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  1. #1

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    So I recently heard JB say in a video that for him, picking is simply:

    When moving to a higher string use a downstroke, and when moving to a lower string use an upstroke. Same string gets alternate.

    That seems simple enough I thought to myself -I can do that. Exploring economy/speed picking had been on my to do list for years. Well easier said than done of course. I'm trying to force myself to do it, using lines I know pretty well, and the result is, lines that I had sounding pretty good are now sounding like I just started playing last month.

    It seems like a monumental task to unlearn what I've been doing, which I guess is alternate most all the time. Any opinions on how possible this is to convert, and how long it takes?

    Also, I must say I'm unclear on what the benefits are. I'm trying to do it on bop style eighths in 4/4. Certainly I see the economy of motion that is occasionally added, but the lines have a rhythm. It doesn't allow me to speed up where alternate is still required, and speeding up only where it comes in changes the rhythmic feel of the line. So I'm not clear what the point is.

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  3. #2

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    I'm an economy picker and the only advantages it offers over alternate are consistent and smoother string transitions. Bottom line though is that almost any technique will work, depending on what you want to do of course.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by P4guitar
    I'm an economy picker and the only advantages it offers over alternate are consistent and smoother string transitions. Bottom line though is that almost any technique will work, depending on what you want to do of course.
    Hmm.. I do already sweep arps where it makes sense to sweep. That plus alternate is what I've always done.
    I guess I'm trying to get a feel for the investment/reward ratio here.

  5. #4

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    Troy Grady had Bruno on as a guest in his Masters of Mechanics series, where they put a camera on his right hand. As I remember it, it was one of the more boring vids they have. I remember tho that footage revealed that not all he said he was doing was true.

    But if you can afford a months subscribtion to the the masters of mechanics site it is definately worth it. More than that is probably a waste of money.

  6. #5

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    My opinion is that economy's real advantage is string transitions, by this I mean more than arps. A lot of lines cross to adjacent strings or skip over strings, etc. - economy provides a consistent and fluid way to do this. That said, if you're already happy with your picking technique, why change? I wasn't and I tried everything with alternate being my mainstay...till I discovered economy.

    As for difficulty, I transitioned in a very short time, less than a month maybe. Consistency was the key. Contrary to your experience, the rhythm of my lines and comping actually improved. Another benefit for me was that I lost the spastic aspect of my picking - economy actually steadied my right hand and made alternate easier.

    I see a lot of great players with lousy techniques, but they make it work. Music is an art, not an athletic event.

    So to NOT answer your question, only you can determine ROI.

  7. #6

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    I do mostly alternate picking, and I don't plan to change. I have too much time invested in the way I do it now, and too little time left to make it worth the effort to try to relearn, for an arguably tiny benefit. i'm not a young kid trying to get a rep for speed, I'm old and tired and don't expect to ever make any more money or get any reputation at all. The upside/downside ratio is all down for me, so I can't begin to tell you how long it might take you.

  8. #7

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    Been thinking a bit since posting above and the JB thing you describe need for you to change pickslant at times if you want it to work.

    Say you play a with a downwards pickslant and you alternately pick two notes on a string before having to play the string above it. There is no way you can get in an upstroke as your hand will move away from the string. A downstroke will on the other hand be the natural thing to do.

    I see no reason to why that downsstroke should be a bad thing.

    If you insist on the JB thing then you can't play to notes on a string and economy pick with the upstroke on the string above it unless you have an upwards pickslant. Jimmy is a two way pickslanter. If you're not a two way pickslanter, then you can't do what he does. But that is just a choice.

  9. #8

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    If somebody has figured something out that he or she feels comfortable with, I do not see a reason to change. There are so many different things that work in the hands of the great. Watch Metheny pick or Benson or Wes or Knopfler or Eddi Van Halen or or ... all totally unconventional and super successful in expressing themselves.

    For me it was/is different. I am by nature almost a lefty who got trained to do everything right handed. Hence, my right hand was/is much weaker than my left hand. I also did not understand for the longest time that right hand technique is the heart of guitar technique. The consequence was that I always felt strongly constrained by my right hand in guitar playing. Hence, some technique needed to be found that works for me and allows me to play the things I want to play.

    It wasn’t happening by itself and hence I started to really research it and think it through. The Troy Grady treatment was quite helpful in that respect despite all the distracting gimmicky stuff and the focus on 80s shredders. His analysis is sound, I think. I start to feel comfortable with gypsy picking on acoustic and something between alternate and economy on electric. Archtops work both ways and I start to be able to play things that were out of reach before. But it is a process that has been going on for at least 3 or 4 years and most of the time I felt worse than with my old, bad and limiting technique. I talked to many people who have gypsy picking down and they pretty much all say that there were years in between were they played and felt worse than before when they learned the technique. Once mastered it is incredibly powerful.

    But honestly, I wish there would be something that came natural to me and just feels like me rather than something that I have intelectualized to the ‘t’.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov
    If you insist on the JB thing then you can't play to notes on a string and economy pick with the upstroke on the string above it unless you have an upwards pickslant. Jimmy is a two way pickslanter. If you're not a two way pickslanter, then you can't do what he does. But that is just a choice.
    I don't know what Bruno does but I can do the above just fine and my pick angle remains constant, I never/rarely change it. My "pickslant" is slightly downward I think.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by P4guitar
    I don't know what Bruno does but I can do the above just fine and my pick angle remains constant, I never/rarely change it. My "pickslant" is slightly downward I think.
    With a downwards pickslant the first downstroke will "bury" it self between the strings ... most vivid example of this is the gypsy reststroke. The upstoke will lift clear of the strings making it very easy for you to hit the string above with a new downstroke.

    If you want to go downstroke upstroke upstroke, then you either start in an upwards pickslant or move your wrist, so the pickslant changes during the first upstroke.


    If you play without any pickslant then stringhopping is difficult.

    I just picked a random Troy Grady vid to illustrate downwards pickslanting mechaning. Troy always uses 20 to say things that could be said in 5 min, but annimation starts around 11:20.




    None of this is particulary important if what you want to do just works for you, but I found a few years back that being unaware of pickslanting mechanics was what hindered me in many situations ... and after a while I stopped thinking Again and just do ...

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov
    With a downwards pickslant the first downstroke will "bury" it self between the strings ... most vivid example of this is the gypsy reststroke. The upstoke will lift clear of the strings making it very easy for you to hit the string above with a new downstroke.
    Okay, apparently I didn't understand what you meant by pick slant. I interpreted that as the angle between the plane of the pick and the axis of the string. You seem mean the angle/tilt of the pick relative to the surface of the guitar.

    We were talking in different dimensions

    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov
    If you want to go downstroke upstroke upstroke, then you either start in an upwards pickslant or move your wrist, so the pickslant changes during the first upstroke.

    If you play without any pickslant then stringhopping is difficult.
    Regardless of directionality, my pick slant never changes for either definition. I use a floating arm technique with no palm or fingers resting on the guitar body. It works just fine and I can play far faster than I can think which is not a good thing.

    Several years ago I posted some instructional videos of how to add harmony to one's playing for either group or solo situations. One of the techniques I demonstrated was the use of spread triads (back then I called it some made up name as I didn't know the terminology). In the video the spread triads were arranged as every other string so it was nothing but string hopping. I employed standard economy picking with no pick slant, as I think you mean it. It works for me.

    Start at the 7:46 mark.

  13. #12

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    I used to do all alternate, now I have a pretty wide toolkit of alternate, sweep/economy, hybrid, and of course slurring in the appropriate spots. I've spent a lot of time with each approach.

    I believe strongly in this: If you aren't able to play lines you want (pre-written, not improvised) at the tempo you want to play them, and you've already been practicing 'technique' for many years, the solution is not to just keep practicing and move the metronome up a few bpms at a time. This is especially true if your tempo ceiling is somewhere around 8ths at 200-250 bpm or so.

    If you're stuck around there, then there are a lot of considerations that can move you past it, mainly specific use of slants, strokes, and quite possibly left hand fingerings too.

    If you're way past that point, or you have no desire to be past that point, then it ain't broke!

    If you're way below that point, it's possible that there are some practice strategies with your current technique that can improve your 'tempo ceiling' but at the same time, getting in depth on the slant/stroke/fingering challenges will help a lot.

    A big epiphany I've had about 'technique' in the past six years or so is that we can't really practice 'technique' or 'picking' - we have to isolate individual problems and figure out exactly what's going on in say, a note-to-note transition, or most likely a string-to-string transition. And for that, I've found Troy Grady's discoveries invaluable, and also inspiring for me to dig in futher and make more observations about what works and what doesn't.

    At this point, which is very, very different than six years ago, I feel comfortable playing quite a lot of passages at the tempo I want to play them, but it's not because I can move my hands faster perse, it's because I know more about the mechanics of picking and can make good decisions about when to alternate, when to sweep, how to finger, etc, to make things playable. Not all ?things...but a lot!

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by P4guitar
    Okay, apparently I didn't understand what you meant by pick slant. I interpreted that as the angle between the plane of the pick and the axis of the string. You seem mean the angle/tilt of the pick relative to the surface of the guitar.

    We were talking in different dimensions



    Regardless of directionality, my pick slant never changes for either definition. I use a floating arm technique with no palm or fingers resting on the guitar body. It works just fine and I can play far faster than I can think which is not a good thing.

    Several years ago I posted some instructional videos of how to add harmony to one's playing for either group or solo situations. One of the techniques I demonstrated was the use of spread triads (back then I called it some made up name as I didn't know the terminology). In the video the spread triads were arranged as every other string so it was nothing but string hopping. I employed standard economy picking with no pick slant, as I think you mean it. It works for me.

    Start at the 7:46 mark.
    Hey P4, the playing at the clip sounds great! However the tempo and density of the passage is pretty low/slow, so I think many different picking approaches would work at that tempo. I think where these issues become important is when we're up against a tempo ceiling. But as I said in my other post, if one has no desire to increase the tempo on a passage, then it ain't broke. But on the other hand, it doesn't give us a lot of data or arguments about which slant/stroke etc is most efficient

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank67
    If somebody has figured something out that he or she feels comfortable with, I do not see a reason to change.
    I think Jimmy Bruno would agree with this. He has said (on his site) that guys who have been playing several years will have a hard time learning to pick as he does. I think he says it takes about six months. If you don't need to, don't (-unless you have six months with nothing better to do, but who among us does?)

    The problem comes when what one is comfortable doing WON'T get the job done. In Jimmy's case, he said he couldn't play some bop things at tempo with alternate picking. It was that simple. What he knew wasn't working, so he had to find something that would. This is what he found.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci
    Hey P4, the playing at the clip sounds great! However the tempo and density of the passage is pretty low/slow, so I think many different picking approaches would work at that tempo. I think where these issues become important is when we're up against a tempo ceiling.
    Thank you, but the video wasn't a performance, it was a 2014 demonstration of the use of spread triads and other techniques for adding harmony, so I kept it slow and brief for the viewer.

    The only reason I posted it was to show that string hopping was very doable with zero pick slant.

    For very fast passages of spread triads, I wouldn't flat pick anyway, but hybrid pick, pick and fingers, which I also show in the vid. But again, the vid wasn't about picking - I don't care how people pick.

    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci
    But as I said in my other post, if one has no desire to increase the tempo on a passage, then it ain't broke. But on the other hand, it doesn't give us a lot of data or arguments about which slant/stroke etc is most efficient
    I didn't think that was the discussion. Another person was claiming that string hopping would be very difficult to do using zero pick slant - I was responding to that.

    I'm a hybrid, economy stylist, but not a defender of the technique. Each is free to choose their own path, and I encourage everyone to do that. One of my favorite players ever, didn't even use a pick.

    Just to add another dimension to the discussion, people get wrapped around the axle about technique. I view technique important only to the extent that it aids one's expression. Superior technique combined with weak ideas or limited harmonic range is useless in my book.

    The OP was asking about the benefit of economy and my response is that economy was only potentially useful is if his current technique was deficient for his needs, and only he could determine that. As for me, I have zero interest in improving my right hand; it can already do more than I know to ask of it.

  17. #16

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    As and aside , anyone know which technique
    Frank Vignola uses ?

    I'm an ignoramus on picking
    But I like Franks picking style ...

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    As an aside , anyone know which technique
    Frank Vignola uses ?
    I've asked Frank about his picking and he describes it as "mostly down." He plays mostly downstrokes. He thinks they sound better, esp for melodies. Some "flourishes" require other approaches but he describes his own picking as "mostly down."

    By the way, Frank doesn't like to offer picking advice. He says he's played with so many great players who do it in different ways...

    I have a lesson coming up with him via True Fire and I am going to ask him if he sees anything in my picking that, however comfortable I may be with it, could be holding me back. (Even if he doesn't want to teach some specific way, I hope he feels comfortable saying, "Okay, that is a problem because it means you're playing with too much tension," or somesuch.


    Here he is with Andres Oberg playing "Limehouse Blues."


  19. #18

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    There seems to be a half-life of any discussion of picking mechanics at which it is realized that the terms being used (pick slant, pick angle, etc...) are not being understood or interpreted the same way by everyone. This causes confusion and the occasional revelation. Slant, angle, and similar terms are like transitive verbs - they need to take an object. They need to be referenced so that saying "up" or "down" indicates the direction of rotation, but this is rarely done. Otherwise, how does one know that "downward pick slant" means that the left side of the pick as you look down at it is the side that is the lower side? These words need a definite orientation reference attached, but doing so makes their use even more complicated.

    I use a convention that might help clarify the static and dynamic picking descriptions... the pick's shape suggests he infield of a baseball diamond - the pointy end is home plate, and you can see where first, second, and third base would be positioned.

    So, for example, I can describe the way I hold the pick using both ways to indicate the same information, like this:

    I use downward pick slanting, which is a rotation around the longitudinal axis of the pick in which "downward" is referring to the rotation direction that makes the left edge of the pick lower. I use downward pick angle, which is a rotation around the lateral axis of the pick where "downward" refers to the main body of the pick being lower than the tip.

    or

    First above Third and Home above Second (Pick as infield)

  20. #19

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    Vignola’s style looks like Gypsy picking to me. Very elegant and fluent.

  21. #20

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    To answer the OP, Bruno said that it took him about 6 months to convert and that he didn't play very well while "converting".

    Described in his "Art of Picking" book.


    Bottom line is that he picked up speed.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by wengr
    So I recently heard JB say in a video that for him, picking is simply: when moving to a higher string use a downstroke, and when moving to a lower string use an upstroke. Same string gets alternate.
    It's the way I play but I'm just a beginner. I was wondering if in the future I will have problems to accentuate the notes moving to another string...

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tales
    It's the way I play but I'm just a beginner. I was wondering if in the future I will have problems to accentuate the notes moving to another string...
    I think that the economy approach is generally faster but harder to have rhythmic definition and controlled accents, while the alternate picking is generally the opposite: easier to control rhythm and accents, but slower, all things being equal.

    I've spent a lot of time working on accents and rhythms within economy/sweep. You can get good articulation happening, depends a lot on the individual line.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank67
    Vignola’s style looks like Gypsy picking to me. Very elegant and fluent.
    He is a marvelous player, and his tastes range from the Beatles to Beethoven, from Gypsy to Swing to bop to contemporary jazz / pop. But as he says in this educational video, he tries to keep it "simple, bluesy and melodic."

    He's very keen on simple structures and sequences. (Kessel was like that too.) Neither noodled. But for all of Frank's educational material (-Mel Bay, TrueFire, see frankvignola.com for more), he never (AFAIK) talks about picking. He gives technique exercises but doesn't talk about pick grips, wrist motion, rest strokes, any of that. I wish he would but he doesn't.


  25. #24

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    I thought Adam Rogers did a LOT of economy picking, no? That's what it looks like on video.

    But anyway, duh, a lot of pro players alternate pick. There's this guy Greg Duncan that plays here in Boston, he alternate picks EVERYTHING and I've seen him live many times, many times pushing way past the 300 mark, maybe 350.

  26. #25

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    yes, most pro players including benson and martino occasionally use economy picking but the majority of their playing is alternate. IMO, economy picking's biggest weakness is a lack of strong swing feel due to the slightly timeless nature of directional picking.

  27. #26

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    To be clear here, I think that Rogers and Benson use mostly some sort of economy or other non-alternate picking, no? Correct me if I'm wrong?

    As for DiMeola I think he doesn't even alternate everything. There's a youtube lesson with him talking about how for certain arpeggios it makes much more sense to do consecutive down or up strokes.

  28. #27

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    I think there are some pretty extreme and significant advantages and disadvantages to all picking styles, so I guess the sound should be the guide. When you look at pros who use alternate or mostly slurs or mostly economy picking you get camps of players who all sound quite different from each other, but they all have big fan bases as well as people who dislike their playing.

    I guess off the top of my head I'm thinking of guys like Martino, Kreisberg, Dimeola and McLaughlin vs guys like Rosenwinkel, Mike Moreno, Metheny, Jim Hall, Tal Farlow. The former being players who mostly alternate pick and the latter being players who do more a combination of economy picking and slurs, as well as some alternating for sure. Definitely a different tone and time feel, I'm definitely not going to be one to say that one approach is better than the other.

    The way I see it, you can get much stronger, rhythmically, with alt picking, but you may be more inclined to be more conservative and straight forward with rhythms, as opposed to mixing in triplets and odd groupings. Eco picking doesn't seem to have that same drive but opens up a player for more rhythmic fluidity. I was figuring out some Joe Henderson solos a while back and a lot of those arpeggios really require eco picking and sweeping. Some rhythms that horn players play are crazy...I don't know if alternate picking some of that stuff is even possible just because it's hard to apply the rules of alternate picking to a passage that mixes triplets, sixteenth note up beats, etc.

    Alt picking even slightly more syncopated rhythms introduces some funny problems. For example, say you have a line that's mostly 8th notes but in the middle is one group of three eighth note triplets. If you were faithfully alternate picking the whole package then after those three eighth note triplets the direction of your picking will be reversed and you'll be playing upstrokes on downbeats.

    Obviously there are simple solutions to this problem, but they involve breaking from strict alternate picking.

    Of course, economy picking makes playing consecutive large intervals easier, and I think that's part of the appeal to modern players.

    Julian Lage is an absolute monster...he probably has more versatile technique and better time than any guitarist I have ever heard...he economy picks plenty of stuff, and I have no idea how he does it with such great time and rhythmic punch. Hell, Mike Moreno as well...absolutely insane technique, mostly eco I believe.

    As for me, I alternate pick most things as it's what I'm used to. Economy picking is too much of a head ache for me. I'll do some sweeps for triplets and arpeggios, a slur here or there to make things easier and smoother. I also think I prefer that driving, consistent sound rather than the wishy-washy thing that most economy pickers get. Of course, I'm sure you can practice eco picking to get it more rhythmically driving just as you can practice alt picking to get it more rhythmically versatile and applicable to wider interval leaps. Right now I'm more at a stage of expanding the alt picking rather than taking baby steps with eco picking. But I can sweep some nice stuff on a good day!

  29. #28

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    jake, metheny and hall use mostly alternate picking as do benson and rogers though as some have pointed out, rogers uses a lot of economy picking. Most everyone does on jazz arpeggios. Disagree all you want.

  30. #29

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    As a big gypsy jazz fan, I'll say those guys are great.

    Not better. Great.

    No matter how clean and fast they are, a lot of the gypsy jazz players lack in dynamics...nobody's perfect.

    Well, maybe Boulou!

  31. #30

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    Rogers quite often will economy pick even when playing step-wise, ascending 3 nps stuff.

    Check out his right hand on this quick little run from 1:02 to 1:05 - he's continuing his downstrokes when moving to adjacent strings during the ascending part:

  32. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci
    Alt picking even slightly more syncopated rhythms introduces some funny problems. For example, say you have a line that's mostly 8th notes but in the middle is one group of three eighth note triplets. If you were faithfully alternate picking the whole package then after those three eighth note triplets the direction of your picking will be reversed and you'll be playing upstrokes on downbeats.
    But that would happen with virtually any syncopated rhythm.

    I'm confused. Apparently, I'm not familiar with the terminology. Are these "alt picking" players strictly alternating without regard to the portion of the beat a note occupies? I always assumed that the strength of alternate picking was that you consistently played stronger parts of the beat with downstrokes (or sometimes upstrokes?) when playing a syncopated rhythm, providing that stronger "groove" that people say is lacking in economy picking.

    I know that a lot of bluegrass players, for example, play eighth note runs with downstrokes on the beat and upstrokes on the "and" of the beat. Don't funk and rock players do this too (sometimes with sixteenths of course)? If this isn't alternate picking what do you call it? Is this some third category?
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 05-10-2011 at 08:56 AM. Reason: clarity

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    But that would happen with virtually any syncopated rhythm.

    I'm confused. Apparently, I'm not familiar with the terminology. Are these "alt picking" players strictly alternating without regard to the portion of the beat a note occupies? I always assumed that the strength of alternate picking was that you consistently played stronger parts of the beat with downstrokes (or sometimes upstrokes?) when playing a syncopated rhythm, providing that stronger "groove" that people say is lacking in economy picking.

    I know that a lot of bluegrass players, for example, play eighth note runs with downstrokes on the beat and upstrokes on the "and" of the beat. Don't funk and rock players do this too (sometimes with sixteenths of course)? If this isn't alternate picking what do you call it? Is this some third category?

    Matt,

    Yes you have misinterpreted. We agree on the definition of alt picking - downstrokes on downbeats, upstrokes on upbeats.

    The problem I was outlining with my specific rhythmic example is that in some circumstances there are more options present than a downbeat and an upbeat.

    Alt picking consists of a down and an up - two parts. That's great when the notes are either on 1, 2, 3, 4 or any of the &s. There's a binary system set up there.

    However, triplets have three parts, and of course quintuplets have five parts, etc.

    If you even have consistent triplets for a measure or so, to strictly alternate pick them is, by the definition above, somewhat impossible. For example, say you have 8th note triplets starting on beat 2 and continuing for a measure or two. If you start picking with a downstroke, then beats 1 and 3 are going to get upstrokes. If you start picking with an upstroke, then beats 2 and 4 will get upstrokes.

    I mean, first thoughts are that we can do one of two things:

    1. Expand our definition of alternate picking so that the pulse/downbeat doesn't always have to get a downstroke.

    2. Expand our definition of alternate picking so that you may sometimes get consecutive downs or consecutive ups in order to fulfill the requirement that all strong beats/downbeats get downstrokes.

    Either one is totally fine for me. In an actual playing context this example shouldn't be problematic at all. However I'm only mentioning it to get back to the first example I gave:

    If you have all 8ths except one group of triplets within the line, then you either have to slur a note or concede to #1 or #2 above. Does that make sense?

    So ok, so far, this isn't a big deal at all. Either you 'reverse' the picking for the remainder of the line after the triplets, or you slur a note, or you simply on one occasion in the line do two consecutive downstrokes or two consecutive upstrokes.

    This is fine, no real problem playing wise.

    The problem is when this small example gets more complicated. If you have 8th note triplets, 16th note upbeats, 8th notes, etc, a real wonky line that mixes a lot of different types of rhythms, trying to even conceive of how to logically apply any alternate picking rules to that line seems like a waste of time to me. There may be no clear downbeat or strong pulse within the line itself That fact coupled with the lack of a presence of any sort of yes/no/yes/no (down/up/down/up, strong/weak/strong/weak) binary logic to the line means that we have to find some other way to pick it

    What the f*** is my point? Extreme rhythmic dexterity is not only better suited to picking that is mostly not-alternate, but it can actually be impossible to try to apply alternate picking logic to some of these lines.

    No problem if we're playing Pat Martino solos, but problematic if we're trying to cop from a lot of other instruments and players that have a sophisticated rhythmic vocabulary.

    Just my $.02.

  34. #33

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    No Jake,

    You're wrong. In fact, in studying with Sandole and Martino one of the most important criteria was to make the upstroke and downstroke sound identical so that the rhythmic placement of the 8th note didn't need to be played by a specific stroke. And one of the "patented" martino exercises is to play the diminished scale with 3 notes per string but accenting every 3rd note USING ALTERNATE PICKING. This means that the accents are falling alternately on upstroke / downstroke .

    Alternate picking is alternating up and downstrokes, regardless of the rhythmic pattern of the music. It would be silly to play a series of notes with continual upstrokes if they happened to be falling on upbeats. *HOWEVER*, you should be able to do that if you practice everything with every possible picking pattern.

    Note - There is nothing wrong with being a primarily alternate picker but using economy picking or other types of techniques. But the definition of alternate is binary. Down/Up/Down/Up or Up/Down/Up/Down, etc.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    No Jake,

    You're wrong. In fact, in studying with Sandole and Martino one of the most important criteria was to make the upstroke and downstroke sound identical so that the rhythmic placement of the 8th note didn't need to be played by a specific stroke.

    Alternate picking is alternating up and downstrokes, regardless of the rhythmic pattern of the music. It would be silly to play a series of notes with continual upstrokes if they happened to be falling on upbeats. *HOWEVER*, you should be able to do that if you practice everything with every possible picking pattern.

    Note - There is nothing wrong with being a primarily alternate picker but using economy picking or other types of techniques. But the definition of alternate is binary. Down/Up/Down/Up or Up/Down/Up/Down, etc.
    That's not how I've learned it, but that's ok. Since this is guitar playing and not astrophysics, there can be more than one definition of something.

    I actually think there are huge advantages to this specific definition of alt picking - for swing feel with a lot of 8th notes, it's easy to get a very consistent rhythm going to always be down on down, up on up. But, as I thin you agree, it's not best for everything.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci
    That's not how I've learned it, but that's ok. Since this is guitar playing and not astrophysics, there can be more than one definition of something.

    I actually think there are huge advantages to this specific definition of alt picking - for swing feel with a lot of 8th notes, it's easy to get a very consistent rhythm going to always be down on down, up on up. But, as I thin you agree, it's not best for everything.
    Where your definition of alternate fails I think is when there are multiple upbeat accents in a row and faster tempos. It becomes difficult to do multiple, consecutive upstrokes to keep up.

    The goal with alternate picking is to be able to make the upstroke indistinguishable from the downstroke. *THEN* you can control where your accents are played.

    I'd advise practicing the pat martino line using up/down, down/up, etc.


  37. #36

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    Well, whatever picking method is chosen, I gotta agree with RichB that time is the most important element. Whatever the method is, the player has to put in serious hours (and in a sense, research) towards getting the time and feel exactly as they want. It is definitely the most overlooked element, imo.

    I like the "down on downs" method for the sound I usually go for. There is some economy stuff I should shed...but that stuff is too much of a headache for me. Too weird to think of each individual note as having a stroke based on the direction of the string-changing rather than the rhythm. I can do it at slower tempos but can't burn coherantly that way. I guess it's all about what you're used to.

    Hybrid picking is pretty cool too but I bite my nails too much and then can't get a strong tone. Bummer.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    Where your definition of alternate fails I think is when there are multiple upbeat accents in a row and faster tempos. It becomes difficult to do multiple, consecutive upstrokes to keep up.

    The goal with alternate picking is to be able to make the upstroke indistinguishable from the downstroke. *THEN* you can control where your accents are played.

    I'd advise practicing the pat martino line using up/down, down/up, etc.

    Ok so I read through...around 220, in 2 so more like 16th notes...straight 8ths feel... could pick a number of ways.... now if there were phrasing and articulations added, I would know how you want played and would greatly influence my picking.
    I don't think about picking patterns... I think about how I want what ever I'm playing to sound like. To me you need to be able to cover all possible methods or at least a few, enough to phrase and cover articulations. But I guess were talking about practice... I would work on getting to that point ware you don't need to think about which direction your pick is going on attack... like I said you should be thinking about what you want what your playing to sound like. As Jack mentioned, should be able to accent... or not accent... in both directions. Best Reg

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by gingerjazz
    After watching A jimmy Bruno video(no nonsense jazz guitar)he makes the comment that sticking to alternate picking only is ok if you dont want to be a pro guitarist.He goes on to show some economy picking on a major scale run,saying you could not play this as fast as a pro without this technique.He says you can only play up and down pick strokes up to a limit.My thoughts on this are that you can only use this technique in certain places in the run,and are still forced to use regular up and down for the other notes,so if you are playing even notes throughout the run then surely you are still having to up and down pick at the same speed as the notes that are sweep picked.Do you guys think it is possible to play at a pro level using strict alternate picking.

    You may have misunderstood. I never said that. I said it would be very difficult and it was for me at least , to play Parker or Coltrane or Oscar type lines with alt picking.

    Gotta love this, some guy mis quotes me and the a lot of you take it as fact and go off.


    Anyone can be a pro player. It is certainly not determined by how one picks but what notes you choose.

    jb

    If you have been playing for a long time I don't recommend switching picking technique. To each his own. I only teach what "I DO" If you want to try it out go for it
    Last edited by jimmyb; 05-11-2011 at 10:46 AM.

  40. #39

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    Jimmy,

    it would be helpful if you could tell us what you do say concerning "being a pro" in that video (for those of us who haven't seen it, like me)-- I know ginger, and he's not trying to make stuff up to start a fire--it's an honest misunderstanding, that I'm wondering if other beginners might have the same misunderstanding.

    My guess is it's more a "throwaway" quote and you didn't intend it to be taken seriously--but you're a very highly regarded player--some folks are gonna take you at your word whether you're completely serious or not!

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Jimmy,

    it would be helpful if you could tell us what you do say concerning "being a pro" in that video (for those of us who haven't seen it, like me)-- I know ginger, and he's not trying to make stuff up to start a fire--it's an honest misunderstanding, that I'm wondering if other beginners might have the same misunderstanding.

    My guess is it's more a "throwaway" quote and you didn't intend it to be taken seriously--but you're a very highly regarded player--some folks are gonna take you at your word whether you're completely serious or not!


    It was not a throw away. I never said that. In another topic I do say that if you can't devote 6 to 8 hours a day you won't become a pro. Just my opinion

    as far as picking, here's my whole method.

    When going to a higher string it is always a 'down' If you are going to a lower string it is always an 'up'

    I don't change the picking because of a line or the style of music
    Last edited by jimmyb; 05-11-2011 at 11:23 AM.

  42. #41

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    I wonder how he got that out of it? But he is a good guy, Jimmy, I know he's not trying to start things up.

    As for the 6-8 hours a day, I agree. It has to be your job if you're a pro.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmyb
    It was not a throw away. I never said that. In another topic I do say that if you can't devote 6 to 8 hours a day you won't become a pro. Just my opinion

    as far as picking, here's my whole method.

    When going to a higher string it is always a 'down' If you are going to a lower string it is always an 'up'

    I don't change the picking because of a line or the style of music
    I think Barney Kessel once said he practiced five hours every day for his entire career. Makes sense to me.

    Jimmy, "Art Of Picking" is a favorite of mine. If you haven't seen it folks, it's great. The approach is really helpful.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by paynow
    I think Barney Kessel once said he practiced five hours every day for his entire career. Makes sense to me.
    .
    Me too. And he probably had a gig or a session most days too...There's his 6-8 hours (if not more!)

    Playing live in front of people is practice, really...

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I wonder how he got that out of it? But he is a good guy, Jimmy, I know he's not trying to start things up.

    As for the 6-8 hours a day, I agree. It has to be your job if you're a pro.
    I can accept that but it's the others that assume this was true and for whatever reasons decided that's what I said and took it as gospel . That's why I don't post much because of guys that do that type thing

  46. #45

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    More on being a pro.

    Since I started playing jazz exclusively I have never solicited a gig, a mag article or students. People call me because they like my playing and/or teaching. I can't control what the media says about me. It's the nature of the beast.

    If you are really as good as one thinks they are, you really don't have to do anything. Work and recognition come from your playing.

    Maybe that's one aspect of being a so called "pro player" It certainly isn't the picking.
    Last edited by jimmyb; 05-11-2011 at 12:59 PM.

  47. #46

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    Jimmy what do you think of RB's comment that it's impossible to play with a relaxed swing feel when picking from the elbow?

  48. #47

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    Not that way for me. If you do it wrong you tense your arm and it becomes a problem. Maybe for RB this is true. There is no right way or wrong way. If you can play what you hear there is no reason to change picking tactics

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    What do people call the method I described earlier of
    playing downstrokes on strong beats ("1" and "&" in sixteenth patterns). I'm sincerely just curious about what this 3rd category is, if it's not some variation of alternate picking.
    And from an earlier post:
    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    I know that a lot of bluegrass players, for example, play eighth note runs with downstrokes on the beat and upstrokes on the "and" of the beat. Don't funk and rock players do this too (sometimes with sixteenths of course)? If this isn't alternate picking what do you call it? Is this some third category?
    Matt, I'm pretty sure you're referring to the *very popular* approach to using a flatpick, used by acoustic "flatpickers" the world over... they didn't invent it, however. I do know that it's very common, and that yep, practicioners of this method call it "Alternate Picking." No other term for it. It's "down-strokes on down-beats, up-strokes on up-beats, with NO EXCEPTIONS. Or few exceptions.

    Who's using this? Lots! I was surprised that these other guys seem unfamiliar with it, or see it as a sub-category thing. Ivor Mariants (sp?), in a 1978 book, "Perfect Pick Technique," teaches this method. He was a jazz player and the book includes photos of him with George Benson, and the claim that Benson told the author that he wished he'd learned this method when he was younger. (I question this!)

    In the morning hours, I attempt to teach myself to play jazz, but at other times, I play fiddle tunes on a dreadnought.

    Over the past 30 years, this style of guitar playing (technically demanding, whoa!) has "exploded" -- and it has acquired a standardized technique - probably because it *is* so difficult. I've seen Bryan Sutton "cross-pick" (down on, say, the G string, up on B, down on high E, up on G, repeat this four-note, three-string pattern just like a Scruggs-style banjo "roll") at *tremolo* speed. Probably 160 bpm, at least. Strictly down-ups, and this is sixteenth notes. (Search YouTube for "how to cross-pick" - it's hard at any tempo.)

    Anyway, besides these tens of tens of thousands of fiddle-tune players who use this strict method, there are many others. Jazz guitarist Joshua Breakstone preaches it fervently, and learned it, I think, from Sal Salvador. There's an entire chapter in Breakstone's book, "Jazz Guitar Etudes" devoted to ingraining this approach into a player's muscle memory.

    Although rock/metal/anything virtuoso Guthrie Govan can sweep with the best of 'em, he prefers alternate picking, and sticks to the method we're talking about here.

    And, when he's not sweeping, Troy Stetina uses this for his alternate picking, too. These guys are beyond fast - they're "off the metronome." I wish I knew how to post .mp3s - I could provide some quick examples. (Someone tell me how!)

    Finally, unless I'm terribly mistaken, our old friend Bill Leavitt teaches this in _A Modern Method for Guitar_. Check the etudes and notice pick direction. Leavitt also briefly shows (for completeness' sake) "another, 'old-fashioned' way," which is actually "Gypsy picking" - every time you move to a different string, you change to a downstroke. Joe Pass played this way, too, and it can be very fast. But Leavitt says it's out of fashion now.

    So yeah - it's everywhere, this approach to alternate picking. In fact, until I read this thread, I thought this *was* the common definition of alternate picking.
    Last edited by Kojo27; 05-15-2011 at 03:37 AM.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kojo27
    "Alternate Picking." No other term for it. It's "down-strokes on down-beats, up-strokes on up-beats, NO EXCEPTIONS." Or few exceptions.
    With all due respect - alternate picking means alternating up and down strokes - period. Nothing to do with up beats or down beats. Carrying through the motion to an adjacent string (e.g. continuing with a down stroke onto the G string after executing a downstroke on the D string) is NOT alternate picking.

    Of course, most prefer to use down strokes on the strong beats, but that doesn't really have any bearing on the definition of alternate picking.

    Unless I'm somehow wrong......

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit59
    With all due respect - alternate picking means alternating up and down strokes - period. Nothing to do with up beats or down beats. Carrying through the motion to an adjacent string (e.g. continuing with a down stroke onto the G string after executing a downstroke on the D string) is NOT alternate picking.

    Of course, most prefer to use down strokes on the strong beats, but that doesn't really have any bearing on the definition of alternate picking.

    Unless I'm somehow wrong......
    Oh, you aren't wrong at all. I think we're just looking at this term in two different ways. Taken literally, "alternate picking" just might be a "binary" process, as someone said. Up down up down up down, etc., no matter what.

    However, we know that the English language doesn't always work this way. It forever evolves, and it forever comes to include terms that, if taken literally, would not necessarily convey the meanings they're intended to convey. Words and terms expand beyond their literal "face value." "Lend me a hand" is a lousy example, but it's late and the only one I can think of.

    I just meant that, for the people (many, many thousands) who pick this way - down on the down beats, up on the up beats - "alternate picking" is THE term, and there is no other. They call their way of picking "alternate picking," and since the spoken language determines what is acceptable in linguistics, and eventually in dictionaries, we might as well accept that there will be this definition to deal with. And if linguists determine that more people use "alternate picking" to mean "down on the down-beats, up on the ups," then dictionaries will list this definition as the primary one.

    It pisses me off, too, sometimes, that our language works this way. In a new dictionary I bought, the word "mature" is actually given the acceptable pronunciation of "muh - CHURR" ... because so many pronounce it this way (or mispronounce it?)

    Hey-ho. Accepted pronunciations, definitions - they both depend on the *spoken* language. So we'll probably see two entries for "alternate picking." In unabridged editions only, I suspect. Don't think we'll see the term in a normal dictionary.

    Unless I'm somehow wrong.