#1

Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:47 pm
by Scottulus • 222 Posts

Hey everyone! First of all, greetings and salutations;this looks like a cool board filled with hardcore guitar slavers. I look forward to lots of posting and reading!

So anyhoo, let me give you a bit of background:

I'm a guitarist living up in Canada, I started playing when I was a little kid (I'm, like 40 now!), and was one of those obsessive types (Really into EVH, Lynch, Malmsteen, Rhoads... Alex Lifeson, Steve Morse, Steve Vai, Satch, etc) But I never really had any formal lessons. The odd, 'hey here's a chord' sort of thing and random sit-ins with the local guitar guy to learn some notes or a cool lick. I went to music school after playing guitar for quite a while, and even there, surrounded by lots of awesome guitarists no one really knew how to pick. No direction on the physical execution of the technique of picking. I mean, Paul Gilbert was a huge influence, and his videos were really helpful... in teaching me that if I worked hard enough at ANYTHING with a metronome, I could get proficient and comfortable. So yep, I got pretty decent at playing the 'ole guitar. The shredi info was self taught and mixed with lots of formal education (solid theory, and good ear training). Still, in order to maintain my level of playing and rhythmic control I had to practice a minimum of an hour to 2 hours a day. I hit a wall speed wise, and wasn't too sure why. I was still pretty bloody fast, so I just never cared. But... I noticed I was kinda tense and playing with my whole arm on the pick side. I'm a pretty big guy, I should NOT have to pick on the strings this way. I also had a really different way of holding the pick, Almost like a direct slice, with my first fingernail parallel with the fretboard, and my thumb stabbing into the pick. Rigid? Yep. Really rigid. And really not fun to practice. My shoulder and neck were starting to kill me. Also, I was addicted to Jazz II's, the little red guys, it was all I could play with...

So about a year ago, I really decided that I needed to change things. First off, normal picks and reversing the tilt of the pick, so that it was more closely resembling the grip that Pebber describes. Trouble was, that I still could not seem to get any REAL information on picking. I knew I was on the right track, but still super tense, and although I had gained some speed, and relaxed a bit, I was still using my whole arm. Ughh Still not fun, too much time on technique...

I had no idea Pebber even existed. I was watching some Tom Hess thing (Not my bag...) When I stumbled across the 'fast picking' video Pebber posted on Youtube. Well, Two more Pebber youtube vids, and I'm sold. Great tone, super fast, really relaxed, and no smoke and mirrors. (I sent Pebber an email immediately expressing my gratitude; THIS IS COOL! I mean, drummers all talk about sticking technique, how to hold it, grips, etc all the time! So What is up with us guitarists? lol Anyways, thanks again Pebber!)This was this last Sunday, July 07, 2013. I learned that I was not going to get Sarod until I learned to relax, and after 35 years of reinforcing a 'workaround' to not knowing how to pick, it was not gonna be easy.

Well, actually it's not too bad. Start with Scalpel picking... hmmmn. So I'm working on that, and although I will need to get used to it, it's coming along very quickly. Also, back, neck and shoulder is completely okay with it... I did notice that my first finger cuticle was kind of hurting a bit, but after three days of practice I realize it's simple a matter of gripping too tight. I'll get it. I also notice that I'm almost trying to fold my middle RH finger over the first finger that's holding the pick... weird, but probably due to me learning to just hold my hand naturally after years of being used to a lot of rigidity. Also, picking on the lower strings (EAD) seems tougher (slightly) than playing on the GBE strings. Again, I'll get it...


Oh here's some links to what I sound and look like while I play, the 'old' arm way... http://www.youtube.com/Scottulus
http://www.scottkerrmusic.com (Have mercy on me, I'm also a stroke survivor!)

I plan to post some video this weekend featuring a jam using nothing but Scalpel picking.

Anyways, I'm basically just hamming out picking exercises from the Paul Gilbert vids, Troy Stetina's Speed Mechanics book in the hopes of getting what I normally play to feel natural using this technique. How soon should I try to attempt Sarod? Conceptually, it makes the most sense to me, but for the life of me I cannot seem to grasp it. lol I still have another 20 years or so, so it should be attainable! hahahaha

Thanks in advance for reading this, and I look forward to any replies, critiques, etc. And yes, I'm jumping all over Pebber's DVD series! hahaha

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#2

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 11, 2013 5:52 am
by dlraben • 278 Posts

Watched a few of your YouTube videos. Very nice playing sir!

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#3

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:57 am
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)
avatar

Quite Solid playing....It takes quite a bit of faith to start the journey to discovering ones own holy grail of stacatto and then in the face of seeming endless impossibility to see that shit through to its conclusion...But for those who are of true faith, the gift of the Sarod is the a crown jewel which enables for all intents/purposes an efforetless and non tremello stacatto.

"Abandon you wrist pickings all ye who enter" should be the sign hanging above the entrance to these forums hahaha-But in all seriousness, the forearm flutter is the holy grail of guitar pickery

Oh and btw welsome to the PB forums (-: I bet that you will be a great asset to these forums.


Last edited Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:06 am | Scroll up

#4

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:10 am
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)
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If you want to Sarod, sit in your room doing just this for at least 6 hours a day for 8 months straight...thats how I picked up my flutter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhHb8u2QoP0

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#5

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:37 pm
by Scottulus • 222 Posts

Thanks so much for the kind words, I took a stab at it, I'm still way too rigid. I'm thinking I might need a few more weeks! hahaha Still learning scalpel!

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#6

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:34 pm
by Scottulus • 222 Posts



So I decided after struggling today on the E and A strings, to sort of 'Downgrade' the amount of stuff I practice. I found that I can do a fairly quick tremolo, but I like playing scaley notes and crazy riffs. This meant that it was focus time! I chose something I was having troubles with that I can do very, very easily using regular alternate picking.

A simple riff like so;

E---------------------------
B---------------------------
G---------------------------
D---------------------------
A-------------5--7--8------
E--5--7--8-----------------

I decided to start real slow, and see if I could get a 'feel' for where the pick is supposed to sit, and gradually increase the tempo. I then got the wise idea to film bits of it. I warn you, it's far from perfect, as I'm still learning how to move and hold the pick, but something clicked!

If you look at my middle finger, there's this weird folding over thing going on (RH) That's due to too much tension, and concentration. I had a couple of moments where it just 'happened' and it was effortless. Oh yes, I'll be honing in on that feeling.

Another observation is that I now 'own' these tempos. I can now play ascending triplets crossing strings from the low 'E' string to the high 'E' at that tempo no problem, any fingering. This means I now own all of my 3 note per string scales (Major, Harmonic Minor and Melodic/Jazz Minor) ascending. I can hack my way through descending, but I think I will need to practice that in the same way.

Of course, I already had some speed doing things the 'hard' way, I'm probably just learning to access it from a different angle is all. Very cool, I'm learning. Any feedback, thoughts or opinions are welcome!

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#7

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:22 pm
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)
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If you ever want a crack at getting Sarod down...your picking hands gonna have to learn to float, and there is no better time to start doing this than the present...I noticed when you got closer to 140 BPM your extra fingers on your picking hand had to plant themselves...

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#8

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:47 pm
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)
avatar

If you desire to get to the point where you can rip through 3 N.P.S. I suggest that you try the following

E|--------------------------------------------------------------u------u------|
B|-------------------------------------u---u---u-------u-----10-12-13-10-|
G|----------------------u---u---u----79-10-79-10-/-10-12---------------|
D|---------u--u--------79-10-79-10---------------------------------------|
A|-u-u--u-578-5-/-78------------------------------------------------------|
E|-578578----------u-------------------------------------------------------|

Then once have climbed up to the B and E Strings
u
|--------10-12-10--10-13-10-12-13-12-10-----------|
|-12-13-u------u-13-u------u------u------u---13-12-10-|
|o-----------------------------------------------------u--o|
|o---------------------------------------------------------o|
|-----------------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------------------|

The important thing that makes it posible to pick throught these as sextuplets or if you are really dedicated, as 32 notes in the 100 B.P.M+ range...is having a focus on really whacking each upstroke hard enough to trigger a bouncing effect and ultimately a whole chain reaction of bouncing upon the pick/picking hand.

It was in such a context that I first encountered the Mexican Hybrid Sarod Jumping Bean Picking enigma for the first time...There was definitely in some strage physics at play when it happens...but its quite exhilirating...especially when the first time it starts happening


Last edited Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:54 pm | Scroll up

#9

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:03 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Hey Scott - welcome!

Just listened to your 'Jamming with Godin LGTX' youtube vid. Very nice playing :).

The scalpel looks and sounds good to me, but I'm afraid I'm no expert. Would I be right in thinking the previous way you hold the pick is similar to the George Benson/Santana/Neil Schon way? At any rate, seems like you can already get an extremely fast and consistent speed with it.

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#10

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:52 pm
by Scottulus • 222 Posts

Cliff; Thanks so much for checking my vids out. Yes, I am capable of some consistent, and accurate speedy picking, in a few different ways, mostly all arm. Very rigid, using the whole arm. Thanks for the HUGE compliment, being compared in any way to those three players just made my day. I'm very much a child of the late 80's early 90's. Yngwie, Paul Gilbert, EVH, George Lynch, Nuno Bettencourt, Vai and Satch are big influences. Arlen Roth and Danny Gatton, Joe Bonnamassa, Eric Johnson and Steve Morse are current heroes. Lol lots of music, I have a new favourite every day... Anyways, to make a long story short, Pebber's tech seems to me, so far to be the most efficient way to be able to learn and play that stuff more easily and efficiently. On the topic of Scalpel picking, I am just learning. Heh literally started on Sunday, and making steady progress, but it is a wee bit awkward and it takes a lot of discipline to NOT just 'do it' the way I have trained myself to.

I actually run through quite a bit of scalar material, and am actually playing very quickly on single string stuff. Low E and A string is kind of a tough spot; just not sure where to put or position my hand! I'll get it haha I just need time. Still haven't tried sarod very seriously, gotta get scalpel first. I am sure I'm still way too tense.

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#11

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:18 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

I found/find the low E and A strings more difficult too. I wasn't sure if it was down to the picking hand position (no lower strings to rest on), or just the fact the strings were noticeably thicker and had a different tension. Maybe too early to say, but I seem to be having less of a problem on this since I started concentrating on picking as lightly as possible.

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#12

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:06 am
by JoelMedina • 72 Posts

Wow you're a great guitarist, welcome to the forum! It's never to late to want to step things up in your playing. Pebber & Co. are excellent, experienced, players; you're in great hands.

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#13

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Jul 13, 2013 7:50 am
by Tom (deleted)
avatar

I'm 37 and back from a 22 year hiatus or so from a year or two on the guitar, so keep rocking!

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#14

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Jul 13, 2013 8:52 am
by Scottulus • 222 Posts

Tom: Good to know there's some fellow geriatrics studying here! I will keep rocking!

Joel: Thanks for the kind words! And the views and listens to my stuff! Yes, the E and A strings are the biggest challenge so far in regards to technique development... In regards to scalpel picking, lol I still have a lot of work to do.

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#15

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:22 am
by Scottulus • 222 Posts

Nicholas: Thanks for the info, and the observations. I can tell that you eat, sleep and breathe this stuff, so thanks for taking notice. At this point, I'm almost connecting things and sequencing, but it will take a while before I can play at the level I am accustomed to. Although my true objective is not speed, but rather more control, relaxed and efficient technique requiring minimal maintenance, I do suspect that I will be able to increase my base speed by at least 20-30 percent. My other reason is to help with my midi guitar stuff; scalpel and sarod seem a bit cleaner, whereas my current approach pretty much punishes the strings making for the odd glitch.

The 3 Paul Gilbert fragments have really helped so far in helping me rebuild. They are a major component of my playing style and will lead to more complex things later. Haha I love Paul's ideas. Dead simple, clever and powerful. The first one is played as a 16th note triplet, the second as straight 16th notes and the 3rd as groupings of 5. I start everything with a downstroke and alternate strokes from there, accenting the first beat of whatever subdivision Im working on. Pebber's wailing on some sequences on his "playing fast" YouTube video reminded me of Gilbert's attack and tone, but looked like a lot less work. Once I get my mitts on Pebber's DVDs I'll really go after that stuff. In the meantime I will just focus on re-integrating familiar concepts. I will admit, exploring this technique has really re-inspired me. I also had an accidental sarod last night at band practice, so I now know it is possible! Haha

E-----------------------12------------------
B-----12---13---15----------15---13------
G--------------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------------
E--------------------------------------------

E------------------------12----------12-----------------------------
B-----12---13---15-----------15-----------15---13----------------
G---------------------------------------------------------------------
D---------------------------------------------------------------------
A---------------------------------------------------------------------
E---------------------------------------------------------------------


E-----------------------12---13---15---13---12------------------
B-----12---13---15----------------------------------15---13-----
G-------------------------------------------------------------------
D-------------------------------------------------------------------
A-------------------------------------------------------------------
E-------------------------------------------------------------------

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#16

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:22 pm
by Scottulus • 222 Posts

Also found Pebber's pdf on various picking, went through most of that with just scalpel, really helpful, particularly the tremolo moving on to just downstrokes, then just upstrokes, then alternating, and then doing rhythmic groupings of 1 - 10 notes per beat. Pretty tough, but I can do it at a slow tempo, and it seems to have exploded through my playing somewhat. I'm still easily twice as fast my 'old way' but, then again with 35 years of reinforcement behind it, I could have probably developed using a boulder as a pick and made it sound decent. Handy info.

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#17

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:21 am
by Scottulus • 222 Posts

Okay, first of all sorry for hijacking the whole damn forum and replying to every thread, this is just soooo interesting to me.
I had one of those moments where I was like, "Hmmmn how fast AM I using my old 'complete arm' method?" Well I clocked it and tremolo'ing 16th notes on my low 'E' 4 picks per note, then shift to the next note, I max out at 184 BPM. And it sounds pretty furious, hahaha

Scalpel on the Low 'E' I max out at 160 BPM, sounding much cleaner and after a week of practice.

Anyone tied V-picks Insanity pick, or a Stylus pick to help 'hone in' on the pick's impact area? Just curious...

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#18

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:09 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Hey Scott,

That sounds like great progress. Any more news to report? It'd be cool to see another video of your scalpel picking.

FWIW, I've noticed that concentrating on various picking techniques has improved my standard alternate picking technique too (more relaxed and fluid). I wonder if you've seen the same thing? I think the top speed I can get with tremolo picking is in the 150-160bpm range, but my left hand is lagging way behind at the moment.

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#19

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:57 am
by Tom (deleted)
avatar

When I measure my stuff, I like to keep notes per second and BPM separate. For example, I like to play Lamb of God's "Desolation" for a workout, which is 135 BPM (probably 137 to be exact). It's mostly thick E-stuff, and with 4 notes per click, that ends up being (135/60)*4 = 9 notes per second. Tremolo, I can probably rage my way up higher than that, but it's to me only so useful. It's a great workout, but sort of when playing, for me for it to make sense, the left hand needs to be what's dictating the right hand or it ends up terribly sloppy playing.

Like I mentioned, I also find that practicing various picking techniques results in an overall improvement. I think it's important early on to try all these different things and angles because we're using the wrist in ways we haven't before, so it helps build it up. I also practice with resting my wrist at different positions.

When me and my friend were teenagers, he told me something that stuck with me to this day. It's when you perform, you don't want your guitar up on your chest -- playing metal, you need to have the guitar hanging low by the waist, haha. I guess if you play anything else, don't care. :-)

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#20

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:28 pm
by Scottulus • 222 Posts

Yeah, NPS I don't know or care about; I pretty much am just tying myself to the metronome. Still at 160 BPM, and a bit of a fight to keep released. Low 'E' is getting better, positioning seems to be getting somewhat better. I'll post some video as I get a bit more proficient, (Got some gigs and recording and stuff to do, once I get past that I can shoot some video!) My real goal is to be able to play what I already can do using regular alternate picking, only with scalpel.

I am definitely going to get some Stylus picks, so I can choke up on my grip somewhat...

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#21

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:34 pm
by NicholasJacquet (deleted)
avatar

Damn I wanna see some these scalpal techniques that people got going...I would have thought it impossible to scalpal relaxed 16ths at 160 bpm without it just beeing something like

e|-5-5-5-5--7-7-7-7--8-8-8-8-7-7-7-7-----------

Come to think of it, I am not sure I can beleive without first seeing.


Last edited Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:37 pm | Scroll up

#22

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:56 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

I'm not sure anyone was claiming otherwise. A little earlier Scott was talking about 16ths at 160bpm with 4 picks per note - exactly as you're describing. In my response I talked about tremolo picking at 160bpm. Maybe I wasn't clear, but by 'tremolo picking' I meant the same thing - picking hand moving faster than the left hand (and I was talking about alternate not scalpel). Tom then said he can go higher than 135bpm (9 notes per sec as he put it) when tremolo picking, but doubted the use of it.

I tend to agree with Tom on this one: picking fast is only so useful; what I'm trying to do is improve my overall speed of a left-and-right hand combo with more complex note choices than the ones you mention. At the moment, I can do 120bpm or so on a good day.

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#23

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:17 am
by dlraben • 278 Posts

Scalpal picking individual 16th notes @ 160 bpm (and higher) is definitely possible so that part of this conversation was probably meant to be talking about posters on this forum. I think I'm currently in the 140s when running scales using scalpal picking, but I can't say I've paid attention to this in the last few months. Maybe I'll check this weekend and post something.

There are hundreds of examples of tremolo picking at high speeds in a musical context, even outside of "surf rock." Here are two that I personally enjoy. These are also good tunes to use to practice your Sarod.

Probably my favorite example:


And the obvious surf rock go to (aka the Pulp Fiction song):


Last edited Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:17 am | Scroll up

#24

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:15 am
by Tom (deleted)
avatar

Not that I doubt the use of going above 135 BPM in general. It's the only way to get faster, durable, etc picking hand, and Shawn Lane probably alternate picked twice the notes per second that I do, doing 5's and 7's and 11's and what not. I'm just saying I think NPS a good number to track, and in some Sarod-threads I've seen on here, would've been a good number to communicate instead of the BPM.

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#25

RE: Picking Improvement

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:16 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Yep - sorry for putting words in your mouth.

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