Fixing Picking Technique

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by works0fheart, Jun 26, 2016.

  1. works0fheart

    works0fheart Tike Myson

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    Sep 7, 2013
    So for years I've had pretty tight picking technique rhythmically (what an annoying word to type..) and with leads up to a certain tempo but I've always managed to hit a plateau with my strict alternate picking speed (4/4 16th notes, triplets, etc). Usually I would hit around and 145 ~ 160 depending on the shape and just be stuck there unable to synchronize my hands above that point. It had always been frustrating to me because my right wrist (picking hand) would start to hurt if I attempted this for too long. However, I could take my left hand off of the fretboard and manage to reach speeds at 200+ bpm 16th notes just picking the string ala tremolo picking.

    This had boggled my mind for years (I've been playing for 12 so far) and while I don't consider myself to be a bad player I just realized yesterday that I'd been making an amateur mistake that even several guitar teachers I've had never managed to pick up on when I told them my issue and showed them my playing in person. Their advice was the usual, tried-and-true "keep practicing with a metronome". Now while that is a good piece of advice, I'd been doing that since my first year of playing. So you may be wondering what I'd actually been doing wrong this whole time by this point. Before scrolling down let's see if you can guess what it is. Once you think you know go ahead and highlight the text I suppose.

    I had been applying all of this picking pressure to my wrist instead of picking with my forearm. Not a lot of people realize this because up until certain speeds they tend to pick with their wrist and many people do it with certain types of rhythm patterns.

    As you might imagine, from years of playing like this it has taken a toll on my wrist but I've made sure to frequently stop and stretch my wrist, hands, and forearms during practice time. Still though, the problem persisted with my picking and I simply settled uncomfortably with my technique. From this I've developed a very good legato mixed with my picking and I've been proud of my sweeps for a while as well. Still, strict alternate or even economy picking had always evaded me because of such a simple error that I had made and I thought that many other people might be making this same error.

    It actually came to mind from going through this guys videos and seeing this one here and I honestly haven't heard many guitar players really address this issue before (He goes into it around 5:00)

    Anyways, now that all of that is out of the way, I was hoping that some of you here might be able to give me a hand in way of picking exercises. It's been years since I've practiced it and all of my compilations for this sort of thing have been lost through time from cleaning out my computer, etc. I've started going and trying to practice some Yngwie and 'Bodom songs again in Guitar Pro like I used to years ago but I think it may be more beneficial to me to have an actual set of exercises to practice and I figured that more than a few people out there may have some GP tabs of this sort of thing.

    Anyways, thanks for reading this far and I hope my own discovery may be of help to some of you. On the other side of this, I hope some of you may be able to help me out getting back in the saddle :shred:
  2. redstone

    redstone Regular

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    Oct 19, 2012
    I have an alternative answer for that issue.

    It's not that you ask too much from your wrist motions. Maybe you do, can't tell without watching your technique. Yet the most probable reason why you can't pass the 150-160 gap is the doubling of a motion. By this I mean, for example, a full flexion+extension of the wrist every stroke. It's a frequent issue with those who start practicing slow and are too diligent with skipping strings. Because such diligence lead them to use a full gestural cycle to increase the amplitude of the skipping motion. Basically, they end up treating the skipping motion in a down-picking fashion, which therefore limits to down-picking speed: 10-11 notes per second.

    It's both difficult to watch and feel, since that faulty movement is hidden by the associated alternate picking movement. So it can look kind of fine and feel kind of effortless.. until you approach 10 nps.
  3. YouAreAwesome

    YouAreAwesome Regular

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    Jan 6, 2015
    I am working on my picking technique recently and found this helpfu, thanks!

    My 2 cents and not wanting to start another thread about basically the same subject:

    One thing I noticed was that I couldn't apply the force necessary when speeding up, resulting in either mistakes (getting stuck against the string instead of going "through" the string) or inconsistent picking (going slower or softer). Therefore I never understood the whole picking from the arm since that would only make things worse. After observing some videos I now see that my hand wasn't in the right position, or at least not for faster parts (especially metal rhythm parts). I had the pick between thumb and index the regular way but all my other fingers pointed outwards (away from the strings toward the pickguard) instead of curled into my hand. Once I tried this my speed went up instantly, however I now need to relearn palm muting. Now, even instinctively, playing from the arm at certain points does make sense.

    However: anybody any tips for palm muting with fingers curled inward? The fingers now are in the way of a solid mute from the palm, feeling sloppy and weird (although the latter could be just getting used to new technique). Thanks!
  4. Aethyrvorous

    Aethyrvorous Regular

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    Aug 25, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    This information is very confusing. What does your left hand not being on the fret board have to do with how fast you can pick?

    What I assume you mean by this is that you have been trying to use your wrist to much for picking and that you think that the full arm, as in rotating on the elbow is better. While rotating at the elbow is easier and maybe more natural, it's not a better technique. I pick exclusively from the wrist unless I'm dealing with more than 3 strings. I can tremolo pick up to 260 16ths, but it's not very clean yet. I was able to build this speed in a little over a year. I did this by practicing tremolo picking as fast as I could as well as downpicking. And speaking of downpicking, when you pick from the full arm you can't down pick well. I've never seen anyone play Master of Puppets while rotating their arm at the elbow during the intro riffs. I should also mention that picking from the elbow is a very high tension technique, and personally feels uncomfortable regardless of how fast I'm playing.

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