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Thread: a ton of picking questions!!! HELP!!!

  1. #1
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    a ton of picking questions!!! HELP!!!

    hey guys! i've been having quite some trouble with my picking technique. let me explain.

    i've been reading a lot of EricV's articles on picking, etc... and i used to be a big fan of the floating hand since that's what i used ever since i started out. but one day, i decided to try bracing my pinky on the body of the guitar. hey, i'm not dissing the floating hand but bracing worked wonders for me.

    with the floating hand, i could barely pick sixteenth notes at around 120 bpm. around two months bracing, i can pick sixteenth notes at around 180bpm and i'm still improving. the thing here is tension.

    i practice alot using a nylon guitar since my electric got stolen a few weeks back. and after a while of playing, my pinky and forearm just cramp up and start hurting like hell. i tried going back to the floating hand but i was WAY slower. i tried resting on the bridge but my whole right arm locked up with tension and pain.

    also, i know that angling the pick provides a better tone as well as makes one's picking more consistent. i am witness to this because i put my pick almost at a 90 degree angle to the strings and it works way better. it's much easier to keep a flow going and also helps in easing the tension. it's all well and good on an acoustic but it's horrible when i try playing shred on a distorted electric. this is cos i can't get enough of my palm to mute the upper strings i'm not using so i hav tons of excess noise when angling the pick.

    so, i've been watching tons of videos. intsructionals and live concerts. basically, i hav the same picking technique as michael angelo batio and john petrucci when petrucci's picking fast. i see petrucci mutes his strings perfectly but i just can't get enough of my hand on the strings. michael angelo has EXACTLY the same picking technique as me as when i'm playing on an acoustic cept he also braces his ring finger. but i found out that he had pieces of cloth to mute the strings he wasn't using. i don't like that cos i use open strings quite a bit.

    i watched joe satch and steve vai who had almost the same picking techniques cept their pinkies were bended quite a bit when playing the upper strings. i tried this but i lost quite a bit of stability as my pinky just slid down the body when i tried to pick fast.

    what to do!? help!!!

    thanks a bunch!

  2. #2
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    Mute the strings with your left hand too.
    -Bizarro
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  3. #3
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    i mute with my left hand. i use exactly the same muting technique that frank gambale taught in his instructional vid on sweep picking. i mute the high strings as well as the adjacent lower string with my left hand's index finger while muting the bass strings with my right hand palm. problem is when i angle the pick, i can't mute the bass strings anymore. when i don't angle the pick, my pinky cramps up and my forearm starts to hurt like hell.

  4. #4
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    What kind of help are you expecting? Maybe try use your foot to mute the strings?

    You have to figure this out on your own.
    -Bizarro
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by vaiaficionado
    also, i know that angling the pick provides a better tone as well as makes one's picking more consistent. i am witness to this because i put my pick almost at a 90 degree angle to the strings and it works way better. it's much easier to keep a flow going and also helps in easing the tension. it's all well and good on an acoustic but it's horrible when i try playing shred on a distorted electric. this is cos i can't get enough of my palm to mute the upper strings i'm not using so i hav tons of excess noise when angling the pick.
    Actually, this paragraph is baically stating somehing that is virtually the exact opposite of the truth. Angling the pick seriously hampers the tone, and also decreases efficiency within your technique.

    I have a feeling this is going to be a terrible analogy, but if you can imagine being asked to push something really heavy using only a large metal plate (but why would you be asked to do this?!! Er... I dunno!). If you tried using the edge of the metal plate to push, it would be far less effective when compared to using the entirety of it's surface area. This is because the pressure exerted in you pushing force would be spread more widely across the face of the disc, rather than concentrated a small area. The same basic physics applies to the action of picking a string. The face of your pick should be prallel to the length of the string, and perpendicular to the body of the guitar to generate the best tone out of the note.

    The reason you get so much handling noise when playing with distortion is because when you strike the string with the edge of your pick, it scrapes across the string bore actually causing it to vibrate, so each note will be preceeded by an awful scratchy noise (this noise will also get worse a you increase the gain setting, so you may want to try rolling that off a little for an improvment in tone). With the pick flat, every bit of the momentum from the pick is used transferred to the vibration of the string, resulting in a louder, clearer, and generally more pleasing note.

    The pain you are experiencing is most likely due to a general flaw in your overall technique. Perhaps you are not relaxed enough when you play, you have your guitar slung too low or too high, or are gripping the pick too tight? The most important thing to remember when talking about technique is to RELAX at all times, and maintain a good posture. Another issue, which may sound absurd, is to ensure you are bretahing correctly - I've lost count of how many people who come to me for lessons after thy've been playing for a while hold their breath whilst they play and then wonder why they suffer from fatigue so early on! Some students would also breathe normally until they came to a particularly difficult passage, and then they'd feel compelled to hold their breath, like they were about to go under water! It's toatlly unnecessary. Moreover, it's extremely counterproductive.

    Try playing an E shape major scale, nice and slow, concentrating on your right hand shape/pick angle, and try this breathing exercise at the same time: inhale as you ascend, and exhale as you descend the scale. You should notice yourself feeling much more relaxed almost straight away, and this is the state in which you should be at all times when you play. Otherwise you will suffer from the kinds of pains and fatigue you're talking about.

    Hope this helps at least a little...

    NM

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    thanks a lot, NM! that was very helpful.

    Bizarro, sorry. I didn't mean to sound stupid. I'm a competent enough guitarist and person to know that. I was actually just looking for different ways people pick so that I could get some new ideas and try to experiment. I wasn't looking for anybody to pin point exactly what i should do.

  7. #7
    Registered Abuser widdly widdly's Avatar
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    I gotta agree with Neil on this one. Relaxing all your muscles is the secret to picking. My picking improved a great deal when I made a concerted effort to relax all the muscles in my arm. I used to get tenser the faster I tried to play which of course caused all sorts of difficulties. I found not only was my hand and forearm tense, but I was also clenching my jaw, tensing my shoulders and neck and I was not breathing evenly. Focussed attention on these areas will really heap get a fluid and minimal picking action happening, which will lead to a faster and more even picking motion.

    After really breaking down my picking motion I changed the way I hold my pick and ended with it running flat against the string. I found this produced a more even tone between up and down strokes and made the picking motion smoother and more symetrical. If I want to accent nptes, I push the pick deeped into the strings rather than twisting it. I do still twist the pick but only when going for artifical harmonics. I'm still find myself tensing up when I play artifical harmonics though which I'd like to get rid of.
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    Last edited by widdly widdly; 04-11-2011 at 07:25 AM.

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