different.
#19
Quote by KillerAP
Awesome! So I'm not the only one :P


post some videos, would be interesting to see
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#21
I do kind of a combination thing, I am moving my wrist, but most of it is in my fingers, all my guitarist freinds think I'm wierd for that, but it works for me!
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#22
Yesterday I spent some time playing without anchoring. Upon doing this I discovered a few things: it is much easier to mute when playing without anchoring with this method, but accentuation is slightly more difficult. Should I work on muting while anchoring or accentuating while not?

Thanks.
#23
I don't use this method because I don't think switching from chording to using it would be real efficient.

There's no way you could play rhythm guitar with this method.

I use my wrist and by doing so, I don't have to change my picking style hardly at all to go into a lead because it's basically the same motion.
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#24
In what respect do you mean "rhythm" guitar? When it comes to strumming, I do strum normally, and switching back to this method takes a minuscule fraction of time wherein switching isn't really an issue. Remember, also, this was only regarding alternate picking.
#25
Ahh, I see.
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#26
Aside from the strain injury problem, wrist picking does provide more efficient picking than elbow because you're moving less mass through less distance. It's efficient and consequently faster. Ultimately what you're trying to do with respect to speed is minimize the motion to a point where the pick barely moves to either side of the string as you pick. Now with that in mind, it's far easier to do that when you have maximum control of your pick. Wrist is more efficient than elbow for that reason.


Wellllll, lets not also forget that the forearm is longer and hence you've got a lever effect amplifying your elbow motion as well.

Considering this, is it not logical to say that using just your index and thumb is the ultimate way to pick efficiently and thus fast?


Not really.

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I feel this method gives you the greatest control as well: you have power over every motion the pick does because unlike with the wrist, the motion is not a fulcrum, that is you are actually moving the pick as opposed to moving your wrist with your pick in hand.


Are you sure? I'd guess at the very least the motion is occurring at the last joint of the thumb and the middle knuckle of the index - that's still moving the last bone in each phalange.

Control also includes the ability to make large movements or to use the upper end of dynamic range - while certainly do-able with circle picking it's not exactly perfect for it.

Having said all of that I wonder, why don't more people use this method? Of all guitarists I've seen, I'm the ONLY person that uses this.


There's a few guys that use this motion, although a lot more that think/claim they use it and actually don't.

I'm not a circle picking expert but I'd suggest that the main reasons it's not more common is because it's fairly fiddly to get started with and is difficult to apply outside of single note lines. You see it generally in shred guitarists or jazz players - usually both use a different technique to handle rhythm guitar.

If you're circle picking and getting a sound and results you like, that's cool - it just doesn't work for most people's style.

If you could post a vid showing you going evenly from slow to fast I'd be very interested, most circle pickers actually use a wrist based movement that has nothing to do with the fingers/thumb. Especially those who anchor.
#27
Using primarily your wrist for picking has several advantanges over circle picking. The most obvious advantages are dynamic range and range of motion.

More over, the muscles in your index finger aren't antagonistic to the muscles in your thumb, ov vice-versa, and while there is a very easily understandable fulcrum or centre of motion (which can act as a reference point) for a wrist motion, any centre of motion in a circle picking motion is much more ambiguous.

I feel that this is responsible for the fact that most circle pickers I have seen are noticeably less even when playing at a set rate than those who primarily use a wrist motion. Other than the usefulness of the thumb and index finger when adding nuances to your pick attack (and even then, most of this can be done with the wrist), I don't feel circle picking is very useful. Quite alot of the people who use circle picking in certain situations (Eric Johnson, for example) use a wrist based motions for most of their picking also.
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#28
i see the reason for primarily using the wrist as a compromise. it's the muscle movement that causes the second least movement (fingers being first), but when you're using your fingers, it's more of a twitch than anything else. it's easier to control a larger muscle group.

also, it's harder to get a uniform-sounding upstroke with your fingers.
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#29
I think there has been a misconception. I do NOT circle pick, so far as my understanding of it goes. If I'm not mistaken, circle picking involves bending the thumb joint and extending the index in a cyclic manner. My joints are rigid; I pick as I would with my wrist, except it happens between my index and thumb.
#30
Quote by KillerAP
I think there has been a misconception. I do NOT circle pick, so far as my understanding of it goes. If I'm not mistaken, circle picking involves bending the thumb joint and extending the index in a cyclic manner. My joints are rigid; I pick as I would with my wrist, except it happens between my index and thumb.


haha, my fingers won't even let me do that, do you have some kind of video you could post a link too, I think it would be interesting to see exactly what you're doing.
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#32
Quote by guitarocker100
I'm not doubting you or anything but if your birthdays in 1999 doesnt that only make you 11?


LOL I guess that was unedited; I was born in 1993.

On another note, my camera was discovered underneath a deathly heap of rubble somewhere in my house, and so I've made a quick video. It's not the greatest of quality: you've been warned. Turn up the volume if you want to hear it. Also, I for some intelligent reason didn't choose the best of angles to display picking. Anyway, please comment (here preferably) at will. Criticism is warmly welcomed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3FrrQmZCBw
#33
Also, the large muscle/tendon structure of the wrist allows for more accuracy, or atleast I have found that.

EDIT: actually it works pretty well for those runs. There is still wrist motion, just kind of have your fingers extra loose almost. Atleast thats what I got from the video. Very fast picking, does using your thumb more loose endurance?
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Last edited by DeathByDestroyr at Jun 20, 2010,
#34
I can do that forever lol. I figure there's wrist motion when I move up and down the strings, but other than that, where is there wrist motion? I'm certain that I use only my thumb and index; perhaps the vibrations move the wrist as well?
#35
It doesn't look very practical.

Once you get going, it's cool, but the fact that you have to keep stopping and restarting, and repositioning your hand makes me think that.

It could just be that you need some more practice, but you should be able to go right into it without stopping.
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#36
Oh, that was simply because I am kinda picky over exercises. Normally I could have continued playing, but I wanted to start in the ideal position and play without mistakes ie get through the section without blundering.