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Advanced Guitar Lessons FREE Blog Series

Picking

Great picking is an essential skill for the rock guitarist, it may just be the foundation of great rock guitar playing.

Established picking is everything. It doesn’t matter whether you like to play fast and fiery, or slow and melodically, great picking is a crucial element of great rock guitar playing so it’s incredibly important to dedicate study and time to establish this technique.

In the first instalment of this FREE Advanced Guitar Lessons blog series we will be taking a look at some of the fundamentals of great picking and how to apply them in advanced lead guitar contexts.

Picking Fundamentals

The Two Main Picking Styles: Alternate Picking And Economy Picking.

In the guitar playing world picking takes on two main forms: Alternate picking and Economy picking.

Has you read about these two picking approaches keep in mind that neither one of these picking styles is superior to the other.

I personally advocate economy picking because I like the way it removes excess movements, but I also know that it’s not necessarily which style of picking you choose that’s important, it’s how well you master it.

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Alternate  Picking

Alternate picking is when you alternate between down strokes and up strokes when changing strings.

If you are a playing an ascending scale from the low E to the high e that consists of 3 notes per string, you will start the scale with a down stroke then play an up stroke then a down stroke on the remaining 2 notes on the low E.

When you change to the A string you will skip under the A string to start with an up stroke, then play a down stroke and an up stroke on the remaining 2 notes on the A string.

This is the Alternate picking formula. You simply repeat this formula of alternating between starting three notes per string lines with down strokes and up strokes on all strings.

Economy  Picking

Economy picking is a form of picking where you lead with a downstroke when ascending and lead with an upstroke when descending.

If you where playing an ascending scale that consisted of 3 notes per string you would start with a down stroke on the low E then an up stroke and a down stroke on the 2 remaining notes on the low E.

You would then use the momentum of the last downstroke from the low E string to start your down stroke on the A string.

You would repeat this formula through all strings, leading with a downstroke when ascending then leading with an upstroke when descending.

This economy of motion is where economy picking gets its name.

The Most Effective Guitar Picks For Picking

Your pick is the starting point of effective picking. It is the conduit by which all your playing ideas will be channelled. If your pick is not designed for optimum picking potential, or at least the picking potential you want, then you need to find one that is.

The pick you choose to play with will either hinder or help you and either make or break your playing because you can only play as well as your pick will allow.

A good pick that will allow you to play and sound they way you want will be different for every guitarists. For some guitarists a flippy floppy pick will do just the trick, for other guitarists it will be a stiffer, thicker pick.

But when it comes to effective picking, the pick design that has been universally recognised as the one that is most likely to allow this is a pick that is pointed with some amount of stiffness and not to thick.

A pointed pick will allow you to glide from string to string with ease, it will also produce a better sound, and a pick with a certain amount of stiffness will not flop around, giving you more control and command over your picking.

The pick you choose doesn’t have to be stiff as a board if you don’t want it to be, but it must have some amount of stiffness because picks that are paper thin and very floppy just  wont allow the same picking command as stiffer picks.

A pick that isn’t to thick will glide through strings a lot quicker and easier and allow a lot more picking control. Thick picks require a lot more effort to pull and push through strings.

Also, a pick without a glossy finish and more of a tortex feel will be easier to grip and less likely to become slippery. I personally use Jazz H3 tortex picks made by Dunlop.

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Picking Mechanics

Holding The Pick For Optimum Picking Potential

Having the right pick is one thing, holding it is another. You could have the best pick in the world but if you don’t know how to hold it it doesn’t matter.

Holding the pick for optimum picking potential is crucial for effective picking. How you hold the pick can have a huge bearing on the ability you are able to acquire.

Holding the pick in an inefficient manner can cause picking problems that guitar players aren’t even aware of. The biggest one of these is snagging, this is when the pick is held at an inefficient angle to pick through the strings smoothly and as a result snags against the strings, disallowing any fluent pick strokes.

Another is when players hold the pick so the point of the pick does not point directly into the strings, instead its on a funny angle. This can also cause snagging.

The best way to hold your pick for optimum picking potential is on an angle to the strings, with the point of the pick pointing into the strings.

I also recommend holding the pick between the outside of your fore finger and the print of your thumb with about a centimetre or so of the pick point protruding for string contact.

Holding your pick on an angle to the strings will allow the pick to glide through the string as if it were slicing with every down and up stroke. If the pick is not angled to the string, and it falls flat against the string when picking, this can cause snagging.

Having the point of the pick pointing in to the strings will allow even contact with all strings on down strokes and upstrokes. If the pick point is on a funny angle to the strings it can cause snagging.

Holding your pick between the print of your thumb and the outside of your fore finger with about a centimetre or so of the pick point protruding for string contact will allow the most control over your picking.

Holding The Neck For Optimum Picking Potential

The way you hold the neck has a major bearing on your ability to not only play picking passages with ease and command but pretty much anything at all.

Holding the neck properly for effective execution is achieved by placing the thumb in the back of the neck inline with your middle finger and placing relaxed, tension free fingers on the strings with curves at each finger joint.

Keeping Your Fingers Close To The Fretboard

Whenever you play, be mindful to keep your fingers close to the strings. This is the most technically efficient way of building speed and accuracy as a rock guitar player.

Lifting, or “marching” fingers as I call them hinder efficient playing. They limit the speed you can ultimately achieve as well as playing accuracy in all areas.

Controlling The Tension Of Your Fretting Hand And Picking Hand

At all times while playing it is of immense importance to be constantly mindful of mounting tension in the fretting hand, picking hand and anywhere else in your body.

Tension is the killer of great guitar playing and it doesn’t just appear in your hands.

While playing be mindful that you are not harbouring tension in rigid, contorted fretting fingers or a rigid, contorted picking hand. Also be aware of tension build up in your arms, shoulders, stomach, neck, jaw and also be mindful that you are not holding your breath while playing.

Pentatonic Picking

jimmy-page-blues-rock-picking

jimmy-page-picking

Fast picking using the pentatonic scale sounds amazing and is an essential skill for the rock guitarists.

In the above licks we explore this concept with two Jimmy Page style pentatonic picking licks in the key of E.

Three Notes Per String Picking

dorian-picking

dorian-blues-picking

Fast picking using three notes per string scale passages sound incredible and are an indispensable skill for the rock lead guitarist.

In the above licks we explore this concept with two three notes per string picking licks in the style of Michael Schenker, Ritchie Blackmoore and Eddie Van Halen in the key of E.

For more picking licks you can apply to your own playing download your copy of my FREE eBook 25 Licks Every Rock Guitar Must Know.

If you are interested in guitar lessons then fill out the form for your FREE evaluation lesson by clicking the FREE lesson button below.

CALL NOW
To book your FREE evaluation lesson
0490 137 621

BECOME THE ELECTRIC GUITARIST YOU’VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF BEING.

By |2016-05-31T13:57:48+10:00September 16th, 2015|Blog, Guitar Lessons|0 Comments

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