All The Aspects Of Picking. Part1

author: robot date: 04/12/2005 category: guitar techniques

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This is a lesson in picking for everyone. About picking and the various methods, and how to master yours. First about me. I have learned every method of picking and took a while on each. First all downstrokes, then alternate picking then half economy (alternate up, and economy back down and the opposite), and full economy. A very important thing is to only use strict style of whichever you are attempting to master. I would recommend learning it in the order I have. Also, my technique was first wrist motion, then I went to only thumb and index motion, then fooled with "bad thechnique" of elbow picking, which actually turned out very fast and accurate once used without tension. I use a relaxed arm. It's a very refined motion from the relaxed but controlled elbow, wrist, and thumb. Remember that the relaxation of the muscles and slow programming is the key factor. It begins in your shoulder mentally focus on the shoulder and relax it, then the rest will follow. always keep this in check. Now that we have covered my own history and physical aspects. Time for an exercise I made to utilise all picking styles because even if your strict economy like me practicing the other styles will keep you fresh and fast. Things people say about economy picking and then my thoughts: 01. It's sloppy and sounds "uneven" when changing strings - this is because they did not master economy yet. 02. It sounds like legato - this is because they don't accent notes properly. 03. I feel like I'm learning guitar all over again - don't be a wuss! Do you want to pick fast with little effort yes/no. 04. My guitar hero dosn't use it and he/she/it is real fast - they could be even faster and tendonitis free with economy. 05. It takes too long to learn - good things come to those who wait/even better things to ones who work hard at it and never cheat. 06. Economy is only faster on odd number per string runs (1, 3, 5, 7) - you can convert even runs to odd number per string ones easily if you wanted. Also why not have that extra speed and ease? OK. When I first learned economy it took me about 6 months to play it on autopilot. And another 3 to be able to play anything faster than alternate with it. Somthing made me tell myself I'm gonna really be serious and only do this picking till I get it. It was the best decision I've made. I will never forget my late grandfather hearing me practice and saying "He sounds like a goddamn machine in there." Exercise 1. This is one large exersise set, they all follow the same 5 picking styles. Do each picking style once then goto the next left hand fingering and repeat the pick styles in this order: 1. All downstrokes. 2. Alternate picking starting on a downstroke for each string. 3. All upstrokes. 4. Altternate picking starting on an upstroke for each string. 5. Full on economy. Picking into each string never around. Some players will be asking "why do all downstrokes(#1) or all up-strokes(#3)? I never use just one, it's a beginners way, ect." Well. Using logic and basic math you will see that your maximum picking speed potential will be only twice the speed of your slowest motion, be it your up or your down stroke. This sounds confusing at first, so here is an example: lets pretend we really suck and we can pick 4 notes per second clean and even with all downsrtokes. But we can only pick 3 notes per second using all upstrokes. Well, our max speed with alternate is going to be no more than 6 notes per second. You take the lower number and double it. If you don't understand this concept here is another way to see it. Your a lumberjack and you have to cut down a tree. You use an axe alone. It's slow and painfull after long hours. You see another lumberjack with a 2 man saw. You think: "wow if we both worked together we could kill this tree even faster." When you both work together with the 2 man saw the fastest you can murder the poor defensless tree as a team will not be only dependant of your own speed. But of the weaker or slower of you and your lumberjack pal. If he is slower, it will slow you down too or else your gonna saw that tree wrong and jam the saw. So in this analagy, you with an axe is all down or all up strokes, the double man saw represents alternate picking and your the (downstroke), the other lumberjack is the (up-stroke). If you still don't understand I don't know what to tell you. E-mail me or somthin'. Little known facts: Paul Gilbert used only UPstrokes for his first 2 years playing. I'm pretty sure this gave him a massive advantage speed wise when he went to alternate picking. Almost all players have a weaker upstroke than down. Eric Johnson uses all upstrokes for certain things for its tonal quality. Playing nothing but upstrokes and only using your ring and pinkey finger will surely make you feel like peeing yourself. Back to the warmup/exercise. I usually do it as part of my warmup at 120 bpm 16ths, the ones you will have trouble with (all upstrokes usually). Do as triplets (3 picks per beat) untill you get it then quads once your used to it. Smooth not jumpy do at 4 picks per beat. This should help you play whatever style you like. I belive economy is the superior style. This is after extensive experience with all styles. There are of course exceptions (rhythm parts/strum patterns). Remember to do all 5 picking variations perfectly before moving onto the next finger combination: 1. All downstrokes. 2. Alternate picking starting on a downstroke for each string. 3. All upstrokes. 4. Altternate picking starting on an upstroke for each string. 5. Full on economy. Picking into each string never around. There are 12 finger combinations. I feel this helps with bordom and also makes sure all your fingers work in sync with your picking.






Stop thinking about the lumberjacks and that poor tree!
these last few may seem tough on your left hand if your pinkey sucks.



Done! Good job! Hope your hands feel really good now, they should be ready for speed drills. Here are some for fun. First do them with alternate picking. Then using strict Economy picking like me. Start real slow, then get it up to about 17 picks a second clean and accurate always. |----------------------||----------------------------------------| |----------------------||----------------------------------------| |----------10----------||----------10-------11-------10----------| |-10-12-13----13-12----||-10-12-13----13-12----13-12----13-12----| |----------------------||----------------------------------------| |----------------------||----------------------------------------| Beginner advanced
a little more advanced I use my wrist motion to skip strings. Like on the last exercise. It's a flicking like motion. Don't forget to also practise these with a palm mute as well. Keep a chart of your current bpm on all exercises you do and don't cheat! Write a goal tempo and next to it put your current tempo. Buy a stylus pick and use nothing but it for practice. Download "weird metronome" from download. com and use it for all your lessons. Practice what you suck at the most in your technique. Do all the 3 note per string modes go up one and down the next so its always odd numbers per string. Remember not to abuse speed once you attain it, the rate at which you present notes to the listner is a huge part of music. Fast isn't better and slow isn't better than fast. They are just 2 different things. Use it wisely. Exercises. I developed these exercises while practicing with my drummer while he was doing rudaments. It is way harder than it looks. I use Economy picking but these will work you out on alternate as well. Play these with a metronome at a slow speed and gradually work them up one at a time to your desired speed. The goal is to be able to play them all back to back without 1 mistake at your desired tempo. It seems like it's more mind work than your usuall speed drills. The odd note groupings are killer for getting both hands working as one machine!
||-----15--------------|| ||--15-----------------||
||o-12----------------o|| ||o-------------12-12-o||
||--------------14-14--|| ||--------14-14--------||
||--------12-12--------|| ||-----12--------------||
||o-------------------o|| ||o-------------------o||
||---------------------|| ||---------------------||

||--------------15-15--|| ||--------15-15--------||
||o-------12-12-------o|| ||o----12-------------o||
||-----14--------------|| ||--14-----------------||
||--12-----------------|| ||--------------12-12--||
||o-------------------o|| ||o-------------------o||
||---------------------|| ||---------------------||

||--15-----------------|| ||-----15--------------||
||o----12-------------o|| ||o-------12-12-------o||
||--------14-14--------|| ||--------------14-14--||
||--------------12-12--|| ||--12-----------------||
||o-------------------o|| ||o-------------------o||
||---------------------|| ||---------------------||

||--------15-15--------|| ||--------------15-15--||
||o-------------12-12-o|| ||o-12----------------o||
||--14-----------------|| ||-----14--------------||
||-----12--------------|| ||--------12-12--------||
||o-------------------o|| ||o-------------------o||
||---------------------|| ||---------------------||
These are very annoying and cause pain to the mind! Because they are so hard to play fast and clean back to back or even alone. Once you get those above here is a basic Parradiddle lick for string skipping, easier rhythm feel but hard stretch and skips:


then their reverse


I hope you like these exercises for your picking and mental calibration. I have other lessons and videos on my website There is nothing better than meeting your goal so keep it within reach on these tough picking patterns. Also, if you start getting dizzy from these, play them in a different scale than Eminor, it's good practice to do that anyway.
More robot lessons:
+ All The Aspects Of Picking. Part 2 Guitar Techniques 10/03/2006
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