#1
Hey guys,

I've been working pretty hard on my picking over the past 5 months or so. I generally practice 2-4 hours a day and try to focus intently on what my hands are doing. I play to a metronome at 75-85 BPS and work on pentatonic runs, major and minor scales, and licks I like. I've also learned to try "doubling" my picking, ie: picking each note in a scale or lick twice in a row.

I've been playing for about 20 years, but I sing, so I've only recently focused in intently on my lead work for about a year now. I use the Jazz III black picks because I like the grip, but sometimes I feel like I'm not getting enough "scrape" when I pick. I've watched a ton of videos on picking, paul gilbert, etc, and angle my pick and all that. What else can I do to help? I still feel sloppy and when i try to pick at a faster speed, especially one or 2 nps pentatonic runs, I often miss. Should I try to post a video? Thanks
#3
Be prepared for a bunch of people to say "start slowly and build up speed", and "speed doesn't matter, just play songs you want to play."
But seriously, if your problem is missing when doing 1-2 note pent runs, then maybe try some string skipping exercises, do the whole start slow build up speed blah blah stuff with that, then the speed you've been building up till now should come in naturally. Maybe try other picks if you want, I love Jazz III's for single string stuff, but I find for pentatonic stuff they lose a bit of accuracy, so try slightly bigger picks. The ones that come with a pack of Dunlop strings are pretty good, I use them for pent stuff, they get the best tone and I find that bigger picks are more accurate. Some picks work well with certain things.

I probably shouldn't be the one talking, since I suck granola's at playing fast, but it's worth a try.
#4
random tips i can think of:

- when you practice slowly, don't slow down your picking motion, the "slowness" should come from you taking longer breaks in between each note. always use tiny, brisk motions
- if you're missing notes, try playing unplugged and saying to yourself that you haven't played something properly unless you can hear every note clearly even without an amp...then worry about whether you're creating too much extra noise for distortion
- you probably need a thinner pick, or one with a less pointy tip, for more of a "scrapy" sound
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Last edited by vIsIbleNoIsE at May 22, 2014,
#6
I also know that I bend wrong. I use my fingers instead of my wrist. I'm trying to correct that but I can't really figure out how.
#7
You flex your thumb and forefinger so the pick shifts position.

You up-pick several times in a row. Alternate always - if you want speed.

Your hand is not anchored so the position moves. Nail your hand to one place on the guitar.

The easiest way to get better is to watch and mimic the technique used by the guitarists you admire. You may not know why they hold the pick a certain way etc...the whys come later.
#8
Quote by AngryHatter
You flex your thumb and forefinger so the pick shifts position.

You up-pick several times in a row. Alternate always - if you want speed.

Your hand is not anchored so the position moves. Nail your hand to one place on the guitar.

The easiest way to get better is to watch and mimic the technique used by the guitarists you admire. You may not know why they hold the pick a certain way...the whys come later.


Yes! Definitely the first one. I have to drill it into my head to never move my thumb and index finger, right?

As far as anchoring--to the bridge? I used to play that way but I was told it was more beneficial to "float" it just above the bridge. Can I "anchor" my hand to a non-physical position just above the bridge?
#9
Quote by RyanMW2010
Hey guys, here's a short video of me playing some pentatonic stuff. Hopefully you can help me. If you need a longer video, I'll record one, let me know.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV80Sb9upjw&feature=youtu.be


I'd say your picking is already quite formidable. The shape is versatile, your picking has dynamics, and your attack is clear. However, there are a few things you can do to improve: flex your thumbs less, alternate pick more (this will give you accuracy and dynamics, as well as speed), and pick more consistently, making each note sound as firm and strong (but do practice picking lightly for a mellower sound as well). When practicing with a metronome, accent every downbeat so your rhythm becomes tighter over time.

With all due respect to AngryHatter, I disagree with his stance on anchoring. It causes tension in your wrists, and restricts your hand from moving freely. Rather, *rest* your arm on the guitar and lightly place your hand at the bridge. How light? Light enough for you to quickly outside-pick the first and sixth strings consecutively, while being relaxed enough to feel comfortable.

PS: I'd definitely worry more about bending to pitch and having a consistent vibrato, though.
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Last edited by Archer250 at May 22, 2014,
#10
Quote by RyanMW2010
Yes! Definitely the first one. I have to drill it into my head to never move my thumb and index finger, right?

As far as anchoring--to the bridge? I used to play that way but I was told it was more beneficial to "float" it just above the bridge. Can I "anchor" my hand to a non-physical position just above the bridge?

Sure.

I use my wrist when playing up to 16th notes.
Anything faster, my elbow.
#12
Quote by RyanMW2010
I've been playing for about 20 years, but I sing, so I've only recently focused in intently on my lead work for about a year now. I use the Jazz III black picks because I like the grip, but sometimes I feel like I'm not getting enough "scrape" when I pick. I've watched a ton of videos on picking, paul gilbert, etc, and angle my pick and all that. What else can I do to help? I still feel sloppy and when i try to pick at a faster speed, especially one or 2 nps pentatonic runs, I often miss.


Hey man,

Video was way better than I thought. What do you mean by not getting enough "scrape"? You want more resistance in your pick attack?

I found your left hand to be more "sloppy" then the right, mainly on accurately bending pitch up to a note. Your right hand seems relatively fine and dynamic.

BTW, I swear by the Jazz III's, but in the max grip form. Those corrugated ridges keep those picks in your fingers and not on the floor where they always seem to disappear. If you're feeling sloppy on faster runs, those Jazz III's give you the best possible shot at picking motion economy. Keeping wasted motion down so that you are barely plucking the string with as little wasted motion as possible makes those speedy runs easier. The tradeoff however on an amp like the one you're playing is driving the gain, but if you want, the pointyness and hardness of the Jazz IIIs will let you get as much volume as you want out of your increasingly hard pick attack (at least until your wrist dies of exhaustion!)
#13
Quote by Buttcheex8
Hey man,

Video was way better than I thought. What do you mean by not getting enough "scrape"? You want more resistance in your pick attack?

I found your left hand to be more "sloppy" then the right, mainly on accurately bending pitch up to a note. Your right hand seems relatively fine and dynamic.

BTW, I swear by the Jazz III's, but in the max grip form. Those corrugated ridges keep those picks in your fingers and not on the floor where they always seem to disappear. If you're feeling sloppy on faster runs, those Jazz III's give you the best possible shot at picking motion economy. Keeping wasted motion down so that you are barely plucking the string with as little wasted motion as possible makes those speedy runs easier. The tradeoff however on an amp like the one you're playing is driving the gain, but if you want, the pointyness and hardness of the Jazz IIIs will let you get as much volume as you want out of your increasingly hard pick attack (at least until your wrist dies of exhaustion!)


By "scrape", i mean that "cello-y" kind of quality that Paul Gilbert talks about when picking. More of a "brushing" type feel and sound over the string. I feel like thinner picks get me there more often than the Jazz 3, but anything thinner than .88 MM picks lag on the strings when I'm playing pentatonic stuff and that also sucks :/.

Haha, your second comment about my hands confused me for a second. I'm actually left handed--the video is shot using my webcam and mirror-images it for whatever reason. I know I have incorrect form when bending and using vibrato. I should use my wrist and not only finger strength and I've watched videos on how to do it properly, but I just can't get there for some reason.
#14
I personally find that somewhat larger picks are better for achieving the "scrape" sound you're looking for. I use Dunlop 1.0mm Sharps myself. It just seems to give you a better hold than a jazz pick (I've tried those many times, and just can't seem to get the attack that I like).

I agree with the above comments about focusing on strict alternate picking. Try using short, simple exercises that isolate your problem areas. Alternate picking (especially with 3 note per string scales) can be awkward at first for some, but it is actually very efficient because you're moving your picking hand in a consistent down, up, down, up motion.

Practice everything (apart from tapping of course) with strict alternate picking, even if you generally use legato for it when you're playing a gig or recording. My general rule is that I don't play anything legato (again, apart from tapping) unless I can play it with a pick first. That method has helped me a lot.
#15
As far as the "attacking your problem areas" thing that I mentioned in my previous comment goes, I suggest that you REALLLY isolate them. I mean going all the way down to practicing a two note transition if necessary. The more you break things down, the better!