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> How Physical Is Fast Picking ?
Ben Higgins
post Feb 10 2012, 10:22 AM
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I'm really interested in how picking fast feels for everyone. We're always told to relax and not play with tension, which I agree with. A relaxed muscle moves easier and faster.

However, in order to demand more performance we still have to make our muscles work right ?

I pick from the wrist but when I start speeding up and playing over my comfort zone, I can feel the muscles engaging somewhere above my elbow. It feels like it's either the tricep or behind the tricep. I'm not consciously 'tensing up' the arm but I'm very conscious of the muscle working. It doesn't hurt and I've not suffered any aches or pains because of it. I've managed to increase the speed and stamina of my picking lately and the speeds which previously felt more 'physical' are now a bit less 'physical'.

To all you fast pickers out there, can you describe how it feels when you pick fast ? I think it would help people who are confused about how relaxed they should be and are afraid of pushing their speed boundaries because they see muscle fatigue as tension so they avoid it and stay in a certain range.

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Feb 10 2012, 10:22 AM


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Ben Higgins
post Feb 19 2012, 05:02 PM
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Hey Guys, I thought I'd resurrect this thread because I found a video of Jeff Waters talking about speed picking (thanks to Gabriel and his Jeff Waters thread) and I think it's very applicable to this discussion. His approach is similar to mine and he quite freely admits how physical it is. It really gets going around 1:59 but I recommend watching it from the start smile.gif



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Todd Simpson
post Feb 21 2012, 01:20 AM
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Ouch! Sadly this guy is actually doing the exact opposite of what I usually teach students to do. I see this quite a bit and usually try to re-train people out of it. Not to say any one way is perfect, or any style or approach is perfect. This obviously works well for this guy and his style of play.

Having said that, he's clearly picking from the elbow. This is fine for fast single string work, or even rythm playing. But for multi string passages, IMHO this style of picking can actually hinder your ability to maintain your speed over a stretch of ground. This approach often works best in triples, or chunks of riffs/notes, but it's not built for sustained use. The major muscle groups will simply burn out too quickly to allow for extended play. sad.gif But maybe thats not important here. He's doing what he wants and it sounds good so he's doing it "right" for him.

For a lead player, especially one I was trying to instruct, I'd suggest a less physical approach focused more on the wrist. when done well, it looks like you are playing slowly, and barely exerting an effort at all. In fact, you are barely exerting any effort at all when done in the wrist/finger approach so you can keep it up forever. smile.gif

QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 19 2012, 11:02 AM) *
Hey Guys, I thought I'd resurrect this thread because I found a video of Jeff Waters talking about speed picking (thanks to Gabriel and his Jeff Waters thread) and I think it's very applicable to this discussion. His approach is similar to mine and he quite freely admits how physical it is. It really gets going around 1:59 but I recommend watching it from the start smile.gif




QUOTE (maharzan @ Feb 20 2012, 03:01 AM) *
Great Video Todd. It looks you are actually picking slow but damn thats one speed there.

I too had pains in my triceps area when I practiced speed. It naturally just tends to tighten up everything with the right hand. I think for me, when that happens, I am pushing my comfortable zone a bit so next time I play, it feels much easier. But as Todd said we have to learn to relax the right hand and As Guthrie says, its not about the right hand actually. Even if we are playing one note the right hand can do all the magic playing super fast even without tensing up. Left hand it all that lags behind and normally, we can't separate the actions to both our hands. So, if we tense the left hand, right hand will tense up too. This might be a natural process for beginners so until we learn to separate these two interconnections, we won't be able to relax the right hand. smile.gif


Thanks! And BINGO! You nailed it! It's a very natural response to tense the hand/arm/upper body, when speed increases. It's something you have to fight or it will take over. As Guthrie mentions, it's more about the left hand and the right hand is just getting tight as a sympathetic response. Training this out takes serious work. That' why I'm always stopping during chat lessons and saying "stay loose" "shake it out" or "stay loose, play fast". You have to constantly remind yourself to over ride this instinct or it will keep on keeping on smile.gif


QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 20 2012, 01:08 PM) *
Brilliant input Marcus, thanks ! smile.gif

The way I look at it is: A fast picking motion doesn't just happen by magic.. there's no little fairies sprinkling magic dust and making tendons go faster somehow. In order for a body part to move, a msucle has to be engaged by the brain.

I think people who are still learning picking etc take the advice to completely relax and avoid tension so literally that at the first sign of muscular input they stop because they think they're doing something wrong.

I think it's like learning or developing any new skill that involves physicality. At first, you're acutely aware of being tense and using strength and stamina etc but after a while the effort needed to perform the task is less noticeable because the muscles and tendons improve their capability to cope with the demand but to improve in anything takes effort. Effort is at the heart of improving at anything.


BEN: BINGO AGAIN! Yup! That's the real "Secret" sauce to the entire thing. You can't force relaxation so much that you stop playing at the first tension, and you can't just flip a switch and play in a relaxed way @ 1000 MPH. It takes time. It takes practice. Just like any other technique. Training your brain/hands to do something that is 180 degrees counter intuitive/counter instinctive is like training yourself not to breathe fast while you are running. The body just wants to do it it's own way. But with time/effort/loads of patience (or defiant persistance as the case may be), it becomes just another thing.

I personally came to it after I hit the wall and could not play any faster and could not play fast for very long. That's about the time I got carpal tunnel in both arms. I thought I could "fight through the pain" and play faster. I was wrong. While my arm were healing I could barely use any force at all without TREMENDOUS pain. So I had to learn how to pick more gently and not use my arms which were injured. So I sort of learned by default as straying from it was horribly painful.

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Feb 21 2012, 01:21 AM


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Posts in this topic
- Ben Higgins   How Physical Is Fast Picking ?   Feb 10 2012, 10:22 AM
- - Sinisa Cekic   Whether I am a valid person to answer ? Anyway, ...   Feb 10 2012, 05:33 PM
- - Gabriel Leopardi   Well, it's true that the idea is always to kee...   Feb 10 2012, 07:02 PM
|- - Ben Higgins   QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Feb 10 2012, 06...   Feb 10 2012, 08:05 PM
|- - Gabriel Leopardi   QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 10 2012, 04:05 P...   Feb 10 2012, 10:39 PM
- - derper   Thanks all!! Lovin' this thread!...   Feb 10 2012, 07:27 PM
- - Azzaboi   Fast picking is NOT just going nuts, playing as fa...   Feb 10 2012, 08:13 PM
- - Todd Simpson   BEN! I know exactly what you mean. It's ...   Feb 10 2012, 10:46 PM
- - Saddlefall   QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 10 2012, 10:22 A...   Feb 12 2012, 12:18 AM
|- - Ben Higgins   QUOTE (Saddlefall @ Feb 11 2012, 11:18 PM...   Feb 12 2012, 11:01 AM
|- - Saddlefall   QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 12 2012, 11:01 A...   Feb 12 2012, 11:35 AM
- - maharzan   Great Video Todd. It looks you are actually pickin...   Feb 20 2012, 09:01 AM
- - JaxN4   great video Ben.... very good tips. cheers   Feb 20 2012, 12:49 PM
- - dark dude   Aye, nice video, cheers. I was reluctant to post ...   Feb 20 2012, 06:13 PM
- - Marcus Desaiha   QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 10 2012, 10:22 A...   Feb 20 2012, 06:23 PM
|- - Ben Higgins   QUOTE (Marcus Desaiha @ Feb 20 2012, 05:2...   Feb 20 2012, 07:08 PM
- - Ben Higgins   Todd, are you sure he's picking from the elbow...   Feb 21 2012, 10:49 AM
- - SpaseMoonkey   QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 21 2012, 05:49 A...   Feb 21 2012, 12:12 PM
- - Todd Simpson   I'm sure he is doing do it, he's not doing...   Feb 22 2012, 01:49 AM
- - Ben Higgins   QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Feb 22 2012, 12:49 ...   Feb 22 2012, 08:43 AM
- - Todd Simpson   QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 22 2012, 02:43 A...   Feb 23 2012, 12:11 AM
- - Ben Higgins   QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Feb 22 2012, 11:11 ...   Feb 23 2012, 10:49 AM


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