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  1. #1

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    With the recent threads on Pat Metheny I was listen to Pat a lot last night and today checking out some of his non-PM Group videos. I still prefer Pat in smaller more organic bands. I was watching a Pat and Jim Hall video and was able to capture this screen shot that shows clearly how Pat holds his pick, can also see his build up of whatever he uses for nails for playing fingerstyle.

    He holds the pick as I've heard basically three fingers, and pointing straight out. The pick end is very rounded so that would explain to me his more softer attack. In another shot you can see he has a row of backup picks tape to the side of his guitar.

    Pat Metheny Picking-patmethenypicking-jpg

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  3. #2

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    The story that I read is that as a kid back in his small town in Missouri, he couldn't find anything but thin picks. To make them less stiffer he held them like that and bent them slightly to make them more resistant to flexing.

    He also talked about the obvious fake nails....saying that "Vietnamese women are the Coltrane of nail styling".

  4. #3

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    Great freeze frame!

    Pat's technique always looks awkward to me, but it works so well for him! That straight-ahead extension of the pick from the fingertips--so unconventional and yet so physiologically, um, logical.

    And all without a pickguard to cheat a little and rest a pinkie on from time to time! He must have really amazing control of his vertical right-hand space to be able to "float" so well!

  5. #4

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    The pick's shoulder rather than the point is being used- it's a standard Fender type pick. I recall reading in an interview that he is very choosy about them, buying them by the box and only finding a few in each box he feels are usable. Pat's picking technique and his left hand technique both look awkward as heck to me but clearly they don't hold him back.

    Interesting that playing through a Roland JC 120 he still sounds pretty much exactly like he does with his PMG rig with delays, a couple of amps and cabs, etc. He could probably simplify his rig a lot and few would hear the difference.

  6. #5

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    True he has a strange right hand technique but alot of his sound is in slurring so hhis picking isn't a big focus.

  7. #6

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    Even though his hand/arm position is entirely different to Benson, they both use what I call 'reverse angle' picking which gives that really strong positive attack to the string. I think that's a big element for both players in terms of their being in the pocket. The note attack is unambiguous and right on the grid.

    Also, Metheny's one the few guys who can slur really well on an archtop - so much so that's it's not entirely obvious sometimes whether he's picking or slurring. Nick, I think his picking and his slurring are of equal importance - and that strong pick attack he gets makes the subsequent hammer-on sound clear and strong. Anyone know of some really legit transcriptions/tabs of his solos - in terms of picking vs. slurs?

  8. #7

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    Looks like his pick in that photo is a Planet Waves Duralin 50mm

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3625
    Also, Metheny's one the few guys who can slur really well on an archtop - so much so that's it's not entirely obvious sometimes whether he's picking or slurring. Nick, I think his picking and his slurring are of equal importance - and that strong pick attack he gets makes the subsequent hammer-on sound clear and strong. Anyone know of some really legit transcriptions/tabs of his solos - in terms of picking vs. slurs?
    I don't know if it is his strong pick attack or his really strong left hand that makes his slurs so clean. I agree that picking is equally important but his slurs are what interests me.

  10. #9

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    If anyone want to see the video I did the screen grab from here it is.


  11. #10

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    Most of the jazz lines I've transcribed from later in his career are about 60% picked and 30% slurred. When he was younger he did much more hammer-on and pull-off stuff, and I've never been a huge fan of that period. Too many ascending hammer-on scale patterns for my taste.

    Sometime in the mid-80s he started picking a lot more. He kind of sounds like a trumpet to me. I think the classic Metheny thing where you pick a note down then up then pull-off to a lower note to create a rapid triplet effect is sort of the guidebook for how you do it. He also tends to pick twice then pull off or hammer on. Also a lot of very chromatic lines where you just drop down the chromatics scale onto your target note. He also uses that descending thirds thing that you hear everyone after Wes do all the time.

    Then there's his weird arpeggio lick that he does, that I guess he's just alt-picking. I always tried to sweep pick it.

    It's incredible how much depth he has as a player. I've never heard him use any of that stuff on his records, and he's clearly put in a significant number of hours on it.

  12. #11

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    I noticed his picking at a show this week.. Reminds me of a if you were trying to make an ostrich head with your hand and when you pick a note it like the bird is pecking at seeds.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    Really beautiful stuff. It's interesting that he's alt picking everything, even in areas where you'd think you'd use a sweep.

    The only issue I have with the vid as a reference for Metheny is that it doesn't sound anything like how he plays 90% of the time. His jazz language is far more chromatic and slurry. Between 5:30 and 6:00 he does some of his standard stuff.

    Most of the jazz lines I've transcribed from later in his career are about 60% picked and 30% slurred. When he was younger he did much more hammer-on and pull-off stuff, and I've never been a huge fan of that period. Too many ascending hammer-on scale patterns for my taste.

    Sometime in the mid-80s he started picking a lot more. He kind of sounds like a trumpet to me. I think the classic Metheny thing where you pick a note down then up then pull-off to a lower note to create a rapid triplet effect is sort of the guidebook for how you do it. He also tends to pick twice then pull off or hammer on. Also a lot of very chromatic lines where you just drop down the chromatics scale onto your target note. He also uses that descending thirds thing that you hear everyone after Wes do all the time.

    Then there's his weird arpeggio lick that he does, that I guess he's just alt-picking. I always tried to sweep pick it.

    It's incredible how much depth he has as a player. I've never heard him use any of that stuff on his records, and he's clearly put in a significant number of hours on it.
    I have to admit, I've never ever tried to learn any of his lines. I'm interested to see if his technique could be applied to typical bop lines or whether the hammer-on/pull off phrases he uses are his own language - which obviously he can apply over any type of changes, ii V's/modal/etc. Given I already am familiar with the former and not the latter.

    What I like about picking every note is that you can choose exactly how to shape the line without trying to fit in to a particular system of hammer ons/pulloffs, but it would be great to have the option of using slurs in addition to staccato picking - not as a cop out from lack of picking chops, but another colour to use if wanted. Metheny can slur right in the pocket, but a lot of guys can't - I'll have to learn some lines of his and see if I can make sense of it.

  14. #13

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    I just stumbled on something that seems to work with slurring swing 8ths - picking on the '&' then slurring the next 8th note. Probably something a thousand guys who work with this tech already know, especially modern players.

    So for: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & , you can pick any of the off-beats and hammer/pull-off onto the on-beat. The reason it sounds better to my ears, is that in swing 8ths there is less of a gap between '& 2' than between '2 &' - so slurring on the smaller gap doesn't sound as weak rhythmically and tonally.

    Any thoughts on this?

    As an aside, this is the kind of thread Rich should participate in, instead of the usual... hint hint

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3625
    I just stumbled on something that seems to work with slurring swing 8ths - picking on the '&' then slurring the next 8th note. Probably something a thousand guys who work with this tech already know, especially modern players.

    So for: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & , you can pick any of the off-beats and hammer/pull-off onto the on-beat. The reason it sounds better to my ears, is that in swing 8ths there is less of a gap between '& 2' than between '2 &' - so slurring on the smaller gap doesn't sound as weak rhythmically and tonally.

    Any thoughts on this?

    As an aside, this is the kind of thread Rich should participate in, instead of the usual... hint hint
    Never thought of it that way. Interesting. Will have to give this a go later today. I tend to slur mainly for positional reasons (-sliding up a fret on the same finger, usually the index, for example.)

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3625
    I have to admit, I've never ever tried to learn any of his lines. I'm interested to see if his technique could be applied to typical bop lines or whether the hammer-on/pull off phrases he uses are his own language - which obviously he can apply over any type of changes, ii V's/modal/etc. Given I already am familiar with the former and not the latter.

    What I like about picking every note is that you can choose exactly how to shape the line without trying to fit in to a particular system of hammer ons/pulloffs, but it would be great to have the option of using slurs in addition to staccato picking - not as a cop out from lack of picking chops, but another colour to use if wanted. Metheny can slur right in the pocket, but a lot of guys can't - I'll have to learn some lines of his and see if I can make sense of it.
    I was a big Metheny-head in college and learned a lot of his solos. IMO his technique doesn't really work for the traditional sax-bop language that well. His faster stuff is very chromatic compared the language of Charlie Parker or other instrumentalists. That's why it reminds me a lot trumpet players.

    I got away from using it because I wanted to step back and go for a more traditional sound, which I think requires a bigger reliance on alt-picking and other techniques. One of the big positives of Metheny's playing is that it's totally unique. That's also one of the big negatives, because you tend to just sound like you're imitating him when you use it, unlike a lot of other players that share the basic Parker or Coltrane language.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    I was a big Metheny-head in college and learned a lot of his solos. IMO his technique doesn't really work for the traditional sax-bop language that well. His faster stuff is very chromatic compared the language of Charlie Parker or other instrumentalists. That's why it reminds me a lot trumpet players.

    I got away from using it because I wanted to step back and go for a more traditional sound, which I think requires a bigger reliance on alt-picking and other techniques. One of the big positives of Metheny's playing is that it's totally unique. That's also one of the big negatives, because you tend to just sound like you're imitating him when you use it, unlike a lot of other players that share the basic Parker or Coltrane language.
    Metheny comes from a family of trumpet players and started on trumpet, he switched to guitar was part of his teenage rebellion along with listening to the Beatles.
    Last edited by docbop; 11-17-2014 at 02:20 PM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop
    Just came across this Pat in 1976 playing a standard. Get a peek into the evolution of his style.
    He said in an interview somewhere that his style transitioned to a more heavily articulated sound - fewer slide-based trills, more picking, and less hammer-on passages - when he started using the Roland synth guitar because the tracking at the time wasn't good enough to pick up all the loose slurry stuff he was doing.

    My favorite period of his playing is Secret Story.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    He said in an interview somewhere that his style transitioned to a more heavily articulated sound - fewer slide-based trills, more picking, and less hammer-on passages - when he started using the Roland synth guitar because the tracking at the time wasn't good enough to pick up all the loose slurry stuff he was doing.

    My favorite period of his playing is Secret Story.
    I remember hearing Lee Ritenour talking once about Frank Zappa having same problem with early synth guitars. Zappa had asked Lee to come over to help him and Lee said Zappa synth' was going crazy with Zappa's hammer-ons and other techniques.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin' Brian
    The story that I read is that as a kid back in his small town in Missouri, he couldn't find anything but thin picks. To make them less stiffer he held them like that and bent them slightly to make them more resistant to flexing.

    He also talked about the obvious fake nails....saying that "Vietnamese women are the Coltrane of nail styling".
    I didn't know about the fake nails. For a better attack when plucking strings?

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by West LA Jazz
    I didn't know about the fake nails. For a better attack when plucking strings?
    I just saw him live last week and he plays fingerstyle quite a bit on the Pikasso and also nylon string instruments.. And all those metal strings on the Pikasso guitar would wear your natural nails down pretty quickly.

    I play with a hybrid picking sort of thing sometimes and keeping natural nails from splitting and breaking is a big pain.

  22. #21

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    With all the Pat talk been watching his picking a lot on videos last few days. I would say he just goes for it, I don't see a pattern of this type or that type in these situations. I see alternate picking, all down, all up, I didn't notice him sweep seems like he picks everything. I saw him cross strings with all down and also alternate. I'd say he's to the point of confident in his playing and just focuses on his notes.

    I remember Jeff Beck in his pick days used a lot of up picking, and was intrigued to see Pat using it too. Beck seems to use it for more bite on a note. Pat in latest video I watched seem to be using it main on high string(s) when playing a melody or non-fast line to get a fuller sounding note on those string.

    Hadn't listen to a lot of Pat in awhile and really enjoying it, been listening to Day Trip CD a lot.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop
    With all the Pat talk been watching his picking a lot on videos last few days. I would say he just goes for it, I don't see a pattern of this type or that type in these situations. I see alternate picking, all down, all up, I didn't notice him sweep seems like he picks everything. I saw him cross strings with all down and also alternate. I'd say he's to the point of confident in his playing and just focuses on his notes.

    I remember Jeff Beck in his pick days used a lot of up picking, and was intrigued to see Pat using it too. Beck seems to use it for more bite on a note. Pat in latest video I watched seem to be using it main on high string(s) when playing a melody or non-fast line to get a fuller sounding note on those string.

    Hadn't listen to a lot of Pat in awhile and really enjoying it, been listening to Day Trip CD a lot.
    If you hold your pick like he does and use a thin pick, you'll see why he likes the upstrokes on the E and B so much. It gives you a really big "pop" tone.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    If you hold your pick like he does and use a thin pick, you'll see why he likes the upstrokes on the E and B so much. It gives you a really big "pop" tone.
    I been experimenting with Metheny picking using a medium which what I thought he uses. I can get it working for awhile on single like stuff, but as soon as I go to chords I'm hosed. I have used thin picks holding them more of a standard way but with three-fingers, then gripping hard and bending them to make them stiff. I learned this for playing acoustic guitar so I could take advantage of the thin pick for big strumming, then grip hard for single line.

  25. #24

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    Just watched a Chris Potter interview I'm a fan and they started asking him about playing with Pat Metheny. Funny he said Metheny has him playing a little guitar now in the show. But the thing I didn't know is they said Metheny is fanatical about practicing. Potter said it surprised Pat the first time Pat got to the arena early to practice and Chris was already there practicing. Potter said he's like Pat and practices a lot so he goes in early so Pat can have the afternoon.

  26. #25

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    Did not read all the post but there is a YouTube video of Pat doing a tv show in Japan in which he explains his technique is horrible. When you watch his approach you wonder how he does it. Cause his right hand plectrum work is crazy. Goes to show how jazz is about lots of different stuff unrelated sometimes to technique.