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  1. #1

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    I finally had a speed breakthrough, although it might be dangerous long-term.

    I play from my wrist. Put simply, I have to let my wrist kind of shake, the way you would if you were trying to shake water off your hand.

    The problem is that I have to bring my elbow into it, and that creates tension, I know.

    Doing it with control is also a challenge, but it got me some extra beats per minute consistently.

    I have seen Andreas Osberg do the same thing it that Blues video somebody posted. It is good for some short-term speed, but I fear using it long term.

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  3. #2

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    I'm happy you've found something that helps.
    Hope there are no undesirable side-effects.

  4. #3
    I've seen this technique a lot in the metal community - people like Rusty Cooley, for example, use it for their very very fast lines.

    The guy who has the world record for most notes per second on guitar (to my knowledge) has made a short video about using a technique like this. I'm not sure how applicable it is to jazz, but it's interesting to look at, at least.


  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow of the Sun
    I've seen this technique a lot in the metal community - people like Rusty Cooley, for example, use it for their very very fast lines.

    The guy who has the world record for most notes per second on guitar (to my knowledge) has made a short video about using a technique like this. I'm not sure how applicable it is to jazz, but it's interesting to look at, at least.

    Thanks for posting this. I have had time to revisit it again. I saw that video awhile back. Very informative and helpful!

    With me, I end up locking down my bicep, just like he does, which is not wise to do for too long, limiting my ability to use this at this point.

    To be honest, for now, I can't produce Jazz lines at speeds that will allow me to use this. Maybe a few runs here or there, but I don't have to "wrist shake" to play them. Also, at those speeds, I pick faster than my left hand can fret, especially if the ol' pink is involved. So I will be using it for other genres.
    Last edited by AlsoRan; 04-07-2018 at 11:15 AM.

  6. #5

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    Speaking of a loose wrist:


  7. #6

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    She has a very supple right hand, very clean!

  8. #7
    I had an argument in the comments of one of the vids Troy did on Molly Tuttle on YouTube... some metalhead in the comments was complaining that Troy had moved away from the rock stuff into bluegrass and other genres... I pointed out that what Molly's doing is probably harder and more impressive than most metal guitarists and he told me I was wrong and that she wasn't impressive.

    I'm not sure how he was typing when he is evidently blind AND deaf, but each to their own.

  9. #8

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    Tuttle is a wonderful player! The problem with talking about physical technique is that people use certain terms differently from each other. As you probably know from the Troy Grady videos, movements are more complicated than they appear visually and more complicated than the way they are usually described, even by the players doing them. Lot's of people claim that a certain approach is "safer," or more ergonomically correct, or more efficient than another. They pretty much never prove this with any data of any kind. No matter how great a player they are, they almost never indicate they have any professional level knowledge of anatomy, exercise physiology, etc. Even people who have significant knowledge of these fields argue over what is the "best" way to move. That leaves us where we started, experimenting to find something that enables us to play what we hear without getting hurt.

    One thing that actually hand Doctors will tell you is that finger movements with a significantly bent wrist increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome or tendon injuries. People in various movement education methods like Feldenkrais, Alexander, etc (scientifically unproven methods but worth trying) will tell you that in general, using more of you body, combining movements around more joints, increases ability and decreases the stress around any one joint. What that means to me in picking technique is that I'm probably better off if my picking movement involves a combination of 1) forearm up and down at the elbow, 2) forearm rotating at the elbow, 3) hand movements in all planes at the wrist, 4) upper arm rotation at the shoulder and 5) maybe some movement of the index and thumb.

    I'm cautious about the index/thumb movement. I know Pasquale Grasso is incredible. Like others, he claims his approach is "safer." But the index movement appears to be primarily around the second joint. I believe the stronger finger movement is the one at the largest joint and that doesn't seem to be possible in conjunction with the thumb movement he does. I also think he is actually getting a lot of his picking power from the forearm movement of the elbow, even if he doesn't say so. I believe that lots of players allow a certain amount of thumb and index movement to occur, not by muscular effort, by as a reaction to the pick being pushed against the string by movements at the wrist/elbow/shoulder. The pick is sort of being forced out of the plane of the strings and the fingers are allowing it to happan.

    Just my two cents. I could be entirely wrong.

  10. #9
    I've messed around with Pasquale's technique. The motion mostly comes from the biggest knuckle of the index finger, with the thumb going along for the ride. To get a feel for it, hold your hand in a fist except for your index and thumb, like you're miming shooting someone.

    Pull your extended finger into your fist. Then extend it again so it's pointing. That's the basic "feel" of the technique Pasquale uses, although keeps the second joint of his index bent so he can keep the pick in place with his thumb. The upstroke feels a lot like you're doing a free stroke with your index finger, and then you extend the finger out for the down stroke, possibly including some thumb extension as well - another poster here on the forum described it as "index pull, thumb push".

    It takes time to get it up to speed, though, and even then, after a certain point you have to involve wrist or elbow movement. Someone else whose "default" technique is index and thumb, Dannyjoe Carter, moves the "shaking" from the elbow for his fastest lines.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Speaking of a loose wrist:
    I was unfamiliar with Molly Tuttle. Very impressive. And entertaining. (With guitar technique, the two don't always go hand in hand.)

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I was unfamiliar with Molly Tuttle. Very impressive. And entertaining. (With guitar technique, the two don't always go hand in hand.)
    I love Molly's playing, and her singing is great too. Rare combination, imho.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Speaking of a loose wrist:

    Thanks for the introduction to this highly talented individual. I, too, was not familiar with her. I am going to have to check out that video for Troy.

  14. #13

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    Here is that Oberg video.

    At 1:56 and at 2:10, you can see that loose wrist plus some elbow when he really kicks in some speed.

    Last edited by AlsoRan; 04-07-2018 at 02:05 PM.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    Here is that Oberg video.

    At 1:56, you can see that loose wrist plus some elbow when he really kicks in some speed.

    I'm confused, that looks like a lot of tightness to me.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    I'm confused, that looks like a lot of tightness to me.
    Others have said the same thing about their observation. I see (or at least I think I see) that on faster runs, such as at that 1:57 point, he starts using his elbow while his wrist and fingers shake.

    I seem to see him locking up his forearm and bicep, especially at 2:10, and then incorporating a little elbow and wildly shaking wrist, just like in the video posted by Shadow of the Sun. I will take another look.

    Oh, and I can see what you are saying in comparison to your video of the young lady- that was a really loose wrist, yet so well under control.

    Andreas has less pick string clearance, IMHO, by necessity given the speed of some of the lines. What do you think?

  17. #16

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    One thing is for sure, this is another example showing there is nothing wrong with letting your palm or pinky rest on the guitar. Whatever resonance is lost seems inconsequential to my ears. I would not notice it.

  18. #17

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    This is how i do tremolos. Getting in time can take a little work.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    One thing is for sure, this is another example showing there is nothing wrong with letting your palm or pinky rest on the guitar. Whatever resonance is lost seems inconsequential to my ears. I would not notice it.
    No, it's the sensible thing to do. There's no way to get the same picking precision with a floating hand.

    I rest my palm (mostly the pad of my thumb part). Some may shy away from this as it may sound thinner (especially on acoustics) compared to rest strokes etc. However, it's often due to the different angle and less downward force of the pick. One has to adjust the thumb/index so that the pick hits at the right angle (pull them inwards), and the fullness is back.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Runepune
    No, it's the sensible thing to do. There's no way to get the same picking precision with a floating hand.
    That’s a strong statement lol. Perhaps you mean ‘I’ve never been able to find a way to do it.’

  21. #20

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    No guitarist has a single technique, IMHO. The physical nature of the interaction between a human and a guitar requires a set of techniques than we move back and forth between. There is a lot of princess and the pea in the discussions by various "experts" on guitar technique. Besides, who is "right?" Wes Montgomery? Joe Pass? George Benson? Pat Metheny? Pat Martino? Chuck Wayne? All of them have idiosyncratic technique and good results.

    AFAIAC, the ne plus ultra plectrum guitar technique belonged to Johnny Smith and his was misrepresented by "experts." His discussion of it here provides the necessary perspective in the first half and specifically around the 12:00 minute mark.



    Johnny's approach was almost remorselessly logical.
    Last edited by Cunamara; 04-08-2018 at 01:39 PM.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    That’s a strong statement lol. Perhaps you mean ‘I’ve never been able to find a way to do it.’
    Maybe it came off a bit wrong. I don't mean that's what everybody should do, that depends entirely on what one want to achieve, but it is the way to get the most precision/speed for single note lines. Actually, I don't think I've ever seen anyone play really fast without support (palm or fingers).

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Runepune
    Maybe it came off a bit wrong. I don't mean that's what everybody should do, that depends entirely on what one want to achieve, but it is the way to get the most precision/speed for single note lines. Actually, I don't think I've ever seen anyone play really fast without support (palm or fingers).
    How fast is fast?



    BTW - before you say he's anchoring the right hand here - he isn't. The back of the knuckle touches the guitar lightly but it is not supporting his picking hand. That's a different thing from the anchoring Molly is doing above.

    Not saying one is better than the other. Just as a floating wrist player myself I don't feel I have problems at speed. OTOH I'm not trying to play Paul Gilbert licks.

  24. #23

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    BTW I can't help but think Johnny Smith's right hand looks more similar to Stochello as he gets fast. Not so much of a wrist angle, perhaps.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    How fast is fast?



    BTW - before you say he's anchoring the right hand here - he isn't. The back of the knuckle touches the guitar lightly but it is not supporting his picking hand. That's a different thing from the anchoring Molly is doing above.
    It's surely a different thing from what Molly does, yes, but how can you say that the knuckle reference is not supporting his picking hand? That's exactly what it does, if you ask me. His pick moves around while his knuckles feel the static reference plane. He'd be pissed if you cut a hole where his knuckles rest

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Runepune
    It's surely a different thing from what Molly does, yes, but how can you say that the knuckle reference is not supporting his picking hand? That's exactly what it does, if you ask me. His pick moves around while his knuckles feel the static reference plane. He'd be pissed if you cut a hole where his knuckles rest
    Every teacher of gypsy jazz picking tells you not to anchor the right hand, but it's OK to brush the soundboard lightly with your knuckles.

    If you look his right hand knuckles move over the face of the guitar so it's acting as a positional sensor. It's definitely helping in that sense, I do the same thing myself.

    If that's anchoring to you, then there you go, but anchoring to me is locking the position of one part of the hand to the instrument and moving from there.

    With this 'brushing' thing, the hand continues to move freely.

    So semantics aside, I think that's an important distinction to make when examining different techniques.

    I just thought, for electric technique it's possible to differentiate players that right hand mute without anchoring and those that combine the two.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Every teacher of gypsy jazz picking tells you not to anchor the right hand, but it's OK to brush the soundboard lightly with your knuckles.

    If you look his right hand knuckles move over the face of the guitar so it's acting as a positional sensor. It's definitely helping in that sense, I do the same thing myself.

    If that's anchoring to you, then there you go, but anchoring to me is locking the position of one part of the hand to the instrument and moving from there.

    With this 'brushing' thing, the hand continues to move freely.

    So semantics aside, I think that's an important distinction to make when examining different techniques.

    I just thought, for electric technique it's possible to differentiate players that right hand mute without anchoring and those that combine the two.
    I was replying to AlsoRan saying that "there's nothing wrong with letting your palm or pinky rest on the guitar". I think it's a very good idea, letting something close to the pick rest on the guitar. I'm not saying one needs to anchor anything. I rest my palm (cause, amongst other things, I want to be able to mute the lower unused strings) but I don't anchor it firmly. I let it brush/roll over the strings/bridge as needed.

    So, all the different ways to skin a pick aside, I'm just saying that having something on your hand touch the guitar for reference helps in achieving controlled, speedy picking

  28. #27

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    You can touch the strings alot for balance picking fast too. Ive always like the tone especially on acoustic when you pick at the neck or next to the hole without palm muting. But I have small hands so its hard to reach the low e with any fingers on the guitar. So I noticed you can get balance by using thumb muting instead. And you kinda lose that on A and E but then you have your pinky and ring fingers rubbing on the treble strings and that helps you balance.

    Im not Yngwie but I think I was doin some good licks in this.


  29. #28

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    I have yet to check out Molly Tuttle's work, but I'm glad Troy is exploring all those different players. Especially on acoustic, there's no "cheating" on acoustic.Troy's work is genius, I feel privileged he's around. There are a couple of free interviews he did recently with Andy Wood that had a couple of major revelations so far as strumming is concerned, up until now he didn't have a great deal of content about strumming. I don't care if it's jazz, metal or bluegrass frankly. Andy's technique has to be one of the best I have ever seen on guitar; power and smoothness. With a technique like that, I can't imagine him ever getting injured. Technique can, and sometimes must be studied separately. It works for tennis, golf and countless sports. It's no coincidence that in golf and tennis, the best in the world, e.g. Federer, Woods, more often than not, also have the best technique in the world, and never get injured. Learning the mechanics of an instrument should be no different.

  30. #29

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    It seems odd to bring up Eddie Van Halen in a jazz context, but was reminded of his tremolo picking technique when reading this topic. He's been doing this for decades and his technique has always struck me as being relatively loose and relaxed. There's a really good shot of it around the :30 point in this video:




    Then around :45, he's seen using the "controlled muscle spasm" technique described in the Mile High Shred video...

  31. #30

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    1. Playing tremolo on a single pitch, single string

    2. Playing on a single pitch, single string, in strict time

    3. Playing on a single pitch, single string, and able to coordinate accents and dynamics

    4. Playing different pitches on a single string, in strict time, able to sync up both hands perfectly

    5. Playing passages that require string changes. As far as I know, if we are picking every note, there are only four scenarios that we'll encounter:
    5.1. Changing to a thinner string after a downstroke
    5.2. Changing to a thinner string after an upstroke
    5.3. Changing to a thicker string after a downstroke
    5.4. Changing to a thicker string after an upstroke

    Different picking styles and techniques present different solutions to 5.1-5.4

    The greater variety of string changing scenarios within the passage, the more difficult it is.

    6. Being able to do any of item 5 in strict time with total control over accent and dynamics.

    As far as I know, this particular discussion has really only focused on item 1. Each of #1 through #6 presents different problems and then requires different solutions. If you're interested in picking every note I do think it makes sense to tackle #1 before the rest, but you may find what works well for #1 becomes problematic for #2, what works for #2 doesn't for #3, etc. Similarly when you get to #5 you may find, as many do, that something that works great for one or two of those sub-items doesn't work at all for the rest.

    I've made similar comments in the forum before...after quite a lot of time studying pick technique and hitting a lot of walls and then actually moving past those walls I've found that addressing the above specific scenarios to be more fruitful than just talking about general 'picking speed.' When we do that - and I mean no offense - we're really limiting the potential of the discussion and our discoveries by talking about "pick speed" as just one thing. Because then it's like...great...we can move the pick back and forth on a string fast. It doesn't tell us about the much greater challenges of the different string changing scenarios, and it's definitely going to be disappointing to assume that things will natural transfer over to real-world musical string change scenarios.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci
    1. Playing tremolo on a single pitch, single string...
    Great post, Jake! I've never deconstructed picking speed to that level of granularity. Thanks for posting that and in the same breath, curse you for revealing all the work I have ahead of me.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Speaking of a loose wrist:

    Sometimes people like her - shredders think she sounds slow and boring because not every one understands how much hard work goes into alternate picking one note per string. If youve done it you know she is really good. And Martin Miller, Miguel Marquez, Steve Morse, ...

  34. #33

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    Jake,

    Nice breakdown. Always good to look at the small building blocks.

    Do you consider tremolo picking to be unmeasured? I know some do.
    There are others that think of such things as tremolo, trills, vibrato, etc.
    as measured divisions of the beat and recommend practicing it as such.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostdncr
    Great post, Jake! I've never deconstructed picking speed to that level of granularity. Thanks for posting that and in the same breath, curse you for revealing all the work I have ahead of me.
    You're welcome!

    I want to emphasize - it's not necessarily that you'll have to work on each of those individual scenarios per se, but more so that you might want to check and test that what works for one scenario works for another. If it does not, you may need to make adjustments in the technique or you may need to find additional strategies to handle those scenarios.

    Personally I think Troy Grady is really leading the way in the best 'scientific' research in this topic and his material and the cracking the code forum really has quite a lot of this stuff figured out.

    Honestly at this point I 'get' all of the above in my list and can handle all of those situations at fast tempos pretty well, it's only combinations of certain things within the same run that personally give me trouble, which obviously can be problematic but there are often work-arounds.

    Over on that forum they are trying to nail down the mechanics behind a certain type of picking that allows for equal ease of all string changes, and some people are having success with it (me not being one of them at this point, haha.)

    Some people naturally pick that way. For others, there needs to be attention to all the different pieces, especially when something 'goes wrong.'

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by bako
    Jake,

    Nice breakdown. Always good to look at the small building blocks.

    Do you consider tremolo picking to be unmeasured? I know some do.
    There are others that think of such things as tremolo, trills, vibrato, etc.
    as measured divisions of the beat and recommend practicing it as such.
    Thanks Bako,

    For this discussion, I'm just talking about 'gunning it' - getting that buzz saw going on a single string without any attention to the rhythmic breakdown, then following that would be rhythmic control of the buzz.

    Regarding tremolo measured or unmeasured, I'm not sure about definitions, but I think there's value in both approaches for different musical scenarios, same with vibrato, trills, etc. I've been doing some detailed transcription of vocal stuff and not-super-in-time performing lately and it's cool to note when things seem to be within a metronomic pulse and when they are not. For example, at fast tempos the difference between a grace note and simply a 16th note.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by bako
    Jake,

    Nice breakdown. Always good to look at the small building blocks.

    Do you consider tremolo picking to be unmeasured? I know some do.
    There are others that think of such things as tremolo, trills, vibrato, etc.
    as measured divisions of the beat and recommend practicing it as such.
    I too am glad JakeA pointed this out, along with his other tips. I seem to remember Jack Z writing something similar in that he cautioned us against just working on tremelo picking speed, since its only one part of speed (which also includes things like string skipping and such).

    Personally, I have reached speeds of 208bpm in 16th notes just alternate picking on one string. I can get to 180 bpm, 16th notes, accenting the first note of each 16th note cluster.

    Funny how that ability to accent the first note disappears as the bpm rises.

  38. #37

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    After years of struggling with my picking, I've come to the (rather logical) conclusion that the most important thing is to minimize the motions as much as possible, in order to increase the precision and picking depth accuracy. You don’t need the plectrum to deviate more from the string than what is absolutely necessary. Use a very slight rotation of the wrist. Think of it as ”rubbing” the string, that close feeling. And stay very close to the strings with your hand. I rest the pinky side of the palm rather lightly on the bridge or strings.

  39. #38

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    Floating hand is not very wise technique on electric guitars. You gotta mute strings, you just have to. Some GJ players saying electric guitarists don't know how to pick proper, and then the same players pickup an electric and sound pretty sloppy.

    Anyway, what OP describes it's indeed what EVH was doing all along for single string tremolos. I do the same, but I could never figure out why sometimes it feels awkward and sometimes perfectly fine. I do notice it's more comfortable while playing sitting with guitar up high than standing.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by MatsP
    After years of struggling with my picking, I've come to the (rather logical) conclusion that the most important thing is to minimize the motions as much as possible, in order to increase the precision and picking depth accuracy. You don’t need the plectrum to deviate more from the string than what is absolutely necessary. Use a very slight rotation of the wrist. Think of it as ”rubbing” the string, that close feeling. And stay very close to the strings with your hand. I rest the pinky side of the palm rather lightly on the bridge or strings.
    Minimising movements might seem logical, but in fact it’s unnecessary. The quality and nature of the movement is more important. In fact it may help to exaggerate unfamiliar movements early on.

    I haven’t generally struggled with picking, although a lot of people obviously have. I think it has come from naturally keying into the feeling of a movement. It’s actually a very intuitive thing which is why it can be hard to break down and why Grady’s gone after it with cameras etc.

  41. #40

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    Picking lots of notes on one string is a completely different quality of motion to going across the strings, I’ve found.

    One is more like a broad gesture, quite natural once you get it, the other is extremely repetitive and can easily tighten up if you aren’t aware of how to make the movement.

    Unless your aim is to be dick dale, picking combinations involving string crossing are the most useful obviously... there are different ways of solving that conundrum; but mere picking patterns won’t help unless you understand in your body the quality of movement that needs to be made.

  42. #41

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    Right, regarding a floating hand. You can achieve a pretty high degree of precision by using an arched wrist, but like you’re saying, on an electric guitar, especially at high volume or with overdrive or distortion, you’ll need to mute unplayed strings. Muted playing itself is an important ingredient in that situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    Floating hand is not very wise technique on electric guitars. You gotta mute strings, you just have to. Some GJ players saying electric guitarists don't know how to pick proper, and then the same players pickup an electric and sound pretty sloppy.

    Anyway, what OP describes it's indeed what EVH was doing all along for single string tremolos. I do the same, but I could never figure out why sometimes it feels awkward and sometimes perfectly fine. I do notice it's more comfortable while playing sitting with guitar up high than standing.

  43. #42

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    I wish it would be that easy. God knows I’ve tried. Might look good on paper, though. Watch Yngwie Malmsteen, his motions are extremely small. You will of course decrease the risk of varying the picking depth by using small motions.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Minimising movements might seem logical, but in fact it’s unnecessary. The quality and nature of the movement is more important. In fact it may help to exaggerate unfamiliar movements early on.

    I haven’t generally struggled with picking, although a lot of people obviously have. I think it has come from naturally keying into the feeling of a movement. It’s actually a very intuitive thing which is why it can be hard to break down and why Grady’s gone after it with cameras etc.

  44. #43

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    That’s right, regarding the difference in movement when you switch strings, but that will come with practice. Move the hand as smoothly as possible. That entails keeping the hand very close or on the strings (albeit with a rather light pressure).

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Picking lots of notes on one string is a completely different quality of motion to going across the strings, I’ve found.

    One is more like a broad gesture, quite natural once you get it, the other is extremely repetitive and can easily tighten up if you aren’t aware of how to make the movement.

    Unless your aim is to be dick dale, picking combinations involving string crossing are the most useful obviously... there are different ways of solving that conundrum; but mere picking patterns won’t help unless you understand in your body the quality of movement that needs to be made.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    Floating hand is not very wise technique on electric guitars. You gotta mute strings, you just have to. Some GJ players saying electric guitarists don't know how to pick proper, and then the same players pickup an electric and sound pretty sloppy
    There's a great moment in the closing credits to the Guitar Legends Seville '92 video when flamenco guitarist Vincente Amigo who at that point never played an electric guitar, picks up a Strat laden with effects and slowly but successfully attempts to 'tame the beast':


  46. #45

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    ..
    Last edited by Alter; 01-05-2021 at 04:03 PM.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by MatsP
    That’s right, regarding the difference in movement when you switch strings, but that will come with practice.
    It does for some people. Not all.

    I actually think the biggest enemy is dogmatic/bad pedagogy. If you listen to your body, you have a better chance. Some people are more switched on to this than others.

    inclination of the pick, pick grip, use of hand and wrist muscles are all factors that affect how people play. As I say there’s different solutions to the problem...

    Minimised hand motion may be helpful, but if you aren’t making the right movements to begin with, you are basically screwed. Otoh your hand movements will naturally minimise as you increase speed, so you could be identifying an effect rather than a cause.

    In terms of left hand, i am actually moving towards more movement as a way of eliminating left hand tension that has sometimes been a bit of a problem for me (I’m actually pretty happy with my right hand). Minimising motion can lead to tension. It is not natural to humans to remain still, and to do so requires exertion.
    Last edited by christianm77; 01-04-2021 at 06:28 AM.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    I think no matter what picking (or playing) style one follows, a key for developing speed is building an effortless technique, one that uses the hand motion and weight to create the momentum, and doing so needs minimal energy from the hand.

    This is true for both hands. You need to start slow, with as little pressure and energy in both hands, and then work up your tempos with a metronome diary. Number one concern should be quality of motion and sound.
    solid advice!

    i would quibble about the metronome thing. Speed doesn’t work like that. Once you have learned a phrase, you can either play it fast or you can’t. That’s again a matter of how you move.

    It’s not a linear thing; today I play 5bpm faster than yesterday until I am able to play at my target tempo. You are more likely to make rapid gains as you master the phrase only to hit a hard limit that seems impossible to get past.

    In my experience people who practice this way end up with rather stiff controlled right hand techniques.

    In fact, the metronome is most useful for slowing you down AFTER you can play fast, by making sure you are subdividing accurately which is of course what makes speed sound impressive. As Frank Gambale puts it simply making the movements wasn’t hard (for sweeping which is mechanically easier obviously than alt picking say) it’s actually making it in time and accurate which is hard.

    (BTW for alt picking your primary issue is going to be how you string change. Most alt pickers realise that. However how you make that string change physically is the most important thing when coming up against a speed limit. True alt picking is quite complex from this perspective. There’s easier techniques to learn and teach such as rest stroke picking and of course economy picking, but if you want to alt pick you have to focus on the quality of your string changes.)

    Advice to anyone who would like to improve their picking: Dont ignore left/right hand synching. Once you have a free and supple right hand technique, it’s important to practice the left hand in time. In fact, you could practice it in isolation with the metronome. The more physically precise and rhythmically accurate your fretting is the better your picking will sound. It will also improve your tone.

    One key insight that Troy Grady had that I think it perhaps the most important takeaway from his ideas is that a player’s high speed picking form, stance etc may differ radically from their medium and slow form and that this high speed form is often acquired intuitively.

    This is why so much conventional guitar pedagogy is so unhelpful here, and fast players themselves can’t help because they don’t actually understand what they are doing any better than the audience.

    At risk of banging on, I wonder if it’s the obsession with ‘chops’ in isolation which is creating a problem (Troy included). I notice that many of the ‘fastest guns’ have a strong background in ear learning and transcription; I have to say if I can hear something, my body seems much more willing to find a way to make it happen. Which is also a reason why slowing down things isn’t always helpful.

    Playing fast is not simply a matter of making the slow thing faster. It’s a different regime of physical activity.
    Last edited by christianm77; 01-04-2021 at 06:35 AM.

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    Oh god there’s no shutting me up about this haha.

    I just wanted to add that what you want from a technique varies. what is your technique ‘for’?

    For instance as a ‘stunt rock’ player your emphasis may well be on playing very impressive set piece ideas. The Van Halen tradition if you like.

    (And in other guitar traditions - bluegrass and so on - there are certain guitar things that are hard to do and specific to that tradition, but still fundamentally guitaristic, like cross picking.)

    OTOH for someone like me it’s much more about finding a fluid and flexible technique that will allow me to execute music that wasn’t necessarily conceived with a guitar in mind. This throws up a whole host of technical problems that don’t necessarily have to do with sheer speed.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77

    One key insight that Troy Grady had that I think it perhaps the most important takeaway from his ideas is that a player’s high speed picking form, stance etc may differ radically from their medium and slow form and that this high speed form is often acquired intuitively.
    Troys presentation style aside he did open many players eyes to some crucial problems with regards to picking.

    The old school advice of just practice with a metronome and increase speed and all will take care of it self is flawed.

    String hopping issues may prevent you from playing fast and in order to play really fast you need to be aware of your pickslant at the point of switching strings. There are techniques like cross picking, where such considerations aren't a thing. But while you can actually cross pick at a pretty fast tempo (I think Troy calls it something else than cross picking these days, but don't follow him no more as he is just mostly rehashing)

    This is crosspicking as demonstrated by Carl Miner .. You hold the pick almost flat but change the angle of it every time you pick be it an upstroke or down stroke


    But there is no way in hell you can take that technique and just make if faster with a metronome. It has an upper limit. You're not going to reach schredder speeds playing like that. To play those speeds you need to play some sort of pickslanting based technique. I had a subscription to Troys Masters of Mechanics for a few months and saw all the Carl Miner material. He is one hell of a cross picker, but even he when he needs to run really fast runs will change to pick slanting techniques as the interview with him showed.

    Troy making it common knowled that your pick needs a certain angle when changing strings or risk getting buried and trapped was a really big contribution


    The string hopping is unique to playing stringed instruments with a pick and our little personal challenge.

    But we're not the only ones with such challenges .. Drummers can't always just to right hand left hand right left right left. They need to be aware of stickings or risk finding themselves in a position, where it's physically impossible to continue due to being tangled up

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    ..
    Last edited by Alter; 01-05-2021 at 04:04 PM.