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Alternate Picking Question(s)

Any suggestions or replies from people that have had the same problem and overcome it would be appreciated.

I played a number of years when I was younger. Stopped for 20 years, to make a living. Began again seriously 18 months ago. I do have a fairly strong knowledge of music theory.

Picking: good, solid, even, controlled is what I want so that I can go forward and play the music that is in my head.

For the past 18 months I've been playing scales, all types, at least two hours a day religiously.
When I started this time I was using my first finger and thumb to control the pick motion, little finger resting on pickguard and strings. Several places I saw that this was a no-no, you should use your wrist or arm for that.

I began using my wrist, little finger still used for stabilizing...integrated that into my playing, it became comfortable. No appreciable difference.

Then I noticed people using a floating hand, no resting the little finger, still using wrist motion for picking. Some difference, not a lot.

Now, after reading some more I've seen that maybe I should be using my arm for the motion, with my wrist firm.

At each of these steps I've spent months integrating the technique. I am still in the process with the arm motion, stiff wrist. It looks promising, but so did the other techniques when I started training myself to do it that way.

At a slow speed my scales are fine, picking nice and even, but my speed does not change appreciably.

I'm torn between practice slowly and evenly, the speed will come, AND, practice faster than you are comfortable with (if not, that will retard your speed)! I do generally revert to the speed that I am most accurate with.

I ALWAYS practice with a metronome, in fact, it feels weird to not use one. I hope I have been clear about this. I have a very strong desire to play and play very well!

Thanks Wayne
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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/1/2006 8:36 AM

Michael Warner (774) wrote:

Alot of people, myself included, get stuck in that mysterious spot between playing fast and playing clean. It seems that you just can't go any faster and do it cleanly.
What I did was throw clean out the window(temporarily)
Don't worry about doing it cleanly at first, you need to get your picking hand and arm moving up to the speed you desire. Start picking and increase your speed gradually until your burning, take a break and do it again.
Eventually you will get up to speed and when the speed arrives you can begin to do it with more control.
Some people will disagree, but if your able to play cleanly up to a certain speed then you need to break through to the next level.
This worked for me.
Good Luck, Mike



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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/1/2006 9:26 AM

Wayne Rader (630) wrote:

Michael,

Glad to hear that others have run into this, glad you broke out of it. It can really tick you off!

I am going to give the speed practicing a shot. Throw out the precision and accuracy, temporarily. I will get back to that, have to!

Practicing slowly and accurately does not produce any burn. I've often wondered, shouldn't I be feeling something like that, as a sign my finger muscles are growing (like in normal physical workouts).

Michael, thanks for your advice.

Wayne



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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/1/2006 11:38 AM

Andy Wood (5136) wrote:

I wouldn't compare guitar practice to normal body building. Body building involves periods of severe exertion followed by total rest for at least a day if not more. Guitar development is more about consistency. You are not trying to develop forceful muscles (although endurance does build up), you are really trying to develop great effiency and control. This will beat brute strength any day. Tiredness may be a symptom of practice but it is not the desired outcome nor a measure of success. It is simply a warning to take a rest and come back later. The fact that some musicians are able to practise for up to 8 hours in a day reflects their effiency and their lack of muscle exertion rather than their muscle strength. Endurance is the product of sustained low intensity muscle movement rather than blasting your muscles until they burn. Concentrate on your skill development rather than muscle development. The former will give rise to the latter - in the way you want.

Andy



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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/1/2006 12:45 PM

Wayne Rader (630) wrote:

Andy,

Point taken! As much as I slave over scales and arpeggios I thought it strange that I was not really experiencing any discomfort or soreness (hence growth in physical workout).

Thanks, Wayne

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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/1/2006 11:48 AM

Christian Miller (1937) wrote:

I'm not too dogmatic about this.

Personally, I find a floating hand to be beter in general, but more demandin technque wise. It really doesn;t mater so much if ou play electric.

rotating your wrist on the axis of you arm slightly is mechaicaly more effceient than moving your wrist side to side. It has less tendency to spasm and makes for a more relaxed technique. I think you can use this approach in conjuction with a floating pick hand more easily than, for example, moving your entire arm from the elbow on every pick stroke like Steve Morse (though he can do it.)

Other refinements include the George Benson grip (also shared by Russel Maloneand Carlso Santana) were the pck is gripped not by the pad of the thumb and a fist like conventional technique but rather between the tp of the thumb and the pad of the first finger, sothe hand resembles a O tat as been sqished (I sugest looking at youtube videos of Geoge, Carlos and Russell to see what tis looks like.) This grip is endorsed by ome teachers and allows you to use many different forms of writst motion including the 'hinging' motion you would use to knock on a door.

My tacnique is a bizarre modification of this in which the pick is gripped by two fingers. Probably not avisable. I rotate my wrist alot and I am pleased by the way I can pick fast and very strongly using it.

Hope this makes some sense. I don't hink there's a right and wrong really, so experiment!



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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/1/2006 12:59 PM

Wayne Rader (630) wrote:

Christian,

After reading the posts, that members have graciously offered their advice, I think I have been too dogmatic. This is very important to me and I have probably overanalyzed the heck out of it.

I do like the floating hand, with anchoring, I was always between the pickguard and the higher strings with my little finger. To me, it seemed you would have an easier time going anywhere by not being anchored. However anchoring seems to give a lot of control.

Rotating the wrist makes sense, why move the big part (arm) for ever minute movement.

Your response makes perfect sense, I do appreciate you thoughts.

Thanks, Wayne

PS: Really, I can see all those videos at youtube? I will check it out.



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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/3/2006 7:43 AM

Christian Miller (1937) wrote:

Thanks for picking your way through my spelling. Typing at speed on an unfamiliar keyboard - that's my excuse, anyway.

Cheers

Christian

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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/1/2006 3:38 PM

Jim Signorile (1155) wrote:

Wayne,

I second the use of the PraxAx (AKA the Twanger at http://www.twanger.com/ )

I use it every day to practice picking while walking and doing other things where I don't have my guitar with me, and my picking and coordination of left and right hands has improved a lot. It's not that expensive, requires virtually no maintenance, and is really worth it, IMHO!

Jim




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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/1/2006 6:00 PM

Wayne Rader (630) wrote:

Jim,

Thanks for your message. I did go out to the site and am going to order one. This thing would be perfect for so many situations where a guitar isn't available, or you can't really take yours.

Wayne



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Re: Alternate Picking Question(s)

7/5/2006 8:02 AM

Christian Miller (1937) wrote:

I think it's important not to be too rigorous about these things. Just play to enjoy yourself really. It's simple to build technique, but what's the point if it's a joyless enterprise with no context. Rather I think technique building should be based on context.

Take a break form the metronome every so often. sounds like it could be good for you. After all, you won't have a metronome when you are up on stage, will you?

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