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  1. #1
    Eruption smme5150's Avatar
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    Default Did learning alternate picking driving you crazy?

    I have worked and worked at alternate picking and can never ever get it! I start to get it going but then I start thinking about it and screw up! It literally makes me all anxiety ridden while working on it because I can't freaking get it going!

    Two things seem to be stumbling blocks: first I seem to after a downstroke going to the next lower string ( down meaning for example doing triplets on the d string skipping to the g string when the first picking motion begins down) What I always want to do is down up down- down) when it should be down up down up! In my convoluted mind it seems natural to pick down twice going " inside" the strings instead of going over the g string to pick from the outside back up.

    The second thing is I can't figure out why that makes sense to go over a string to pick back up? It's like a mental hiccup for me. So I end up going with how it feels natural but it doesn't work to create consistent clarity and speed. Again it just feels wrong! But I really like the way guys that do it fluently sound if its used tastefully. I think Zakk over does it to where I prefer his No More Tears era playing than now! So I just want it to use sparingly.

    Does anyone else understand this? Have the same problem? Any advice? Driving me mad! I've never heard anyone talk about this situation.

  2. #2
    Sinner's Swing! evhintexas's Avatar
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    Aww the ol down up down down thing. Yep, happened to me. Don't just go with it. Work at and make it right. I was playing in bars and clubs somewhere around age 16. I stopped caring about it and had to just get out there and rock. If you don't fix it now, it may stick with you forever.
    When I was 16, I had been playing about 4 years. Many many habits and characteristics good or bad are still with me 30 years later.
    Last edited by evhintexas; 05.06.15 at 05:52 PM.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

  3. #3
    Sinner's Swing!
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    You know....two great songs that will help you immensely are the arppegiated lick in Cream's badge....the part just before the solo, and the intro to Skynard's Simple Man.
    now they are simple little arpeggiated licks, but they are perfect for developing a smooth picking pattern that encourages alternate picking. They are slow passages on record, but as you get comfortable with them, you can speed them up, and also play around with time signatures....especially Badge. You can also eventually encorporate double stops to it too.
    just a couple that helped me when I was learning to be more economical in my picking technique.

  4. #4
    Atomic Punk japeape's Avatar
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    Sounds like you might be utilizing a technique called, economy picking, where if you
    are picking three note per string type scales, you would pick: Down, up, down, down (as you
    change to the next string, below).

    It's like a combination of alternate picking & sweep picking.
    Economy of motion.

    Frank Gambale popularized it, and Dweezil Zappa uses this technique to play
    the complex Zappa stuff.

    For me, it was always strict alternate picking, though.
    I could never feel comfortable with the sweeping motion.

    I loved legato style, though.

    The fluid sound of barely picking, wth hammers & pulls, really sounds
    beautiful to me.

    I don't like that Zakk/Paul Gilbert/baseball card in bicycle spokes, tonality.

    Legato sounds more like a saxophone to me, the way the notes flow outward.

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  6. #5
    Eruption garbeaj's Avatar
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    If you want to learn more about picking in an entertaining and very useful way, check out Troy Grady and his 'Masters In Mechanics' series which focuses primarily on picking and his excellent 'Cracking The Code' series on YouTube. He has a website also where you can pay a subscription fee or one-time payments for lessons. He has worked harder than anyone that I've known of over the last 30 years to get a true understanding of playing complex and fast licks from many of the best technical players out there.

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  8. #6
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by japeape View Post
    Sounds like you might be utilizing a technique called, economy picking, where if you
    are picking three note per string type scales, you would pick: Down, up, down, down (as you
    change to the next string, below).

    It's like a combination of alternate picking & sweep picking.
    Economy of motion.

    Frank Gambale popularized it, and Dweezil Zappa uses this technique to play
    the complex Zappa stuff.

    For me, it was always strict alternate picking, though.
    I could never feel comfortable with the sweeping motion.

    I loved legato style, though.

    The fluid sound of barely picking, wth hammers & pulls, really sounds
    beautiful to me.

    I don't like that Zakk/Paul Gilbert/baseball card in bicycle spokes, tonality.

    Legato sounds more like a saxophone to me, the way the notes flow outward.
    Yeah...well buddy buddy is a pretty good sweep (or economy picker).
    He's a huge Becker and Yngwie fan. i told him about Gambale when he was learning it, but he didnt connect with him...plus his 80's video lessons are cheesy as hell!!! Lol! I admire the technique, but it's not for me...I could never pick that stuff up to where I could be fluid.
    Im weird...I don't even use a pick...just my index finger, and thumb tip and middle joint.
    the songs I mentioned were a huge help because they aren't so complex that they are daunting, and have a nice fluid chiming sound when played right.
    The thing is once you mentally know the patterns, you'll find you will naturally alternate pick without thinking so much.
    That's the stumbling block for so many learning a technique.
    Like thinking about walking down the stairs!

  9. #7
    Atomic Punk japeape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by we die young View Post
    Yeah...well buddy buddy is a pretty good sweep (or economy picker).
    He's a huge Becker and Yngwie fan. i told him about Gambale when he was learning it, but he didnt connect with him...plus his 80's video lessons are cheesy as hell!!! Lol! I admire the technique, but it's not for me...I could never pick that stuff up to where I could be fluid.
    Im weird...I don't even use a pick...just my index finger, and thumb tip and middle joint.
    the songs I mentioned were a huge help because they aren't so complex that they are daunting, and have a nice fluid chiming sound when played right.
    The thing is once you mentally know the patterns, you'll find you will naturally alternate pick without thinking so much.
    That's the stumbling block for so many learning a technique.
    Like thinking about walking down the stairs!
    I like the no pick sound, especially Richie Kotzen and (of course) Jeff Beck.

    I had that Gambale video, and it was even cheesy at the time!
    The technique, though, was pretty unusual & useful.

    I used to have all of those REH vids: Greg Howe, Paul Gilbert, George Lynch...

    My fave was the Richie Kotzen one, where he just rips with his left hand.
    Even when he would do fast arpeggio type sweeps, he's sweep downward (from low notes to
    high notes), yet just hammer-on, going back up (high notes to low).

    So he'd play these 5 or 6 string sweeps, but not even pick the notes, coming down.
    To me, that was brilliant & easier.

    He'd get the same volume as a pick, because his hammers were so strong & pronounced.

  10. #8
    Good Enough pickslide's Avatar
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    Learning a little bit of alternate picking definitely helps your playing, especially for ad-libbing or "faking" solos. I use it when I can, but often fall back on down strokes by accident. I also use (sloppy) sweep picking for, say, the beginning of the solo in Hit Me with Your Best Shot. I can't alternate pick that fast, because my right hand is shit.

    TK
    Last edited by pickslide; 05.07.15 at 11:25 AM. Reason: typo

  11. #9
    Eruption CalFB's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by garbeaj View Post
    If you want to learn more about picking in an entertaining and very useful way, check out Troy Grady and his 'Masters In Mechanics' series which focuses primarily on picking and his excellent 'Cracking The Code' series on YouTube. He has a website also where you can pay a subscription fee or one-time payments for lessons. He has worked harder than anyone that I've known of over the last 30 years to get a true understanding of playing complex and fast licks from many of the best technical players out there.

    Echo this. His series is awesome.

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  13. #10
    Hot For Teacher
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    If you are playing a 3 note per string diatonic scale just use two strings in the pattern(say the D and G) and play them for 5 minutes starting with a down stroke so you ingrain in your head when you go back to the D string you are starting again with a down stroke. Then reverse it and start with an upstroke and when you go back to the D you start again with an upstroke. I would sit with my guitar on my lap for hours watching TV doing this and it will get you to the point of not thinking as your muscle memory will take over. Then start running the scale from the low E to the high E 3 notes per string starting on both a down and an up as you want your up strokes to sound as strong as your down. Double picking each note of the scale is another good exercise for building stamina and really requires no thinking at all because whatever stroke you start on you are going to start with on all 6 strings.

    There are a ton of excercises and as some guys stated maybe you should buy a few books that really focus on picking/ Troy Stetinas- Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar, was a really helpful one for me and it is still in print. Alternate picking came pretty natural for me but I had to put in a lot of hours woodshedding. I also do not alternate pick everything I play as with any other technique it has it's time and place. If I am playing Blues or pentatonic based solos that really don't have a fast tempo I am just going to pick without thinking and there could be 2 or 3 consecutive up or down strokes or whatever just comes out feeling natural. A lot of shred style solos that have fast passages are usually worked out ahead of time by the player for maximum speed and some times two down or up strokes will be necessary to turn or keep a passage flowing.

    If economy picking comes natural to you and it feels more comfortable there is nothing stating you can't stick with it. Frank Gambale is a beast of a player and that is his bread and butter approach to picking and what he teaches. The worst thing you can do as a player though is to dwell on a technique and think about it instead of just playing. But I agree that you should workout the kinks and bad habits in your playing now or they will stick with you. But in all honesty there really are no right or wrong ways of doing anything as long as you can get from point A to point B smoothly. If you asked Eddie VanHalen how he picks the solo (insert solo of your choice) he would look at you like you had two heads, because he wouldn't be able to tell you. I can remember reading the earliest of interviews with him and he always stated how he hates to count, which is why so many of his solos have odd note groupings of 5 or 7 which also makes things sound so cool because it is outside the box!

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  15. #11
    Atomic Punk japeape's Avatar
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    Troy Stetina was awesome!

    I had that book & CD (or tape) back in Junior High.
    His exercises were amazing, as well as his playing.

    You know who's alternate picking i really like?

    Alex Skolnick.

    Been listening to Testament's "Practice what you preach" album, and i love his
    tone for alternate picking & scalar ideas.
    He mutes just enough, then tears into some legato.
    I love the way he mixes it up, unlike Zakk who picks every damn note.

    But Alex' patterns for fast picking are really cool.

    I love the solo in "Greenhouse effect."

  16. #12
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    I had a hard time with it at first. I was probably about 18 when I was told that my picking technique was all wrong, and I needed to learn alt. picking. I'd already been developing my bad habits since I was 15, so it was a bitch for about 6 months. Songs that I'd learned suddenly became a real problem to play, because I had to think about the picking now, and it was different than how I learned it. I was pretty religious about it for a long time, but over the years I've developed more of an economy picking style for certain songs, without even realizing it. I just happened to notice I was doing it about 5 years ago. Some songs it makes sense on, and some it doesn't. Somehow as I'm playing, I just subconsciously do it. I still alt. pick the majority of what I play. There is one song in particular that I must alt. pick, and if I do it any other way, it doesn't sound right, and that song is Lights from Journey. You must alt. pick the walk-down part of the guitar solo toward the end. It's a really good practice for alt. picking. I play the walk-down part vertically instead of walking it down the neck. I know that I'm probably not playing it technically correctly with my fretting hand, but it's all the right notes.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  17. #13
    Eruption
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    The day fast double picking clicked with me was the day before my guitar teacher had prepared a speech to give while dropping me as a student, telling me I just wasn't going to make it. Really. I struggled with it for a while, was not slowly progressing at all and then one day it just clicked. Since I was 14 it's one technique that has just always felt natural, at least for my right hand. Synch'ing up the left hand can be a challenge.

    Am I the only one who finds that using a new pick makes all the difference in the world? I round off the ends of my picks in one practice session, making them almost look like an equilateral instead of isosceles triangle. I use heavy or extra heavy and find that, when they're new, I can really shred. But they degrade quickly. I used to never throw picks away. Now I do so as to not have the worn ones always being the closest one to grab.

  18. #14
    Hot For Teacher
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    +1 on the Troy Stetina book. The inside/outside page is worth the price alone.

 

 

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