iBreatheMusic.com Online Music Lessons
  The Pulse - iBreatheMusic's official newsletter
Online Articles: 188
Article Browser
Forum Members 26,180
Join Us - Take Part
Pulse Subscribers 2046
The Pulse Archive

The Art Of Picking Part 2


Well, well, well, let´s start part II of my series about picking. I hope you found the first part interesting too. Much of the stuff I was talking about in that first part is true for many aspects of playing, whether you´re practicing picking, theory or whatever.

I've had my share of practicing 8-10 hours a day, drilling myself. That sure had some positive effects and I learned from it. But, like I said in Part I, it often may be more effective to do little exercises (as opposed to 400 bar-etudes) a few times a day, as long as you do them on a regular basis.

It is extremely important to be critical about what comes out of the guitar. Keep listening for noises, try to make each note sound good. If that means slowing down, do so and work up to speed again.

Last time, I left you with two exercises, the "Paul Gilbert picking lick" (which I said is an essential one and really can help you develop your alternate picking if you use it often and on a regular basis) and one example of a chromatic exercise.

Before we continue with those chromatic-style exercises, I´d like to show you another one of my favorite chop-builders, a bit similar to the PG-exercise. This I call the "Gary Moore"-lick cuz he used to play this one a lot back in the 80´s when he was playing a lot of hard rock.

I remember a guitar solo he played where he played this lick at about light-speed... my jaw still kinda hurts cuz back then, it hit the floor really hard. Anyway, you can also hear it being used by Nuno Bettencourt in the intro of "Mutha (Don´t Wanna Go To School Today")... it´s a pretty popular one and a great exercise.

Here is how it goes:

You can continue this one up and down the neck in a diatonic context. Also, try to play it starting with an upstroke. By the way, check out the first measure... the notes are G-E-C-B. Right, those are notes from an Cmaj7-chord. The next one would be A-F-D-C (D min7) etc. So use that system to spread that exercise all over the fretboard. It´s a fun exercise...

Practising "in bursts"

This is an approach I always liked to use. Instead of playing loooooong uninterrupted licks (I talked about that and the problems connected to it in my "Step By Step" article), take a lot of small segments and play them over and over. Try to speed them up. i.e. play three ascending notes on one string as fast as you can. Keep the tempo evenly. You´ll most likely to play those
REALLY fast.

Then play three more on the next, adjacent string. Same thing happens. Finally, make up a longer "burst", playing three on each string. Thereby, step by step, you´re building up something. Change between ascending and descending. Play each "burst" over and over to get your hands, eyes and brain used to it. After you did that, return to one of the longer examples (like the run pictured below as an example for economy picking)

This worked great for me, helped my speed and synchronisation a lot. Here are some examples of "bursts". I repeated each one over and over and finally merged them into long sequences, like the one pictured in the second staff...

Picking on several strings >>