Alternate picking for blues

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by hhawkins, Jan 27, 2015.

  1. hhawkins

    hhawkins Member

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    I have been playing guitar for about 13 years now and felt that I picked it up quite fast as I already had been playing piano since aged 7.

    I started off playing Led Zeppelin songs which were great and I had a lot of fun playing those. As the years went on however, my playing style evolved into more of a blues style and I began playing more in the style of Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Robert Cray and a lot of the other blues greats.

    I can alternate between major and minor keys effectively and feel I can play over most chord changes quite well.

    Anyway, I'm getting to the stage now were I want to play faster. I don't mean I want to shred, I just mean that I want to be able to execute fast lines effectively over say a standard blues progression like Joe Bonamassa or Eric Johnson.

    I alternate picking naturally anyway, but when I try to go really fast it's like my hands just won't let me. It's nearly like I can't get them in sync with each other. I have also been trying to develop some good legato technique too for the same reasons I want to develop my alternate picking. I would consider myself relatively experienced overall as a musician but just need to try and improve certain areas involving speed. I know speed isn't everything, but its a handy thing to have under the belt when you feel like expressing yourself in that way.

    Has anyone else faced these challenges? Can anyone chip in and offer advice?

    Thanks.
     
  2. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Some advice I gave on another thread recently (given to me by a bass tutor a while back):

    Try practising scales (or licks) with your fret hand only, ie, using hammer-ons and pull-offs only - and do it to a metronome.
    Doesn't really matter if some notes are inaudible; the point is to practice getting your fret hand in time.

    We get used to thinking our picking/strumming hand is in charge of timing. But if the fret hand is not absolutely in sync, then sloppiness creeps in.

    Try playing something with fret hand only (in time), then see how it sounds when adding the pick hand back in. Worked wonders for me.
     
  3. hhawkins

    hhawkins Member

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    I'll give that a go! Never though of doing that. Thanks!
     
  4. Ubersooner

    Ubersooner Member

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    You've referenced players who happen to execute a great number of runs employing economy picking rather than alternate picking. EJ/Joe B. do a number of five note descending runs where they land on the down stroke and flow to the adjacent higher string with the same down stroke to begin the next descending sequence. If you study their techniques you will find quite a bit of that and related econo technique in their faster lines. Trust me, i've been where you are and it is a serious woodshed event.
     
  5. GLB98

    GLB98 Member

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  6. 56Tweed

    56Tweed Sub-Octave Member Silver Supporting Member

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    You might consider checking out the alternate picking course with TrueFire. http://truefire.com/guitar-gym/alternate-picking/

    On a whim I picked a copy of it up just to have some better warm-up exercises and I ended up finding that I learned quite a bit even though I've been playing a bit longer. I also found that the exercises seemed to have more impact than the runs I was trying.

    I'm also primarily a blues guy, but I found the exercises effective. After learning the technique I can chose to use it or not in a given piece. I normally employ "economy" picking, but at the same time, its nice to be able to go full on alternate picking if I needed to.
     
  7. blueworm

    blueworm Member

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    Also check out bluegrass/flatpicking stuffs. One of the best "school" for alternate/economy picking.

    Now the problem with lots of alternate picking materials is that it leans towards a high gain sound. It's of a totally different use with clean or crunchy tones. It's quite hard to control and keep it lively by varying dynamics etc... especially with a bridge single coil pickup. Eric Johnson is so great at that. He can pick everything and still sounds great.
     

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