Hey everyone!

I´ve been struggling with a certain technical problem for more than a year now, and I think I finally collected all the pieces I need to solve the problem. Since the problem almost made me quit playing the guitar, I thought I might share this with all of you.

My problem was that every time I changed strings with alternate picking, I accidentally hit the next string on the wrong side. So let´s say I am doing an upstroke on the high e string. My pick wouldn´t move up enough then and hit the b string, which is next to the e string, on the inside, which was not intended (the next correct stroke would be a downstroke on the outside of the b string).

Naturally the first thing I tried was to just keep practicing the very movement that I couldn´t get right. So I would sit there, play string changes (outside and inside, one or two note per string patterns etc., you know what I mean) and track the speeds I managed to reach.

However, I very soon realized that I was stuck at a certain tempo (which was 120 BPM, four notes per Beat). I realized if I am already stuck at 120 BPM and can´t get any further no matter how much I practice, there has got to be something wrong with my technique. And I think that I now know what it was.

I have to go into detail here, but if you are having the same problem, you might want to thank me later.

The move I used to get the tip of the pick up so that it can go over the next string was the muscle you´d need to tap on your table. Put your fingers on any surface and move all of them up at once from your wrist and then down again, and you´ll know what move I mean.

I soon realized the following:
You need to get the pick up AND down again for just ONE stroke, so if you play e.g. The high e string and the b string, you´d have to get the pick up when doing the upstroke on the e string, down again to do the downstroke on the b string, up again to get over the e string again etc.

If I wanted to play at fast tempos (200 BPM, fpur notes per beat), that would have meant that in those cases where there are a lot of string changes, I would have had to be able to tap my index finger on the surface FOUR TIMES a beat at 200 BPM! I dare you to try it, and I dare to say that this is physically impossible. (Maybe someday some body builder will focuse on this muscle, but I don´t see the point.)

I actually signed up for Paul Gilbert´s School of rock. There he has a description of his picking technique. When I read his description, it dawned on me.

For fast string changes, you have to combine different techniques for each stroke!

I found that there are basically three techniques for moving the pick up and down:

1. rotating the wrist (moving the root of the thumb away from the guitar strings)
2. the "tapping" move I described earlier and
3. moving up your index finger while holding the pick.

Now again, if you used only ONE of those moves to get the pick up, you won´t be able to reach high speed. I don´t think anyone in the world can move his index finger up and down or rotate the wrist FOUR times per beat at the tempo of 200 BPM.

Of course you have to combine the up and down movement with a side to side movement, but this is rather easy. (I think it´s the same move you´d do when you use a rubber to erase something on a sheet). However, one important thing to notice here is that you are NOT necessarily rotating the wrist, you are only moving it from side to side!

To conclude this, I want to briefly describe how Paul does it and then how I am doing it:

Paul actually has his wrist in a twisted position, so he "leans" the pick forward. When he does upstrokes, the pick is already at the perfect angle to get over the next lower string. So for upstrokes, he is ONLY using the side to side move of the wrist, without rotating it (I think he does it that way, if I am mistaken please tell me).

[forbidden link]

For the downstrokes, he uses a different technique. He also uses the side to side move of the wrist, but he adds yet another move, which is the "tapping" move. Since his wrist is in a twisted position all the time, the pick would get stuck below the next higher string, like this:

[forbidden link]

So by using the "tapping" move, it becomes like this:

[forbidden link]

To me, having my wrist in a twisted position all the time feels weird, so I am doing it like this:

When I do an upstroke, I move my wrist from one side to the other AND very slightly rotate it, so that the pick will "lean" and get over the next string. For the downstrokes, I use the side to side move and the "tapping" move.

God, this got long! I hope that there´s some people out there who can use this advice. Fell free to tell me what you think!

Best regards,

Cool story. You have forbidden links though
Playing guitar since 2010

Quote by theogonia777
well said

that galalayo nigga would have been all like

bitch ain't no way they'll ever have telescopes that can see pluto

but we have telescopes that can see pluto so fuck that guy