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> Pentatonic Two Note Per String Patterns, Starting with an upstroke?
dairwolf
post May 9 2012, 09:44 PM
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Hey everyone, I´m really struggling with the pentatonic scale. I´d like to be able to play the pentatonic scale fast, but when I play it as a two note per string pattern and start with an downstroke, I´m rather slow. The extra effort you need to avoid hitting two strings at a time really kills it. Let´s take this pattern for example


d u d u d u d u
E-15-12----------15-12-------------------------------------
B---------15-12----------15-12-----------------------------

If you play it this way, starting with a downstroke, you need quite some extra effort to get from one string to another, right? For the first upstroke, going from the high E to the b string, you need to avoid hitting the e string accidentally when moving over it, and the same goes for the second upstroke.

My question now is: What about starting this with an upstroke? I´m not talking about economy picking, the picking motion would still be consistent, so I would play it like u d u d ....

The advantage of this way of playing is that you don´t have to worry about the extra noises when hitting a string you´re not fretting because you are muting the respective string with the finger of the left hand. (You do sometimes hit two strings at a time this way, though, don´t you?)

The negative aspect is that it´s very unusual to start with an upstroke, and also that you might encounter licks/ scales etc. were you will be forced to play it in the above way.

So, what do you think? Do you have any advice on how I can get my picking faster? Would you say you should never pick the lick starting with an upstroke?
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SirJamsalot
post May 9 2012, 09:51 PM
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The pentatonic scale is just a hard scale to master in terms of picking. It just takes practice and patience. If starting with an upstroke works, then by all means do it, but you really should be able to do it both ways. I know I neglected concentrating on learning to AP it efficiently when I first started, and it has been the bane of my existence as of late as I try to master it. Picking 2 notes per string is just more difficult than 3 nps in my experience.


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dark dude
post May 9 2012, 10:22 PM
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I believe that all the licks you learn should be practiced starting with a downstroke and then again, with an upstroke. If you miss a note while playing live, it'll flip the picking pattern (UDUD becomes DUDU, outside picking becomes inside, etc), possibly causing you to screw up.

Practicing both ways will add to your confidence, and as you said, it'll be hard to escape outside or inside picking if you try to avoid one of them.

People will find one harder than the other, either worrying about hitting the wrong string when moving to play the other one (as you are here), or feeling 'trapped' between the strings when doing the opposite, inside picking. Form very dilute drills, like you have here, to work on both.

I'd just say practice daily, to a metronome, with relaxed hands and be sure to keep a good standard of playing, try to play every rep. perfectly - perfect practice makes perfect. If there's a specific area where you're going wrong, analyse why, as you have done so here. Then create a drill that forces you to practice that same motion over and over until it becomes natural.

There are ways of getting around problems like this, you can include legato, start with an upstroke or use economy picking. I wouldn't try to dodge the problem, though. If you're happy with the sound the aforementioned 'solutions' create, that's great, but that problem of a weaker AP skill will still linger.

Also try other things such as slightly angling your pick, anchoring your picking hand with your fingers, changing thumb position on the fretting hand, trying to minimise pick movement away from the strings and minimise how far off the fretboard your fingers jump when playing notes. There are many factors that could or could not work for you, you have to explore them and with a bit of patience, see what feels more natural and works for you.


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Todd Simpson
post May 10 2012, 12:42 AM
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For starters, trying to run two note scales for speed is Noble, but frustrating. You can learn lots about picking, and it's good practice. But. Try three notes per string instead and watch your speed skyrocket. It takes a better stretch and more reach, but the mechanics of three note per string scales lend them to faster speeds IMHO smile.gif Here is a vid showing what I"m talking about. In the freeze frame you can see the pattern.



As for starting with an up stroke, Marty Friedman does it all the time smile.gif If it works for you, why not? Join me this Saturday for my video chat lesson if you can as we work on wads of Alternate Picking stuff smile.gif


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 10 2012, 12:43 AM


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derper
post May 10 2012, 12:51 AM
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Ha!! Todd, when I was in the vid chat the other day and mentioned that I had been working on some Walliman vids, that is one of them!!

Also, that represents the 3 notes per string shapes that until recently, I have been completely unfamiliar with.


QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 9 2012, 04:42 PM) *
For starters, trying to run two note scales for speed is Noble, but frustrating. You can learn lots about picking, and it's good practice. But. Try three notes per string instead and watch your speed skyrocket. It takes a better stretch and more reach, but the mechanics of three note per string scales lend them to faster speeds IMHO smile.gif Here is a vid showing what I"m talking about. In the freeze frame you can see the pattern.



As for starting with an up stroke, Marty Friedman does it all the time smile.gif If it works for you, why not? Join me this Saturday for my video chat lesson if you can as we work on wads of Alternate Picking stuff smile.gif



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Todd Simpson
post May 10 2012, 03:44 AM
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You learn something new every day! smile.gif Well hopefully anyway. I ran in to the same two note per string issues myself when I was learning scales. Seemed very choppy to play them that way but sometimes it worked just right for a given solo. But for what I think you are going for, the three note per string approach is really worth looking at. You can do this same idea with pretty much any scale once you know the pattern it's using. Harmonic Minor is a good example. I use a three note per string version of that as well for scale runs.

The really good news is, that this version of the scale will really help your speed and work your stretch so it kills two birds with one stone!

QUOTE (derper @ May 9 2012, 07:51 PM) *
Ha!! Todd, when I was in the vid chat the other day and mentioned that I had been working on some Walliman vids, that is one of them!!

Also, that represents the 3 notes per string shapes that until recently, I have been completely unfamiliar with.


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 10 2012, 04:09 AM


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Todd Simpson
post May 10 2012, 04:49 AM
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P.S. Derper & DairWolf, Todd here again smile.gif Is this what you are talking about playing? I made a short vid.



It's possible to do it at speed, but if this is what your talking about the good news is all it takes is wads of practice. But you can get more speed!

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: May 10 2012, 04:50 AM


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dairwolf
post May 10 2012, 09:33 AM
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Thanks for your answers everyone! Todd Simpsons, the video you posted exactly deals with what I was talking about (playing the pentatonic scale repeatedly on two strings). Now that I´ve read your answers I think I noticed that there´s some room for improvement for my picking hand!


(I really don´t know how to explain it though, maybe I should take photos? How can I upload photos to a post?)
I tend to hold the pick parallel to the string, in a 90 degrees angle. So everytime I do upstrokes on the e string to get to the b string, my pick will be in a position where it inevitably hits the b string if I don´t "jump over" the b string. I think this is the unwanted extra movement that kills it.

Now, if I hold the pick in an angle (I´m still figuring out how to do it, it fells kinda awkward to me, but I guess it´s just a matter of practice and getting used to it), so that the edge of the pick is kind of "facing" to my face a little more, I can do the movement without having to jump over strings because the pick will go over the strings anyway! Do you know what I mean? It´s difficult to explain.

Then there´s another thing I noticed, this again has to do with the angle of the pick. You can not only change it in one way (the way I described above), but you can also kind of "turn" it to the right a litte bit. I think Paul Gilbert explains how he does it in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpJNUGHxC3M

The part I´m taliking about starts at about 2:18. Do you get the idea? Todd Simpsons, you do hold the pick in a similar way, don´t you?
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Ben Higgins
post May 10 2012, 09:58 AM
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Hey Dairwolf.. another GMCer, Dinaga, plays licks starting with an upstroke too so you're not alone in that. As Dark Dude says, it's beneficial to be able to do both... if you're comfortable with crossing strings no matter what pick stroke it's on, your alternate picking technique will be more free and you won't have to 'plan ahead' or anything like that. smile.gif

One thing I would probably prioritise is to find out what your optimum picking position is before applying it to a specific lick and then trying to gain speed that way. Before shredding licks up and down the neck, everyone needs a good up/down tremolo picking technique.

(Don't let this confuse you.. a lot of people think tremolo picking is something different to a regular alternate picking technique. It's not. tremolo picking is just an old fashioned term to mean picking one note at high speeds.)

Without a good up/down alternating pick motion on one string, we can't expect it to suddenly appear when we start adding other strings to the mix. I would experiment with different hand angles/pick angles and just try to see which combination allows you to approach a decent run of speed picking.

In my experience, the angle of the pick itself is often dictated by the angle of the hand.. not only that, but I find the angle of the pick less important than the angle of the hand. The motion that drives alternate picking will originate somewhere around / above your wrist. The pick is just the final point of contact with the string. If you've found your way of picking, then that will over ride any advantages / disadvantages of the pick angle as the wrist motion is more powerful than the pick tip. Just look at Yngwie holding his pick parallel with the strings. So don't get too caught up with the pick angle part. When you find the right hand angle, the pick angle will take care of itself.

The one thing I will say about the pick itself, is to think of the tip crossing over the the other side of the string and stopping there. Not big sweeping pick strokes, just tiny movements where the pick tip almost moves itself. It's hard to explain but if you try and think of keeping the tip touching the strings as well as speeding up, you're making yourself play faster but with smaller movements. It's like imagining there's a magnetic field around the string and your pick can't move out of the field. Keep that in mind when you try to do faster pick movements. smile.gif

P.S. When you do 2 note penta patters (especially starting on a down stroke) you will need more movement to cross over the strings, it's just the way it is. Don't think that there's anything wrong with an extra bit of hand or even forearm movement when it comes to positioning. You don't want big movements when it comes to alternate picking, but when it comes to positioning your hand somewhere new to cross strings, that involves a bit of extra movement.

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: May 10 2012, 10:01 AM


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TuckerG
post May 14 2012, 08:37 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ May 10 2012, 03:49 AM) *
P.S. Derper & DairWolf, Todd here again smile.gif Is this what you are talking about playing? I made a short vid.



It's possible to do it at speed, but if this is what your talking about the good news is all it takes is wads of practice. But you can get more speed!

Just what I needed Todd biggrin.gif Thank you sir! Haha
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