#1
Hey,

I have been practising alternate picking for a while now (3 months focused practice), and I feel like I am not getting any better at it (I mean speed-wise). I can only come to a conclusion that my technique is not good, but I dont know what I am doing wrong (although when I pick, my hand and the pick tends to "hop" on the string while picking rather than staying firm). What do you suggest?
#2
Well i'm gonna share my 2 cents, cause with the thing i've been doing the past months i've improved greatly at AP.

This works for everything, not just alternate picking. And i felt so stupid i dident do this before.

Take a lick/riff or basiclly anything your practicing. Since you say alternate picking lets take a alternate picking lick.

So what i firstly do is of course play it slowly first until i've memorised it.

Then what i do is this.
Practice it 5 minutes straight (no break) at the highest tempo i can play it PERFECTLY. That would be clean and RELAXED.
Then i have a 5 minute break from the lick. Then i do the same thing for 5 min, then 5 min break and then one last time for 10 minute. Then 10 minute break and move on to the next thing.

I've done this on everything i've been working on the last couple of months. If you are truly relaxed when doing this you will be able to play it a little faster the next day (Still relaxed). And then you keep doing it until your up to the original tempo.

So short: Practice everything perfectly, Clean and relaxed (You should not feel tense!!) and you will be improving much faster.
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#3
Quote by kiraly5
Hey,

I have been practising alternate picking for a while now (3 months focused practice), and I feel like I am not getting any better at it (I mean speed-wise). I can only come to a conclusion that my technique is not good, but I dont know what I am doing wrong (although when I pick, my hand and the pick tends to "hop" on the string while picking rather than staying firm). What do you suggest?



3 months for how many hours a day and doing what?
#4
try resting your picking hand on the bridge and use only a small movement of your wrist and fingers to pick rather than hovering with your arm and practice alternate picking up and down on the low e string after a while try different strings then some scales up and down use a metronome and start slow (if u cant buy one it should be easy enough to download something that'll do the trick) gradually increase the pace when it feels comfortable at a certain speed , the trick is to hold the pick so there's only a tiny amount of it sticks out to touch the string if too much sticks out from your thumb and index finger it will cause too much resistance and the pick will hop 90-95% of the pick should be between your finger and thumb, also try using a hard pick as soft picks are more for strumming harder picks are better for picking, pick at a slight angle not level with the string because this would cause too much resistance and also cause the pick to hop, i use small dunlop jazz 3 picks that seem to work really well for this sort of thing if u can find em i'd highly recommend em best of luck with it hope this helps
#5
Quote by Slashiepie
3 months for how many hours a day and doing what?


Each day between 30-60 minutes for this, practising a part of Mozart: Rondo alla turca with the method that was mentioned above: slowly playing it (started on 70bpm) and increasing the tempo. Thing is, its been 3 months and cant get over 100bpm... (I could do 100bpm clean right after I memorised the piece, so basicaly no improvement done)
#6
this worked for me when i was learning alternate picking

try alternate picking different scales. start slow and slowly increase the tempo. i found it easier to learn alternate picking on scales because they are mundane and you don't have to worry about the song and you can just focus on your picking hand.
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#7
Quote by idontgiveafuk
try resting your picking hand on the bridge and use only a small movement of your wrist


I agree with the small movements but you shouldn't rest your hand on the bridge as it doesn't help with flow, can increase tension, makes it harder to move between strings and makes it harder to palm mute higher strings. Having your arm float and follow the strings means your hand always keeps the same angle on each of the strings, and you don't rely on pressing your hand into the guitar for strength and support. Having said that it can't do too much harm lightly touching the bridge if it helps you feel out the position, just so long as you aren't pressing into it and relying on it for your picking motion.

Try an hour a day of slowly alt picking 3 notes per string as 16th triplets at a REALLY low BPM (like 20 or 30) and bring it up by 1bpm every 100% perfect minute or so. Make sure, while you're going really slow, that all your muscles are relaxed. If you feel any slight tension, stop, release the tension, then continue. If you hit a wall where you can't go faster without either tensing up or losing accuracy, drop 5-10bpm and stay there for a few minutes. I've been doing something similar the past couple of weeks (although I've been doing it with muted strings and not sounding the notes as I was focusing entirely on my right hand).

Chances are it'll feel alien playing that slowly at first as the natural flow is less obvious, but you soon pick it up, and you can really focus on relaxing and hitting everything perfectly with small pick movements.
#8
Some questions:

Do the upstrokes feel just as easy and natural as the down strokes?

Does it feel like you can brush through the string completely easily on every string?

Does alternate picking feel the same on every single string, whether its the thickest, thinnest or in the middle?

Can you play palm muted just as easily as open on every string?

Are all the other strings well muted when you are not playing them?

This should help give us a bit more info so we can give you more advice.


Edit: and what is the pick your using like? Is it hard? soft? pointy? roundish? Small? Medium?
Last edited by jkielq91 at Nov 3, 2011,
#9
Quote by jkielq91
Some questions:

Do the upstrokes feel just as easy and natural as the down strokes?

Does it feel like you can brush through the string completely easily on every string?

Does alternate picking feel the same on every single string, whether its the thickest, thinnest or in the middle?

Can you play palm muted just as easily as open on every string?

Are all the other strings well muted when you are not playing them?

This should help give us a bit more info so we can give you more advice.


Edit: and what is the pick your using like? Is it hard? soft? pointy? roundish? Small? Medium?


1: Yes I think, I got used to it.

2: No, this easy yet firm brush is something that I cannot get after a tempo.

3: No, it doesnt. This is actually a problem, cause I find the LOW E and A string much harder to play compared to the HIGH E or B strings. I usually ancor my little finger and at times my ring finger too below the high e string. When I play the LOW E, I have to stretch a bit in order for my pinky to touch the body (in this case the ring finger would be touching the high e string). Also, since they are thicker I find they require more force.

4: I dont play much palm muted stuff, but I think it isnt a problem.

5: I dont mute other strings. I play the acoustic guitar and I was not aware so far that other strings should be muted while picking a given string.

6: The pick I use is a 1.0mm thick Dunlop pick. This is the most comfortable pick I have used so far, because I can get a good grip, there is not much picking noise (unlike in a case of a thicker pick) and I can strum and play single line melodies with a good sound too. Here is a pic: http://img.etonals.com/p/130/MC_421R1.gif
Last edited by kiraly5 at Nov 3, 2011,
#10
Resting your hand on the bridge is ok, infact, it helps keeps strings quiet. As long as you're not forcing it down.

Make sure you are angling the pick. Try and keep a 45 degree angle when alternate picking. Much more than this will cause your attack to sound scratchy. Much less will cause too much friction for you to pick fast.

The best thing to do is to practice really really slowly. Think along the lines of 16th notes at 30 bpm. Make sure your technique is perfect. This includes muting the above string with the tip of your index finger and making sure your up and downstrokes are even.
#11
There is a fix for this, it is tedious it is boring but it will get you results no matter what.

Alternate pick one OPEN single string for around 20 minutes, go to the next.. do this on all strings. If you really want to get it quickly spend double the time. Do this EVERY Day

After you have each open string "down"
Start doing the same on adjacent strings.. afterwards on non adjacent strings..
incorporate this into oyur daily routine and your picking will drastically improve.

Before you look me like im demented i bet my Jem that if you do this you will get used to the different tension of each string and reap amazing results. Licks arent evenly spaced on all strings, licks vary way too much and change tempo, thats one reason why you are finding some strings are "more difficult" than others.

You could also work on your timing and your triplets, 5ts and 7ths at the same time.
Last edited by Slashiepie at Nov 3, 2011,
#12
Quote by Slashiepie
There is a fix for this, it is tedious it is boring but it will get you results no matter what... etc


This sounds like a pretty good idea - open strings are harder to pick quickly because there's more travel. Just to clarify, when you say "now do this one adjacent strings" do you mean hit each once, twice, three times? I'm guessing you mean to do 1 on each, then 2 on each, then 3 then 4..

Sounds like a good exercise for getting the feel of each string. I might try this myself some time. You can also mute the strings if you want to work on accenting as it seems to bring out the accents more, but open strings will likely do more for your feel of each string.
#13
Quote by kiraly5
Hey,

I have been practising alternate picking for a while now (3 months focused practice), and I feel like I am not getting any better at it (I mean speed-wise). I can only come to a conclusion that my technique is not good, but I dont know what I am doing wrong (although when I pick, my hand and the pick tends to "hop" on the string while picking rather than staying firm). What do you suggest?

A good exercise is to play a scale, or just a single note to begin with to a metronome, and play through all the rhythmic subdivisions from whole note through to sextuplet.

This will hone your sense of timing, and your picking hands ability to "change gear" whilst the underlying pulse stays the same.

Once you get comfortable with that, you can try jumping a few. Like crotchet to 16th notes, or triplets to sextuplets.

There are many accented clave rhythms you can do as well.
#14
Quote by kiraly5
1: Yes I think, I got used to it.

2: No, this easy yet firm brush is something that I cannot get after a tempo.

3: No, it doesnt. This is actually a problem, cause I find the LOW E and A string much harder to play compared to the HIGH E or B strings. I usually ancor my little finger and at times my ring finger too below the high e string. When I play the LOW E, I have to stretch a bit in order for my pinky to touch the body (in this case the ring finger would be touching the high e string). Also, since they are thicker I find they require more force.

4: I dont play much palm muted stuff, but I think it isnt a problem.

5: I dont mute other strings. I play the acoustic guitar and I was not aware so far that other strings should be muted while picking a given string.

6: The pick I use is a 1.0mm thick Dunlop pick. This is the most comfortable pick I have used so far, because I can get a good grip, there is not much picking noise (unlike in a case of a thicker pick) and I can strum and play single line melodies with a good sound too. Here is a pic: http://img.etonals.com/p/130/MC_421R1.gif



Ideally you want every answer to be a confident yes, but it is great that you can identify the problem spots, that will make it much easier to help you improve.

I actually was the same as you just a few months ago. I found it much harder to pick on the two lower strings. What I found solved this was adjusting my picking hand position a bit.

Here is a sight that I think explains the picking hand position very well:

http://www.thewizardofshred.com/index/how-to-pick-with-precision-and-power

The whole article is great, but I am mainly referring to the bit just under the second video on the page with the 1. 2. 3. list and the part just beneath it.


And your pick choice is good. Though you could try out Dunlop Jazz III if you like.
#15
Quote by jkielq91
Ideally you want every answer to be a confident yes, but it is great that you can identify the problem spots, that will make it much easier to help you improve.

I actually was the same as you just a few months ago. I found it much harder to pick on the two lower strings. What I found solved this was adjusting my picking hand position a bit.

Here is a sight that I think explains the picking hand position very well:

http://www.thewizardofshred.com/index/how-to-pick-with-precision-and-power

The whole article is great, but I am mainly referring to the bit just under the second video on the page with the 1. 2. 3. list and the part just beneath it.


And your pick choice is good. Though you could try out Dunlop Jazz III if you like.

Funnily enough a similar thing happened to me recently for the exact same reason (harder to pick E and A strings) - I found that site but the thing which helped me was the last video on the page, where he shows his hand moving up and down along with the strings, rather than holding it in one place.

My first ever post on this site was actually about the initial thing you were talking about though, funnily enough (the picking motion).
Last edited by llBlackenedll at Nov 3, 2011,
#16
I don't know if this has been said already as i only skim read the thread but i would seriously suggest warming up both you hands before playing if you don't already. Doing some chromatic runs and wide chord stretches can get you warmed up in as little as 10 minutes i find. But it is really effective for me and makes practicing a lot easier
#17
Quote by djsdabest
I don't know if this has been said already as i only skim read the thread but i would seriously suggest warming up both you hands before playing if you don't already. Doing some chromatic runs and wide chord stretches can get you warmed up in as little as 10 minutes i find. But it is really effective for me and makes practicing a lot easier


I agree 100% with this.


Quote by llBlackenedll
Funnily enough a similar thing happened to me recently for the exact same reason (harder to pick E and A strings) - I found that site but the thing which helped me was the last video on the page, where he shows his hand moving up and down along with the strings, rather than holding it in one place.

My first ever post on this site was actually about the initial thing you were talking about though, funnily enough (the picking motion).


Its a very well written page on picking.
Last edited by jkielq91 at Nov 3, 2011,
#18
Quote by llBlackenedll
This sounds like a pretty good idea - open strings are harder to pick quickly because there's more travel. Just to clarify, when you say "now do this one adjacent strings" do you mean hit each once, twice, three times? I'm guessing you mean to do 1 on each, then 2 on each, then 3 then 4..

Sounds like a good exercise for getting the feel of each string. I might try this myself some time. You can also mute the strings if you want to work on accenting as it seems to bring out the accents more, but open strings will likely do more for your feel of each string.



hhh i like the way you explain things
Indeed once you got the feel for an open string the notes fall into place.

for the adjacent part an example of an excercise is playing one triplet per string using of course the mighty metronome. One starts on any E and then goes up and down in time.

An example for non adjacent strings excercises:

1 strings gap E,D,A,B,G,E and back
2 strings gap E,G,A,B,D,E
3 strings gap E,B,A,E

Muting is indeed something you can do with this
It also helps in perfecting picking technique if ones pays close attention and tries to make up and down picking sound exactly the same.