#1
Hello guitarists

What is the difference between tremolo picking and alternative picking?

I know the both is pick down follow by up pick so what is the difference?
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#2
Tremolo picking is very fast up and down picking over 1 string and generally over only a few notes.
Alternate picking is over multiple strings and generally a lot of notes.

An example of tremolo picking would be this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPR7hgjwinc skip to 0:20

Notice they are playing only a few notes on the low E string, but it is all very fast.
Any riff on a single string could be converted to tremolo picking pretty much eg. Smoke on the Water. Though it would sound ridiculous, you could even tremolo pick that lol.

This would be alternate picking:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpJNUGHxC3M

Notice he is playing really fast, but with a constant up and down motion.

Sorry i couldn't find a better example, it's just what popped to mind.

A superb alternate picker would be Paul Gilbert. He is known for being a specialist in alternate picking.


Sorry i can't give a better definition. I'm sure someone else can, but it's very easy to recognise the difference between alternate picking and tremolo picking once you know what they are. I know exactly what they are i'm just not the best at explaining haha.
Last edited by vayne92 at Apr 20, 2011,
#3
Quote by BryanAdams

What is the difference between tremolo picking and alternative picking?


Well you're half right. Alternate picking is a technique where you alternate between down and up strokes, whereas "tremolo picking" doesn't technically exist as such...

Tremolo is when you play one note very rapidly, and "tremolo" refers to that sound, not to a technique!

You can play tremolo in ANY WAY YOU WANT TO, and it's still tremolo (picked, fingerpicked, with a bow, with your tongue...whatever...). When people say they are "tremolo picking" what they mean is they are playing tremolo using a pick.

Note: I don't disagree with the term "tremolo picking" it's just confusing, and I'm just trying to make a point...
#4
I disagree that tremelo has to be on one note. It seems it refers mainly refers to picking as fast as you can with complete disregard to note value.

For example, you can ascend a scale while tremelo picking like Kerry King does and just tremelo picks the strings while moving his fingers across the frets.
#5
Quote by Riffman15
I disagree that tremelo has to be on one note. It seems it refers mainly refers to picking as fast as you can with complete disregard to note value.

For example, you can ascend a scale while tremelo picking like Kerry King does and just tremelo picks the strings while moving his fingers across the frets.


No you can't. Tremolo is a musical effect, and if you're passing by the notes that quickly then the effect is lost. What you're doing there is known as "being sloppy". Anyone who uses "tremolo" to refer to the practice of picking as fast as you can is just plain wrong.

And before anyone mentions it: yes, I am aware of the classical tremolo technique but that is, again, named after the musical effect and that has relatively strict note lengths and so on.

There is no physical difference between alternate picking and tremolo picking; the difference is in the application.
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#6
Of course, there is a desired timing or duration the difference is you might squeeze 5 notes, or 7 notes into a one beat duration, rather than 4 if you were playing strict 16th notes. That is what was meant by "complete disregard to note value".

And lets not conflate the various uses of the word "tremelo." It is also used to refer to the "tremelo" or whammy bar, which provides an entirely different effect altogether.

Classical guitar tremelo technique is strictly timed. See Tarrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra, for example. The "tremelo" picking is in strict 16th notes. A flamenco approach to tremelo would probably grant the player more leeway in terms of note grouping.
Last edited by Riffman15 at Apr 20, 2011,
#7
So what is it called when I "rapidly alternate pick" over chords, as you hear in lots of black metal songs? Is that not tremelo picking? It's not just one note at a time, but as fast as "tremelo" picking.
#9
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#10
Quote by KailM
So what is it called when I "rapidly alternate pick" over chords, as you hear in lots of black metal songs? Is that not tremelo picking? It's not just one note at a time, but as fast as "tremelo" picking.


That's still tremoloing, it's just on more than one note. It's perfectly possible to tremolo on more than one note at once as long as it's actually tremoloing and you're not referring the the type of picking you're using.
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#11
Tremolo picking is alternate picking 1 note so as it sounds like 1 long constant note, instead of a series of notes.
#12
BY DEFINITION (Google)

http://www.google.com/search?sclient=psy&hl=en&safe=off&source=hp&q=define%3A+tremolo+picking&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&pbx=1

Tremolo:Tremolo picking or double picking describes the musical technique of picking on a guitar or other string instrument in which a single note is played repeatedly in quick succession

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=define%3A+alternate+picking&btnG=Search

Alternate:Alternate picking is a guitar playing technique, used only by pick users, that employs strictly alternating downward and upward picking strokes in a continuous run, and is the most common method of plectrum playing.
#13
Quote by Riffman15

And lets not conflate the various uses of the word "tremelo." It is also used to refer to the "tremelo" or whammy bar, which provides an entirely different effect altogether.

Classical guitar tremelo technique is strictly timed. See Tarrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra, for example. The "tremelo" picking is in strict 16th notes. A flamenco approach to tremelo would probably grant the player more leeway in terms of note grouping.


Well, I use the musical term "Tremolo" to refer to the musical effect "tremolo", and yes, it tends to be quite strictly timed- in that it is in time with the piece it is performed in.

I don't think you can "conflate the various uses of the word", there is one correct use and it always refers to the same thing. Using "tremolo" to refer to the whammy bar is just plain wrong.

I don't understand how you can disagree with my definition of tremolo either, when it is THE definition of the musical term, not just something I made up...
#14
Quote by chainsawguitar
Well, I use the musical term "Tremolo" to refer to the musical effect "tremolo"

This. Tremolo is NOT a technique, it is an effect. Haven't you ever noticed the tremolo knob on an amp or effects pedal? That is the effect one is trying to achieve when tremolo picking.
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