What's your best advice for improving picking speed and accuracy?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by bluesman, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. bluesman

    bluesman Member

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    I'm not trying to be blindingly fast but I need to improve. Any tips on how to practice, pick angle, wrist movement, anything, would be appreciated.
     
  2. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Pick up any of the Steve Kaufman books and learn some fiddle tunes.
     
  3. sacakl

    sacakl Silver Supporting Member

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  4. AndyNOLA

    AndyNOLA Member

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    I am happy to share one thing that worked for me, imagine that the pick is a small extension of your index finger. Use your thumb passively to hold the pick in place but generate motion with the index finger only. Now instead of trying to move that index finger index back and forth across a string, try and develop what feels like an almost circular motion on some arpeggios or three note blues riffs, whatever you want....you will feel when this motion kicks in because a circle has a very powerful rhythmic, and you will feel it in your fingers when you are doing this correctly. Concentrate on that index finger....and think about drawing small circles. Good luck!
     
  5. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I'd say take a look at your hands when you play something fast to the point of you hitting your limit then play it exactly the same way slow and work accuracy into it and then speed. The main thing is to notice the difference between your slow technique and your comfort-zone fast technique.

    Many people use their "slow technique" and try to make it faster as opposed to realizing they might not naturally play it that way when do try and play it fast. You fast technique is like your go-to technique when playing something fast and can be VERY different when playing it slow.

    Here's a great example, notice Vernon's right hand when he's playing slow, long bendy lines, and then notice the drastic change when he speeds up and goes ball to the walls...it's plain as day. Now go out and watch vids of other great players and notice their different techniques for slow and fast playing...then notice in your own playing.

    Makes you wonder if Vernon could even play with that speed using his slow technique. He has his own comfort zone technique for playing fast.

     
  6. geetarplayer

    geetarplayer Member

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    "Speed Kills 3 is easy enough for an intermediate player, but challenging enough to bring an advanced guitarist to his knees." I'm sure glad I'm an intermediate player!
     
  7. xntrick

    xntrick Member

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    i had great success using the Stylus Pick, it took a good 2 months until i saw improvement but it was well worth it.

    http://www.styluspick.com/
     
  8. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    ecchhh...I don't recommend doing that at all. Because players that do that usually just trem pick when they change their technique. So they play slow or fast, but what about all that middle tempo. It should be a more natural position for all speeds and a lot of technique. So if you're saying to work backwards, and look at your fast playing and then learn to play slow, I'd agree with you. Yes some people do make it work. EVH, Santana. But their fast picking is only on one string usually because they don't want slop. Vernon OTOH....

    If you listen to his fast playing, he's in his "trem picking position" and his two hands are just not in synch. and he doesn't mute anything!!!!!!! Drives me nuts. It's the same way he played back in Living Color. he'll sound clean if he stays on one string, but he can't pick fast and do string changes. It reminds me of when we first tried and play fast and just go for it. The notes come out and the non guitar players think your fast, but nothing was clean.

    For the OP, I'd find the type of player you enjoy listening to and see how they do it. Every hand pick position offers up pros and cons. I like a lot of styles hybrid, chicken pick, circle pick, as well as typical alternate and sweep things, so I kinda thought it through and looked at players who were able to do all that stuff and use a similar position and movements. It really works too. The pick hand position is sooo critical for good exectution and muting.
     
  9. Tito83

    Tito83 Member

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    I'm a bag of bad habits, never had any discpline. I do ok playing some shreddy stuff, but I'm not by a long stretch a precise player. I recently joined a Mr. Big tribute band and was forced to take a closer look to my picking and I had a break through.

    To get the "Gilbert effect", that neat staccato sounding thing, I tended to play pretty hard, because that's how it sounded to me. What I realized was that precision and accuracy is WAY more important then strengh. I started to pretty much just scratch the strings with the pick and after a couple of days my picking improved a great deal, and the "Gilbert effect" was coming together. For me what worked also was to get a lighter touch with my fretting hand using the same idea, that precision is the key, not strengh.

    So, that's it... Precison, NOT strengh. Your hand has to be stiff enough only to be precise, but you do not have to dig in every note to make they come out cleanly.
     
  10. gennation

    gennation Member

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    All of this is exactly what I'm saying. I'm definitely not saying to pick like Vernon picks (that's his comfort zone) but for the OP to find his own fast technique and then develop his own comfort zone from square one biulding accuracy into it with building speed on top of it.

    And yes, I also mentioned going out to look at what ever favorite guitarist he might have and see what the difference between their slow and fast technique is.
     
  11. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    My picking accuracy started to improve after I practiced the Steve Morse picking exercise for a few weeks:

    http://www.stevemorse.info/tab/personal.jpg

    It's a nice sounding piece of music, so that motivated me to practice it - motivation is such a key to any successful practice. There is a lot of string skipping, so the desire to hear this nice bit of music forced me to pick more accurately.

    In my experience, with greater picking accuracy came increased speed. So you should focus on the accuracy first, and playing with as little tension as possible.

    After working with the Morse exercise, I was motivated to try even better sounding pieces to learn and play. Bach's solo violin Sonatas and Partitas were the next place to look.
     
  12. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I have a 5 part tutorial specifically for accuracy and playing clean:

    http://mikedodge.freeforums.org/play-this-to-a-metronome-series-picking-accuracy-t45.html

    Picking Accuracy Part 1: Even Attack, Warming Up, Due Diligence, Training Fido
    Picking Accuracy Part 2: Crosspicking, managing exercises
    Picking Accuracy Part 3: String Skipping, and waking up the picking hand
    Picking Accuracy Part 4: Pick Control and Skating on the Fretboard
    Picking Accuracy Part 5: Al Di Meola's Golden Suite Dawn, palm muting

    They will make your picking cleaner for sure. These are each mini lessons I use with students to get their hands to be able to follow the creative side of their playing. It is also a great tool for having them working diligently with a metronome. Which means...

    these exercise are to be played with a metronome!!!

    They increasingly get harder, so make sure you can nail the one lesson in your sleep before moving to the next.

    Enjoy and good luck!
     
  13. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Well that I agree with, it just wasn't clear.

    I have noticed too, that all these speedy players have their pet, go-to licks when they want to show off. So they've practiced them A LOT and it's become muscle memory more than anything. When Yngwie says he's improvising, he's really stringing together practiced licks, in different order.
     
  14. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I think something of importance to mention that hasn't yet, is tone. Listen to the tone, because your pick hand originates that and is a big factor on how you sound. Some of these guys play fast, but really have a bad sound because of some weird picking style. That's real important, probably more than speed. Like Michael Angelo, he alternate picks fast, but sticks his hand up in the air and consequently, can't mute the bass strings not played, or stacatto palm muted stuff. But his style lets him get a high speed for picking, just sacrificing other more important (imo) things.
     
  15. dhdfoster

    dhdfoster Silver Supporting Member

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    Agreed. Simply tightening up your elbow or arm and trem picking as fast as you can without regard to your hands being in synch is not actually “fast” playing IMO. I started on piano and to me it’s not different than walking up to a piano and just poking the keys with both hands as fast as you can. It you can actually play fast, you can play a melody like Mary Had a Little Lamb clearly and cleanly at 180 bpm. That’s different than hitting every note in that melody 3 or 4 sloppy times. I’d rather play slow than do that cheater fast playing, as it sounds terrible to me.
     
  16. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Sorry about that. This topic has always been hard for me to explain in test for some reason. That's why I used the extreme example of Vernon. But I think we are on track now.
     
  17. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    you never hesitate to denigrate established players.



    i've known vernon for nearly 30 years and my personal experience directly contradicts this reductionist assessment.



     
  18. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    to answer the op's ?
    offer yourself up to constant musical challenges.
    transcribe.
    learn music that wasn't written for guitar.
    avoid an idiomatic (lays well under the fingers) approach to the instrument.
    study with someone who doesn't play guitar. maybe a pianist.

    if you want more info, pm me.
     
  19. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    big star?
    easy target.
    where can i hear/see the fruits of your labour?
    vernon has the techniqur to express himself musically.

     

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