The Art Of Picking Part 3- Appendix
(05 Aug 02)
Whew, who would´ve thought... ? Well, I actually planned to have only two articles in the "Art Of Picking" series. But, after I finished the second one, I gave it some extra-thought and decided to add this "appendix".
What this is is simply a collection of exercises, focussing on the different aspects of alternate picking. Starting with simple one string-exercises, I´m gonna take you through the whole routine until we reach "sequences" ( more on that later ).
Anyway, this is by no means a complete collection or anything. There are gazillions of different picking-exercises. I am just trying to give away some that I liked the most, that helped me and / or my students the most. Hopefully these will be helpful for you too, and I hope even more that they´ll inspire you to go ahead and create your own licks and exercises.
If you realize you have a certain problem with your picking, create an exercise focussing on that problem. This will help to eliminate it. Just some short, repetitive exercises are usually more helpful than long etudes. If you i.e. wanna get used to the concept of "inside picking", I recommend to use some short, repetitive lick using that approach, instead of trying to tackle a whole long etude or solo with that technique immediately.
Same goes for all these exercises and licks that I am showing you in this article, and also the ones I gave away in the other parts: Practise each exercise / lick bit by bit, take out short passages and "practise them in bursts" ( as explained in Part II ), trying to get familiar with the "critical spots" ( i.e. changing from one string to the other etc. ), then try to play the whole exercise.
Example: If you have a fast three note per string-run on all six strings, start with just playing on one of these strings. Get familiar with the picking motion, and try to play the three notes on that string accurate and quick. Then, take the next step and play the three notes on the next. Then, play on these two strings, incorporating the switch from one string to the other. After you´re familiar with all these little segments, put it together.
I once tried to learn the "Moto Perpetuo", a short etude by Niccolo Paganini, which was also quoted by Paul Gilbert in Racer X´s "Y.R.O." ( from the "Street Lethal"-album ). What I did wrong was I tried to play the whole thing through. It didn´t work. Either I made too many mistakes or never got to speed it up. So I sat down and practised just one measure on it´s own. Then I added the next measure... and so on... took a bit longer but was way more efficient. Try to keep that in mind when working on the exercises in this article... or on any other lick, solo or exercise you wanna work on.
Didn´t go into details too much on that topic, I guess. I think I mentioned that, for alternate picking, it´s a good idea to slant the pick a bit, so that one side is closer to the floor than the other ( so it´s not perpendicular to the strings ).
Also, using only the very tip of the pick will help a bit... it´s a great tool for dynamics too, since you´ll get a louder sound ( more "whack" ) out of the strings once you "dig in deeper" and use more of the pick. You can change between using only the tip and using more of the pick... will result in a change of volume.
I recommend rather hard picks. I use a Dunlop Jazz III, and so do guys like Petrucci, Eric Johnson and others. They´re rather small, which fits my style very well... works better than the bigger-sized picks ( Steve Morse i.e. is using a regular, Fender-style pick, while Paul Gilbert uses smaller ones, kind of like the Pickboy Jazz-Picks )
A harder pick won´t bend when you play, and therefore get to the next string faster than a soft pick. That´s just a recommendation though, experiment with that yourself. ( And check out my "99 Ways To Pick" article )
Anyway, let´s stop talking that much, let´s get to the exercises !!