Speed picking and right hand position

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by RyanMcVicker, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. RyanMcVicker

    RyanMcVicker Member

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    So I have been getting pretty consistent and fast with my technique over the last couple years, but all of the sudden I got the idea that maybe my technique isn't proper and I don't want to continue any bad habits I may have.

    Do you guys brush your thumb against the strings as you pick as a guide or is your hand free floating in the air with only your palm on the bridge?

    People like Eric Johnson and Malmsteen look like their hand is picking in and out of the strings versus side to side, unless it's just the video angles playing tricks on my eyes... I can't seem to make sense of this, as picking side to side makes more sense for economy and speed... but I want to run it by you guys and see what you think?

    Thanks, and happy playing!
    (Haven't posted here in a while, but I've decided to make TGP my new hangout forum as I never really frequented a music/guitar based forum before)
     
  2. anderson110

    anderson110 Member

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    I think the only answer to this is that there's definitely no "right way to do it." We know this definitively because there are too many extremely fast and precise pickers who have very different techniques.

    Watch Malmsteen, and then watch Marty Friedmann. It's obviously a very different approach in terms of hand position and motions.

    There's speed demons who free-float entirely off the guitar, who put the palm on the bridge, and who slide their fingers on the pickguard as a gauge, and all sorts of in-betweens.

    Find what's most comfortable for you and work your butt off at it if that's your goal. I think that's all you can do.
     
  3. RLD

    RLD Member

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    Agree with the above...also what has worked for me is to not be hung up on strict alternate picking. Incorporate some legato and don't worry about picking every note.
    Whatever works.
     
  4. TDJMB

    TDJMB Gold Supporting Member

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  5. Seraphine

    Seraphine Member

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    The reason it may appear picking is in and out of the strings rather then "side to side" or alternate picking is because of the precision in alternate picking with speed. The movement of the pick is narrowed and very focused on the string, with little if any deviation or wasted movement.

    We often use too much movement while attacking a string and this affects the speed at which a note can be executed. The "time" it takes to move from one string to another... or even one note to another on the same string... the time involved in string skipping or arpeggio's... all are factors in speed.

    Refining our technique and efficiency is required. Focus on having no conflict is also required. No mental or physical conflict. This is why learning something slow FIRST is essential so that there is zero conflict when applying the lightning.

    Alternate picking will become natural and clearly defining and hitting every note will be the basic. Of course there are many other techniques, such as hammers and pulls and hitting a note repeatedly to create an impression of "speed"... I mean repeatedly very FAST... Such a technique can be noticed with careful observation of many players.

    Keep the fret hand fingers close to the strings, thus time is saved when needing to hit a note. Don't move the pick three string widths when striking it... zero right in on the string and pick it with outright precision and be ready for the next precise strike on a string / note. This is why it sometimes appear we are merely picking in and out on the string / note.. when in fact it is alternate picking with precision and very, very focused in execution.

    These things will become second nature... so don't sweat the practice or time it will take to master.. remember NO Conflict. Some favor or outright insist the use of a metronome.. Yet I've always found that learning to actually play fast and learning the technique should be the horse. Once you can actually play fast, then the timing can be refined. For clockwork I use a Yamaha Keyboard that can be programed to virtually any tempo / rhythms etc... including a standard tick tok metronome...

    Working with alternate and speed picking will bring you to arpeggio's as well and the "precision" still applies. Like drawing a straight line across strings in sweep picking. The wrist for short arps, like three strings.. and the wrist / arm for larger statements... Like the shortest distance between two points is a straight line... this is the refined and precise technique in sweep picking.

    There are many nuances and techniques involved yet these are basic, including a clear and accurate execution of every note. Then other techniques and styles and personalization can be employed.

    Resting the right hand on the bridge is relative.. just as a freehand is... use what is required, when so required... just like muting with the frethand as well as the picking... use what's required.

    *******
    [FONT=verdana,helvetica]Official website for Troy Stetina, guitarist and instructional author for Hal Leonard Corp, with over a million rock/metal guitar methods sold![/FONT]

    http://www.stetina.com/

    *******

    Troy has done brilliant work on all this... famous for ~

    Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar is a classic. It has become the guitar technique 'Bible' for shredders and aspiring players the world over who want to dominate on the guitar. Take your playing to a new level!

    .. as well as many other works.

    Check it out it's well worth it... I got that book when it first came out and it was well done. A brilliant book...

    anyway... Welcome to the club man...

    It'll be cool when you start asking about right hand technique and positioning regarding finger tapping.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  6. beorn

    beorn Member

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    In EJ's case it's no illusion. He has for years endorsed the idea of vertically lifting the pick away from the guitar slightly, during alternate picking runs, to create more variation in picking tone -- hence his term "the bounce technique."
     
  7. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    My two favorite pickers are EJ and YJM. I like their picking style and ended up with a similar approach since I studied them a lot. The outward pick comes on the string crossing or jumps. They do lift a bit more compared to more mechanical, strict alternate pickers (Dimeola, Petrucci) who are more consistent with inside and outside picking. As said, there's many ways though.

    I just did a lesson last night with a student and we were analyzing Fuzz Universe by Gilbert. He's such an amazing alternate picker. There's some 16th triplet runs in there which he picks flawlessly and it's tough. He picks so evenly with his technique, he does the opposite of what you're talking about, where his pick stays pretty even with the plane of the strings. Obviously some lift up is required for some string changing though. For me it's much easier to "Yngwie" it as I jokingly refer to that other picking style. PG is one bad mofo, with a drill for a right hand.
     
  8. Seraphine

    Seraphine Member

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    Ygnwie is brilliant. With the frets scalloped, pressing to hard makes for a sharp pitch, which illustrates how fantastic his touch is... outright amazing and expressive as good and well. I always view it as a touch right at the edge. A sort of mental manifestation... spiritual expression through a gtr.
     
  9. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Yes. I like how the strings play so effortlessly, like playing on air. So little friction. I'm pretty lazy and fret light, so I don't get much intonation problems. The vibrato you get from the scallops is cool too, can get very wide.
     
  10. Seraphine

    Seraphine Member

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    Hey Budda...

    Do you have one of the Yngwie signature Strats or a scalloped gtr of yours? I've long worked on touch but without scalloped frets. Do you recall about how long it took to get used to 'em?
     
  11. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    No I don't have any. I play them when they come in the shop where. Takes a minute to adjust. I guess I always only pressed enough for string to touch fret, not the fingerboard. But I don't do a lot of crazy jazz stretch chords on it either. That might be another story with scallops.
     
  12. RyanMcVicker

    RyanMcVicker Member

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    Thanks alot guys, alot of awesome advice in here...

    I think I am just overthinking it, I want to play things similar to YJM and EJ, but when i don't think about what I am doing i use economy and pick side to side with the side of my picking thumb brushing against the strings for a reference point... versus having my hand bouncing around in the air with no stability and only using a pinky anchor... I've tried to re-invent my picking hand to use a more malmsteen style of picking but It just doesn't seem like it works for me...

    Should I try to re establish my habits or just not think about it and pick the way my hand wants to?
     
  13. esptiger

    esptiger Member

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    DO NOT USE YOUR FINGERS OR FOREARM WHEN ALTERNATE PICKING!
    In order to have proper technique when playing fast use alternate picking and watch Paul Gilbert's technique. It's perfect. Yngwie Malmsteen sustained a hand injury, that is the only reason why he picks the way he does. Eric Johnson is a fantastic player, extremely versatile but his picking has gone way down hill, he can't pull off Cliffs Of Dover as fast as he use to.
     
  14. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I do like Gilbert's mechanical picking style a lot, but it's so robotic sounding. I really prefer both YJM and EJ's because it's much more zig/zaggy and unpredictable. I can only take so much of that real even, stacatto alt picking sound. I love when players mix sweep, circle, alternate, etc. It's more interesting sound to me. I find it helpful to move the thumb and fingers a bit with some of those techniques. Not so much for the mechanical picking though.

    If you watch Yngwie, he played like that before his injury. What happened to EJ? Tendonitis or something? I never heard anything like that.
     
  15. mleggett

    mleggett Member

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  16. Seraphine

    Seraphine Member

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    http://chrisbroderick.com/html/main.htm

    Chris is good player and you might like looking into some of his stuff... There's also some of his "lessons" etc on utube.... I don't think I mentioned him earlier....
     
  17. esptiger

    esptiger Member

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    Paul Gilbert is an honorary Dean and Musicians Institute, he know what he is talking about on all aspects of the guitar. His picking is designed so you don't develop these problems that us guitars tend to get.
     
  18. beorn

    beorn Member

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    It is when he wants it to be, but he actually emphasizes picking dynamics -- always has.

    This video is a good example of what I mean. Go to 1:20 and listen.

    Another point about Paul's alternate picking is that he always, ascending strings, does an upstroke on the next string up. That's key to his sound. Guthrie Govan makes it a point to use both upstrokes and downstrokes in that situation.
     
  19. willyboy

    willyboy Member

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    To the OP - Those are difficult questions to really answer without seeing you play up close in person. Assessing anyone's playing is virtually impossible on a forum. As someone already stated, I too believe there is no 'one right way' to do this. Lot's of seriously technical players with a variety of approaches. After decades of thinking about this stuff, working on various approaches and techniques, and watching and talking to other great players I've come to the following conclusions. I feel what's most important is:

    1) the hand position is not at any extreme angles,
    2) there is no discomfort
    3) there is no excess tension in your hand/wrist/forearm/shoulders (which often results in tendonitis, etc down the line) You can be taut in your muscles but still limber like an athlete.
    4) if you anchor your palm/pinky/or other that it doesn't interfere with mobility/speed/dexterity/tone production/etc
    5) if all this previous stuff is good, then it really comes down to economy of motion

    Ultimately, when you have questions like this, it's best to find someone who you think is a great player and can explain clearly how they do what they do, and get some lessons with them.
     
  20. willyboy

    willyboy Member

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    Yeah, Chris is a damn fine player. Impressive classical skills, too! Thanks for posting those.
     

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