How to develop a light touch with the picking hand for shred?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by GuitarInnovations, Jan 11, 2019 at 9:58 PM.

  1. GuitarInnovations

    GuitarInnovations Member

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    I've made a lot of progress the last year or so developing my picking technique, but one thing that has eluded me is developing a light touch with the picking hand. I believe this may be the key for me to getting to that next level of speed, fluidity, and expression as a lead guitar player.


    Any tips, tricks, or exercises you've used to develop this light handed touch.
     
  2. Frankenstrat86

    Frankenstrat86 Supporting Member

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    Going to sound really obvious here, but it's really about training yourself to stay as relaxed as possible, and only using the amount of tension needed for what you're doing. Easier said then done, but that's always a common denominator with anything. I'm not sure what you mean by "light touch with the picking hand," but I can guess you're talking about tension. Thing is I pick pretty hard, but the muscles in my forearms, bicep, shoulders and neck are always relaxed, and my left hand fingers keep a light touch so I don't lose stamina or worse injure myself.
     
  3. vintagelove

    vintagelove Member

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    Step 1 - metronome


    Step 2 - loneliness


    Step 3 - success!!!
     
  4. Mark White

    Mark White Member

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    Jamie Andreas seems to focus particularly on posture, relaxation and suchlike. There may be something in her work that helps you.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtdN_FSNYkN2hNSKE5QFo4Q
     
  5. GuitarInnovations

    GuitarInnovations Member

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    Yes, when I speed things up I seem to increase tension in my hand.
     
  6. ieso

    ieso Member

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    Practice more
    Turn up your amp
    Light, small pick
    Smaller picking motion
    Focus on hitting the top of the string and not getting bogged down in the strings themselves.
     
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  7. Afcollett

    Afcollett Member

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    This, it’s a co-ordination thing between the left and right hands (or vice versa for lefties ) imagine a string that connects the two, it should be effortless, works best with economy or legato, with alternate not so much IMO where I want to hit the strings in a hard bluesy way, Steve Morse would disagree on that.
     
  8. JB_SC

    JB_SC Member

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    ^Mostly this.

    I say "mostly" because, with time, you will want to switch to a heavier pick, as it will give you more of an ability to dig into the strings when you need to. But starting with a lighter pick and working your way up should definitely help.

    Two other techniques that may help: circular picking so you can pick more smoothly going down and up, and working on finger picking for syncopation (just watch a flamenco guitar player to see why).
     
  9. ieso

    ieso Member

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    It's relative. What do you consider to be a heavy pick? These days I see guys with monstrous behemoth picks (17mm and such....literally, the thickness of some shredder guitar necks) and I don't see how that works. "Light" for me would be a 2mm jazz style. "Heavy" would be, like, a 5mm V-Pick
     
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  10. GuitarInnovations

    GuitarInnovations Member

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    I'm using a 3mm pick right now, and I like it. In fact, it may be helping me get that lighter touch, I don't feel I need to dig in as much.
     
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  11. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Set amp loud enough that if you pick too hard, it's uncomfortable; and when you pick more lightly, the volume is reasonable.
     
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  12. JB_SC

    JB_SC Member

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    So true.

    Since I started out playing Fender and Dunlop picks, they are my reference point. So, "heavy" in this context would be over 1.0 mm thick.

    I usually use ultex picks from 1.4 to 1.7 mm thick. I just got some of the Dunlop Flow 1.5 mm picks, and I'm really liking them so far.
     
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  13. ieso

    ieso Member

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    Those are pretty good. I use all sorts depending on the situation. For shreddy stuff the Jazz III black Ultex with the conical tip is amazing.
     
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  14. JB_SC

    JB_SC Member

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    The Jazz IIIs are a bit smaller than I like, though I used to use the carbon fiber ones. Oddly enough, the Jazz III XLs are a tiny bit bigger than I like. But the new Flow picks, just slightly smaller than the Jazz III XLs, are in that Goldilocks zone for me.
     
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  15. ivers

    ivers Member

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    Setting the amp so that playing hard distorts it while playing lighter keeps it quite clean is a good way of practicing this. I try to illustrate how this might sound here:



    For me at least, the lighter touch gives a preferable sound for most contexts, but the important thing is to gain control so that you can play what you find fits the musical setting you're in.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019 at 9:04 AM
  16. monty

    monty Member

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    When I feel I'm overgripping, I'll strum away at a song for a bit and then try plying some lines keeping the tension the same as when I was strumming chords.
     
  17. john beddoe

    john beddoe Member

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    You might like the planet waves black ice picks then, In between jazz iii and XL, Made of duralin
     

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