#1
Hey guys,

love "Farewell ballad" by zakk wylde and I try to master that bitch there's that one shred lick Video and I don't know which picking technique I should use... economy or alternate? What do you think is zakk playing (it's pretty wild so I cant really tell)?
#2
That's just tremolo picking. So....neither.
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#3
Quote by wyldething
That's just tremolo picking. So....neither.


Really??? I got this gp file. How would play this lick (measure 16-17) just with tremolo picking? Could maybe explain to me how you think he plays that part?? Thanks
#4
Quote by wyldething
That's just tremolo picking. So....neither.

That is not tremolo picking. Tremolo picking is subdividing a single note into divisions of sixteenth notes or greater to give a shimmering sound to the note. What Zakk was doing there looked like sloppy alternate picking.

Zakk's picking technique is really poor, so it's not a good idea to emulate him. He uses his shoulder and elbow a lot when most of your picking motion ought to come from the wrist. He does alright with it, but his accuracy suffers pretty severely for extended fast licks.

It looks like in addition to picking, he's using a fair number of pull offs and bends. I personally would probably alternate pick that, since the speed that economy picking might lend you really wouldn't make a difference and so that I could get a sharper distinction between my pull offs and my picked notes, which economy picking wouldn't do. that said, if you're more comfortable playing that lick with economy picking, go for it. The difference in sound won't make a huge difference, since it'll be hard to distinguish at that speed.
#5
Quote by Geldin
That is not tremolo picking. Tremolo picking is subdividing a single note into divisions of sixteenth notes or greater to give a shimmering sound to the note. What Zakk was doing there looked like sloppy alternate picking.

Zakk's picking technique is really poor, so it's not a good idea to emulate him. He uses his shoulder and elbow a lot when most of your picking motion ought to come from the wrist. He does alright with it, but his accuracy suffers pretty severely for extended fast licks.

It looks like in addition to picking, he's using a fair number of pull offs and bends. I personally would probably alternate pick that, since the speed that economy picking might lend you really wouldn't make a difference and so that I could get a sharper distinction between my pull offs and my picked notes, which economy picking wouldn't do. that said, if you're more comfortable playing that lick with economy picking, go for it. The difference in sound won't make a huge difference, since it'll be hard to distinguish at that speed.



I completely agree. To me it looks like he is trying to down pick that phrase or something. His technique is pretty shoddy. Just alt pick it, you should be fine.
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#6
Quote by Geldin
What Zakk was doing there looked like sloppy alternate picking.

There's really nothing particularly sloppy about that lick, to be honest. His picking technique may not be textbook, but he's actually a very proficient and accurate player.
Last edited by :-D at Jan 18, 2012,
#7
That passage was picked very poorly. There's a huge difference between unorthodox and bad. Marty Friedman's picking technique is unorthodox, but he's a very accurate player. Zakk Wylde's technique is bad, not only because he uses inefficient muscle groups, but also because he's not an accurate player. Watch some of his live videos. His technique is passable for the most part, but his accuracy starts to fall apart when he tries to do fast licks like that time and again. He played that lick fine, but look at the tension in his arm and tell me that his technique is anywhere remotely good.
#8
He may have a few passages that are inaccurate, but on the whole, his picking technique is far from "bad" - particularly his chicken picking.
Quote by Geldin
That passage was picked very poorly.

Quote by Geldin
He played that lick fine

What?
#9
Lemme clarify. He managed to play the lick fine, but his picking technique was very poor. There are many people with better picking technique you can imitate.

His use of chicken picking is interesting, I'll admit, but it doesn't make up for the immense amounts of tension that his alternate picking style requires. There are far better ways to alternate pick. Just because he does something most people don't doesn't mean that he's got good technique. Besides that, I'm pretty sure that a lot of the slop in that passage (or any others) tends to get hidden by his overuse of gain and wah, similar to what Kirk Hammett does.
#10
Quote by Geldin
Besides that, I'm pretty sure that a lot of the slop in that passage (or any others) tends to get hidden by his overuse of gain and wah, similar to what Kirk Hammett does.

There are tons of examples of him playing clean or acoustic in which the notes are clear and articulate with nothing to hide behind.
Quote by Geldin
Just because he does something most people don't doesn't mean that he's got good technique.

And by the same token, the fact that his technique isn't perfect doesn't mean it's just flat-out bad.
#11
The difference in his acoustic playing and his electric playing being that he isn't attempting high speed passages on an acoustic using alternate picking. Besides that, his technique is more than simply not perfect. It's just plain bad. Watch his live videos and tell me that he isn't struggling to keep up with the tempo on his solos and that he isn't pulling a Hammett and hiding his mistakes behind a wall of effects.

Like I said, it might be functional for him in the studio, but there are players with far better technique to emulate. The way he picks is far more likely to lead to inaccuracy and injury than clean, precise playing. Look at Al Di Meola's technique - it's clean, precise, it uses his wrist even at tremendous speeds, it's articulate, and he can pull it off on any damn instrument he pleases.
#12
Quote by Geldin
The difference in his acoustic playing and his electric playing being that he isn't attempting high speed passages on an acoustic using alternate picking.

What? Quite the opposite, actually.

Quote by Geldin
The way he picks is far more likely to lead to inaccuracy and injury than clean, precise playing.

Yes, I know - and no, he's not "pulling a Hammett", it's not difficult to see that he's a far more technically proficient player.
#13
Show me an example of him playing cleanly and fluently at anything close to the speed of that lick using alternate picking on an acoustic. I highly doubt he's able to do that.

Besides that, yes, he's more technically proficient than Kirk is. However, that does not change that his live videos feature a guitar tone that is drenched with wah and distortion, far more than would be necessary, meaning either he and all of his techs aren't able to get a decent tone with his top-of-the-line gear or he's covering some of his technical deficiencies up with effects.
#14
Quote by Geldin
Show me an example of him playing cleanly and fluently at anything close to the speed of that lick using alternate picking on an acoustic. I highly doubt he's able to do that.

These are just some spots.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Abqvhj-j44 1:23-1:33
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om2YwwybpEE 1:00-1:14, 5:08-5:16, 6:43-6:51
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKEwFi4Shr8&feature=related (clean electric, so he's not hiding) a bunch of licks in here like 1:16-1:22, 1:50-1:58, 2:46-3:19 (bit of chicken picking in here) pretty much most of this video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ-PsRu-5hs 0:32-0:45

There are a bunch of others, probably in some spots in these videos as well, as well as some small intro licks to acoustic stuff like Machine Gun Man and Dead as Yesterday, I just can't go find them all at this moment. I do see the point you're making, by the way, I just don't feel the technique is anywhere near as bad as you make it out to be.

Quote by Geldin
Besides that, yes, he's more technically proficient than Kirk is. However, that does not change that his live videos feature a guitar tone that is drenched with wah and distortion, far more than would be necessary, meaning either he and all of his techs aren't able to get a decent tone with his top-of-the-line gear or he's covering some of his technical deficiencies up with effects.

...or that he likes the sound of that particular tone?
#15
His technique is bad because he uses inefficient muscle groups to achieve speed while sacrificing accuracy. In those videos you posted, he was picking rapidly, but it sounded like a mess of notes rather than a clean passage, not to mention that he was spamming simple 2 and 3 note per string runs.

Watch this guy's technique:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuY0_JCHaF4
At 4:42, he's playing some rapid, complicated bits on a slightly overdriven guitar. His wrist barely moves; the rest of his arm remains completely immobile and relaxed. The kind of complex picking patterns he's pulling off would be impossible to do at that speed using your shoulder instead of your wrist.

On the subject of tone, he could get almost exactly the same sound without nearly as much gain and effects abuse without sacrificing tone. The only reasons for cranking the gain and effects that much are as an accident of inexperience or an intentional move to cover mistakes.
#16
Quote by Geldin
In those videos you posted, he was picking rapidly, but it sounded like a mess of notes rather than a clean passage, not to mention that he was spamming simple 2 and 3 note per string runs.

So now you're going after the fact that he has bad technique because he plays 2 nps and 3 nps runs? He's almost exclusively a pentatonic player, so those are the note groupings you're going to get. The number of notes per string doesn't invalidate the picking technique in any way; as a matter of fact, 3 nps runs are the norm when practicing alternate picking, as I'm sure you're familiar with. Perhaps it's simply a matter of opinion, but I don't hear a "mess of notes" at all - the articulation of the notes is fine.

Quote by Geldin
At 4:42, he's playing some rapid, complicated bits on a slightly overdriven guitar. His wrist barely moves; the rest of his arm remains completely immobile and relaxed. The kind of complex picking patterns he's pulling off would be impossible to do at that speed using your shoulder instead of your wrist.

This is all true, but di Meola has one of the best alternate picking techniques around. Saying someone's technique is bad and proceeding to compare it to one of the prime examples of the technique is a bit of a logical overextension. There are very few players who alternate pick as well as Al di Meola, even ones who pick economically from the wrist, but that doesn't mean their picking technique is significantly flawed - it means it's simply not developed to quite that extent.

Quote by Geldin
On the subject of tone, he could get almost exactly the same sound without nearly as much gain and effects abuse without sacrificing tone.

If it's the tone he wants, then he's not sacrificing tone at all. He's used a more gainy sound in later years, too; if you look up older videos of his live playing the tone is generally clearer.
#17
Zakk uses his whole arm, or at least his forearm to pick, and he barely moves his wrist. While he does manage to perform most things, you can tell he's straining, and it would simply be more efficient to use his wrist instead. He would be much faster and accurate if he did. Although I must admit, I do love his style, just not his physical technique.
#18
Quote by ChamsRock
Zakk uses his whole arm, or at least his forearm to pick, and he barely moves his wrist. While he does manage to perform most things, you can tell he's straining, and it would simply be more efficient to use his wrist instead. He would be much faster and accurate if he did. Although I must admit, I do love his style, just not his physical technique.

Yes, I've conceded this point - it just doesn't immediately make his technique horrible.
#19
How has Marty Friedman not been mentioned in this thread yet as an example of unorthodox picking?

Picking style is different from guitarist to guitarist and honestly the best way to determine which style works best for you is metronome filled practice. Which, although being pretty boring, is incredibly helpful. One exercise I've found helpful in practicing my picking technique is to pick your favorite scale (C major is recommended because it's easy) and go up and down all six strings repeatedly. I'm better at alternate picking than economy picking although I prefer economy picking for certain riffs I write simply because it flows better.
#20
Quote by Shotgunmerc
How has Marty Friedman not been mentioned in this thread yet as an example of unorthodox picking?

He has, you must have missed it through this really meaningful and fascinating discussion we've been having.
#21
Quote by :-D
So now you're going after the fact that he has bad technique because he plays 2 nps and 3 nps runs? He's almost exclusively a pentatonic player, so those are the note groupings you're going to get. The number of notes per string doesn't invalidate the picking technique in any way; as a matter of fact, 3 nps runs are the norm when practicing alternate picking, as I'm sure you're familiar with. Perhaps it's simply a matter of opinion, but I don't hear a "mess of notes" at all - the articulation of the notes is fine.

I'm going after him because his poor technique only allows him to do simple, linear patterns. The articulation isn't all that great - when he approaches those higher speeds, it definitely sounds like his synchronization is starting to fall apart.

If it's the tone he wants, then he's not sacrificing tone at all. He's used a more gainy sound in later years, too; if you look up older videos of his live playing the tone is generally clearer.

His tone could sound exactly the same to the listener if he cut the gain in half, or even down to a quarter of that, depending on the amp he's using. Any technician and experienced guitarist could tell you that. There's no need to max out the gain unless you don't know what you're doing or if you're trying to hide mistakes in gain. With that much gain, your signal gets compressed and those little screwups in your synchronicity are a lot harder to hear.

The point of good technique is to use minimal energy for maximal result. Zakk uses a lot of motion and energy, but his speed and precision don't justify that. There are far better ways to alternate pick. The reason I posted Al di Meola was to demonstrate just that - he is far and away one of the best alternate pickers out there and his economy of motion and muscle relaxation are what players should aim for, not Zakk's technique. That was my original point - his technique might work for him, but there are far more efficient ways to alternate pick that don't risk nearly as much injury.
#22
Quote by Geldin
I'm going after him because his poor technique only allows him to do simple, linear patterns. The articulation isn't all that great - when he approaches those higher speeds, it definitely sounds like his synchronization is starting to fall apart.

I'd actually be interested to know if it was the other way around, if he started off playing exclusively linear licks, didn't do much else and simply got faster at those, leading to this technique. I don't think there's any way of knowing, but it'd be interesting if we could find out.

Quote by Geldin
The reason I posted Al di Meola was to demonstrate just that - he is far and away one of the best alternate pickers out there and his economy of motion and muscle relaxation are what players should aim for, not Zakk's technique.

I think I lost your original point somewhere in here, but reading this again, yes, I'd agree with you.

So congrats on a nice tag team derail for absolutely no reason other than the fact that I missed your whole point.
#25
TS.
Learn to pick everything using both.
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#26
Hey guys nice discussion going on there. Kinda agree with both of you. IMO my picking technique is not too bad, mainly using the wrist with a little bit of elbow work, just have to get it up to speed now.

I think I will stick with economy picking for now and mybe try the alternate picking version later on. But thanks for all the information given
#27
I gotta say, sometimes I see Zakk play and it's brilliant. Sometimes it's totally awful and really sloppy. I suspect there may be factors at work here involving more than just his technique.