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Thread: Picking

  1. #1
    Registered User superlocrian's Avatar
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    Question Picking

    Hello Everybody

    After reading Eric's article on picking (Mailbag: smoothing it out) I decided to try out his suggestion on picking as fast as you can on one string to see if you are able to speed up. I tend to use a normal wrist action when picking slow and as I speed up a circular picking motion starts to kick in. I watched John Petrucci and he also seems to use to styles, when playing slow he has his fingers open and when playing fast he seems to place his middle finger on top of the index finger and his other fingers curl in a bit. Is it ok to combine to picking styles?. Another question is: isn't one of the reasons that we practice to get the rigth hand picking speed quicker?

    The reason I ask this is because, I tried picking sextplets as fast as I could on one string, not paying attention to accuracy, with three different picking styles and all three styles (circular, wrist and elbow) seemed to be the same speed. So is it safe to say then that by practice I will get the right hand picking speed faster or does the article imply that your right hand picking speed should already be fast and the only reason we practice speed is to synchronize the two hands.

    I am picking ok at the moment but would like to go faster and am a bit confused since so many people have different ideas on how to get there.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Well, some good questions here.

    First of all, as I said in several articles, you have to decide for yourself which picking style is the best for you. Try to figure out which one is the most efficient, and which works best, feels most comfortable for you.
    I pick from the wrist, and dont anchor, the way Timmons and Paul Gilbert do it. But of course, Vinnie Moore and Lukather proved that you can pick fast from the elbow, and Petrucci and Malmsteen both anchor their right hand when picking fast.
    For me, "floating the hand" seems to give me more control, and makes it pretty easy to relax the hand.

    Now, of course youll be able to speed up the right hand picking motion when you practise for a while. This is something that can be improved. If you do the "Max out"-method I suggested in the article, youll see that youre most likely able to move the right hand very fast.
    So what you have to practise is
    a ) Synchronize both hands and
    b) make your picking motion more economic and efficient. Minimize the motion. This will increase your right hand speed.
    So the answer would be: Although one of the toughest parts to work on is synchronisation and picking on adjacent strings ( as opposed to picking on only one ), your right hand speed will increase to, although the development might not be quite as obvious.
    Its the same with legato... you might be able to do fast hammer ons / pull offs already, but with time, your left hand fingers will use less strength and move less, so youll be able to do it faster.

    The "Max out" method is supposed to help you to find out which picking motion ( wrist, thumb or elbow ) works best and feels most comfortable for you. The top-speed can be improved with a lot of practising, simply because youll hopefully start to pick more efficiently and economic.
    Hope this answers your question
    Eric

  3. #3
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    In response to what the mighty Eric Vandenberg said, all it really does come down to is economy of motion and what feels natural. And quite often it won't be exactly like an article or book says the right way will be - for example, about seven months into playing guitar, I first saw Eric Johnson's video Total Electric Guitar and the explanation of 'circular' picking. I did not realize there was a name for using finger motions to move the pick, as what I did was analyze which picking style used the least muscle motion and I found that circular picking works best for me on 'narrow' lines and wrist motions made sweeping the easiest for me. I don't think there's a name for what I do, or a rational explanation as to why anything we do has to be named and classified and argued about, but all it comes down to is finding what feels most natural to you and practicing that as much as you can. No one technique will guarantee proficiency, as practice is what makes a player confident and skilled enough to do what he feels needs to be done. If I had a friend of mine who was a natural elbow picker but never practiced it, I could probably outpick him even though I pick from my elbow about as well as most people eat spaghetti with their ears, simply because practice is just as necessary as finding what works best.
    Or, to put it another way, when you make Kool-Aid do you pick your favorite flavor, but forget to put it in and drink plain water? I didn't think so. In the same way you should find what works best and follow through by practicing and finding how to be more economical and precise.

    Rock On,
    The Jeffinator

  4. #4
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    Also make sure you use a fairly inflexible pick. A flexible pick will add time on to the picking action as it bends when you pick the string.

  5. #5
    Registered User ProgBG's Avatar
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    Hi

    In addition to what the others said i often have the same problem. I spoke with Viktor Smolski (who is famous in Germany with his Metal Band Rage, don't know if they are in America, but however) about picking. He said he uses two styles, because of long concerts. So he uses picking from the finger when he plays slow things and from the wrist when playing faster stuff. For me I play most stuff with my wrist or finger and the other with my arm. I experienced, when practicing wrist stuff I get faster with my finger or arm, too.

    KAYA BG
    I am like an altered chord. Sometimes I feel sad like a dominant 7/b9/b5 and sometimes happy like a dominant 7/6/9. KAYA BG

  6. #6
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    out in the fields to hard to pick

    I think it depends what youre picking on how difficult it is. Has anyone checked out the solo to (out in the fields) by Gary moore hes picking 16th notes at 180 bpm but the pattern is insanley hard at that speed can anyone here pick it cleanly in time if you can id love to know the secret it gives me loads of trouble.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by gawain
    I think it depends what youre picking on how difficult it is. Has anyone checked out the solo to (out in the fields) by Gary moore hes picking 16th notes at 180 bpm but the pattern is insanley hard at that speed can anyone here pick it cleanly in time if you can id love to know the secret it gives me loads of trouble.
    Well said. There is more to speed than just playing chromatic exercises, which is why I don't place too much value in them. I don't know the Gary Moore "Out in the Fields" solo, but what I have heard from him, such as the live version of "Shapes of Things" is very impressive. I don't doubt that playing the "Out in the Fields" solo is difficult. If I am having trouble playing something because of the pattern being difficult, I will try moving it to another position or playing it over 2 strings instead of 3 etc. However, sometimes it only sounds correct when it is played as it was originally performed, so I have to play it the hard way.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the reply i will have to find another way to play it i can only get up to 144 bpms cleanly i will try what you said just to get by at gigs i hope no one noteces i didnt know ga ry was such a fast picker its the hardest thing i have ever tried to play malmstenes technique is allot more easy than that solo.

  9. #9
    You get the same problem which happened to me. Ask yourself, what tone would you like. Different picking will result different tone...

  10. #10
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    I am no speed monster (I can barely get scales and sequences at 150 BPM in 16ths). But I figured I'd share what I do anyways. I do anchor my pinky when playing fast, specially while doing fast AP arpeggios (a la Steve Morse). Sometimes I use palm muting as a way to anchor my hand as well, I think I use the anchoring factor as a point of reference in order for my right hand to know where it's at.
    I mainly pick from the wrist although for certain things I use some elbow (a heavier attack in some passages and what not) and some circular picking (like while hybrid picking).

    A good point that has been raised several times (I reciently read an interview with Paul Gilbert and he does mention this as well) is that an economic technique is not always the best choice when it comes to tone and dynamics. Granted, when you're going at your max speed, then you need to play as efficiently as possible (not only to deliver but also to prevent injury). But just lifting your hand off the guitar and totally smacking it (like SRV) gives you a distinctive sound that you can't really get anyway else. If you watch Eric Johnson also his AP is not that economic (he picks down and out which ultimately slows you down) but he's found that's the sound he likes (and he can sure go fast while doing it that way still!!!). Another example much closer to us: Eric V; I don't know how he picks when he plays slow (maybe you could give us some insight there Eric, it'd be interesting ) but there is a distinct difference on his slow melodies to when he's just burning. He exploits a lot of the dynamic range of the guitar instead of just staying at one place.

    So yeah... I don't know if I made much sense (I hope I did).

    I hope this helps


    NP. Pat Martino Live at Yoshi's (good live album)
    Last edited by forgottenking2; 07-12-2005 at 03:12 PM.
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  11. #11
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Wow, Jorge, very kind words there, thanks a lot !
    Well, I guess itd help if Id put some more live-clips from one of the recent EVB shows up onto my website, as that prolly is more helpful than me explaining it here, but here goes:

    When I play melodies, single note lines etc., its pretty much the same technique as when I play fast picking or powerchords etc.
    The main difference might be that I change little details, according to what I wanna achieve... I might angle the pick slightly different to get a harsher or softer sound, I might loosen my grip on the pick ( to "shape" the note a bit softer ) etc.
    Actually, the "note shaping" with the pick is something I experimented with a lot... I cut back on FX and the gain, and then tried to play slow lines and shape the notes differently... make some of them stand out more by picking harder, make others as soft as possible ( which sounds a bit different as if Id just use legato to get that note ).
    Also, I occasionally change the position of where I pick... not only for a.h.s, but also to get a warmer sound or a brighter one. ( Which can be a good alternative than changing the pickup, which usually leads to more drastic result ).
    All this concerns the right hand, as the left hand ( with legato, vibrato, bending etc. ) is not the only hand involved in "shaping" a note.
    And Im only an apprentice when it comes to that... my friend ( and "mentor" ) Abi von Reininghaus REALLY did some research on that and is a master when it comes to that.
    Thanks a lot for your kind words, Jorge, I am glad you pointed out the dynamic thing
    Eric

  12. #12
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    fast alternate picking

    I think to be able to pick differant lines or patterns fast you need to try differant dynamics for malmstene runs its best to do as little movement as possible that way you get greater speed because theres less distance for youre hand to move (as he normally uses the 3 fingers string aproach) but this does not always work for fast picking on other patterns expecially with crossing strings at great speed you need to really fan youre rist action out even faster to still hit the strings consistantly it takes **** loads of practice and can be hard to grasp but experiment with differant techniques for differant lines. another tip practice it over again at a comfortable speed then give your right hand time to recover then just go for it super fast cause it is too much work on youre hand to constantly practice it at full speed all the time.youll find youre self going backwards in progress


    i sopose ive said a simular thing to jorge
    Last edited by gawain; 07-15-2005 at 01:35 PM.

  13. #13
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    listen to eric..watch eddie van halen

  14. #14
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    Hey guys,
    I was trying to explain to some of my friends about dynamics and technical pieces, and how they affect your speed. To go back to what a prevous post said about just picking your fastest and then over time shaping it. I believe the ones concerned with speed, myself included, are just dying to know an average speed limit that the majority of shredders have. Like EricV said,
    If you do the "Max out"-method I suggested in the article, youll see that youre most likely able to move the right hand very fast.
    The top-speed can be improved with a lot of practising, simply because youll hopefully start to pick more efficiently and economic.
    When I read about the Maxing out method and tried it for myself, I just started to wonder if I was even born with the potential to be able to shred or not! I practice strict one string max out alternate picking for at least 20min. of my practice time, and felt like I am too slow.... So, with that said, I am curious of the average max out speed, cause I can only pick 16th notes at 220bpm. I think I am an elbow player because I cannot keep my picking arm still no matter how hard I try, and I see these guys like Fareri or Michael Angelo and it looks like they only move half of their hand up and down! I don't know about you, but when I move my wrist up and down my arm jiggles a lot..

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