I've been playing guitar for around 4 years, on and off at first, but recently regularly. I am a slow learner, but can play decently once I've got a song down.

I have recently tried playing Snow by the Red Hot CHili Peppers. While the main/intro riff isn't that hard to play, I'm having difficulty playing it up to speed after a week of attempts. Fast picking isn't my forte, but i've been playing using alternate picking and tried slowing it down until I could play it comfortably, but when I pick the speed up it just never sounds right
That riff is deceivingly fast. Quite amazing that Frusciante plays it while singing back-up vocals. The only thing you can do is stay slow and pick up the speed slowly. Play at the speed where you can play it well, then gradually crank up the speed. If you're starting to fumble, stop speeding up and practice at that speed until you get it down. It's gonna take a while and probably not going to happen overnight. Just keep at it and eventually you should be able to get it.
Been at this song for years and found that I never really started getting it til I stopped practicing the song and started working a little on my picking technique, just doing stuff to improve my right hand technique on a daily basis.

Not that I'n saying don't practice the piece, but I'd definitely recommend doing some exercises to improve your picking alongside it
One of the things you might want to try is play arpeggios in a certain time sig and accenting each 1 in a different time sig. For example, you might play an arpeggio in 4/4 time, but cross it with 5/4 for accents with an accent on every fifth beat. And of course you should always do that sort of stuff with a metronome.
John actually uses that technique himself when he practices.
That one's a pain in the ass to play. It's not a problem for the first 2-8-ish times but then it gets tiring, I know.

I had to learn it for a cover band I was in. I started learning it on electric and I'd always peter out after awhile and had to play the chords for a few bars here and there when I was at band practice.

It seemed to click better (and become less tiring) after I started practicing it on a thick-stringed acoustic guitar. If you have an acoustic laying around, try playing it on that. It'll be harder but if you can work your way up to where you start normally getting fatigued on the electric (for me it was between 10-14 bars lol), going back you can do it on the electric for days.

The song is mostly a muscle memory and chords 2-4 can be a pain. Also remember that your right hand is basically sweeping. Just be as economic as possible, really with both hands. It's one of those riffs where you really need to be.

Still working on singing backing while playing that one, but I'm getting closer.
Last edited by mjones1992 at Jul 8, 2014,
Hm, I've never really been into the chili peppers, so I never learned that one. I just tried it out for the hell of it and the hard part to me is figuring out which fingers to use for the major triads and leave one to hammer-on the major 6. Using the pointer, ring, and pinky to hold the chords other than the first one and using the middle finger to kinda squeeze behind the ring I can play it up to speed, but damn that's awkward to play.

As to your question, I personally much prefer economy picking to strict alternate picking and this is one of the cases where it really shines. Economy picking is basically where you pick up or down depending on which direction the pick is already traveling to get to the string. Using this song as an example:

 D D D U D     U D U D D U D     U D  U D D U D     U D U D D U D     U D  

On other songs economy picking and alternate picking will be almost the same. Of course, some people claim that alternate picking is better because you don't have to think about whether to go up or down, but once you've gotten used to it you don't have to think about it any more, it becomes natural. The one possible advantage to alternate picking is when skipping strings repeatedly, but with practice it doesn't really matter. Economy picking's big advantage is that there is less pick movement required to play the same thing, thus the name "economy". It's economic motion.

Anyways, the choice is yours, but I'd recommend trying it out for long enough to get used to it and then see which one you like better.
Last edited by The4thHorsemen at Jul 8, 2014,