Hello dear members of UG. I’ve been noticing that my articulation on the higher strings is not as clear as the lower strings. This occurs even more when I try to play a fast scale run/alternate picking exercise on the high strings. Articulation and note clarity on the lower strings are fine but what’s wrong on the higher strings? I thought at first that practicing more would make it alright but I can’t see any improvement. Another weird thing is I hold my pick in such a way that it remains angled towards the strings and I try to hold the pick fairly close to its pointy end when I play lead. But I’ve seen when I try to play a medium/long phrase, my pick sort of becomes flat towards the strings and my thumb moves away from the pointy end of the pick as if I were holding pick for strumming. Can anyone help me with these problems of mine? Any constructive comments and helpful suggestions are most welcome.
Do you practice slow first, then progressively faster? Which exercises do you use? To improve, practice is pretty much the ONLY option, you just need to approach it correctly. You could tell us how you practice this so more people could brainstorm it. For alternate picking, it's necessary to time fretting the next note with picking it as closely as possible. When I play scales too fast for comfort, I tend to pick some notes slightly too early, before fretting it fully and end up with an emulation of a palm muted sound - maybe that's something that happens to you? Or is something else the culprit?

Also, one thing at a time. Don't practice articulation and proper holding of the pick in the same exercise, but focus on a single one. As before, take it slow, take some long phrase and do it at half speed. If you can play it at full speed, half speed will be a breeze, so you can really focus on how you hold your pick. You might miss the articulation, but that's not important, you're training your pick grip right now. The same when you're going for better articulation - focus on only that and on the mistakes you know you make, and try not to make them. At slower tempos, this should be easier to achieve.
You should practice stacatto playing. Meaning you play a note and imediately mute it by touching it with your pick, that gives you short notes and best articulation in fast passages. i asume you have problems with fast scales not simple licks,yes?

Quote by Navi_96
Do you practice slow first....

I always practice slow when I learn something and then I gradually increase my speed. I don't rush for learning quickly; and I even divide the entire piece/lick/etude into small chunks and learn them one by one. But I don't know whats wrong with the articulation and clarity of notes on high strings(I remain as much careful as possible about string noice). Have a look at the tab where two single string phrases are given.

Whenever I try to play a bit fast, the notes do not sound clear, but I'm sure that I do not miss the notes, both my picking and freting fret hand are in sync. They just do not sound clear when I play. Should I press down the strings even more hard while playing? One more thing is I think my pick grip should be pretty hard, but this tenses up my arm quick. What do you think?

Quote by atza
You should practice stacatto playing....

I've heard of stacatto playing before, but would it be too difficult for a beginner player to learn? Its been a few months I started to play electric guitar seriouly although I started playing over a year ago. I face problem mainly playing fast passages on the high strings, they don't sound quite clear.
Hmmm, where do your fingers land when playing the note? Those passages are very high up the neck and the spaces between the frets are appropriately small. If the fretting finger lands too much over the fret the string is being pressed over, it will muffle. Again, an emulation of what heavy palm muting does - it forcefully reduces the amplitude - and duration - of vibration. So one must be careful - when up there, to consciously move the finger a little more left, so that nothing comes over the metal fret itself aside from the string...

Quote by stranger_23
Should I press the strings down even more hard when I play?

Definitely not. Pressing a string down a lot creates more tension in it while it is slung over the fret, which will slightly increase the pitch and you'll sound out of tune. You can try fretting a note, playing it and then pressing down harder... notice the higher pitch? Avoid that. Plus, fretting notes harder will only create more tension in the fingers, which is the bane of playing fast.
That also goes for your grip on the pick. You should only hold it about as hard as you have to so that it doesn't get knocked out of your fingers when playing, this depends how heavy and fast you have to play for your style, but when your hand strength and stamina slowly evolve, you'll notice you'll be holding your pick lighter... and lighter... no matter if you play pop or speed metal. This comes with time, so don't worry if after a year you feel you are gripping it too firm, as long as it isn't that you could actually have a grip twice as light and still play good. Then it's excessive.

Quote by atza
...play it and immediately mute it by touching it with your pick...

Ooh? Don't know why one must touch it with the pick. Just quickly remove your finger from the fret, but don't make a pull off, lift it up in the way the string gets detached from the fret and then mutes itself against the finger. OK, you could mute it with your pick to make it sound more percussive, but staccato notes sound percussive enough by themselves (I think), since they're short tones with abrupt stops. I don't know however, how that helps the articulation on higher strings? It's neat to know, sure, but I fail to see the connection
Listen to the tone of the string !! Best advice concerning picking from the master right there Paul Gilbert.
Quote by Navi_96
Hmmm, where do your fingers land when playing the note?

Sorry for the delay reply. I place my finger just behind the fret wire while playing a note. I’ve noticed that it’s difficult to place my finger properly on the fret board for playing up on the neck. As the spaces between the frets are small it feels a bit uncomfortable and tough for placing the finger right behind the fret wire properly. I’ve noticed after you’ve mentioned that the placement of the finger should be a bit leaned on left while playing up on the higher fret could be the issue for my articulation problem. I’ve seen that even if I want to play the notes in a proper way, my fingers sometimes accidentally move/place right on the fret wire. I think I need to practice clean execution of notes with more patience. And also thanks for the good suggestion on the pick grip and fretting intensity.