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Picking individual strings advice

outlawten5

Senior Member
Messages
2,675
I have a little ADD so sometimes learn a couple different songs at the same time. I have found picking with my fingers to the intro of Dead or Alive(Bon Jovi) to be the easiest for me. But there are some songs where that isn't practical. When I'm Gone (3 doors down) as an example. Is it best to play it slow and clean to build muscle memory and then speed up? Is that typically the best way to learn any new song. Thanks, I appreciate all the great advice I get on here.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,063
Slow and in time. Set a metronome to the fastest speed where you can play every note accurately, cleanly and comfortably. That might be quite slow. (You can always set it to click on the 8ths if it's too hard to follow when set to quarters.) It's important to get the rhythmic shape and feel of the phrase, as well as the right notes. Then notch it up gradually.

It's also good occasionally (especially if you have ADD!) to attempt it at the right speed, even if you screw most of it up - again it's about getting the rhythmic feel right. You have to know where all the notes are relative to the beat, even if you can't play them all cleanly yet. So that kind of "sketching out" at full tempo is useful, even if you only hit the notes that are on the beat, and miss some of those in between (you can fill those in later).

A slightly fumbled phrase with good timing generally sounds better than a phrase where all the notes are correct but the timing is shaky.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
14,741
Hello,

It can be helpful to isolate the mechanics from the song and work on them separately.

Here's a *general* rule that can be very helpful:

Pick in the direction of the next string.

If you play WDOA for 6 string (because it's actually played on a 12-string so the notes are different than a 6 string version), your note after the D is going to be on the first string - that's "towards the floor" from the D string so you pick the D "towards the floor" - down. Now the 2nd note, the high A on the E string is to be picked UP, because the note AFTER it is on the 2nd string.

It so happens if you play WDAO in this arrangement, you can actually keep Alternate Picking for most of the passage - but because of the string order, it still follows the "pick in the direction of the next note" rule.

If you played it on 12 string, the 2nd note is on the 3rd string.

So then, you'd typically pick Down Down Up Up - do you see why?

Now you can sometimes Alternate Pick passages like this to no ill effect, but sometimes if the arpeggio pattern is not consistent, or jumps a lot, other strategies are necessary.

Love Me When I'm Gone has some pauses in between notes, but you can still follow the general rule - Pick the A down becuase the E is on the next string "down" (towards the floor), the D string (E Note) would be picked down, and the B string (hammer on pull off jobbie) would be picked UP because the next note, A, is on the 3rd string. Then you get some alternation because it goes back and forth between the 3rd and 2nd string a couple times, even with the pauses in picking becuase of the HO/PO.

With pauses in there (pauses even with the pick not picking while HO/PO notes are played) it opens up some more options for reversing pick direction if you want or need to - for example, sometimes someone will pick something all down for effect.

But as a general rule, pick in the direction of the next string unless a specific effect is desired, or it causes some other unwanted entanglement (for example, having to do an upstroke on beat 1, which most people avoid in most cases).

If this is new to you, a good exercise is to just pick any chord and go from string 6 to 5 and back in an EVEN rhythm (as John suggests with metronome). Then go from string 6 to 4 and back (just alternate those two strings). Continue up to string 6 to 1 and back. Then you can work on different pairs. This will all be bother Alternate picking and "in the direction of the next string".

Next, work on 3 adjacent string patterns - strings 3, to 2, to 1 and back to 2, which when repeated, picks Down Down Up Up. You can also vary these like groups of 3 - 3rd string 2nd string 1st string then back to repeat, which makes it Down Down Up with a string skip back to the beginning (and, BTW, this "in the direction of the next string" becomes even more important when you have to skip strings).

Then you can try other common patterns like:

Code:
------------------------------------
---------------------1---------------
------------2--------------2----------
-------2--------2------2------2--------
--0----------------------------------
Which goes D D U D U D U U (the last one is Up because it's going to go back to a lower string to repeat the pattern).

This will start to feel very natural and you'll start to automatically apply it to patterns in the future without thinking too much about it. But if you're ever struggling with one, it's a good idea to break it down and figure out the best or most comfortable way to pick it that will keep it in time.

BTW, to practice, I recommend consistent patterns at first - continuous notes of the same length and a pattern that stays the same every time you repeat it.

HTH,
Steve

(p.s., that's not ADD at all - most people work on *techniques* when they're learning - which sometimes means learning a bunch of PARTS to a bunch of different songs, rather than any one song completely). I rarely ever learned a complete song - I just kept soaking up as much ideas from as many songs as I could - often to come back to a song years later knowing how to play it despite never having learned it as a beginner, because now I knew what I couldn't have possibly even attempted back then (or wasted a lot of time on!).
 

outlawten5

Senior Member
Messages
2,675
I do try to follow that picking pattern. Guess I just need more patience. Played both up to speed today and fairly consistently. I'll slow them back down for the next few days to get them ingrained.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
23,245
I have a little ADD so sometimes learn a couple different songs at the same time. I have found picking with my fingers to the intro of Dead or Alive(Bon Jovi) to be the easiest for me. But there are some songs where that isn't practical. When I'm Gone (3 doors down) as an example. Is it best to play it slow and clean to build muscle memory and then speed up? Is that typically the best way to learn any new song. Thanks, I appreciate all the great advice I get on here.
That's the only sensible way. The alternative... Play it sloppy and clean it up later will in the long run be much cumbersome
 




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