#1
Hey guys,

For the past four months I have been trying to learn tremolo picking. I am very proficient in virtually all other styles of picking, but I can't seem to develop the skills required for tremolo picking. I am left handed playing a guitar right handed, which I feel may make the learning curve somewhat more difficult as I can move my left hand much faster than my right hand. Is there any effective way for a righty to get down tremolo picking? This is really starting to bother me. I can get up to high speed picking, but it requires me to place my picking hand in a position that I can neither pick accurately nor change strings. Also, I cannot go "right into" tremolo picking, as I have to place my palm against the body of the guitar to pick fast as opposed to against the bridge like I usually play (ie I can only trem pick on the lowest three strings: low E, A, and D). I have watched just about every youtube video out there for tremolo picking to no avail. Thanks!
Last edited by ericw95 at Dec 26, 2013,
#2
A few pointers:

Pick only from the wrist.

Make your motions as small as possible. This enables you to pick more slowly, yet efficiently. The result will be faster speeds in the long run.

I've found that it helps to choke up on the pick a bit, and a slightly worn pick will also help when you're learning. It sounds like you're tensing up quite a bit. Good tremelo picking is not spazzing out with your picking hand with reckless abandon. It is very controlled yet relaxed. Also, play around with where you pick the strings; either closer to the bridge or closer to the neck. That will change the feel and tone, and you might find a sweet spot that works for you.

That's all I've got.
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Last edited by KailM at Dec 27, 2013,
#3
i agree with everything above, but try to do it with a beat or metronome that you can start out slow and gradually progress. Try anchoring with your pinky on the high E string and just work the low E until you can get comfortable, then try alternating e and a, then e, a, d, and so on.

try not to tense up, if your wrist starts to hurt, slow down a little, or stop, rest, and come back to it. The muscles in your wrist and hand need a chance to build up a bit.
#4
Late nights alone in a dark room with my guitar and an Emperor album is what sorted me out!

Seriously though - biggest thing will be relaxation, just like any sort of high speed alternate picking.

Completely relax your wrist. It will obviously go slightly limb and fall downward - from this position it is massively easier for your hand to to swivel left and right. Try comparing it with trying to make that fast left-right movement without the slack wrist and you will see exactly what I mean :P. This 'limp-wrist' (hur hur) approach is exactly how you want your wrist to be when tremolo picking - so experiment with how you're holding your wrist against the guitar and try to keep that sort of wrist shape. It's awkward to explain in text, but it's doable, and possible even with the heaviest palm muting if done right.

From there, then my advice would pretty much be the same as KailM. I'd also recommend using a thick pick and of course, picking very lightly.

Also, in my experience a LOT of players who use large amounts of tremolo picking in their playing will sometimes take certain 'shortcuts' where it is convenient, especially to help deal with getting tired out or tense. For example, I see a lot of metal players turn their straight 16th tremming into triplet 8ths if they're getting tired out (i'm guilty of it too >_>. In that context, playing with high gain over busy drums means it's concealed pretty easily, so obviously in other contexts you'll be under slightly higher pressure!

Hope that helps and isn't too confusing!
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#5
get the metronome and do some rhythm and tempo ladders.

Just plucking each open string, muted at the nut, play 8ths, triplets, 16ths, sextuplets at an easy tempo, like 60-70bpm. Make sure you can get each of those rhythms perfectly at your slow speed. Then move the metronome up by 5 and do it again. When you get a point that you can do the 16ths, but not the sextuplets, keep going, but omit them.

Spend like 10 minutes a day just on that open string picking exercise. Find a range of bpm where you can go from easy to difficult. It's OK if you have to find a different range for the sextuplets (I do 8th/trip/16ths from 111-131, and sextuplets from 76-96).

Focus on:
-even rhythm
-relaxation
-accenting the downbeat audibly
#6
Quote by IgnoreThis
Late nights alone in a dark room with my guitar and an Emperor album is what sorted me out!

Seriously though - biggest thing will be relaxation, just like any sort of high speed alternate picking.

Completely relax your wrist. It will obviously go slightly limb and fall downward - from this position it is massively easier for your hand to to swivel left and right. Try comparing it with trying to make that fast left-right movement without the slack wrist and you will see exactly what I mean :P. This 'limp-wrist' (hur hur) approach is exactly how you want your wrist to be when tremolo picking - so experiment with how you're holding your wrist against the guitar and try to keep that sort of wrist shape. It's awkward to explain in text, but it's doable, and possible even with the heaviest palm muting if done right.

From there, then my advice would pretty much be the same as KailM. I'd also recommend using a thick pick and of course, picking very lightly.

Also, in my experience a LOT of players who use large amounts of tremolo picking in their playing will sometimes take certain 'shortcuts' where it is convenient, especially to help deal with getting tired out or tense. For example, I see a lot of metal players turn their straight 16th tremming into triplet 8ths if they're getting tired out (i'm guilty of it too >_>. In that context, playing with high gain over busy drums means it's concealed pretty easily, so obviously in other contexts you'll be under slightly higher pressure!

Hope that helps and isn't too confusing!

The "limp wrist"approach actually helped a ton in like 20 minutes of playing haha. Never looked at it that way. Thanks for all the help guys I've been trying with the metronome for some time but now that I've actually got the form down I think it will improve.