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The secret to fast alternate picking

Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 9:48 am
by orlandopunk
String hopping is the biggest problem when it comes to shredding on alternate picking

This jumping motion, just when you built up smooth and consistent picking speed on one string, you have to leap to another, this is awkward and unpredictable, with both string hopping and alternate picking occurring simultaneously, is like impossible

This makes sense because alternate picking, is a back and forth movement, while string hopping, an up and down movement

When you hold the pick slightly angled towards the floor, and play a downstroke, I can see that the pick tends to bury between 2 strings, for example if you did this on the G string, the pick would end up trapped between the G and B strings. If I wanted to move to a new string, I would have to use string hopping to lift the pick over string that was in the way.

But, if you play an upstroke, the pick rises above the guitar body, and breaks free of the surrounding strings. This makes it perfect time to switch strings because the upward motion of the pickstroke itself becomes the string switching movement.

Down is stuck, and up is free

By using downward pick slanting, and simply switching strings after upstrokes, the switching from one string to another, becomes perfectly smooth, and the barriers between the strings melt away

The patterns of shredders always start on downstrokes, which means they always end on upstrokes, they switch strings only after upstrokes.

I watched all shredders instructional videos, such as Yngwie, in every scene, Yngwie was holding his pick with the downward slanting against the body of the guitar, I never noticed this before. This was hardly an accident.

The result of this downward pick slant, meant that anytime Yngwie wanted to switch strings, all he had to was to play a lick that ended on an upstroke, all his patterns and solos, have been specifically designed exactly this way.

As long as you keep the downward pick slant constant, you won't feel the transition from one string to another, there is no string hopping, because every upstroke is itself a string changing movement, every time you play an upstroke, the pick is hanging in the air above the strings, just waiting to drop down on the next string of your choosing, lower or higher string, it doesn't matter which direction, as long as every last stroke is an upstroke

Am I really saying that Yngwie and all other shredders only ever change strings after upstrokes?

What about those 3 or 5 notes per string scales?

This is a problem, because if you start on a downstroke, and play 4 notes on a string, that is good, but if you the same thing and play only 3 or 5 notes, you'd be STUCK

When it comes to 3 or 5 notes per string, Yngwie and other shredders, only pick 2 or 4 notes of those, and the final note is not picked at all, it is a pull off. They always end up on an upstroke.

By simply adding legato, on 3 o 5 notes per string, you always end with an upstroke. MINDBLOWN They play it so fast, you don't even see this, and cannot even hear the legato, it sounds like they are picking every single note, and is not the case.

You can eliminate the legato sequence entirely by simply starting on a upstroke.

ALL the tabs are wrong when it comes to this alternate picking sequences of the shredders.

The shredders play this sequences, and strategically add legato or begin with an upstrokes, so it always ends with an upstroke

NO MATTER, how many notes per string they are playing, 3, 5, 7, 12, it doesn't matter

They always end with an upstroke, thus flying like butter through the fretboard

This is the secret of shredding with alternate picking, then it all boils down to practice with the metronome, unless you always end with an upstroke, you will never be able to play fast like those shredders, not even close

Re: The secret to fast alternate picking

Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 11:43 am
by Pape
The secret to fast alternate picking is legato.... Come on bro! If your having some issues I recommend john Petruccis Rock Discipline, and Paul Gilbert's intense rock vol 1. They are not using legato to alternate pick fast, and neither is anyone else. Alternate picking is not legato, legato is not alternate picking. Yngvie economy picks and uses legato, so does Vai and Satch and a lot of other guitarists, myself included, but this is not fast alternated picking, but another technique in a guitarists arsenal.

String skipping comes with practice, but it can be done with an up or downstroke... I don't plan to end on an upstroke, it's just what falls in a run. You however can, if this helps your playing, it can even be your thing, your niche, that one punk guy never ends with anything but an upstroke, how cool!! But this is not a rule, nor is it the secret to fast alternate picking.

Myth busted.

IMO of corse.

Re: The secret to fast alternate picking

Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 5:51 pm
by chook01
Sounds like you've been watching "Cracking the Code with troy grady " on youtube

Re: The secret to fast alternate picking

Posted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:30 am
by Ales
As the name alternate picking implies, you have to alternate the picking, not "cheating" and using legato. No matter what strings you are playing, and if you end or begin with an up or down, mastering alternate picking is just the ability of doing it in all the different combinations. The important is being consistent on alternate up and down. Of course for some people ending with an up stroke can be easier and more natural, but also play trill with the middle finger instead of the pinky is easier and more natural, so i should avoid using the pinky?
You should check the difference between inside and outside picking, i recommend you the Picking Mechanics book of Troy Stetina, a real good teacher.



Re: The secret to fast alternate picking

Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:30 am
by Bryceybhoy
Having just picked up my first Jem, I've decided to dedicate 2015 to becoming a much better guitarist. My picking is the first thing I'm working on. I'm literally spending two three hours a day practising one lick until I nail it down. It's amazing how a bit of practise helps. I'm also going to start working on Steve's ten hour workout while watching TV.

Oh, and Troy Grady's Cracking the Code is awesome. He's cheesy, but he's fun to listen to.

Re: The secret to fast alternate picking

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:23 am
by Ciaran Clark
When I pick my fastest, is the picking movement coming mostly from my arm/elbow? Also I have a problem that when I play fast and long, triceps hurt bad.

Re: The secret to fast alternate picking

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:27 am
by dmuellerstl
Yes, the legato approach mentioned above is really just one solution used for specific cases but should not be relied upon as a crutch for performing odd numbered picking sequences. For ascending runs in odd numbered sequences, the downward sweep stroke is essential to achieving the string switch WITHOUT employing a legato solution and to keep every note picked. This is commonly considered the "economy" picking approach, but some would argue that economy picking is really just sweep picking with a limited sweep range from one string to another. Descending lines with odd numbered patterns can also switch strings using an upward sweep, and many players use this as well for those situations.

It sounds like someone has definitely been watching Cracking the Code (but missed that sweep stroke point)...

CTC is a great series that has helped me a LOT, which I will expound on for newcomers. If someone comes along who reads this thread and wants to know what that's all about, I'd recommend watching the entire Cracking the Code Season 1 on YouTube for starters. Troy Grady has devoted countless hours to his study of shred picking technique and to producing that excellent series which truly demystifies the picking techniques employed by leading players.

Now for anyone interested in reading my personal CTC testimonial which I'll leave here for fun:

Having learned guitar in the mid-nineties, I was in much the same boat as Troy describes, entrenched in a struggle to understand the right hand picking mechanics used by my heroes (Vai, Malmsteen, Bettencourt, etc.), and despite countless studies of books, magazine articles, and devotion to a few popular instructional videos, the mechanics just never really clicked for me. I was stuck in a cycle of frustration and confusion. I eventually burned out, and I hung it up. What followed for me was a 15-year, personal journey into the study of other stringed instruments and traditional music styles including bluegrass and country/folk music. I eventually made my peace with the electric guitar when my wife and family chipped in and bought me a telecaster as a birthday surprise. It just took a couple of months of knocking the dust off in practice and I was right back to where I had left off... frustrated by obvious synchronization problems between my picking and fretting hand. I begin to think there was something wrong with me, that I had some mental capacity or physical barrier that I was cursed with which would prevent me from ever being able to play to the level of my heroes and peers.

Another 2 years passed while I busied myself with studying blues and country hybrid picking but dared not venture into the dark pit of despair that was the study of shred guitar, for fear of again facing my evil nemesis, the dreaded picking synchronization demon that had utterly defeated my inner shredder nearly 2 decades before. At around this time, my brother-in-law started making amazing strides in his own guitar picking technique. He was showing off these fluid staccato runs with sweeps and arpeggios connecting them, and I was very impressed, and further discouraged with my own personal limitations. It was during a conversation about his progress, and my lack thereof, that he let me in on his secret: something he'd run across online... the Cracking the Code series, which had undeniably propelled him forward in his picking technique. A little more time passed before I finally got around to watching it, but when I did, I immediately knew that Troy was speaking my language. He had been in the exact same boat as me and had come up against the same insurmountable brick wall, but had persevered and eventually discovered the mechanical key to unlocking the door and advancing beyond that technical stalemate. Amazingly, he was now devoted to helping others break out of the same deadlock. I soaked up all of the information in the series like a sponge and immediately put what he preached into practice. Within literal DAYS, my synchronization issues began disappearing. As an already advanced player in many aspects, I just needed to understand the key concepts and needed some exercises to apply them collectively and in principal as a set of defined mechanics: downward pick slanting + edge picking + sweep picking + legato + sequencing + chunking. (Yes, legato still fits in the equation, as a solution for certain string switching dilemmas, but should not be used as a crutch). Having applied these mechanics, I am currently progressing in leaps and bounds toward picking virtuosity on the level of my heroes. The progress is exciting and encouraging, so I just wanted to share it with others who might be in the same situation.
Finally, It is important to note that the goal is to practice these mechanics as a collective until they become second nature. Following these principals is not intended to lock players into a system where we are always thinking in terms of numbered sequences, but in building proven, foundational mechanics where technical barriers are eliminated. Hence, the study of the numbered sequences, problems and their solutions outlined in the CTC series serves as a catalyst for attaining virtuosity and personal creative freedom.

Re: The secret to fast alternate picking

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:27 am
by dmuellerstl
Ciaran Clark wrote:When I pick my fastest, is the picking movement coming mostly from my arm/elbow? Also I have a problem that when I play fast and long, triceps hurt bad.
The goal is to be able to stay relaxed and distribute the workload so that if one point starts to feel the slightest indication of fatigue or tension, you shift more of the workload to another point. At first, you have to make a mental effort to be hyper-aware of it, but with practice it becomes subconscious behavior over time. For this reason, you need to practice producing the speed from only your fingertips while keeping a relaxed shoulder, elbow, wrist. Then move the workload primarily to your wrist motion. Then your forearm, etc. The more capable you are of producing speed from any of these points, the more you are able to shift the workload around to counteract tension and fatigue using slight alterations to your picking motion. Many seasoned players describe this as their approach to extending their stamina over songs with demanding tempos. Hope this helps!