#1
Hey guys. I'm at my wit's end with this, I've been playing for a few years now and been stuck at around the same picking speed for the last year, and I've been practicing my ass off. I do strict alternate picking and can't get past 120 bpm sixteenth notes (with string changes and such) no matter how slow I take it, so I'm pretty sure there's something fundamentally wrong with my technique.

Take a look at some of these pics if you could and let me know. Comparing myself to some of my idols, the biggest difference I notice is my wrist angle...

When I play, my entire forearm rests on top of the guitar, and I keep the side of my palm against the strings to mute them. This works well enough for playing the bottom couple of strings (see final pic), but then when I want to reach the top strings I have to bend my wrist down to reach.

Just how much of my right arm should be touching the guitar? I don't anchor with my fingers, but I keep my wrist in the same place and just bend it when I move from bottom to top strings, is that also anchoring?

Also, I find that I experience some pain in my forearm from trem picking over sixteenths at 160 bpm after about 30 seconds. Not sure if it's related.

Thanks for any help! Sorry if the pictures are huge...




You will bow at my feet or I'll rip out your knees

and make of your face all the carnage you crave
#2
Try picking from your knuckle joint instead of your wrist. There is less movement when you use smaller joints which should lead to faster picking.
I play guitar.
#3
Not only do I agree with trying with the knuckle joints, but I would like to add that you shouldn't be afraid to move the rest of your forearm to help make reaching the higher strings easier. Judging from what you said and what I can tell from the pictures, you seem to rely on your wrist to hit the notes and get the speed you are searching for. It might be better to not use primarily your wrist but utilize your entire forearm. You might get some better results that way.
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#4
You might try practicing with your pick hand floating. (not resting on strings... or at least not to the point where it causes any lack of mobility to the hand).
And also experiment without resting your entire forearm - That alone could be contributing greatly to your problems.

I won't say any technique is wrong if it works for the person... but this is not working for you.

Personally I recommend picking from the wrist, with no part of your arm or hand fixed in place against the guitar, to the point where it restricts movement. (note: doesn't necessarily mean no contact whatsoever).

Since you've developed other habits, it may take some getting used to ... but give it a fair chance and see how that feels after a while. You might be surprised.
#5
To the first two, I'm pretty sure that I've heard a lot of people say that picking from the wrist is the way to go, and that using the whole arm or knuckles is no good. I'd like more opinions on this...

To cringer, I don't know if it's because I haven't gotten used to it yet, or I'm doing it wrong, but unless part of my arm is touching my guitar somewhere I have absolutely no control. If I rest my forearm still (it's hard not to with this guitar's shape) but keep my wrist and palm off of the strings I can at least pick with a straight wrist, but I go so far past the strings on each stroke.

Could people who can alternate pick well mention how much of their hand touches their guitar when they pick? It'd be very helpful, since you can't really tell watching videos...
You will bow at my feet or I'll rip out your knees

and make of your face all the carnage you crave
#6
MY hand is touching the guitar at all times. When i'm picking on the E and A strings part of my wrist is lightly touching the part of the body above, and when i'm picking the other strings my hand mutes the strings above the ones i'm playing.

Using some arm is good. When i say this i don't mean picking from your arm, because i don't do that so can't personally recommend it. What i mean is there's a very small amount of movement to bring my arm down to the strings and then back up again when i'm doing a 6 string run. It's basically so i don't have to change my wrist angle whatever string i'm picking on, so my motion stays exactly the same. I'd say try this and see if it works if all you've used so far is purely wrist. Don't take everything everyone says about technique on this forum as a rule. I've seen people giving advice on stuff only to go on their profile and hear that they themselves are terrible at said technique. Good luck!
#7
Quote by 6StringSlaughtr
To cringer, I don't know if it's because I haven't gotten used to it yet, or I'm doing it wrong, but unless part of my arm is touching my guitar somewhere I have absolutely no control. If I rest my forearm still (it's hard not to with this guitar's shape) but keep my wrist and palm off of the strings I can at least pick with a straight wrist, but I go so far past the strings on each stroke.

I would say as long as your touching the guitar does not restrict your motions at all - then there's absolutely nothing "wrong" about it. There's a lot of variation in what works best for people.

But from what you say... I gather that 1) you are too reliant on these resting positions and 2) that is interfering with improving your technique.

That's why I mention pure floating to you. Even if you hate it, you will start to get away from feeling that you need to rest your arm or hand... and then you can find a happy medium that works best for you.

I can maintain decent control without touching, but it's definitely not any strict rule I follow. Sometimes I rest my forearm (on top of the body only). Sometimes my pick hand is touching the strings lightly. Other times I'm free floating.

I just want to be sure that whatever is touching is not hindering my motion at all - bottom line - And I seem to manage that ok.

But I wouldn't tell you or anybody to pick exactly like me.
I can tell you what helped me to improve my picking.
#8
^ With distortion on how do you mute the strings properly?

I've seen Pebber Brown's SAROD technique but he never properly explains how you would mute with it. =S
#9
I'm actually having the exact same problem (almost)

We need Freepower in this thread nao!
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#10
Quote by GilbertsPinky
^ With distortion on how do you mute the strings properly?

I've seen Pebber Brown's SAROD technique but he never properly explains how you would mute with it. =S
Like I said sometimes I do touch the strings with my hand.
I just don't have to at all times to be able to pick consistently.
#12
Quote by GilbertsPinky
So how can it be a free floating technique then? I don't get it =S

I think you misunderstood or i didn't explain it right. I wasn't suggesting to change to a purely free floating style.

I meant to start practicing that way in order to break the habits of needing to rest. That helped me a lot. But in reality, I still touch - I just don't need to all the time to maintain control. And when I do touch, it's not interfering with my wrist motion enough to matter. That's all.
#13
^ Ahhhh gotcha. I was just interested in the SAROD technique anyway, it looks like it could be a decent technique but i'm baffled as to how to mute whilst doing it. It's hard enough muting when you're touching the strings at all times!
#14
Ok, I've been following GilbertsPinky's suggestion and am keeping my wrist straight and moving my arm at the elbow to change strings instead of bending my wrist. I can't speak for speed yet but I feel that since my wrist is now straight at all times, I've reduced some strain on it and hopefully if I practice this enough my technique will improve some.

Sorry to those suggesting floating of any kind, but I need my palm on the strings or horrible things happen.

I'd definately appreciate the opinions of anyone who knows (or thinks they know) what they're doing
You will bow at my feet or I'll rip out your knees

and make of your face all the carnage you crave
#15
Kind of going off topic here, but I swear there's something weird about the Jackson Kelly.

My dad has many guitars and it's the only one I've never been able to play comfortably on.
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#16
Quote by Sleaze Disease
Kind of going off topic here, but I swear there's something weird about the Jackson Kelly.

My dad has many guitars and it's the only one I've never been able to play comfortably on.


I know what you mean. It took me a while to get comfortable, and the neck was a little heavy, but after a couple years it just feels like a part of me. I'd imagine I'd have a hard time switching to a strat or something similar now
You will bow at my feet or I'll rip out your knees

and make of your face all the carnage you crave
#17
But alternate picking at high speeds its tremolo.
Maybe you should get some speed (I reach triplets at 150 bpm with alt picking), and then use legato, I mean, legato = shred.
Oh! I forgot, teste the circular picking (move your fingers making a circle)
#18
Quote by randycrusy
But alternate picking at high speeds its tremolo.
Maybe you should get some speed (I reach triplets at 150 bpm with alt picking), and then use legato, I mean, legato = shred.
Oh! I forgot, teste the circular picking (move your fingers making a circle)

I don't know where to start with how wrong your post is.

Alternate picking fast is not tremolo picking. Tremolo is only one note at a time an (in music notation) has no set amount of notes for it's duration. If you see a bar of tremoloing one note, you could play it at 160 or 240, it doesn't matter as long as it's fast enough to get the tremolo effect.

Also telling him to up his speed is retarded. Oh, and the very facy you said 'I mean, legato = shred.' means you've pretty much got no credibility at all because you're clearly one-track-minded.
#19
Quote by GilbertsPinky
I don't know where to start with how wrong your post is.

Alternate picking fast is not tremolo picking. Tremolo is only one note at a time an (in music notation) has no set amount of notes for it's duration. If you see a bar of tremoloing one note, you could play it at 160 or 240, it doesn't matter as long as it's fast enough to get the tremolo effect.

Also telling him to up his speed is retarded. Oh, and the very facy you said 'I mean, legato = shred.' means you've pretty much got no credibility at all because you're clearly one-track-minded.


ALternate picking at high speed sound like tremolo, lol.
WTF, you have no argument for everything you said.

And you don't have to be rude, ******.
#20
Whoa, guys, lol

But really, "speed up" isn't great advice, and legato is a great technique and all but I'm trying to develop my alternate picking here. I don't know what you mean by a circular picking motion, but I'm guessing economy picking. Also not what I'm working on.

What I'm really interested in is wrist movement, any advice on that?
You will bow at my feet or I'll rip out your knees

and make of your face all the carnage you crave
#21
Quote by randycrusy
ALternate picking at high speed sound like tremolo, lol.
WTF, you have no argument for everything you said.

And you don't have to be rude, ******.

---------------------------------------------------------
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-----------------9-11-13-11-9-----------------------
---------5-7-9-------------------9-7-5---------------
-5-7-9----------------------------------9-7-5-4-1---


Play that, strictly alternate picked at 180 bpm 16th note triplets.

Now, i'm hanging off the edge of my seat to have it explained to me, by you, how this sounds like tremolo picking.

Alternate picking ONE NOTE at high speed will sound like tremolo picking, but if it's notated in music as anything other than tremolo picking then it's not tremolo picking.
#23
I still don't know how people hold the pick just using their index and thumb. I've never been able to hold it that way and make anything sound like music lol
#24
i used to keep my hand in one place like you and i notice a stop in my progression, but then i practiced with my hand floating, only occasionally brushing against the guitar never resting, and my speed has increased incredibly.
#25
oh and if you keep your wrist straight and pick from your arm you are almost certainly going to develope tendonitis
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#26
I've not read any of this thread, aside from the original post, so I apologize if I'm reiterating things.

Firstly, when changing strings, you shouldn't be using your wrist to reach. When moving from e.g. the sixth string to the first string, you should use arm motion, this allows you to keep your wrist in the centre of it's range of motion which gives maximum efficiency and minimum tension.
I'd like to clarify here that you should be picking using the wrist; your elbow moves the picking hand to the desired location (over whichever string) but the wrist makes the actual picking motions.

Secondly, with regard to the anchoring, pinning your wrist in one location is indeed anchoring. Your palm will (most likely) touch the strings for muting purposes, but it should by no means be kept in one position constantly, the point of contact should change as you pick, e.g. when changing strings. Also, bear in mind that you shouldn't be applying any pressure to the strings with your palm (for normal muting), your hand merely touches the strings in a relaxed manner.

Thirdly, generally your forearm will be touching the top of the guitar's body and your palm will touch the strings. In some cases, the fingers might brush against the guitar's body and this is fine as long as they're not anchored or causing resistance.

Fourthly, you say your arm hurts when tremolo picking, this means there's some tension in there. It's probably down to your anchoring and the fact that your wrist isn't in the centre of it's range of motion but also, make sure you're not adding any extra tension to gain the high speeds. You should play fast the same way you play slow, nice and relaxed.

Finally, moving onto your pictures, the thing that strikes me most is that your wrist is angled downward. If you move your wrist down as far as you can (as if you were doing a massive downstroke with your pick) and then up as far as you can (as if doing a large upstroke) you can see your range of motion; your wrist should be in the centre of this range for the best results.
Speed is a by-product of shut the fuck up.
#27
The only thing that looks odd is that your wrist angle moves when you pick different strings, I find that moving the position of your hand for each string allows you to use the identical picking motions on different strings.
#28
^ To the two above me

Awesome guys, thanks a ton. That's basically what GilbertsPinky said but elaborated.

I've decided to rework most of my picking technique after this thread and am no longer anchoring my wrist. Haven't seen an improvement yet but I'm almost back to where I was with the anchoring, so I should be able to surpass my old method soon.

Thanks again!
You will bow at my feet or I'll rip out your knees

and make of your face all the carnage you crave
#29
Quote by GilbertsPinky
^ With distortion on how do you mute the strings properly?

I've seen Pebber Brown's SAROD technique but he never properly explains how you would mute with it. =S

Because you can't. Correct me if I am wrong, he never uses high gain sounds. What he does works for him tho, he plays like a mother****er, but personally I'd never try to copy him. He is one of these players who use technique which works for him and for him only, I think.

Back on topic, Aleksi said everything what needed to be said
Last edited by mdeeRocks at Sep 12, 2010,