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GMC Forum _ PRACTICE ROOM _ How To Improve My Picking?

Posted by: justreleased Aug 19 2010, 11:43 PM

I have been working on the alternate picking thing for several hours a day for a couple years now and just do not feel like I am improving. I must be doing something wrong. Here are two fairly recent videos of my playing that have some 'fast' picking stuff in them. What can I do to fix or better my playing? What or how can I practice to improve? ... re=related
My routine consists of single string picking(16ths and sextuplets)at various tempos, the Paul Gilbert lick at various tempos, sequences and scales, and some various exercises(steve morse stuff, licks from songs like Trilogy Suite, Sacrified, Technical difficulties). I just wanna know what I can do make my practice more effective and get results...Thanks guys!!!

Posted by: Todd Simpson Aug 20 2010, 12:43 AM

Hello JustReleased smile.gif I'm Todd and I'm an instructor here at GMC. Alternate Picking is crucial technique to learn and just takes a bit of training and practice really. I have a series of lessons on alternate picking on my lessons page and we do a live video chat every saturday from 2:00 pm E.S.T. 7:00 PM C.E.T. that focuses on alternate picking. Please do check out the lesson series (Up to lesson 20 now) and join us on saturday for our mini clinics.

If you can work through these lessons and start attending our saturday sessions, I'm sure you can break through and get over the hump and on to guitar val hala. smile.gif


Posted by: Azzaboi Aug 20 2010, 02:24 AM

My picking was really slow - smooth and in time till you throw speed into it, then messy.
I'm improving quite fast now, but I had to completely change the way I was picking.
People will say it doesn't matter about which way you hold the pick, etc, etc, they lie! It makes a huge difference!

I highly suggest getting a pointed pick or knifing your pick to be pointed.

The trick is...

Get a good thick pointed pick 1.14mm or more for playing fast. Too much flex in a pick works great at slow speed and strumming, but with alternate picking at speed, it doesn't resharp in time with the next stroke and will be forced from the hand.

Never angle the pick up or down. This makes it easiler one direction, but a lot harder the other. If you use to downstroke a lot, then you probably angle the pick upwards a bit to make it easiler, however when alternate picking this creates force to throw the pick off with the upward strokes. Your'll find it will start twisting left or right or even fly out your hand at high speed.

Which is the next step - keep it from moving left or right too much or at all (you can angle a little back towards the bridge). Doing this uses a larger surface area on the pick, slowing you down with more resistance.

Which is all about pick resistance... Use just the tip of the pick to play, this might take some time to learn and continuously do. The less amount of surface area the easiler the pick cuts through the string, the faster it will recover.

I use to play flat (horizontal) to the strings, sounds good but was slow for me. So I changed the angle of attack. Take a look at players like Paul Gibert. Rotate the pick so rather than your thumb pointing sideways it points almost down to the ground. Stop playing moving your fingers (a bad habit which slowed me down) and rather put it all into your wrist. For alternate picking, keep the pick almost perpendicular to the strings.

Almost never lift the pick away from the strings when playing. People tend to lift away from the string, your pick should stay inbetween the strings.Concentrate on maintaining the smallest amount of picking movement.

Slow down and learn to play without mistakes at first, speed will come naturally. Rather than focusing so much on speed and moving your pick as fast as possible, focus on 'Distance = Time', the least amount of movement to play the note the better and keep it in time it with a Metronome. Some people boost speed, but sound really crap doing it because it gets out of time! Speed up slowly untill breaking point (starts to get messy keeping the time), then drop off back a bit till you can do it perfect. Finish exercises doing it perfect, rather than messy and fast. If you practice fast and sloppy, why should you expect the next time to be clean and precise? Trained fingers are less likely to freeze up on you.

Don't spend too long on one exercise. It's like weightlifting for fingers, the first effort is tiring, but if you rest and then work out, build up, cool off, rest, then work out, build up, cool off, etc. Each time you will notice it becomes easiler at that speed and you can move up. If it's painful stop, don't push it. Don't want to damage muscles.

Posted by: jstcrsn Aug 20 2010, 02:33 AM

you- are right where i,am
and i find that i sometimes am not patient enough
have been playing solos like rainbow in the dark -DIO- for about ten year
so i can play pretty fast
but i have found lately that my slower routines were not perfect
you need to slow down to perfection
if you have a looper , this wiil be very easy
you need some outside the string patterns
you neeeeeeeeeeeed a metronome
the only way to get perfect is to play with perfection
start slow about 80 bpm 16 th notes- 4 notes per beat
the looper will help you quickly record and playback so you can hear just what you need to fix
you will need a good 20 second loop- and play perfect for at least that long
the hard part will be not going faster until your slower speeds are perfect
because when you go faster than you are ready for ,you will start to learn wrong - like i did
and then
you will not only have to eventually learn it the right way , but you will aslo have to unlearn the wrong way
and this will take longer then anything else
hope this helps

Posted by: Vasilije Vukmirovic Aug 22 2010, 12:39 PM

Most picking issues are due to the rhythm playing, so playing slowly with the metronome is the cure.
So, start from let's say, 70bps and raise it to 100, you will need couple of months if you do it right.
I know that you can probably play something at 180 or so, but that's not it, you must be able to play slow to really dig into fast stuff in the proper manner!

Posted by: Daniel Realpe Aug 24 2010, 12:55 AM

I think your alt.picking at 3:22 to 3:29 is really good,

that's the way you should always do it,

Maybe you are not using the rist enough? a little less stiffness would help

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