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The Art Of Picking Part 2

Picking on several strings

Those chromatic exercises are another basic thing to practise. They might sound dull, but they sure help a lot and are easy to remember. You can do bunches of variations, like:
1-4-2-3 etc.

Also, you can descend (4-3-2-1 etc.). Try making up exercises with two notes per string, or three. All those variations make a difference, and you´ll gain something from all of them.

Sometimes, on some days, I don´t have the time to practise a lot. I´ll try to get at least 30 minutes. In those 30 minutes, I do what I call my picking routine. That routine consists of the "warming up" (which is a combination of warming up the hands and getting the hands synchronized).

What I do is: I play variations on that "Gilbert-Lick". Next, I play some 3- and 4-note-per string chromatic exercises on all six strings up and down the neck. (Starting at the first fret, from low to high e, then back down in 2nd position, up till I reach the 12th fret, and back down again).

Then I do exercises like this one:

That is my daily routine, and it helps to maintain my technique. The thing is, if you don´t play a lot for a few days (weeks), especially if you don´t play any of those kinda exercises or licks, your technique will definitely suffer.

It´s like a foreign language... you don´t use it, you´ll start to lose it. Your hands will have a hard time synchronizing, your accuracy will be messed up. It will take one or more long practise-sessions to get back to your standard.

So try to make up a routine that you can do once a day. It´s not about stretching the boundaries and developing further, it´s about maintaining what you have.

OK, after all the chromatic stuff, let´s switch and get into "diatonic mode"... here are some easy scale patterns / sequences that I use. They´re in the key of A major / E Mixolydian, and they´re chopbuilders too...

Finally, there are two Steve Morse-style licks that are great to work on your alternate picking…they consist of arpeggios that you´d tend to play with sweep-picking. But you do play them with alternate picking...

Note that in the second staff, the two exercises are pretty much the same. The difference is that I start with a downstroke the first time, and with an upstroke the second time.

You should try that with all your picking licks. There are many situations where it is good to start with an upstroke, and it gives you a larger vocabulary if you can start a lick with EITHER an upstroke OR a downstroke.

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