#1
Hi, I'm self taught. I wish I had a professional teacher to help me become great.

Why I'm posting: My downpicking feels stiff and slows down as I play, for example, the second part of creeping death that's repeated 4 times. (downpicking the powercords)

Am I downpicking properly? How's my alternate picking technique? What can i do to improve? etc...

I watch videos of James Hetfield and Andy James downpicking fast effortlessly and I want to play as well as they can. Am I on the right track or should I change something? Or should I sell my guitar on ebay and buy booze?

Any advice from a seasoned guitarist is mush appreciated!
I'm trying to have excellent technique.

Master of Puppets:
https://youtu.be/pe8iAQBWG7U

(I'm buying a JP6 BFR soon, sold my axis and esp m-ii )

note: There is a thread stickied for Technique Analysis but it looks like it rarely sees replys...
Last edited by ESPJohn at Jun 23, 2015,
#2
It would be better if you played at the highest tempo you can play these things properly, that would give us a better sense of your technique.

I have a few things i react on. In regards to Glasgow kiss, it looks like you are making way bigger motions then you really have to. So you aren't doing yourself any favors in the aspect.

In regards to down picking, you seem very stiff when down picking. There is no fluidity. Also, you playing those parts without palm muting, which should be palm muted. Once again, we need to see both the muted and un-muted side to effectively critique.

The main things you should focus on are:
A more loose way of playing, you are extremely stiff.
Smaller, more economical motions.
Muting, are having excessive amounts of string noise in parts of those clips.
Slow down, and play things properly. Tempo doesn't mean anything if you can do it well. Go slower and fix the problems before you try it at that tempo.
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#3
Once I've heard: "If it's not broken, don't fix it". Marty Friedman is one of those guys who holds the pick in a really weird way, but still gets an amazing precision. Another one "weird picker" that comes to my mind now, is Zakk Wylde.

I'm not an expert, and I don't think I'm even good to begin with. But if I could point something for you to improve, is that you need to palm mute your strings, to get that "badass" sound (like in the Master of Puppets riff).

Another thing you need to put in your mind, is that everything you do on your guitar, requires stamina (some things less than others). Fast downpicking requires some good chunk of practice, so you can get the necessary stamina and precision. You just need to give your arm/wrists a proper rest, so it can recover and you can get a little bit better everytime.

I can play fairly easy the riffs from Iced Earth for example (lots of fast alternate/palm muted picking) but I got in a bit of trouble while trying to get Bleed from Meshuggah. But guess what? From 10 seconds I could hold the right picking tempo, now I can play almost the entire song. It's just stamina you earn by practicing a lot. Remember how hard was to learn your first chords?

So, focus on always hitting the right notes, and always try to put just the necessary effort to get the sound that you want. No more or less. Just balanced.

Sometimes you can't play that loose. Sometimes you need to get tight, but not extremely. Find a point of balance in the technique you are practicing, and you will be good to go. =)

(And sorry about my shitty english, but I hope it helps)
Last edited by warheart91 at Jun 15, 2015,
#4
I didnt read the other responses, so this could be more of the same, but your picking motion looks way too huge, i wish i could see more of ur arm as well, I feel like by judging how your forearm is moving, you MIGHT be picking with your elbow (I cant tell to be honest) IF YOU ARE DONT DO THAT!!!!! There's a bit of contention on that subject, but I am 100% against the use of the elbow with alternate picking. Any of my students that do that I correct immediately
#5
Thank you for your replys. I can post a couple more videos of me playing slower and so you can better see how I hold the pick. I don't know if fundamentally I'm picking wrong or if I just need to keep the same technique of picking just get my strokes more compact and bouncing off the string more. I'm not sure if there is a proper turn-key motion to fast picking but I can show how I do it starting slow and working my way up.

Thanks for your help
Last edited by ESPJohn at Jun 23, 2015,
#6
Tbh there is no wrong way to pick, you just use what's comfortable for you. If you're comfortable with how you're picking right now then stay like that. But yeah I can see you tensing up pretty bad,which is what happens when you try to play faster then you're adjusted to so you're muscles tense up. Just start at a lower tempo and work on playing relaxed, If you feel like your muscles are flexing then you're tense and should stop. I had the same problem as you man, just gotta slow it down and fix it.
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#7
Try to post a video that shows the whole guitar + body below face so we can see how your whole picking arm is working.

It seems like you are tensing up way too much, using too large motions and using your elbow too much. Try playing at two tempos for the video - A slow speed at which you can play perfectly and the fastest speed you can play the passage without making mistakes (your technique will probably not be so good at this speed but that's what we need to see, just make sure it's a speed at which you still hit all the correct notes even if you're tense or whatever).
#8
agree with those who said way to much motion. you flail way to much and that throws off the precision needed to really nail those parts. from the wrist with far less arm motion. i can tel that you are concentrating on this way to much which also leads to errors. relax and learn the parts till you don't have to think about it. then play.
#10
Okay slow version first, the general idea looks alright but you are using way too large motions on your upstrokes and alternate picking in general. Downpicking is better but it seems like you tense up a bit as the song goes on.

In the fast version it looks like you start tensing up quite a bit and involving the elbow.

So the main thing you need to work on is using smaller motions and relaxing your hands/arms/etc. The involvement of the elbow on the downpicking is something that tends to happen when you're playing faster than you are able to with good relaxation, so you tense up your arm which starts to involve the elbow. If your motions were smaller, you wouldn't start tensing up until higher speeds as you would be able to play more downstrokes per second than if you kept the large range of motion.

I can't hear it perfectly but it seems like you're hitting the right notes and muting the strings well, and you aren't anchoring or anything with your picking hand so just make sure you focus on smaller motions and being completely relaxed.
#11
Thanks for the very helpful replies.

This information and critique will help me develop my techniques properly.
I don't think I'll ever be as good as I wish to be but I can at least try. :-)
#12
Watching these videos I noticed a few things:
- As everyone's already mentioned, too much elbow. Using elbow every now and then for just a tad more speed IMO isn't that bad, but you should be aiming to play so that you never have to use your elbow. The way I see it, it's like using a car, using your elbow is like flooring the accelerator, yeah it gives you more speed but it'll drain fuel like a bastard and treat your engine poorly. Aim to play comfortably from your wrist at high speeds for long times.
- Your wrist is hovering. Your wrist seems to be moving around a lot (in a bad way) above the strings, and you're using your arm to aim at the different strings. You'll need to heavily minimise these movements, they'll strain your arm and make your playing less accurate and messy. You need some sort of anchor, otherwise your hand will be all over the place and that's more energy not being focused on picking. Keep your arm stable and your wrist steady, the only movements you want to make are for picking.
- Moving too far past the strings, even at lower speeds. Once again, this will tire you out much faster and your playing will be less accurate.


The best way I improved downpicking was with the spider riff from master of puppets. Play at a speed where your arm isn't moving, and your wrist is nice and steady (I usually have my arm resting on the body of the guitar so it won't move). At this speed you shouldn't be feeling ANY stress, you want to be able to play at this speed perfectly, with minimal movements I'd say for about 30 seconds like it's nothing. Then bump up your metronome by 5-10 beats and repeat. When you feel you've reached the highest speed you can play comfortably with efficient movements, you should feel a very slight burn (not HURTING, just so you can feel your muscles working out), play the riff at this speed for as long as you can until it starts getting uncomfortable, this is when you should stop. Doing this once a day doubled my downpicking speed in about a week. It's a great exercise as it's easy, it's a great warmup for your right and left hand, and the results come fast. Trust me, as long as you keep an eye on your right hand technique and focus on building endurance, your downpicking will improve immensely.
Last edited by Jimjambanx at Jun 23, 2015,
#13
Quote by Jimjambanx
You need some sort of anchor


Don't anchor OP.
#15
Quote by Anon17
Don't anchor OP.


Not everyone needs an anchor, but from watching these videos he does. His arm is all over the place, and his hand trying the aim for each string is like a jumbo jet trying to land on a helipad. Whether he plant his palm down or anchors his pinky, he needs a reference point, in fact I can't think of any guitarist who plays fast that doesn't have some sort of reference/anchor.
#16
Almost no good guitarists anchor (relatively).

If you mean lightly resting your palm on the strings and stuff then that's okay, most people do this. But you don't need to place your pinky on anything and you shouldn't be pressing the palm into the guitar, just resting it very lightly.

The reason he's all over the place is excess tension and lack of practice, the tension is going to make playing a lot less comfortable than it should be which probably also contributes to the larger motions.
Last edited by Anon17 at Jun 27, 2015,
#17
Quote by Anon17
If you mean lightly resting your palm on the strings and stuff then that's okay, most people do this.


That's what I meant, just so his arm is floating in the air. Also, I believe John Petrucci anchors with his pinky, so there are some good guitarists that do it.
Last edited by Jimjambanx at Jun 27, 2015,
#19
In the first video you can see how much your elbow tenses up as soon as you start playing - that's potentially harmful in the long run so you really need to train that out of yourself.

Remember, picking at speed shouldn't really be any different to picking slowly - keep your movements controlled, keep your arm relaxed and pick from your wrist. Your elbow should only really move to shift the range your wrist has access too, so if your picking something along the bottom two strings your elbow shouldn't have to do anything at all.
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#20
Quote by Scratcher17
For downpicking, I'd suggest slanting the pick downwards to avoid using forearm and for more relaxed downpicking. Watch this video from Martin Goulding, at 1:14 he talks about and demonstrates this downward slant of the picking hand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZbgZYCje_g


That's a blast from the past for me. I taught Martin for a bit, and we did a lot of jamming together. Small world! He's a great player, and a really nice guy.

Thanks for the video .. just emailed him to see if we can catch up.

cheers, Jerry
#21
you don't need to downpick to play metal

practice your up-picks until the tone is equal to your downpicks

alternate picking will solve a lot of problems with accuracy, speed, consistency, tone, etc. as it's where you're gonna learn to exercise economy of motion
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#22
Quote by Hail
practice your up-picks until the tone is equal to your downpicks

If you can find me someone who can demonstrably do this I will be very impressed.
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#24
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
If you can find me someone who can demonstrably do this I will be very impressed.


people with skills usually don't stick to playing metal
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#25
Quote by Hail
you don't need to downpick to play metal


If he likes playing Metallica I would heavily disagree

Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
If you can find me someone who can demonstrably do this I will be very impressed.


This. Never heard anyone who can do it and I don't think I ever will.

Quote by Hail
people with skills usually don't stick to playing metal


So ignorant
Last edited by vayne92 at Jul 3, 2015,
#26
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
If you can find me someone who can demonstrably do this I will be very impressed.


not that i do this intentionally per se but i'm a leftie who plays right and i often start with an up rather than a down. it's just a natural thing for me to do. wouldn't recommend it to others but it's not impossible.
#27
Quote by Hail
people with skills usually don't stick to playing metal

So... no then? You can't? I'm not going to get in to genre discussions but I'm going to take your lack of an actual example to mean you can't actually demonstrate this at all. Frankly I don't honestly believe you're going to present me with an example of a player I haven't already heard but I'm certainly willing to be proven wrong. As long as it is proof.

Quote by monwobobbo
not that i do this intentionally per se but i'm a leftie who plays right and i often start with an up rather than a down. it's just a natural thing for me to do. wouldn't recommend it to others but it's not impossible.

Oh yeah, I do that with some ideas as well, but that's not really the point I don't think that doing that is going to make your up-picks sound any more like your downpicks than they would anyway
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#28
Quote by jerrykramskoy
That's a blast from the past for me. I taught Martin for a bit, and we did a lot of jamming together. Small world! He's a great player, and a really nice guy.

Thanks for the video .. just emailed him to see if we can catch up.

cheers, Jerry


You're welcome. Cheers!