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> Make Your Picking More Dynamic
Ben Higgins
post Sep 16 2015, 07:58 PM
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We all pick don't we? Unless you're Jeff Beck in which case you, err...... finger? So we all use the humble piece of plastic (or metal, tortoise shell, wood etc) in order to make our notes leap out from the vibrating lengths of string and produce a note or three.

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Many people stop at that. As soon as they get the hang of this down / up / down picking thingy they don't really look much further than that. Maybe they learn how to perform pinch harmonics but that's pretty much it in the way of using the pick for added expression rather than just basic 'make notes happen' mode.

But there is more, I tell thee. More. Beyond the green pastures, blue streams and distant mountains lie the more subtle nuances of pick use. Call them the dark arts. Only the most experienced of wizards seem to wield their powers but how does an angel eyed guitar apprentice unlock their secrets.

Well, look no further, young one. I present to you 5 approaches you can use to add spice to your tasteless dish.

1. Move your whole hand.

Sometimes, you've just gotta rock. The more energetic riffs and licks out there often require you to whip your wrist around and let the whole hand swing that pick into the strings with force and attitude. Not only is the extra movement giving you force but the more of yourself you move, the easier it is to get into the groove and feel that rhythm.

2. Move along the string.

Don't just stick to keeping your hand rooted in one place, as if it were stuck to the body with superglue. I understand that to many players, finding and developing their picking technique is something that is very precious to them and so they can be a bit over protective of it, scared to move their hand around in case they forget how to pick. Don't worry, you won't. Moving the pick along the length of the string will yeild different tones. If you combine this with pinch harmonics it will also bestow different squealy tones to you.

3. Mix up muted and non muted notes.

By 'muted', I'm talking about palm muting. Added a few palm muted notes to a lick can add extra fatness and attitude to the sound. As you hear in the video, I start the lick off without muting the notes and then add palm muting as it descends to lower tones which gives it an aggressive sound. The notes pop out with belligerence and purpose. Lovely.

4. Raking adds attitude.

Raking isn't just for sweeping up leaves. It's also something you can do to add a nice scraping sound just before you hit a note. It's essentially sweep picking. You sweep the pick through the strings but the key is that the strings are muted by your picking hand. In other words, when you sweep through the strings, it won't produce any discernible notes. It will just produce a popping, scraping sound. You have to un-mute the strings by the time you get to the desired note, however.

5. Learn how to make things sound staccato.

Yngwie, Richie, Uli, Marty, Paul, Michael.... they all know how to utilise the sound of staccato notes to great effect. Instead of having every note ringing for its full duration, you can use your picking hand to deaden the string and cut the note off. Making notes 'pop' out in this way is another interesting variation you can add to your licks. You could also combine staccato notes with palm muting as well.

All of this you can do with your pick. It's not just for going up & down with!

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Sep 16 2015, 07:59 PM

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