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post #16 of 47 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 02:50 PM
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems


I actually love discussions like this, much to the shegrin of some teachers and friends I know who don't like the notion of "thinking" our way out of these log jams. I inwardly counter that as humans, it *IS* our ability to THINK that enables even those of us without some natural gift a shot at making things better.

I think I see what you're getting at, and the truth of course is that whether or not it works for you is a '"time will tell" thing. Anything like this that seems to feel good and makes sense, you have to give a good month or so just to see whether it truly works. I'm sure you'd agree its a safe bet you (a) will go through MANY more cycles of refining this thinking while adding/subtracting different moves, and (b) occasionally getting a bit frustrated at the whole process and backing away.

I will add this to the pile of confusion/solutions, especially the part about how different it would be were there only one string to worry about. Over the past year, amid much online exploration and some help from online instructors, I've looked carefully at everything I do on the guitar, particularly the right hand work. I've continuously looked and watched to honestly see and hear what works, what could work better, what doesn't work, and what I could do differently about the things that don't. As you can imagine, and are seeing yourself, its that last part that often seems endless.

Now over time some of the problems I'm successfully solving (but by no means have FINISHED) include things like making my picking on lower strings as fluid as picking on the upper ones, and improving my control and alt picking. Some of the specific things I've done along the way include keeping my picking angle constant (by moving my arm/wrist when its time for a string change), and distributing the job of picking over more muscle groups, targeting some weak muscles I inwardly believed were being underused., and picking lighter and constantly without "digging in". Of course the the whole issue of changing strings is important, but on honest assessment I was shocked at how much ground work I needed to do first, just to continuously play any individual note on any string at any tempo in a relaxed and consistent manner. Funny how the obvious can elude my brain for so long.

But having gained some good ground improving the basics, the first thing I've worked on in the "changing strings" category was to make my "outside" ALT picking as fluid as my "inside" alt picking. As I mentioned, when I discovered that unlike 90% of other guitarists I had always found "inside" picking easier, that made me realize that technically they are both identical mirror images of each other, so it HAD to be POSSIBLE for me to equalize them. I honestly have to say that this was a true case where a lot of my friends were right. If Inside and outside picking both have the same "problem", and are just the reverse of each other, then clearly I had to start by substituting simple "BELIEF" for some of my thinking. You wouldn't believe to what lengths I had gone to avoid "outside" alt picking! I had actually re-arranged all my scales to have an even number of notes on any given string, just so i would never have to reverse. Well that turned out to be a good left hand exercise, but it was as if i just abandoned the idea of actually fixing the problem. And perhaps it WAS a problem for some unknown reason at one time, but over the past year I seem to have mostly fixed it so that they are now equally easy (or equally difficult depending on whether I'm having a good or bad day).

Now in doing this, and I don't know if its helpful or not, a couple of things I've done have seemed to be winners. First, I mentioned I'm trying to concentrate on using my arm when its time to change strings, mostly to keep my picking angel constant. I've also been trying to use my thumb and first finger to do some of the pick motion, mostly to conserve wrist motion and pick lighter (less energy means more speed and less fatigue). And finally, I've added an exercise I got from an online teacher, which is that when I play a scale (this is at lower tempos), I make long wide motions with the pick after each note. The teachers original intent was to reduce tension, which it does. But just as important, there is no way you can make a big motion without hitting the next string unless you make each pick move in a slight upward direction, as you already acknowledged. The result of that, even on one string, is a kind of "figure 8" motion of the pick in 3 dimensions if you analyzed it with a camera. That motion, which makes you avoid the next string in your wide motion, is also teaching your hand to alliterate pick! Further, its probably not the kind of thing you could think about at higher tempos, but it is the kind of thing that your hand just gets used to doing. The specifics of whether you should move your hand off to the side as you do this, or which muscles are actually doing the work is a hard matter to nail down, because you can do a a million things in a way that is wrong for you at the slow tempos needed to learn new moves. One thing I do (which at least one teacher also mentioned so that my thinking was confirmed) is this. When I'm at my best and playing my fastest (the days the wind is blowing the right way I guess), its good to look at yourself in a mirror and see what you're doing. Sometimes the motions you already make when you're playing fast (even if its something simple) are valuable to try to apply to your slower practice work.

And slow remains a huge key to playing fast! At least for me all this has meant that whatever else I'm practicing, I need to spend time working slow enough that I can keep all these motions and corrections in mind. Its literally meant being willing to start over, in order to learn to be a better player this time. I've been playing 40 years so that's saying a lot, but I'd encourage you... taking things apart this way has given me more improvement in the past year (at least technically) than in the last 15 combined!. And yes, there is still the chance of setbacks, that some motion essential to YOUR playing may get overlooked. But if you keep at it, and make sure you try everything for at least a month to see if its making any difference at all, you will make progress here! Work slow at these moves you're learning and trying. Remember, working slow on the metronome doesn't mean you actually pick or move slow. You're still practicing each move as a sudden motion, as if you were playing insanely fast.... but there's just more time in between each move. Time to absorb what you just did.

Now just sharing here, MY next personal dilemma/project at the moment is not so much changing strings when there are multiple notes on each string. that still needs work but is coming along fine. My big hitch is what to do when there is an arpeggio involved that requires you to either alt-pick your way across the neck, suddenly switch from alt picking to a sweep, or (again) re-arranging all my arpeggios so they can be done with long left hand reaches that avoids having to play one note per string across several notes. This subject is one I've seen discussed and argued more than any other!!To *ME* it seems that if your alt picking your way up a scale and then suddenly need to come down 3 or 4 notes on as many strings (an arpeggio, usually), then a sweep would be most efficient, and has the best chance of "keeping up" with what I can do on just 1 string. But there seems to be some serious mental block going on to making it work, and I haven't figured out yet. Consider the seemingly simple move of picking a 4th interval between two strings, lets say a "B" note on the 5th string and an "E" note on the 4th, in such a way that you hit each note twice. You'd think it would be hugely easy to just play B-E in one direction, and then reverse and pick E-B in the other (B-B-E-E-B-B-E-E etc).. From a motion point of view that sure seems to be both ideal and easy. In practice, not so much. Stay tuned! :-)
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post #17 of 47 (permalink) Old 10-19-2012, 12:00 PM
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

Here's a new twist on all this. More and more I'm beginning to believe that its BEST if your hand can figure out for itself the best way to cross strings, but at the same time I've found that forcing the hand to do it just doesn't work. But here's an interesting discovery. Most of the time if I just play two notes as fast as possible, it goes smoothly even at very fast speeds, and that is true whether I'm playing 2 notes on the same string, or 2 cross string notes with inside alt picking, or outside. By extension, I've tried this with 3 notes too, but 4 starts to give me trouble. So this tells me that over years of playing, my hand, wrist, whatever, must know how to cross over strings, but somehow my hand must get disconnected from the part of the brain that controls instinctively after a few notes, and instead connects with the part of my brain that is consciously thinking of what to play next. Obviously you need both to play, but the latter is probably getting in my way. I also know there are two kinds of muscles cells, one type for speed and another for endurance. So it stands to reason short actions, and short sequences of actions are probably exercising the muscles needed for speed better. I'm going to continue on these groups of all combinations of 2 and 3 notes for a while, and see it I can slowly add notes. I did have a jazz teacher once that made a science of charting out all combinations of short note sequences. He called them 'formations". But at the time I never got to the point of trying them at higher tempos to make a different part of my brain and unconscious muscle memory take hold of them.
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post #18 of 47 (permalink) Old 10-20-2012, 05:51 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

Thank you very much for your answers! I actually did make a lot of progress, even though I am not 100% "there" yet. Right now I am having some new questions, maybe you can help me again.

First of all I realized that even if I DO hit the next string at the wrong side after doing an upstroke, the pick will eventually go up at the end of the movement. This is also true if I am strumming chords. The point I am trying to make is: I am not only doing a side to side movement, but there is alway also the up - down - mevement mixed in it.

This made me realize that the problem is not actually getting the pick up at any point of the movement so that it can get over the next string, but getting it up EARLIER within the movement!

I was also lucky enough to find a Pual Gilbert video where you can clearly see how he does it. I am not yet allowed to post links here, but if you search "Paul Gilbert Alternate Picking Lesson" on youtube, you will find a video where he sits in his home and shreds a little in the beginning. If you jump to around 6:00, there is a closeup of his picking hand. At around 6:10, he does upstrokes and exaggerated the movement. There you can clearly see that he hits the string in a certain angle, so that it gets over the low e string, right?

One problem I am having right now is figuring out the following: I can do an upstroke on the a string with the right angle, but then the pick is not moved far enough so that I can hit the next string with a downstroke on the outside!
I think I have to "see" it as two movements again: On is the movement to get the pick in the right angle, which you do by rotating your wrist (you could also say you are lifting the part of the hand that is facing you, or the end of the thumb, right? In the PG video it looks like it.)
The other movement would be the movement from right to left, which I canŽt explain pretty well...

Do you have any idea how I can solve my problem? I know this might be repetitive, but I actually think that I made some progress. At least I can describe it all in a different way than before.

Thank you!
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post #19 of 47 (permalink) Old 10-20-2012, 12:47 PM
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

Its maddening isn't it? LOL! Well I'll look at the video and comment later, but just based on what you said I'll mention SOME things. First of all, for me at least, I've never had much luck picking by rotation of the wrist, even though it SEEMs like the perfect solution to combining back/fourth with up/down. I have seen players make that work, but it almost seems like doing that requires a totally floating hand, with no pivot points or reference rests at all. Like I say, I'll look at it.

I can say that although I have little interest in shredding, I do like fast picking like you might hear in fast jazz or bluegrass, and over time I have discovered that with practice I can play at upper tempos ( which to me is 4 notes to a beat at 132 and beyond, up to maybe 160 tops) MUCH easier than I can play what I'd call medium tempos, from around 100 to maybe 126. Easier at the faster speed? Why? Well of course maybe I'm playing simpler riffs at the higher tempos, which shredders seem to also do (I don't hear any lines like Charlie Parker would play at 160!). But more important, past a certain tempo there is (for me) a natural conserved motion since I don't have time to swing the pick very far. So then, with the problem of not over picking out of the way, I guess even the string crossings go easier. But see, I'm saying "I guess", which means that I've managed to get my hands to figure out how to do this some, over many years, and my hands refuse to tell me exactly why that works.

But here's the maddeninging thing... there's a LOT of good music in those medium tempos, and there I have tons of trouble, for the same reasons you describe. At the MEDIUM tempos, it is way too easy to swing too far with the pick, so that now even playing notes on ONE string, I have to add too much tension to prevent the sloppiness, doing all kinds of convoluted things to try to avoid hitting the next string. tension quickly makes me tired. And practicing with tension works for a while, but is only reinforcing a BAD habit.

Now I've been consulting with a teacher on some of this, and I know he wants me to simultaneously pick with smaller motions AT those medium tempos, BUT without RESTRICTING the motion through tension. AND, to make matters more difficult, he also wants me pick each not just as quickly and with solid authority (no wimpy picking) regardless of the tempo.

Needless to say, though I'm thrilled I HAVE developed some ability to do this naturally at the higher tempos, I have a lot of work to do, and I'm going to HAVE to do this work at low enough tempos that I can really let my hands "find" out how to put all those things together. I have literally worked on getting high tempos to work for so long, I've left myself weak at the medium tempos! He did suggest that if I find an upper tempo that works for me, by all means try to "pull back" what I'm doing into lower tempos. When pressed though, he too admitted that everything changes at higher tempos, so that there may be a whole different hand shape that works, and that he too finds the middle tempos a challenge.

But he also said, and I must agree, the only way to get all those picking motions happening at the same time and eventually becoming automatic is to practice at lower tempos. So where I might normally start by forcing the issues at 4 notes per beat at 104, it's important to work at 2 notes per beat there if I really want to make solid and permanent improvement at the mid tempos. Thats why he stressed that you have to attack the string with the same speed and authority even when I do play slow, otherwise I'm just letting myself off the hook, and I'm really not working!

Anyway, that's a whole bunch of stuff, so I'll hold off on more till i see what you're talking about in the video.

Also, what tempos are you focusing on? Since I've learned how different my own hands operate at different tempos, I might be able to better tell you what works or doesn't ( at least for me ) at those same numbers. I see more and more that there definitely is not a one-size-fits all formula that works for all tempos!!!!!!!!!!!!
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post #20 of 47 (permalink) Old 10-21-2012, 10:04 AM
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

Just a brief added commentary about the video you mentioned. First of all I don't agree at all with Paul Gilbert about making your pick angle diagonal (as opposed to parallel) for the purpose of getting a raspy pick sound (what he calls "cello' like). Though it does explain a lot of the sound I hear in metal, its not my thing. I personally do have a similar pick angle, but I did it purely lower the picking resistance so I could play faster with greater ease. But as soon as a pick gets rough and scratchy, it goes in the garbage. Like I said... just me. AND, I can say that as my control is improving, that picking angle is changing slightly back to parallel, purely because I like the cleaner picked sound.

Second, i think I see what you are talking about how the pick angle changes, but remember that is at a lower speed! I think there a major problem in learning things like this, especially in youtube withe the less than "eye speed" frame rate. That problem, as I described in my last post, is that things change at high tempos. The hand / wrist motion, the exact muscle groups, and a lot of things too subtle to see happen past a certain tempo. This means that what works at 160 may not work at 116, and vise versa. That's important, depending on whether you want to be able to play comfortably at ALL tempos, or are just targeting the "waw that guy is freekin awesome" tempos. :-)
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post #21 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 12:52 PM
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

Hi, I played for 8 years now with mainly quite bad technique in my picking hand until I fundamentally changed the way I hold my pick (not straight, but at an angle to the bridge), how I hold my hand (fingers almost into a fist rather than stretched out or even rested [I think rested fingers give too much problems with string crossing], which gives me more control) and doing every string crossing as an outside pick especially if it feels awkward or even painful.
I had the habit of economy pick virtually any string cross so I was quite good at inside picking but absolutely terrible at outside picking.
Furthermore my upstrokes were just extremely weak compared to my downstrokes which all resulted in a dirty, sloppy and uneven sound, especially when playing fast (I am kinda aiming at Gilbert's speed and strong pick attack, which I just love).

I then started to simply slowly upstroke everything until I had an even picking speed between downstrokes only and upstrokes only (which hurt A LOT in my forearm after even just some upstrokes) and it really helped because you really have to learn to get your pick up (or down) again without touching the string twice. This way I learned not to "pick through" (-> pick behind string) the string, but just pick and "lift" it. Just by having this control to "pick through" a string for alternate picking on the same string, or "pick lift" when you have to cross down or up, makes it much easier to deal with that problem.
That is also was Gilbert is doing at 6:00 in your video. He upstrokes and then "lifts" his pick to cross on the lower E String to downstroke. He couldn't do that if he were "picking through" with that upstroke.

Also I began to make extremely big picking movements (I am a wrist picker, so I mean wrist movements here, not forearm movements)) with every stroke, so you just stress your muscles to get comfortable with that big movements. Also try to palm mute while you do this as it is much more exhausting for your muscles to pick with big movements when ur wrist is rested on the bridge. Result to me was that my muscles got stronger and thus it is far easier now to pick with small movements more fluidly and controlled, just because there is so much "reserve strength" in your hand.

It was already mentioned, but muscle tension is the most important factor to look at when you're trying to build up speed. If you get tension in your hand (also counts for your fretting hand), your muscles are not ready to pick at that speed, so slow down and give them time to adapt by only little pushing the border.

Originally Posted by PeterPan View Post
The hand / wrist motion, the exact muscle groups, and a lot of things too subtle to see happen past a certain tempo. This means that what works at 160 may not work at 116, and vise versa. That's important, depending on whether you want to be able to play comfortably at ALL tempos, or are just targeting the "waw that guy is freekin awesome" tempos. :-)
Well, my opinion is that you should always play with the same technique no matter how fast you play.
I had the habit to alternate pick with my wrist on slow tempos (till ~120 bpm) and with my forearm at high tempos ( over ~120), which was fine when you play isolated stuff but totally ****s you over when you have to transition between both techniques, which was the reason I dumped forearm picking completely and worked on my wrist, although I still have a "speed gap" to forearm picking.

I can only recommend to decide in which way you want to play and then stick with it.

Last edited by Asto; 11-01-2012 at 01:16 PM.
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post #22 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 02:38 PM
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems


I feel like we've had a lot of the same history when I read your message. I mostly agree. One thing, I too pick with more forearm at higher tempos, and have been slowly working to change that. BUT... I have to do what works while I'm trying to improve, otherwise it means never playing things I can play, just because its not technically correct.

Another thing I'd like to ask you about. I too do many exercises that are very difficult and , as you said, exhausting. But I am having a major difficulty NOT applying some tension during my exercises. You said that if there's too much tension just slow down. For me, playing slow at first for a while helps, to a point, but sooner or later if I don't force myself to play, especially the medium tempos (1/4 notes around 112 to 126) then I won't be able to do it. I simply can not play many tempos until I force myself to do it for a while.

For the most part many exercises like you mentioned work for me. The frustration is that I still have to warm up with these exercises all over again every day when i start to practice. But I guess I haven't ever found anyone that said they no longer have to put in the hours.
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post #23 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 03:52 PM
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

Originally Posted by PeterPan View Post
BUT... I have to do what works while I'm trying to improve, otherwise it means never playing things I can play, just because its not technically correct.
Basically I think that anyone should go with whatever suits best, but unfortunately a specific technique which may prove useful and easy in the beginning, could be limiting later on with higher speeds or when playing songs that need certain techniques (like string skipping 2 or more strings) that are rather hard to play then.
My personal problem with forearm picking is the stiffness of your wrist and the bad control you have over it (because of the long way between your elbow and the pick) in comparison when you pick with your wrist only, so it was always quite ****ty to use when picking slow or even when you want to play staccato by muting with your pick (by laying it on the string before the next note is picked) which I fathom to be quite impossible (or at least very hard) with forearm picking. Same goes with Artificial Harmonics or other fancy stuff. It is limiting and therefore I wouldn't recommend it.

Originally Posted by PeterPan View Post
Another thing I'd like to ask you about. I too do many exercises that are very difficult and , as you said, exhausting. But I am having a major difficulty NOT applying some tension during my exercises. You said that if there's too much tension just slow down.
I should have made that more clear. I think it is important that you actually do stress your muscles, so they have the chance to adapt and therefore it is good if you push them a bit when practicing, but when it comes to playing (for the sake of playing) then you should be able to play what you like to play without any tension whatsoever, which usually means to play the fastest you can without tension, because you want to use, and not train your muscles in this situation.

Originally Posted by PeterPan View Post
For me, playing slow at first for a while helps, to a point, but sooner or later if I don't force myself to play, especially the medium tempos (1/4 notes around 112 to 126) then I won't be able to do it. I simply can not play many tempos until I force myself to do it for a while.
I ended up practicing downstrokes only and upstrokes only on the lower E String with a metronome like a maniac. It offers the most resistance and therefore trains the most. In the beginning I really struggled to play upstrokes only 1/4 Notes even on 80 bpm (because of the pain in my forearm and that awkward motion), but afterall it got better and better and now (2 months later) I am able to play 1/8 notes at 160 bpm with upstrokes only without any pain or tension in my picking hand or forearm.
It's really just the matter to stress your muscles to do that kind of stuff and build up strength as well as endurance; at least that is my experience.
Start slow and with big motions, so really get that pick as far away from the string as possible between every attack.
If you have un(der)developed muscles you will feel pain and/or burning in your forearm really fast. If not, make it faster until you get.

It may seem dull and boring, but it helped me to get make bigger progess in some months than in years before, just because I never paid attention to the muscles I needed to upstroke, which were just extremely poor and weak in my case.

Originally Posted by PeterPan View Post
For the most part many exercises like you mentioned work for me. The frustration is that I still have to warm up with these exercises all over again every day when i start to practice. But I guess I haven't ever found anyone that said they no longer have to put in the hours.
Warming up is basically necessary before you play, so it's kinda normal that you're a bit stiff at first, although you should really be able to play quarter notes at 120 bpm even when ur hand is dead cold.

I still practice scales (with and without string skipping) with downstrokes only and upstrokes only every time I grab my guitar, just because it does so much for your hand coordination to just know by intuition where your strings are, no matter from which direction you're coming with your pick or if you have to do a down- or upstroke as well as having the strength and endurance to pick with enough force and enough feel.

At anytime try to have a loose wrist like if you are shaking off something from your hand (or doing some other stuff involving wrist-movement... ). Try to get this feeling in your picking hand when playing (You can also do that in your daily life without guitar, if you can stand people getting irritated by you. ). Every tension and pain you can get, should be in your forearm only. Your fingers should be loose too. I've seen people that cramped their fingers and/or held the pick too tight, so they eventually got pain in their picking hand.
Your wrist movement comes from muscles in your forearm and only there you should feel your muscles working (either through exhaustion, burning or even pain).

It's really hard to describe such things in text, but I was able to ignore such simple stuff for almost 8 years and got me stuck in my playing. The sad truth is, that it just not falls into place someday when you keep practicising 'something'. You can practice wrong stuff forever and still don't make any (or just tiny) progress and get stuck without even knowing why.

Guitar teachers should really talk about these things, but it seems (never had one) they often don't and just tell your to "keep practicising". Probably because they randomly learned it "right" and never thought about the problems other people are struggling with that didn't have such luck.

Sorry for this wall of text and sorry for any grammar or spelling errors. I'm just a kraut.

Last edited by Asto; 11-01-2012 at 04:05 PM.
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post #24 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

After hours and hours of watching videos and asking a lot of people, I think I finally found the solution to my problem.

Alto actually gave the answer in his first post. Instead of a "picking through" motion, the pick has to be lifted enough to get over the next string without hitting it on the wring side. Still, the question was: What muscles do you use to do that? And how does the movement look/ feel like etc.? I might have the answer now.

First I thought that you have to rotate the wrist or to lift the root of your thumb, so that the pick will be at a better angle to do upstrokes (I described it somewhere above).
Will it DOES help with the upstrokes, it really hinders your downstrokes! If you angle the pick "forward" (with the back of the hand moving towards the ground) and you do a downstroke, youŽll inevitably hit the inside of the next string unless you lift the pick. I figured that no matter what stroke you do (upstroke or downstrok), the angle of the pick has to be the same, so that the movement looks and feels symmetrical.

I then tried to not lift the root of my thumb but to have it rest on the lower strings. I noticed that it makes my picking much more relaxed and that this helps me to stabilize it. Also, the pick is not angled forward.

I also tried to figure out just what muscled you need to move in order to get the pick up. I found yet again videos that gave me a clue. Try searching for "Emi Gilbert" on Youtube. YouŽll find a video where Paul Gilbert, Emi Gilbert and some other guy play the song "Bronx 1971". What is special here is that the video is shot from a special angle that allows you to clearly see how PG gets the pick away from the strings or in other words, how he lifts the pick up and down (sometimes the credits are in the way, but youŽll get the idea). Yet another video where you can see this motion quite well is the performance video of the song "sunset lights" by Marco Sfogli, which is also on YT.

When I tried to copy this movement, I realized that to do it you need to use a muscle I never used before in my picking. I donŽt know the name of it, but it is the muscle you use if e.g. you are tapping your index finger on the table. If you lay a finger of the left hand on your right forearm and do so, youŽll know what muscle I mean (it actually reaches until the part where your forearm becomes your upper arm).

I tried to implement this muscle into my playing by always lifting up the pick immediately after I do an upstroke or a downstroke. And what can I say: the muscle actually tires out! This is a sign to me that I am using and training a muscle I had never used before.

But the even more awesome part is this: at slow tempos, I can actually cross strings without hitting the next string on the wrong side! IŽll try to practice this from now on and IŽll definetely do a video of the technique, but I think I am really on the right track now.

This post got awfully long, but I guess you can tell I am really excited about my insights. IŽll sum it up for you:

- the root of the thumb is not being lifted up. This would make the pick angle forward, which is good for upstrokes, but kills downstrokes. Instead, the root of the thumb rests on the lower strings. This makes the picking motion easier and also symmetric.

- To lift the pick over the next string when crossing strings, you need that "certain muscle". Right after you hit the string, you move the pick up, then you do the sideways motion. This is quite tough at the beginning, but it can be practiced.

Whoa, too much text!!
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post #25 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

Hey everyone, itŽs been a while. I finally did a video where I describe my problem in detail. I am yet not allowed to post links here, but if you search YT for "Question on alternate picking: changing strings" you should find my video. My name on YT is Dairwolf, just like in this forum.

Simply put I am now trying to figure out how one can get the tip of the pick high enugh so that you can get over the next string. It still baffles me...
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post #26 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 09:42 PM
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Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

dairwolf: The following trouble shooting tips should prepare you for this and other future issues.

1. Break it down into smaller segments or 4 notes.

2. Play each segment slowly to a click or drum machine and steadily increase the tempo. When you reach a breaking point, note the speed for each one. (ex. 150 BPM)

3. If one segment is more difficult than the others, isolate it and grind on that until it's up to par with the others.

4. Repeat: This time increase the size of the segments to 8 notes, 16 notes, then the entire passage.

5. You might notice that a single stroke or movement might be slowing you down. Isolate that until its smooth.

6. If you've practiced slow for a long time, and you want to get it up to speed, play a segment in short quick bursts in a manner where you can still hear each note clearly. Make that your goal tempo and work up to it.

That's about it. Those steps helped me increase my speed the most in the shortest amount of time. Good luck!
psychokannibal is offline  
post #27 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 04:19 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: England
Posts: 238
Reviews: 1
Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

More importantly than technique. The lick you started the thread with is in A minor not B minor. All the technique in the world won't save you getting that one wrong lol. This is a much more important issue than picking speed
bates is offline  
post #28 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-24-2013, 09:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Metairie, LA
Posts: 390
Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

One good thing to look at is the angle you hold you pick while doing fast alternate picking, instead of your pick being parallel with the strings, angle it at a 45 deg of smaller, this helps the pick to cut through the string if you hit it accidentallly and wont slow your pattern.

This guy KAR uploads some pretty crazy stuff, here's a good one focusing on his picking hand
LMDAVE is offline  
post #29 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-25-2013, 04:18 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 250
Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

This Kar guy is very good! I don't see his hand doing anything that we all don't already try to do... I think the secret to this is to really just keep practising..

Something that I think is important is to be able to reposition your hand on the strings the same way when you're playing low and high strings. So you would have to sort of push your elbow a bit when going downards, from the low strings to the high strings (thicker to thinner strings)! In this case it's better not to be resting the elbow on the guitar too hard or you won't be able to push it down as your skin can have too much traction on the body of the guitar! I think this is something that your body naturally tends to do when you're playing sitting down and specially with the guitar over your left leg.
mindwalker is offline  
post #30 of 47 (permalink) Old 03-29-2013, 11:26 PM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Athens Greece
Posts: 4
Re: Fast Alternate Picking - string crossing problems

I had similar problems with alt. picking. What i've found out is that the hole game is in the wrist. So what i did is simply practising a phrase at a very low speed (say 60bpm) but paying constantly attention to the movement of the right arm.
Remember the goal is to make small movements from your wrist not the entire arm. When you feel relaxed and confident increase speed by 10 bpm and repeat the hole thing.
The problem of accidently hitting the uper or lower string come from the right arm movement. Simply it does bigger than necessary moves.
Green St is offline  

alternate picking , crossing strings , pentatonic , zakk wylde

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