#1
hey guys!
since i switched from digital multi effects units to analog distortion ive been working on improving my clarity and reducing string-noise and improving my picking clarity,
my model for perfect picking is of course Paul gilbert, i want to reach that level of accuracy so ive been continously analyzing my picking technique, reading tips and watching videos on how fast picking should be done, but ive come across a few questions that i need help with as im a bit confused to what i should be doing

- all picking guides say that pickinng should be done in small minute rapid movements, but if found that this slows me down instead of helping me gain speed as it makes moving between strings less fluid and some notes sound muffled, also ive noticed that it reduces pick attack and doesnt give that percussive sound i get when i pick freely

-thumb position: some people say it should be resting on the lower strings to mute them while picking (tom hess for example) but ive found that when i do that, the movement of the picking hand causes the thumb (and other fingers) to scratch against the lower strings, casing more noise to happen

-picking position: to pick more near bridge or near neck: ive found that picking near the bridge faces less resistance but what you gain in that you lose in tone, i pick kind of midway now but im not sure this is the right thing

-also whether i should totally rest my hand on the bridge or semi rest it and make my hand partially resting-partially floating. ive found that the second choice helps me play on the tip of the pick more but kinda makes string bearing more difficult as theres no fixed point of reference you know? im still not sure about that one but it has helped me play on the tip more and thus sound better

what do you suggest for me? ive read a lot of tips but they dont all seem applicable and some of them sound more theoretical than practical, what do you think?

my rig is an RG370, stock pups, MXR super comp, Metal muff into an old Roland Spirit 15W (solid state) amp P.S: i dont play metal but the metal muffs got some good hard rock tones!
#2
Just do what feels comfortable to you, and work on it, it'll come naturally if you start slow and speed up gradually. Remember, stay relaxed, very relaxed, if you feel tension then slow down 'til you're relaxed again and build up slowly from there,and I find for lots of alt-picking, it's better to keep your wrist locked and just use your forearm to picking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnzh8--CZq4

This guy nails it, and he even does it on an ES. xD But...yeah. There is no real *perfect* technique, just watch Marty Friedman if you need reassurance about that. Most people I talk to cringe when they see his picking hand, and apparently I've got the same kinda deal going on, but, well, Friedman's known as one of the biggest hard rock shredders out there, so obviously it works for him!
Quote by SlayingDragons
Nah, I prefer to tune lower. My tunings usually go into weird Hebrew symbols.
#3
1) I think what they are referring to, at least what comes to my mind, is how much “space” your picking is taking up. What I mean by taking up, is how much you move your pick up and down past the string you are playing on. For example, if your playing a speed run, your going to want to optimize your picking so that you make the least amount of movement in order to save time.

2) Muting strings is different for everyone. What works for someone might not work for another person. I like using the palm of my hand and resting it on the lower strings in order to mute, and using the fingers of my fretting hand to mute the higher strings. This of course is all preference, as well as a bit of practice to keep your strings quite.

3) Once again, this is all personally preference, find what works to you. Analyze what other players do, and start adapting from that. I’ve found that I generally pick dead smack in the middle of the neck and bridge humbucker. Of course this has problems when I play guitars with pickups in the middle position, but I’m able to work around that.

4) This is also a matter of comfort and works for you, but I know some people might say resting your hand is bad technique, but it really doesn’t matter as long as you get the desired result.

I could probably give you some more advice if you were able to post a sound clip, or preferable a video to get a better look at things.
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#4
Thanks for your help guys

Enix thanks for the advice but man im not sure doing what feels comfortable is always correct or good for you if it doesnt sound right or if theres a lot of noise and you cant get up to speed even with practicing. sometimes what feels comfortable isnt whats good for you and you gotta work on a different method (that's awkward at first) to get better
now marty, i rlly like the guy's phrasing he's really exceptional but, he's not much of a picker, he's more of an economy/legato/sweep kinda guy, not the kinda person to turn to for alternate picking u knw?
thanks for the video, although im not sure about picking from the elbow hing, i heard that it wasnt recommended for picking runs

Ghold thanks for a very detailed answer, but i want to clarify a few things:

1) picking with small movements seems to make my hand not gain momentum thus making moving from string to another a bit clumsy, and some notes muffle or sound half assed, could it be that these picking movements im using are too small/my hand is too tight and tense and i should loosen up a bit. i feel an improvement when i do that although im not sure if its the right thing to do, its going against the advice of limiting movement, u knw?

2) i dont rlly use my thumb to mute but it kinda rests/touches the lower (bass side) strings when i pick, thus when i pick the hand movements makes it scratch against the other strings making a scratching noise that is rlly frustrating when im picking it gets in the way of picking clarity.. is this faulty technique, should i keep my thumb away and prevent that from happening, or are my pickups microphonic/ my gear crap and this makes this scratching accentuated?

3) so there isnt a low resistance location to pick at when speedpicking, no "sweet spot" of any sort?


thanks for your help i really appreciate it i'll see if i got a good camera to shoot a sample video with, all i got now is my Ipod Nano's cam, dunno if that will work.
#5
If your playing feels "clumsy" and your hand is feeling very tense as you play, then all I cant suggest is that you practice at a slower bpm, relax your hands, and play each note with precision to the point that their is no background nuances. A lot of these issues just sound like very common things to occur when playing at speeds your not comfortable yet. Trust me, it's all about practice at a pace you can keep up with. Eventually overtime, with more and more practice, your muscle memory will build and you will be able to recall these movements much faster.

I feel that these answered 1 and 3. As for your position of your thumb on the strings, I've noticed my thumb is in the same placement that you described. Very lightly brushing against the strings, but don't notice any background noise. I notice that you said you are playing through at Compressor and a Distortion pedal. Do you normally have both of these running when your practicing?
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#6
Hi Alijon,

Hope to have cleared a few things up here with the following.

1) There are times when small movements arent necessary. Like string skipping. When they say small movements, they really mean, the most economic motion possible to perform the desired effect. So basically, dont move your hand further away from the strings than is necessary.

2) Thumb muting is for lead playing only. Also, if you are getting a scratching noise you are probably overexaggerating the amount of pressure you are applying with your thumb to the strings. Its just like when you mute strings normally, you barely have to touch them to stop the sound. You also are capable of acquiring more speed during thumb muting because of your hands natural point of rest. Take your hand and rest it on the strings as if you were going to palm mute something. Play the string then return back to its natural point of rest. You will notice that your hand comes up and away from the strings making a kind of scooping motion. When you thumb mute, this doesnt happen because your hands natural point of rest sits right up close to the strings with the pick.

3) Playing in different areas on the string will only give you a different sound. Wont make you faster.


If you are unsure what i mean, dont hesitate to ask.
#7
Quote by Ghold125
If your playing feels "clumsy" and your hand is feeling very tense as you play, then all I cant suggest is that you practice at a slower bpm, relax your hands, and play each note with precision to the point that their is no background nuances. A lot of these issues just sound like very common things to occur when playing at speeds your not comfortable yet. Trust me, it's all about practice at a pace you can keep up with. Eventually overtime, with more and more practice, your muscle memory will build and you will be able to recall these movements much faster.

I feel that these answered 1 and 3. As for your position of your thumb on the strings, I've noticed my thumb is in the same placement that you described. Very lightly brushing against the strings, but don't notice any background noise. I notice that you said you are playing through at Compressor and a Distortion pedal. Do you normally have both of these running when your practicing?



i just got the compression so im still experimenting with it, but the noise happens whether its turned on or not, i find that it becomes more apparent when i turn up the mids on my distortion pedal's eq
#8
Quote by Ryan Tunis
Hi Alijon,

Hope to have cleared a few things up here with the following.

1) There are times when small movements arent necessary. Like string skipping. When they say small movements, they really mean, the most economic motion possible to perform the desired effect. So basically, dont move your hand further away from the strings than is necessary.

2) Thumb muting is for lead playing only. Also, if you are getting a scratching noise you are probably overexaggerating the amount of pressure you are applying with your thumb to the strings. Its just like when you mute strings normally, you barely have to touch them to stop the sound. You also are capable of acquiring more speed during thumb muting because of your hands natural point of rest. Take your hand and rest it on the strings as if you were going to palm mute something. Play the string then return back to its natural point of rest. You will notice that your hand comes up and away from the strings making a kind of scooping motion. When you thumb mute, this doesnt happen because your hands natural point of rest sits right up close to the strings with the pick.

3) Playing in different areas on the string will only give you a different sound. Wont make you faster.


If you are unsure what i mean, dont hesitate to ask.


thanks man about point 2 thats exactly what i read in the tom hess guide, ive tried the thumb muting technique for a while but my problem was the scratching noise i got from my thumb rubbing against the strings with the picking motion, i dont know if this is my gear being crap, or me being paranoid but the notes are not as clear as they should be
#9
In terms of small picking motions and string crossing, I get what you mean - it does seem to make the crossing feel less fluid at first. But small motions are definitely faster and more economical - it's all just a matter of practicing enough to develop the control required. Do it at slow speeds and pay very close attention to a) the size of your pick strokes, b) ensuring your hand isn't tense and c) how you go about crossing strings. If the same issue is present when you're playing slowly, it's a fundamental issue with your picking technique. If not, then it's simply that you're playing at speeds you're not comfortable enough with yet and should probably slow it down.

I'd say of a), b) and c) I just listed above, relaxation is the most important of the 3. Small motions is still important, but you can still play fast and clearly without small motions; they just help push that barrier a little bit further. I'd still try to practice with small motions, but ultimately the most important thing is that you're comfortable, relaxed, and getting the sound you want at moderate speeds first.
ESP Horizon FR II (EMG) / Ibanez Prestige RG1570 (DiMarzio Crunch Lab & LiquiFire pickups)
#10
I find for lots of alt-picking, it's better to keep your wrist locked and just use your forearm to picking.


#12
Quote by Syndromed
Fail.


Just pointing out thats it's terrible advice and will probably result in sloppy playing and injury.

Picking should predominantly comes from the wrist.
#14
Quote by Alijonroth
thanks for the input guys keep it coming :-) alsi i found a video of me playing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDWfc_iemjU&context=C335c7ecADOEgsToPDskLrg8Xr5u_A61HSOO3muzvM

but its played clean without any effects, if you can please analyze my technique and tell me if you notice anything wrong or needing improvement, thanks


You are holding the pick nicely and your hand and fingers look relaxed.

But it looks like a lot of movement is coming from the elbow and shoulder. You need to isolate the wrist more. Rest it on the bridge but don't force it into the bridge
#15
Quote by Alijonroth
hey guys!
since i switched from digital multi effects units to analog distortion ive been working on improving my clarity and reducing string-noise and improving my picking clarity,
my model for perfect picking is of course Paul gilbert, i want to reach that level of accuracy so ive been continously analyzing my picking technique, reading tips and watching videos on how fast picking should be done, but ive come across a few questions that i need help with as im a bit confused to what i should be doing

- all picking guides say that pickinng should be done in small minute rapid movements, but if found that this slows me down instead of helping me gain speed as it makes moving between strings less fluid and some notes sound muffled, also ive noticed that it reduces pick attack and doesnt give that percussive sound i get when i pick freely

Picking fast requires economy of motion. If you're picking optimally well, you're going to be making small, understated motions so as not to waste energy and risk extra tension in your wrist. That's a basic mechanic. If you're not used to small motions, it's hard to get good dynamics and pick attack. It's a matter of practice. The guys in the band Meshuggah barely move their wrists at all, but they've got plenty of dynamics and pick attack in their playing (not to mention a superbly percussive sound).

-thumb position: some people say it should be resting on the lower strings to mute them while picking (tom hess for example) but ive found that when i do that, the movement of the picking hand causes the thumb (and other fingers) to scratch against the lower strings, casing more noise to happen

That's not entirely right. Your thumb should help mute if you find it helps, but I personally have trouble using thumb muting. I prefer using my palm for the strings physically above my picking hand and my fretting hand for the physically lower strings. It's optional.

-picking position: to pick more near bridge or near neck: ive found that picking near the bridge faces less resistance but what you gain in that you lose in tone, i pick kind of midway now but im not sure this is the right thing

Where you pick can change your tone significantly. Picking close to the bridge gets you a sharper, more trebly tone that is good for rhythmic and percussive passages. Closer to the neck gets a warmer, smoother sound that's popular for solos.
-also whether i should totally rest my hand on the bridge or semi rest it and make my hand partially resting-partially floating. ive found that the second choice helps me play on the tip of the pick more but kinda makes string bearing more difficult as theres no fixed point of reference you know? im still not sure about that one but it has helped me play on the tip more and thus sound better

Resting your hand on the bridge is perfectly fine as long as it isn't creating tension. I find lightly resting my hand on the strings directly next to the bridge lets me mute them most comfortably. Experiment with what feels most comfortable and lets you minimize tension.
#16
Quote by mrbabo91
You are holding the pick nicely and your hand and fingers look relaxed.

But it looks like a lot of movement is coming from the elbow and shoulder. You need to isolate the wrist more. Rest it on the bridge but don't force it into the bridge



thanks man, so i need to rest a bit more lightly? i'll take that into account, thanks a lot for the input
#17
Quote by Geldin
Long Detailed Post.


whoa! thanks man i really appreciate the effort you took in that reply so there isnt suck a thing as motions that are too little or that are too little that they cause tension?

can you please check out the video and pinpoint anything that needs improvement? thanks a lot
#18
It looks like your hand motions were really large and occasionally a little out of control. To answer your question, there is no such thing as too small or too economical a picking motion. Unless you're tensing your arm to spazz out your arm, smaller motions ought to require less energy and movement, thus decreasing the risk for tension and increasing your precision.

Watch these two guys:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd6z39PbIRw
Their picking hands are making the tiniest movements possible, but they're getting a very dynamic and percussive sound with a well defined attack. They're in total control, but they're also both clearly tension free and their forearms and upper arms are loose and relaxed. That's the standard that I work towards - minimal effort for maximal out put.

In your video, I couldn't really see if there was any tension in your forearm, since the quality wasn't quite clear enough, but there were two things that struck me as needing improvement:
1. Your string skipping, which sounded sloppy and a rough to me.
2. Your coordination with your fretting hand. Ideally, you want your two hands to work in tandem. Without coordination, there is no way to improve your accurate top speed. It's absolutely essential. I practice some passages dozens of times at lower tempos simply to lock those movements into muscle memory. That way, when I speed up, my hands are synchronized in their movements.

You had a decent sense of dynamics and you're in pretty good shape as far as I can see for tension, though I'd work to decrease the size of my pick-strokes.
#19
Quote by Geldin
It looks like your hand motions were really large and occasionally a little out of control. To answer your question, there is no such thing as too small or too economical a picking motion. Unless you're tensing your arm to spazz out your arm, smaller motions ought to require less energy and movement, thus decreasing the risk for tension and increasing your precision.

Watch these two guys:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd6z39PbIRw
Their picking hands are making the tiniest movements possible, but they're getting a very dynamic and percussive sound with a well defined attack. They're in total control, but they're also both clearly tension free and their forearms and upper arms are loose and relaxed. That's the standard that I work towards - minimal effort for maximal out put.

In your video, I couldn't really see if there was any tension in your forearm, since the quality wasn't quite clear enough, but there were two things that struck me as needing improvement:
1. Your string skipping, which sounded sloppy and a rough to me.
2. Your coordination with your fretting hand. Ideally, you want your two hands to work in tandem. Without coordination, there is no way to improve your accurate top speed. It's absolutely essential. I practice some passages dozens of times at lower tempos simply to lock those movements into muscle memory. That way, when I speed up, my hands are synchronized in their movements.

You had a decent sense of dynamics and you're in pretty good shape as far as I can see for tension, though I'd work to decrease the size of my pick-strokes.


alright then, smaller pick strokes and more hand synchronization...hich will require practicing more at lower speeds got it! thanks heaps!

thanks everyone!