evh fast picking

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by neastguy, Dec 7, 2004.


  1. neastguy

    neastguy Supporting Member

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    you know how evh does the fast picking on one note a zillion miles per hour? at any rate, I dont have problems (well with practice I can pull of some fast stuff, eric j style stuff) with fast triplets and quads but when it come to just winging fast on one note it seems like my pick doesn want to move.....what gives? any suggestion as to maybe it the pick or something that would increase my speed on one note...... I use a dunlop .96mm right now....

    or is just a matter of sitting there and hour a day until I get it...i find hard to believe after how long I've been playing that i cant consistantly do that one note thing up the neck or just sit on one note and alternate real fast....not that I plan on using it a lot, but its frustrating....


    any ideas, or do I just suck ....
     
  2. Mark C

    Mark C Member

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    Try this. Set a metronome slow and practice picking one note in eighths, triplets, sixteenths, quintuplets, sextuplets. Keep at at it and keep speeding the metronome up until you get where you want. Should work well if you keep at it.
     
  3. Dave B

    Dave B Exit... Dual Stage Left Silver Supporting Member

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    Guess you've never seen him do it, eh? The easiest way to describe it is to go get an old video of him. :D

    Otherwise, I'm going to try to provide a visual for you, and I may totally confuse you because I'm not sure how good this explanation will be. It seems his more recent tremolo picking stuff is not as fast, and it looks like his wrist position in the last decade or so is a little different than in his earlier, hungrier days, which is what I'm going to describe.

    First, he does not use his normal picking technique and just speed it up, which is different than most people's 'normal' anyway. That's another story for another time.

    He does use a light medium pick (guys, help me out here, but I think it's in the .50 or .60 mm range), and during his tremolo picking he does hit the strings at an angle to minimize the pick/string friction. He also holds it between his thumb and middle finger, and his index, ring, and pinky fingers are not tightly curled in, but are sort of out for balance. The middle finger and thumb are extended out and pointed in the same direction.

    OK, here's my attempted description. (Caveat: keep in mind the angles I'm using here denote the approximate positioning while looking at my own right hand, so adjust accordingly.) The wrist comes off the bridge about an inch, and his elbow is still in contact with the guitar. While the the pick is perpendicular to the top of the guitar (though slicing at the string), his conjoined thumb/middle is pretty much pointing almost straight down from above, slightly angled (maybe 20 degrees from the vertical). He rotates his forearm about 45 degrees away from the top of the guitar (radius side, keeping the ulna side down). At this point, the ulna side of the wrist is about an inch above the bridge, and the beginning part of the padded, fleshy part of the thumb is about two inches above the bridge. He keeps his wrist rigid, as well as his fingers. His speed for this single note picking bonanza comes from rotating his forearm from that 45 degree angle back down towards the top, maybe down to say, 25 degrees, and then back to 45, and back to 25, ad nauseam. The extended thumb/middle with the pick tip sticking out goes back and forth like a rapid pendulum, with just enough arc on its swing to not hit the strings on either side of the intended string.

    This is nothing like Al Dimeola's speed picking that gets generated from his elbow, while keeping the inside of his forearm parallel to the guitar top. Ed's forearm is rotating sideways, his forearm underside does not remain parallel to the guitar top, and his elbow is not moving.

    Next thing you know, you have those repeated single note explosions in Eruption, the intro to the solo to Somebody Get Me A Doctor on the B string, the background in the intro and chorus on the A note to ...And The Cradle Will Rock, near the end of Hot For Teacher on the A string's 19th fret, etc.

    I was showing a friend how to do this on air guitar once during my formative years, and thought it was so cool I kept doing it for a couple of months. One day, I decided to try it on my guitar. It took me a couple of days to get the rapidly rotating forearm to balance out and have the pick consistently hit the string. It may be easy for you to do if you already have a lot of fretboard miles under your fingertips. Once you get it, it's not that hard to do it with your index finger if you don't feel like shifting the pick around. For kicks, try it on two adjacent strings.

    I hope this isn't too confusing, but let me know if it is, and I'll try again. Then again, go get a video...
     
  4. neastguy

    neastguy Supporting Member

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    thanks for the input, I find it odd that I can do fast run but tremolo on one string is tough for me.....I will try the metronome and also maybe turning the pick for less friction, just hate that its not readily available, it seems when I play at gig its usually there when I need it, maybe cause I'm kinda pumped up in front of people, but at home that tremolo thing is like my wrist is in slow motion.....thanks again, I'll try those techniques...
     
  5. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    FWIW his forearm motion is part of using the joint of the thumb and fingers...kinda like the motion when you write with a pen...it's called circle piacking.
     
  6. markp

    markp Member

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    I have'nt got your visual down yet but,at one time I tested about 5 or 6 guys on trem picking on one string and what I found was we all ended up at the exact same speed and even with big effort over the coarse of a week we still were at same speed.

    Try it with a buddy or a student and see who is faster.
     
  7. Dave B

    Dave B Exit... Dual Stage Left Silver Supporting Member

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    You could also watch a mandolin player do it. They seem to have it down real smooth. VH's is much more aggressive, though others are faster. He is almost torturing the poor string beyond mercy with his smooth ferocity. But his form is limiting in that it is almost impossible to reposition your rapidly rotating forearm from one string to another, or arpeggiate, and not miss a note.

    The other methods mentioned by Ed D. and Mark C. are more practical for most guitar players. George Lynch has a really unique way of doing it, too (I've seen two instructional videos of his - don't know if they're still available). Lynch doesn't require as radical of a RH repositioning as VH does, so it's easier to go from normal picking to trem picking, and back to normal, than Eddie's. Plus he's wailing away with his left hand while his right hand is doing it's thing. He gets a lot of mileage out of his left hand stretch, so he gets more unique notes out of his process, as opposed to Eddie hanging on a note.

    I say, "Stylistically incorporate them all!" :RoCkIn
     
  8. Dave B

    Dave B Exit... Dual Stage Left Silver Supporting Member

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    neastguy, check out EVH's NAMM demo of his new guitar.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83gz7GVMUQg&mode=related&search=

    Right before the 2:00 minute mark, he drops into his tremolo picking for about two seconds that I described to you a couple of years ago. As you can see, this is not circular picking.

    You can probably look at some of his other live clips on YouTube for more extended versions of this. At the time you started your thread, was YouTube even available? That would have been a good tool to illustrate this technique.

    What's sort of weird is, that as much of a trailblazer that EVH was in an influential way, I've never seen anyone else do this kind of tremolo picking. This includes any really good bar/club players, plus the album-selling radio airplay guys from the Eighties. They all did it the tradional way, or a different unique way (i.e. George Lynch or Vernon Reid, who come at the string from underneath it at what we would consider a reverse pick angle).
     
  9. ryanformato

    ryanformato Member

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    A good book to work on speed would be "Speed Mechanics for Guitar." I highly recommend it. For starters, here is a good exercise you should work on. It must be done with a metronome for the QUICKEST success.

    -15-0-0-0--14-0-0-0---12-0-0-0--11-0-0-0--12-0-0-0- 11-0-0-0---
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------


    -8-0-0-0--7-0-0-0---5-0-0-0--3-0-0-0--2-0-0-0- 3-0-0-0---0000--
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Do it in 16th notes. You will be flying in no time. I recommend picking from the wrist as your elbow can lead to damage in the future.
     
  10. Yngtchie Blacksteen

    Yngtchie Blacksteen Member

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    Actually, Al Di is very specific about using wrist motion for fast picking, he states this in his instructional video.
     
  11. Dave B

    Dave B Exit... Dual Stage Left Silver Supporting Member

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    This may work for speed, but really has nothing to do with Ed's technique here. You could almost file Ed's single note high-speed torture under his 'gimmick' folder.
     
  12. Dave B

    Dave B Exit... Dual Stage Left Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm not going to dispute (this was supposed to be a thread to answer neastguy's question, and I'm an Al fan, but not quite a devotee), but did you notice how he starts the motion at the elbow, and it transfers down through his forearm to the wrist? He can do the short fast passages with just wrist and fingers, but for those extended ones, it starts at the elbow. At least that's what I saw live.

    BTW, didn't mean to start anything off-topic when I mentioned some of the other players' methods for fast picking. I just wanted to give folks who had never seen Ed a reference that he doesn't do it normally, or circularly, or from the wrist, or ... etc. The way Ed does it isn't really conducive to changing notes with the left hand, but just keeps the one note going and changes it every now and then, like at quarter note speed.
     
  13. PAF

    PAF Member

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    getting the thumb-middle finger fluid back & forth picking motion is the key - almost like violin/cello vibrato movement only with your right wrist
     
  14. Dave B

    Dave B Exit... Dual Stage Left Silver Supporting Member

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    Exactly! It's just like a high-speed pendulum that at its lowest point hits the string. On the way down and on the way back up, the arc of its sweep misses the adjacent strings.
     
  15. cram

    cram Member

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    I was searching on this section of TGP for other things and this thread came up in search results. This sort of tremolo picking is something that came easy to me at a young age and I've always been able to do it and I've explained it to a couple people who couldn't do it and within a day they had it.

    I will revive this thread. Oh yes, it is alive and it speaks now...

    :RoCkIn

    Two visuals -

    Y'ever dip?? - You know how to tap the can right? You whip that thing between your thumb and middle finger and your index smacks the top of it when you reach the bottom of your whip motion. We're kindof doing this motion back n forth and in a tight circle when picking like this.

    (note - the first guy I showed this to had a constant lipper in his face so it was my common ground with him... He's since smartened up a bit and doesn't do it anymore. )

    Tap The Table - This exercize is the one that most easily gets people to understand the technique, I've found..
    • Put your picking hand flat on the table.
    • Then lift your palm up about one inch with your thumb and ring finger still touching the table. (you could use any of your fingers, but I find the best balance for this example is the ring finger)
    • Now wobble your hand back n forth so you can tap your thumb and ring finger like a double bass pedal pattern. It doesn't matter that your rest your forearm or not for support. I don't out of habbit when I try this...
    If you can get this motion to flutter correctly, curl your thumb and finger inward toward forming a pick position so you're now 'scratching' the table.

    this migration from tapping the table to picking the table should get most people there.

    A few points I see in other posts -
    - Again, using your forearm as a standard does help, but isn't absolutely necessary.

    - Using a metronome will not be much help in this method. I am a HUGE proponent of a metronome, but this is a shaking motion that is controlled by tightening your muscles/tendons etc.. to throw your hand back the other way. Remember - I said 'much' help. I suppose you could take this hack trick into precision and pefect it, but I doubt mr vh thinks of it this way..

    - These points are RIGHT on!
    - This does work wonderfully on a mandolin as the strings are closer together so tremolo picking chords sounds amazing.
    Personal Note - I'll never forget the day, the room, the smell, the bootleg copy vhs video of the US festival I had where I first thought to mimmick this. Not that it was some profound moment at all, it was just early on in my playing history and MAN: my parents were not happy with having to listen to "tremolo kid" walking around the house with his guitar...

    coffee's done.
    back to work.
    cheers!
     
  16. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I've never heard EVH's playing describes as having fast picking! He picks very little. But the trem picking where he fans his wrist over the strings is not hard. I wouldn't recommend doing that, as it's limiting your speedy picking to only one string. He can't do fast picking run with and string changes.

    He had to do it that way, because he holds pick with his wrist locked tight and can't pick fast his normal way.

    That's why about half his solos have that sliding trem pick thing where he goes all the way on the same string, he does that lick too often. Learn to pick properly and be able to do it over all the strings so you're not locking into playing the same thing.
     
  17. cram

    cram Member

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    agreed that it is a short trick and perhaps overused, but it does sound cool in context and is worth giving it a whirl. You can also move over to other strings with limited phrasing in my experience. It's just a cheap and easy trick to play with once you figure it out.
    evh is the first to disclaim any expert or exact science to what he does. he even said this during his latest ramblings at namm.
     
  18. Dave B

    Dave B Exit... Dual Stage Left Silver Supporting Member

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    When he picks 'normally' (normal to him is with the pick between the thumb and first two fingers, with the 3rd & 4th finger curled into his palm, and paying no attention to his whammy), he is quite quick, and can get all around from string to string without any seeming deficiencies. He's not all hammer-on/pull-off, ya know?

    Of all the pro and barroom guitarists I've seen since Ed came out, I've never seen anyone do it with exactly the same form as he does it, other than myself (not bragging here, because it really is limiting to me almost to the point of being a gimmick). The one thing I have to be aware of is doing it while bending the target string, trying to keep the pick from hitting the adjacent string the bent string is approaching.

    Here's a visual for you. Back on the Fair Warning tour, he pulled this stunt off during his unaccompanied guitar solo. He barred the 12th fret with his LH index finger. He started his RH tremolo picking on the high E string, moved his remaining three LH fingers around all over the string up to his highest fret, and changed notes with his left hand as fast as the pick hit them with his right. Now, if that alone isn't enough, he then started doing it across the remaining five strings, but never stopped on any one string for more than a fraction of a second. Talk about a pure 'sheet of sound'.

    I saw him five times since then, and have never seen him duplicate this feat. It was truly a sight to behold and listen to.

    Here's something cool - try it on two adjacent strings instead of one like Ed does. It adds some variety.

    Amen. Agree'd 100% I think by most of the cats here. Proper trem picking doesn't involve the radical repositioning of your picking hand like it does for Ed, and allows you to smoothly include it in your repertoire.
     

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