The First Lessons: Important Picking Techniques, Drop Tunings

author: Martin Messner date: 08/19/2010 category: for beginners

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Hey UG-community :) Today, I will give you some exercises for improving your picking. I will explain the different ways of picking, their advantages and disadvantages and I will quickly introduce Drop Tunings like Drop D. ... Finger(sytle) Picking As the name already says, you pick with your fingers. You dont use your plectrum, but you use all 5 fingers of your right hand to play strings. Finger picking is also not as easy as it might sound, you can always get faster, cleaner and the sound must still stay rich. RIGHT HAND: T: Thump i: index (finger) m: middle finger r: ring finger p: pinky This describes which finger you use for which string. Lets play some chords: Am F C G
   T i p i  T i p i  T i p i   T i p i     
       r        r        r         r
       m        m        m         m
As you can see, the i,m,r and p rest on last 4 strings and the T just picks the base note off the chord. If you are a little more advanced in holding chords, I recommend you to play around with finger picking- it's definitly worth it! ... Hybrid Picking This is a mixture of Fingerstyle Picking and the regular picking with a plectrum. You grab your plectrum between the T and the i, while the m,r and p are still used. X: plectrum m: middle finger r: ring finger p: pinky Ok, let's play a Hybrid Picking Version of "House of Rising Sun"
   X p X p X p X p X p X p X p X p X p X p X p X p X p X p X p X p
     r   r   r   r   r   r   r   r   r   r   r   r   r   r   r   r   
     m   m   m   m   m   m   m   m   m   m   m   m   m   m   m   m  
(If you are fast, play the pattern two times for every chord. Sounds even better ;D) You see: Hybrid Picking is really close to Fingerstyle Picking- by now! As I mentioned before, there is no limit in speed and style- and here is where the two techniques differ! Another thing: Hybrid Picking actually uses a plectrum. In modern songs you often use Hybrid Picking because you will need the plectrum in all other parts of the song too. ... Alternate Picking Now, the right hand just picks with the plectrum: No middle finger, ring finger or pinky anymore! It's called Alternate Picking because you alternate between Down & Upstrokes. example: ^ = downstroke (towards floor) V = upstroke (in your face ;D) Metal Storm - Slayer
    ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V
perfect alternate picking --> down, up, down, up... ... Economic Picking Even if it might seem to you that Alternate Picking is the best way to play notes- it's not. Economic Picking improves the monotone Alternate Picking when you pick another string. Little example: Alternate Picking:
    ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V ^ V  
--> problems with string skipping (maybe next lesson) Economic Picking:
    ^ V ^ ^ V ^ ^ V ^ ^ V ^ ^ V ^ ^ V ^  --> good stuff
When you play- as in here- 3 notes per string and continue with the next higher string, you downstroke it. If you played it in Alternate Picking, you needed to "hop" over the next string and pick it from the other side. Why that? :D ... Sweep Picking This technique is very advanced. As a beginner you will have definitely problems with that. I just want to show you what Sweep Picking is: Basically we are -let's say- down stroking a chord.
    ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
But still, it's not sweeping! Sweep Picking differs from all the other ways of picking, because you don't "think" of picking each single string, but instead, you just think of going down with your plectrum. Imagine your plectrum is a "ping-pong ball" (drom the first ) and it just goes up and down- without changing speed! Now, while your plectrum is going up and down, your left hand synchronizes into this action and tries to be just a little early on a string than the right hand picks it. I guess, you get the idea of it. But for real: Sweep Picking is kind of hard and needs to be trained for a couple of months to be just fine. ... Something completely different: Drop tunings Last lesson, I introduced the power chords (5-chords). You remember:
Let's do some math: The lowest note of the chord is 2 frets "lefter" than the two higher notes (3,5,5 e.g.) What happens when you tune the lowest string 2 frets down? Well, if you tune a string 2 frets down and you want to play the same note, you have to play it 2 frets higher! After that, the lowest note needs to be played 2 frets higher and: its on the same fret as the others (3,5,5 -->3+2,5,5---> 5,5,5) All you have to do, is simply hold down the 3 strings and strum the chord. And that's what we call "Drop X" tuning! (X = the note of the lowest string, in your case Drop D) If you tune your lowest string 2 half steps down, you will have a D instead of the E. For tuning it down, you simply hold the 7th fret on the E string and tune the E string lower and lower until the 7th string on it sounds like the open A string. Many known bands use them. Rammstein uses Drop D and Drop C sometimes, Billy Talent uses Drop D all the time, Children of Bodom sometimes uses Drop C... well, just a few names representing a MASS of bands and people who use it! Billy Talent - Fallen Leaves
For tuning the guitar to E-Standard again, tune the lowest string higher and higher until the 5th fret on it sounds like the open A string. Have fun :D Martin Messner
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