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> What's So Difficult With Fast Picking
Kristofer Dahl
post May 7 2019, 09:24 AM
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This topic fascinates me - why is fast picking so hard?



Here is the lesson I am referring to in the video.

To me - the hard thing with speed picking, is the string crossing motion. It requires control...and a practicing strategy!

Are you struggling with alternate picking? And if so, why?


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Todd Simpson
post May 8 2019, 03:21 AM
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My fave topic! It took me quite a long time to figure out that the tone/style of fast picking that I really wanted to go for was a very palm mutey type of picking ala paul gilbert/yngwie etc. This required that I learn to keep a full palm mute while articulating the pick with my thumb and firrst finger. Once I got this down, all of my picking finally got to where I wanted it to go.

I see so many people get trapped in to picking from the elbow (this is a very bad way to go about it imho as it limits your speed and and kills endurance) and or locked in to only picking alternate or only picking econ etc. I found that just letting the notes guide my picking strikes helped me quite a bit.

To wit, I created this quick workout. It uses alternate and econ in the same lick and uses the palm muted picking technique Im talking about. Also, the most critical element is not over committing to any one pick strike. I'm using a pointy thick pick with ZERO flex/bend in it. This is the secret sauce to speed. The Mathas Guitars "IMPALER" is my current weapon of choice. Some folks, even paul gilber himself, use thin picks. That's fine, to each his own smile.gif Doesn't work for me at all but that's all part of the game. You gotta find what works.



I"m using Alterntae Picking dddd
QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ May 7 2019, 04:24 AM) *
This topic fascinates me - why is fast picking so hard?



Here is the lesson I am referring to in the video.

To me - the hard thing with speed picking, is the string crossing motion. It requires control...and a practicing strategy!

Are you struggling with alternate picking? And if so, why?
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jstcrsn
post May 8 2019, 03:39 AM
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because there is extra , unnatural movement .When picking on one string your hand can get into sync , but switching strings your hand has to travel shorter and longer distance but still be in sync when it comes to hitting the string in tempo, so in reality it is a bunch of differing movements compiling long strokes , short strikes , quick movements and slower movements that end up hitting the string in perfect timing ( to nerd out on you ) . I learned economy picking first , by mistake ( my teacher did not realize what I was doing ) and so when I finally tried to do strict alt picking , the learning curve was huge


This post has been edited by jstcrsn: May 8 2019, 03:39 AM
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Todd Simpson
post May 8 2019, 06:31 AM
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Econ picking is simply using two strokes of the same kind in a row, E.G. Two down strokes when moving from the E string to the A string. This is the inherent advantage of econ for traverse picking. It makes use of the natural motion of the hand in the direction that it's moving. E.G. Using up strokes to traverse high string to low string and double down stroke to move from lower string to higher string.

Are you saying you were using only econ? E.G. All down or up strokes, even when staying on the same string?

Paul Gilbert uses a lot of strict Alternate, even when doing licks that seem to beg for econ. The lick that I shared in the video is one that paul would pick straight alt pick. Even though it begs for econ for the traverse bit IMHO.

Todd
QUOTE (jstcrsn @ May 7 2019, 10:39 PM) *
because there is extra , unnatural movement .When picking on one string your hand can get into sync , but switching strings your hand has to travel shorter and longer distance but still be in sync when it comes to hitting the string in tempo, so in reality it is a bunch of differing movements compiling long strokes , short strikes , quick movements and slower movements that end up hitting the string in perfect timing ( to nerd out on you ) . I learned economy picking first , by mistake ( my teacher did not realize what I was doing ) and so when I finally tried to do strict alt picking , the learning curve was huge
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Kristofer Dahl
post May 8 2019, 07:14 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 8 2019, 04:21 AM) *
My fave topic! It took me quite a long time to figure out that the tone/style of fast picking that I really wanted to go for was a very palm mutey type of picking ala paul gilbert/yngwie etc. This required that I learn to keep a full palm mute while articulating the pick with my thumb and firrst finger. Once I got this down, all of my picking finally got to where I wanted it to go.

I see so many people get trapped in to picking from the elbow (this is a very bad way to go about it imho as it limits your speed and and kills endurance) and or locked in to only picking alternate or only picking econ etc. I found that just letting the notes guide my picking strikes helped me quite a bit.


Yeah that palm muted picking is such an aggressive sounding technique!

I assume though you do use a little bit of elbow if you were to play this kind of run with strict alternate picking (no economy picking)?
-------------------------------------------------14-15-17------------------
---------------------------------------13-15-17--------------------------
-----------------------------12-14-16------------------------------------------
-------------------12-14-16----------------------------------------------------
---------12-14-15---------------------------------------------------
12-14-15------------------------------------------------------------


QUOTE (jstcrsn @ May 8 2019, 04:39 AM) *
When picking on one string your hand can get into sync , but switching strings your hand has to travel shorter and longer distance but still be in sync when it comes to hitting the string in tempo, so in reality it is a bunch of differing movements compiling long strokes , short strikes , quick movements and slower movements that end up hitting the string in perfect timing ( to nerd out on you ) .


I agree with this, what might appear as a basic picking run (ie some old Paul Gilbert picking exercise) actually consists of several different movements that could (and should!) be practiced separately.


QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 8 2019, 07:31 AM) *
Are you saying you were using only econ? E.G. All down or up strokes, even when staying on the same string?


The "economic" way to pick on one same string is def to use alternate picking! 😅


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jstcrsn
post May 8 2019, 05:39 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 8 2019, 06:31 AM) *
Econ picking is simply using two strokes of the same kind in a row, E.G. Two down strokes when moving from the E string to the A string. This is the inherent advantage of econ for traverse picking. It makes use of the natural motion of the hand in the direction that it's moving. E.G. Using up strokes to traverse high string to low string and double down stroke to move from lower string to higher string.

Are you saying you were using only econ? E.G. All down or up strokes, even when staying on the same string?

Paul Gilbert uses a lot of strict Alternate, even when doing licks that seem to beg for econ. The lick that I shared in the video is one that paul would pick straight alt pick. Even though it begs for econ for the traverse bit IMHO.

Todd
alt picking when on one string , but economy when string skipping

but either economy or strict alt picking string changes are vastly different techniques . take economy - down -up - down switch strings as you continue to down stroke , you actually have to slow your hand down to hit the string on "beat ", now in strict alt picking ... down - up -down - now as you continue the stroke to skip the adjacent string to get it on the upstroke, you now have to speed up (because you have further to travel )to get to your upstroke on tempo and then immediately slow down because your following downstroke has to be on tempo . I think this is why economy picking is easier as you just have to slow down every third hit where as alternate picking has more speeding and slowing back to back to hit the string on tempo, thus requiring much practice
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enlo22
post May 8 2019, 07:44 PM
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I feel like this technique is the hardest one to keep clean
I don't know if this happens to you guys at times, but say if you're doing 3 note per beat, it seems like say at 220 it comes natural
but somewhere around 170 or 190 it's so hard to stay in time, almost feels less natural.


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Todd Simpson
post May 9 2019, 12:58 AM
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I avoid using the elbow at all costs. I find that, for me, picking from the elbow wrecks my precision, kills my endurance and generally costs far more than it helps in terms of playing so I always avoid it. I'd probably not play this lick as a strict alternate pick simply because it contains an ascending string traverse. Any time I have an ascending or descending traverse, I almost always use Econ Picking as it is just more efficient. I don't get any benefit from alternate picking during string traverse so I typically just don't do it.

I try to pick from the Thumb/Finger back toward the wrist, instead of picking from the elbow forward. I can do most things with just the thumb/finger articulation. Sometimes I need more than the thumb/finger can do so I add some wrist action but I always keep my hand from tensing and avoid tensing the arm/picking from the elbow. Quick Licks 77 is a good example. Notice I'm not tensing the hand/arm even though I'm playing briskly and i keep my palm mute without lifting and mostly articulate the pick with the thumb/finger.


Here is one closer to your tab example where I"m traversing several strings. I use the same technique as before, mostly finger/thumb some wrist action, palm always planted on the bridge for full palm mute.



I'd say this is the secret to shred. At least for me. Keeping the palm always attached to the bridge to give a very staccato feel to each note and not letting the arm or elbow get involved.


QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ May 8 2019, 02:14 AM) *
Yeah that palm muted picking is such an aggressive sounding technique!

I assume though you do use a little bit of elbow if you were to play this kind of run with strict alternate picking (no economy picking)?
-------------------------------------------------14-15-17------------------
---------------------------------------13-15-17--------------------------
-----------------------------12-14-16------------------------------------------
-------------------12-14-16----------------------------------------------------
---------12-14-15---------------------------------------------------
12-14-15------------------------------------------------------------




I agree with this, what might appear as a basic picking run (ie some old Paul Gilbert picking exercise) actually consists of several different movements that could (and should!) be practiced separately.




The "economic" way to pick on one same string is def to use alternate picking! 😅


For econ I think you meant to say DOWN DOWN UP or UP UP DOWN correct? As in using two of the same strike type in a row while in string traverse? Ideally this transition shoujld be smooth and transparent. If there is any gap/speed change during the switch to econ from alt in the middle of a scale run, it's audible and ruins the flow. It's cucial to be able to switch between these two in a seamless manner.

QUOTE (jstcrsn @ May 8 2019, 12:39 PM) *
alt picking when on one string , but economy when string skipping

but either economy or strict alt picking string changes are vastly different techniques . take economy - down -up - down switch strings as you continue to down stroke , you actually have to slow your hand down to hit the string on "beat ", now in strict alt picking ... down - up -down - now as you continue the stroke to skip the adjacent string to get it on the upstroke, you now have to speed up (because you have further to travel )to get to your upstroke on tempo and then immediately slow down because your following downstroke has to be on tempo . I think this is why economy picking is easier as you just have to slow down every third hit where as alternate picking has more speeding and slowing back to back to hit the string on tempo, thus requiring much practice


"this technique" do you mean econ picking? can you shoot a quick vid of the type of lick you are talking about at the problem speed you mention so we can see what you mean?
QUOTE (enlo22 @ May 8 2019, 02:44 PM) *
I feel like this technique is the hardest one to keep clean
I don't know if this happens to you guys at times, but say if you're doing 3 note per beat, it seems like say at 220 it comes natural
but somewhere around 170 or 190 it's so hard to stay in time, almost feels less natural.


JSTCRSN mentioned string skipping. I'm not sure if he is really just talking about string traverse? As in just moving to the next string? String skipping usually means skipping an entire string as in going from low E to D and skipping the A string for example in a scale run.

The most important thing in traverse is that it be smooth imho. Being able to switch picking techniques from Alt to Econ in mid flight is crucial. Otherwise, odd sounding results can happen. Being able to control the flow of a given run is key imho. Of course, once one can play a given run in a smooth fashion, one can then change the emphasis or timing of parts of the run in order to make it more expressive, etc. However, this is something that should happen after the player can play anything in a given range of ability in a smooth controlled fashion.


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 9 2019, 01:21 AM
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verciazghra
post May 9 2019, 02:15 AM
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Have you seen Troy Gradys videos on the mechanics of picking? And why string traversing is such a weird motion?
After doing a ton of tests on some of the best alternate pickers in the world he breaks down what the movements of fast alternate picking looks like when it works. Find it hard to believe that you haven't seen them though!

Inside alternate picking is probably where I do worst:
DUDUDUDUDUDUDU
-X- X- X- X- X- X- X- X
--X- X- X- X- X- X- X-


QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ May 7 2019, 08:24 AM) *
This topic fascinates me - why is fast picking so hard?



Here is the lesson I am referring to in the video.

To me - the hard thing with speed picking, is the string crossing motion. It requires control...and a practicing strategy!

Are you struggling with alternate picking? And if so, why?



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Todd Simpson
post May 9 2019, 04:41 AM
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Troy has some great vids!! Here is one of them. It's got a cool set of close up shots of the pick to show what's happening right at the string. This one shows him using his thumb and first finger to articulate the pick like I'm always banging on about smile.gif It's mostly about single string work here but it's a great video to show the mechanics of good strikes that use the thumb/finger articulation method at speed.



Here is JOE STUMP showing some very fluid econ picking as a demo with Troy asking questions. Joe's approach is more along the line of how I approach traverse. Joe is also doing a great example of articulating the pick using the thumb/first finger and notice he plants his palm on the bridge and uses finger/thumb and a bit of wrist. Zero elbow, zero forearm. This is partly why he is so precise imho. It's a clinic in how to use finger back (as opposed to elbow forward) muted econ picking to maximum effect with minimal effort. Notice it doesn't look like he has to tense up his entire body to play fast. It all happens right there below the wrist.


QUOTE (verciazghra @ May 8 2019, 09:15 PM) *
Have you seen Troy Gradys videos on the mechanics of picking? And why string traversing is such a weird motion?
After doing a ton of tests on some of the best alternate pickers in the world he breaks down what the movements of fast alternate picking looks like when it works. Find it hard to believe that you haven't seen them though!

Inside alternate picking is probably where I do worst:
DUDUDUDUDUDUDU
-X- X- X- X- X- X- X- X
--X- X- X- X- X- X- X-


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 9 2019, 04:52 AM
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Kristofer Dahl
post May 9 2019, 07:08 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 9 2019, 01:58 AM) *
I avoid using the elbow at all costs. I find that, for me, picking from the elbow wrecks my precision, kills my endurance and generally costs far more than it helps in terms of playing so I always avoid it. I'd probably not play this lick as a strict alternate pick simply because it contains an ascending string traverse. Any time I have an ascending or descending traverse, I almost always use Econ Picking as it is just more efficient. I don't get any benefit from alternate picking during string traverse so I typically just don't do it.

I try to pick from the Thumb/Finger back toward the wrist, instead of picking from the elbow forward. I can do most things with just the thumb/finger articulation. Sometimes I need more than the thumb/finger can do so I add some wrist action but I always keep my hand from tensing and avoid tensing the arm/picking from the elbow. Quick Licks 77 is a good example. Notice I'm not tensing the hand/arm even though I'm playing briskly and i keep my palm mute without lifting and mostly articulate the pick with the thumb/finger.


The question is whether the elbow is wrecking your precision, or if you just need to practice my exercise so that you get control of your elbow. The string crossing motion needed for strict alternate picking does feel unnatural for most people, by reasons explained very clearly by folks like Troy Grady (I didn't check the specific videos in this post yet).

QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 9 2019, 01:58 AM) *
For econ I think you meant to say DOWN DOWN UP or UP UP DOWN correct?


Yes exactly

QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 9 2019, 01:58 AM) *
For econ I think you meant to say DOWN DOWN UP or UP UP DOWN correct? As in using two of the same strike type in a row while in string traverse? Ideally this transition shoujld be smooth and transparent. If there is any gap/speed change during the switch to econ from alt in the middle of a scale run, it's audible and ruins the flow. It's cucial to be able to switch between these two in a seamless manner.


When done right this transition can be done super smooth - without any gap. So there is nothing wrong with economy picking, it's a perfectly valid technique which a lot of people like and use.

"The problem" is that you don't get the same dynamics when you play two pick strikes in a row. This makes sense since the movements are done with different parts of the body + with alternate picking you build up a momentum of motion which gets disrupted when you play two downstrokes in a row.

Dynamics along with hand coordination is one of the main reasons why shredders sound so different from each other. And I really like the attack of guys like Paul Gilbert and Steve Morse. I also love the shredding of Yngwie and Eric Johnson but many times their picking runs do not have the same rhythmical element.




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Todd Simpson
post May 9 2019, 11:08 AM
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Like troy, I always wanted to get a very dense/tight/percussive/rythmic type of "speed picking"/"shredding". It took quite a while but I managed to develop a style very similar in many respects to what Joe is doing for Traverse and what Troy is doing for single string work. I'm with you on econ smoothing out dynamics. As it's two of the same strike it tends to sound the same which is ok if that's what one is going for as in a fast ascending run where the notes are intended to sound the same. This doesn't work as well if one wants a bit of rythmic or sonic disruption in the scale for emphasis. In that case, one has to actually increase/decrease strike power mid swing during traverse. So it' can be done, but requires a good bit of practice.

I really do find that using the arm/elbow gets in the way of precision. But again, everyone has their own way. Personally, I try to keep precision picking to a smaller area, namely the fingers/wrist, as in the joe stump videos. I'm sure I could work in the picking from the elbow, but I have never found it useful for me personally so I always try to avoid it. From my experience, using the entire arm is like trying to do fine detail work with a mop instead of a scalpel.
As for strict alternate picking, I was trying to think of a traverse lick that I might play strict alternate pick and I did think of one!! I play this type of lick all the time an I do use strict alternate picking for this kind of thing.


I'll include this lick in the above video in an upcoming quick licks. It's a great way to work on strict alternate picking!
UPDATE ON ELBOW PICKING:
I tried the lick you tabbed out and I dig it smile.gif I did find I played it using my typical palm mute finger/thumb approach though, much the same way I play 3 note per string minor scales and such.


QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ May 9 2019, 02:08 AM) *
The question is whether the elbow is wrecking your precision, or if you just need to practice my exercise so that you get control of your elbow. The string crossing motion needed for strict alternate picking does feel unnatural for most people, by reasons explained very clearly by folks like Troy Grady (I didn't check the specific videos in this post yet).



Yes exactly



When done right this transition can be done super smooth - without any gap. So there is nothing wrong with economy picking, it's a perfectly valid technique which a lot of people like and use.

"The problem" is that you don't get the same dynamics when you play two pick strikes in a row. This makes sense since the movements are done with different parts of the body + with alternate picking you build up a momentum of motion which gets disrupted when you play two downstrokes in a row.

Dynamics along with hand coordination is one of the main reasons why shredders sound so different from each other. And I really like the attack of guys like Paul Gilbert and Steve Morse. I also love the shredding of Yngwie and Eric Johnson but many times their picking runs do not have the same rhythmical element.


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 9 2019, 07:29 PM
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jstcrsn
post May 9 2019, 09:11 PM
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and here is the trick , everyone's muscle differ slightly , so to say one way is the right could lead students astray. Every shredder has subtle differences and students need to find out , thru trial and error , which works best for them , yes there are some general guidelines . I broke my left arm and the doctor set it wrong ( i can not turn my arm to get chording so I had to switch to play left handed, but thru this I can't pick like you guys , my arm literally hurts and aches ( badly not boldly). Look at Wylde and Freidman with what I would consider horrible technique but it works for them and I bet they could not play with " proper Technique". Todd you use a thick pick whilst Gilbert uses a thin one and I think this is part of the process that comes with learning any technique .
Learn the general guidelines , but make it work as easy as possible for you
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Todd Simpson
post May 9 2019, 09:54 PM
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I have seen students struggle endlessly with Strict Alternate Picking. I remember when I "broke through" and it became second nature for me. I"m always trying to lead students to that same moment. To wit, this is an alt picking drill that requires very little effort and sounds like one is picking using an electric drill when done correctly. The burden on the hand is very small. It's a very basic shape over three frets and two strings. I"m going to make a quick lick out of it. If a student can play this one drill at speed, any other strict alt picking should be well within reach. Have a look



Attached File  alt.gp5.zip ( 1.04K ) Number of downloads: 6

Attached Image
As I"m always saying "There is no one right way". There are better and worse ways to go about playing guitar, just as there are better and worse ways to go about just about anything. As instructors, we try to suggest approaches that will serve the students. Sometimes those approaches are similar to what we use ourselves, sometimes not.
Sometimes, as you mentioned with Marty, very bad technique works just fine for a given player. Of course, these are typically exceptions that make rules, not break rules. That said, every student is different. The only thing that is always the same is the desire to play guitar and play well. As instructors that is what we seek to service.

I do share my personal experience and what has worked for me as I have the most knowledge/practice on those things which I've embraced. So it makes sense that I would teach those things as a guideline as I've got the most material available on the bits that I use the most often and that worked. I do however, try to teach toward the student instead of trying to have the student learn towards me, whenever I notice that the needs of the student are different than the path I'm trying to walk them through.

This idea is why it's good to have more than one instructor/mentor. To be able to absorb different things from different instructors allows a breadth of technique to be available to the student so that they can pick and choose what works best for them.


QUOTE (jstcrsn @ May 9 2019, 04:11 PM) *
and here is the trick , everyone's muscle differ slightly , so to say one way is the right could lead students astray. Every shredder has subtle differences and students need to find out , thru trial and error , which works best for them , yes there are some general guidelines . I broke my left arm and the doctor set it wrong ( i can not turn my arm to get chording so I had to switch to play left handed, but thru this I can't pick like you guys , my arm literally hurts and aches ( badly not boldly). Look at Wylde and Freidman with what I would consider horrible technique but it works for them and I bet they could not play with " proper Technique". Todd you use a thick pick whilst Gilbert uses a thin one and I think this is part of the process that comes with learning any technique .
Learn the general guidelines , but make it work as easy as possible for you


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 9 2019, 10:05 PM
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Todd Simpson
post May 11 2019, 07:50 AM
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Speaking of STRICT ALTERNATE PICKING with STRING TRAVERSE, this weeks Quick Lick (79 coming out Saturday) is a good example of this. It's also very simple to play as it's the same notes on only 2 strings. I"m using just my thumb/first finger and a bit of wrist here to articulate the pick and keeping my hand/arm as loose as possible so that I can keep this speed up for an extended period of time. To wit, I loop the bit a few times as a demo of this.

If one "tenses up", it can wreck endurance. Finding the spot where you are using just enough finger muscle is key. Once you find that sweet spot, you find out it requires minimal effort. As a result, you can escape "burst mode" and play at any speed you like for as long as you want smile.gif


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MonkeyDAthos
post May 11 2019, 04:05 PM
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Ive been working on alt picking for the longest, I am a big fan of Steve Morse/Martin Miller/Andy Wood approach.

But In my case. Once ive started to work on my legato I found out that my picking became alot smoother I think I was getting alot of unnecessary tension betwern my 3 and 4 finger.
Which was preventing me from going for upper bpms due to my body tensing up
I am still working on it though.


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Todd Simpson
post May 11 2019, 06:31 PM
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That tension is DEATH to endurance. Training your body to play briskly without tensing takes work to be sure. Staying relaxed at any speed is key imho. If you can train your body to stay relaxed, you can bump up the speed without tensing and you'll find you sail through previous barriers. It's the tension that I see killing speed/endurance in most cases. Once I can get a student to keep the arms from tensing, usually through drills, eventually through repetition in abundance so they essentially forget to tense up, they hit the "AHA" moment and can replicate it.

Glad to hear you are sorting it out!! Getting to that point where your not tensing can be a long journey indeed. Some folks never quite get there. I see wads of players on youtube tensing up and playing stiff armed. Even Pro players in some cases.

Here is a pretty good example of how I'd say NOT to pick. He's tensed up all the way and picking entirely from the elbow. His wrist and fingers are not involved at all. The worst part is he isn't going that fast. It's a simple matter to get at least this much speed using only the thumb and first finger for pick articulation.
* I like his pajama pants though smile.gif and that spiff Ibby!!!!!!!

mad.gif
QUOTE (MonkeyDAthos @ May 11 2019, 11:05 AM) *
Ive been working on alt picking for the longest, I am a big fan of Steve Morse/Martin Miller/Andy Wood approach.

But In my case. Once ive started to work on my legato I found out that my picking became alot smoother I think I was getting alot of unnecessary tension betwern my 3 and 4 finger.
Which was preventing me from going for upper bpms due to my body tensing up
I am still working on it though.


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 11 2019, 07:04 PM
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