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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Video on alternate picking

Hey everyone! I did a video about my biggest guitar technique problem, which is string crossing when alternate picking. I am not allowed to post links here, but if you search Youtube for "Question on alternate picking: string crossing", you should find a video by Dairwolf where I explain the problem. It would be really nice if you took the time and give me some advice!

I am basically trying to figure out you can get the tip of the pick over the next string when alternate picking. Up until now I found several ways to do this.

- the up and down movement of the hand I describe in the video

This would actually be the ideal thing for me if I could just do it fast enough, but like I explain in the video, this would mean transcending the capabilities of the human body.

- leaning the pick forward

This makes Upstrokes very easy because the pick is always at the right angle, but makes downstrokes difficult because you hardly hit the string and also you need more effort to get it over the next string.

- moving the pick from the index finger and the thumb

This also gets the pick in the right angle for upstrokes, downstrokes donīt seem to work that well. Also, I donīt like picking that way.

- rotating the wrist in combination with the sideways movement of the wrist

Still experimenting with this, might work someday.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-18-2013, 10:40 AM
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Re: Video on alternate picking

Try not to read into it too much. There is tons of videos on alternate picking and how to get fast but i think every guitarist knows, deep down that the answer is to sit and do it over and over for hours and hours.

Basically. The time it took you to make this post and edit that video is time that should of been spent picking up and down constantly. You just try and relax and keep going and going untill you can't take anymore. Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again, Then make a cup of tea and do it again.........................
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-18-2013, 11:43 AM
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Re: Video on alternate picking

and focus on your problem areas. You said string crossing. So practice in just those areas then add more too it when you start to feel comfortable. Don't forget, a metronome is the best training tool ever.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-18-2013, 12:02 PM
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Re: Video on alternate picking

With alt-picking, I've found micro-analyzing things like pick angle, wrist/finger movement, etc. to be counter productive (for me, anyway). What I've found far more productive is, like bates and dickicker said, to isolate exactly what I'm weak at and then just do it over and over and over. It's frustrating, mistake-ridden, and sounds like total crap at first... but slowly begins to get better. I don't worry too much about body mechanics other than bigger muscle movements like "pick from the wrist, not the elbow."

So, in summary, don't obsess about technique TOO much and try to micro-analyze the body mechanics of picking, or you'll totally freak yourself out and slow down your progress. Instead, I just do it until it starts to sound/feel right, and let mother nature worry about the details... like how your pick is angled, whether you lift your pick .005mm to cross strings, etc.

A lot of great players have trouble explaining their technique because they've never really thought about it much. They just do what works for them.

Last edited by webmaestro; 01-18-2013 at 12:07 PM.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-18-2013, 03:50 PM
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Re: Video on alternate picking

I spent a long time trying to figure out the 'perfect' way to hold my picking hand, strike the strings... etc.

It was a total waste of time.

For one thing; there is no 'perfect' way for everything that you need to do to play guitar. Some techniques require your hand in one position, others in a different position.

Like has been already said, keep your hand comfortably positioned and just do it over and over and over. The only thing you should concentrate on other than repetition is keeping your movements economical. Meaning; as small as possible to accomplish the desired effect.

Speed and accuracy will come from repetition.

Only other advice I can give is what others told me when I was working on speed... besides just 'keep doing it over and over'.

When playing fast, choke up on the pick. Only have a small amount of the picks tip sticking out from your fingers. The less pick you have 'under' the string, the less you'll have to raise your hand when changing strings.

Again' economy of motion. You mentioned watching shredders that looked like their hand was hardly moving. That's why. They are using the smallest movement possible.
Only practice can teach you that.

When striking the string, you don't need much of the pick to hit the string. When you raise your hand to skip strings, you barely have to miss the string with the tip of the pick, so you really don't have to raise your hand much.

I'll say it again, "Economy of motion", but you have to look at it in every aspect.

I'm not much of a shredder, I play mostly Classic Rock and Blues, but I wanted to have the technique to handle the faster stuff, and it took me a long time (years actually) to be able to 'shred' enough that I thought it was adequate. Don't get discouraged, and stop over-analyzing it.... just play.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 12:14 AM
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Re: Video on alternate picking

Hi Dairwolf, I have been monitoring your threads on this issue with interest. Thanks for the video. It's clear that very few teachers even discuss this problem. Here are some thoughts:

- On his alternate picking course, the astonishingly fast Claus (the so called "Wizard of Shred") reckons that one should tilt or swing the pick enough to clear the string on the way to the next stroke. This means rotating the wrist slightly as if strumming. I've tried this but find it even more difficult that simply lifting the pick as you show in your video. I also emailed Claus about how one went about starting to incorporate this technique and he said that "the brain would figure it out by itself if given enough time and practice at lower tempos."

- Eric Johnson and Joe Bonamassa both seem to advocate the lifting method. They call it the "bounce technique". EJ actually says it is integral to his style and that it provides a better sound. I guess he should know. This is actually the method I've decided to go with, though I have reached a plateau.

- There's a teacher in New Zealand who points out that moving to another string requires that extra distance as opposed to single string alternate picking. Therefore pick speed when crossing must increase to maintain the same tempo. He reckons that this is very important to take into account when practicing and goes on to say:
  • Analyze the string change in great detail. Try to find the most economical and relaxed way to change strings while still maintaining a constant alternate picking motion.
  • Practice and master the string change in isolation. Once you've found the best way to do the string change, then be sure to practice it repeatedly until it becomes easy. Practice it until you can do it very quickly without thinking.
However, this doesn't help that much - I suppose more will be revealed if you purchase his $47 course. Nonetheless, he does have a point about the distance.

- On one of your initial threads, Peterpan mentions the guy at whyIsuckatguitar, who has some thoughtful theories about alt. picking and some intriguing exercises on relaxing the right hand which are worth checking out. But Dan doesn't mention your string crossing problem and, interestingly, I've never witnessed him actually shred anything (unlike Claus). I did post a request/comment on this point, which he acknowledged in a personal email and stated that he could now play 16ths at 150 bpm and would be putting up a video regarding his velocity in due course. On the other hand, he elected to not post my comment on his site which I found a touch churlish since my request was polite and surely reasonable.

- Finally, and going back to Claus and some of the other members who have posted (thanks by the way), perhaps it is counterproductive to over analyze the issue and better to let the brain work it out for itself. You might try reading the Inner Game of Music by the renowned classical bass player, Barry Green, which utilizes the philosophy of Tim Gallwey. Basically it's a method of shutting off our internal dialogue (which hampers performing of all kinds), trusting ourselves and getting into the zone which is when we're at one with the music and play at our best. The book provides several techniques to overcome a physical challenge.

Last edited by tboneberry; 02-15-2013 at 03:15 AM.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Re: Video on alternate picking

Hi again Dairwolf, search "tremolo/Speed picking 2 twitch technique" on YouTube - interesting! Might be the answer to your problem. Cheers.
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alternate picking , paul gilbert , shred , string crossing , technique

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