#1

Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:09 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

I've struggled with this for quite some time. I'm currently playing at 55bpm, playing six minutes each of 3,4,5,6 and 8 notes a beat. I change strings on each beat. On a single string, I can very comfortably play 8 notes a beat at 55bpm - no tension, no feeling of it being too fast. But as soon as I change strings, it seems to be a problem to keep all 8 notes clean. There's a temptation to fluff the last note to give time to change strings. (I spent the previous week practicing all this at 50bpm, to the point where it all seemed fine.)

We talk a lot about how best to pick - for example, we all understand it's important to make small motions in order to pick quickly - but I've not seen much about the exact motions involved in switching strings. Personally, I've been concentrating on moving the forearm as I change strings, keep the hand orientation as close to the same as I can as it moves across the strings. I understand some people instead choose to keep there hand anchored at the wrist and instead rotate the hand to select individual strings. Any thoughts on which is better? Pros and cons?

Anyway, for me, I noticed that the mechanism I use is a bit like an old record player, with the pick being the needle. When I play 8 notes on a string, it's like the needle riding the grooves on a record. Then when I switch strings, it's like lifting the needle up a little and moving it across the record before dropping it again. It seems to me it's essential to lift the pick away from the strings when switching between them - am I right?

So I guess the thing is: as well as ensuring picking motions across a string are relaxed and as small as possible, I presume one has to do something similar about the motions used to switch strings. Anyone got any thoughts on any of this? Any specific exercises to help?

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#2

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:18 am
by Tom (deleted)
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Well, just a beginner here. My first and only teacher kept his hand anchored to the top corner of the bridge and kept it there, so that's why I do it. I've experimented with "floating" my arm along with the strings. That method supposedly keeps your hand at the same angle at whichever string you play and the arm, if floating I guess in the same direction you scalpel-pick, will act as a mute of the strings it's crossed. The first thing that strikes me, though, with that method -- aside from all the mass being moved -- is unless you move it up and down like an elevator, you'll be floating towards the neck-pickup. Playing up there or playing closer to the bridge will create a different sound, and so will whichever pickup you've selected on the guitar.

Personal preference, I feel I've got enough to think about with my hand moving and I like not to think about the arm floating and muting. I haven't found any downsides to the technique I use. I know where my hand's supposed to be and I don't see any downsides to it, except for with my hands being small, I'll often like to adjust it a bit upwards when I chug away on the lower E-string so I still go at it with an angle.

I'd guess at 50 bpm it's on equal "time" for you with hitting notes and skipping strings, and at 55 you're a bit slow on the string skipping. It takes some getting mentally used to that the string skipping is a longer distance to travel, and so the picking hand needs to be a bit faster than what it was with the notes just struck.

Practice outside and inside picking. I.e. put your fingers on a powerchord (or open strings or what you wish.) Pick the fatter string with a downstroke and the other string with an upstroke. That's outside picking. Pick the fatter with an upstroke and the other with a downstroke and you're inside picking. Keep doing those as two excersises and you'll get faster on the string skipping naturally.

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#3

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:56 am
by dlraben • 278 Posts

Cliff, I would recommend a different route.

First, dig up Pebber's videos geared towards picking on adjacent strings. They accompany the right hand "picking exercise worksheet." The exercises I'm thinking about are the ones where he holds down an Esus chord (with a flat 7th) in open position (020200) and then does the exercises on the worksheet to a metronome. All downs. All ups. Alternating. All at various timings and tempos.

Second, repeat all the exercises using non-adjacent strings. These are the exact same idea, but now you're skipping one or more strings. This is a great place to work on your fingerstyle (3.30+) and hybrid (3.60+) techniques by running these with different options for your picking hand.

Run those exercises for a couple months and then switching strings will be automatic for you (I recommend you float your hand). I mean sure, your thumb/finger is only so long so something has to move, but I think you're thinking about the technique of it too much because you don't have it clean yet. I would think that if you just concentrate on the scalpal technique the switching will start to come naturally as you continue to practice.

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#4

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:16 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Thanks both for the thoughts.

Tom - with the way my arm and guitar neck are angled, the pick stays in more or less the same place between the pickups as I switch strings. One thing I like about this approach is that right-hand damping/muting is exactly the same no matter which string I'm on, since the orientation of my hand is always the same.

Damon - you're right, I'm overthinking things. As usual. If I only had time for one RH exercise a night (which sadly is the case), would you recommend the exercise you described in your reply, or the one I described in my original post?

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#5

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:19 pm
by uderoche (deleted)
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Cliff... start doing this every day. Each pattern for 10 minutes. Watch the picking. Notice the inside and outside picking patterns. Pay attention to that. Just work it on 2 strings. Use the metronome. Pay attention to the strokes.

http://www.guitarworld.com/guitar-streng...ternate-picking


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#6

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:17 am
by uderoche (deleted)
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Sorry I was not able to give a detailed explanation of picking across strings yesterday. I found the exercises in the link (see above) and I thought that guy gave a fairly good explanation with some very good exercises.

Usually, students come in and they haphazardly employ various methods to cross strings...sometimes an upstroke sometimes a downstroke...with no real rhyme or reason as to what they are doing.

You basically have 2 moves at your disposal when switching strings. Inside picking and outside picking. Read above article for explanations on both.

Most "rock shredder" guitarists try to use outside picking as much as possible because the room for error is less than with inside picking at high speeds however, you must be able to do both because you simply cannot outside pick everything.

It's possible this torment of trying to master outside and inside alternate picking is what leads many to adopt economy picking...but I'm only guessing with that.

Basically, learning all of it will be most beneficial in the long run.

Isolate each move and work it with the metronome.


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Last edited Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:18 am | Scroll up

#7

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:59 am
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Thanks Ursin - I'll give those exercises a try starting tonight.

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#8

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:48 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Wow! What an eye-opener. Ursin, you rock!

Just finished doing 10 minutes each on the first six exercises (took me two hours, since I feel the need to reward myself with a cigarette after every exercise, but that's another bad habit I have to break....)

I've read about, but never paid much attention to, the difference between inside and outside picking. I'd assumed outside was the harder of the too, since there's more distance to travel in the same amount of time. How wrong I was.

I tried playing these at 60bpm. The first exercise, switching strings on every sixteenth, but using outside picking, I found quite easy, and I began to wonder if I'd started at too low a tempo. Then I tried exercise two - the same thing but with inside picking - and found I couldn't play it for more than a few seconds at a time without stumbling. That was a long ten minutes...

Same thing with the remaining exercises, really. Though I did notice, with the inside picking particularly, I had difficulty making all the notes clear at 6 notes per beat. Felt a little like my left hand wasn't able to keep up. Stupid question: I guess I should slow the exercises down until I can play them all without error? I'm kind of tempted to try and break through at this tempo if possible - a bit sick of constantly slowing down, the opposite direction to which I want to be going :).

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#9

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:36 am
by uderoche (deleted)
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Yes...inside picking always slows most people down so don't feel bad. That's why Paul Gilbert, Buckethead, Yngwie, etc even Shawn Lane use outside picking as much as possible. Now, all of those guys can use inside picking as well, it's just that at high speed, the room for error is less with outside picking.

There is a video on youtube where Shawn Lane talks about starting licks on an upstroke or downstroke so as to keep the pick on the outside of the strings. He goes on to say that some of his things he cannot play with inside picking. Paul Gilbert has said the same.

That being said, it is impossible to play EVERYTHING with outside picking. So, you have to get familiar with inside picking as well.

There are ways around the inside picking. But eventually, something always comes up within a lick or run that requires a little inside picking.

Working both is the most beneficial.

As far as slowing down goes, you have to slow down. That's the key. Keep it slow to ingrain it in your muscle memory. The speed will come with time.


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#10

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:42 am
by Tom (deleted)
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A drunken addendum to my previous drunken post on, in fact, inside and outside picking: you typically would inside pick on your way up the strings (thinner to thicker), so switch them around on the inside picking from what I wrote. How to pick licks, legato-runs, even sweeps (upstroke or downstroke on last/turnaround string), whatever is quite a science in its own right.

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#11

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:57 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

I remember now Paul Gilbert saying, when describing his famous lick, that starting the top note on an upstroke is a 'life saver'. Now I know why :).

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#12

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:34 pm
by FRaKh • 320 Posts

I agree...
You must be comfortable with each: outside and inside picking.
Otherwise you will be handicapped....!


“A World Without String Is Chaos”

Rudolf Smuntz
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#13

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:44 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Here's a quick vid showing my progress:



I'm not very happy with the consistency of tone. I've noticed that a slight change in pick angle seemingly affects the timing between left and right hands. So far as I can tell, if the left hand is a little ahead of the right, I get a bit of a 'quacking' sound. Anyone else notice this sort of thing? Should I slow down even more?

Any thoughts, criticism and advice gratefully received!

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#14

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sun Aug 18, 2013 5:17 pm
by pebberbrown • 878 Posts

Sounds pretty good to me. DONT ROCK BACK AND FORTH WITH YOUR BODY WHEN MAKING VIDEOS so we can focus on your technique not try to fixate on a moving target!!!!:)

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#15

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:43 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Thanks Pebber. If you're happy with it, then I'm very happy with it.

I'll be sure to stay still in future. Unless, you know, the groove just takes me over.

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#16

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:39 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Still plugging away at these exercises. I'm very happy with the results.

For the last week or so I've tried spicing things up by adding a little bit of string skipping: three notes on the E string, three on the G. It's a little sloppy at the moment, but is sure makes switching between adjacent strings feel a lot easier - sort of like the spatial equivalent of playing too fast and then going back to a comfortable speed.

Scott, if you're reading this, I know you mentioned that the gaps between strings suddenly seemed much larger once you got into scalpel picking. I felt that too. Well, I'm thinking maybe string skipping exercises along these lines might help you too.

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#17

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:46 am
by uderoche (deleted)
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Keep drilling those exercises. Very good for the picking. Here are more picking exercises by Rusty Cooley. Although I don't think Rusty can actually take credit for these "old school" picking drills because they are just that! As old as the hills! But they work if you practice them enough. Similar to the other exercises mentioned above but focusing more on outside picking. Rusty advises to use a kitchen timer and play each exercise for 5 minutes a day. That's a good starting point but I'd try 10 minutes. 15 minutes. 30 minutes. Something like that. Some time around '07 maybe? Wow time flies doesn't it? I remember sitting around and busting my ass on whatever Pebber had me doing at the time. Some days I would take a break from that and play these exercises (or similar) all day. Literally 8 hours or so of this type of thing. I would show them to my students and we would get out the metronome and see who could play them faster! All day. You may not have that kind of time but if you are at all serious about guitar 5-10 minutes on each exercise minimum is what I would say.

I also like to sit around and play the scales in 3rds. That gets some very nice down-up picking going on with string changes and, it sounds musical and is a very useful tool. Pebber has all these on youtube. I believe the video is called Scale Sequences.

http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/Ol..._Picking_Drills


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Last edited Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:56 am | Scroll up

#18

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:15 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Thanks Ursin. I wish I could spend the sort of time you did but, let's face it, I'm old and am never going to be a pro or anything like it. Still want to be as good as I can, though.

I've been practicing each of the first six exercises for five minutes apiece, and that seems to be enough to make slow progress. As I start ramping up the speed, I'm having to focus more and more on ensuring the left and right hands stay in sync. I have a feeling I might need to extend the time to 10 minutes per exercise at some point as I reach my current limit.

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#19

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:03 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

I hit a speed wall with this at the beginning of the week. I was practicing groups of 6 per beat at 76 bpm, and on Monday tried to shift to 80bpm - 8 notes per second.

After a frustrating couple of days, I noticed a couple of things that seemed to be holding me back.

1) I wasn't switching strings fast enough. Troy Stetina talks about transition time in the context of a single string. One never frets a note and picks it at precisely the same time, so there's a little bit of time where there's noise before the note sounds. The faster you play, the more this transitional noisy time dominates compared with the time the real note rings out. He recommends, when playing slowly, to move the pick and fingers as quickly as possible during transitions to learn how to minimize this time. I'm thinking something similar has to be learnt with string skips.

2) I realized, nothing to do with string skipping, that I always tend to over-emphasize the first note of a beat. This means the pick travels further across the string on the first note than the others, so for the remaining 5 notes I have less time than I should, meaning I'm always playing catch up. I *think* this is maybe the cause of my problems with not always being able to keep my two hands in synch.

These are just theories at the moment. Last night I was able to work on both these ideas and reach 82bpm cleanly, breaking my speed barrier. But I also know there's some variability from one night to the next, so maybe this is all hot air.

I'd be interested to know if these ideas ring true with anyone else's experience.

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#20

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:13 pm
by Vote_For_Kodos • 23 Posts

Holy Crap. Those exercises are incredible--I never got the concept of inside/outside. After paying attention to it & running those exercises for about an hour last night I had an AHA moment--thanks for this. I'll post a video here shortly...


I feel more like I do now than I did when I first got here.
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#21

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:32 am
by Ray1981 • 279 Posts

Hey All,

I made a vid of me doing picking exercises i thought this would be the right spot for the video. The exercises consider only open strings 8th, triplet, and 16th. I hope any body would like to give any comments in what i do wrong or could improve.

Thank you so much in advance



Grtz

Ray

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#22

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Mon Sep 08, 2014 4:24 pm
by dlraben • 278 Posts

Ray, you would benefit from slowing down the metronome. I know it's boring, but when you use 92 bpm like your video and miss (often, but not always) the timing on 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s you know you're shooting too high. For now I think you should go back to about 50 and spend an equal amount of time on 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s. Try to heavily accent the beat hard enough to drown out the sound of the metronome. Make it disappear. After you're really hitting the metronome basically every single time (I'm talking 99%+ accuracy), start mixing in 5s, 6s, 7s and 8s.

Nail all of these at 50. You'll find the quarter notes boring, but I'm betting you aren't nailing them every single time yet. That's your goal so defeat that boredom and pay attention to what you're practicing. Don't speed it up though because while quarter notes are boring, you might find 7s at 50 impossible right now. Practice this every day and they will come and you'll then speed up the metronome.

Timing is the most critical part of music and is WAY more important than the notes you select. Do the timing practice correctly or your progress will be severely hindered. It's only AFTER you can nail various timings at a given speed that you should begin to push yourself by attempting speeds just beyond reach. If you can't nail any speed yet, it's silly to push forward.

Anyway, just my 2 cents. Take them or leave them.


Instead of reading this you should be practicing. Slowly. With a metronome.
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#23

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:39 am
by Ray1981 • 279 Posts

Hey dlraben,

Thanks for your clear comments. I will follow your advice and slow down the metronome. Although when i made this video I was to much concerning in doing it right and i messed up a bit. But this means as well i should nail this part better.

I fully understand and agree that timing is very very important in music. But indeed these quarter notes are really boring to do for 30 min on a row. I spend last week everyday 1,5 hour practicing with timing doing open strings and after that ladder exercise and playing G Maj key.

Again thanks for the advice i will slow it down to 50 for the next couple of weeks.

grtz Ray

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#24

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:57 pm
by Cliff • 344 Posts

Hey all - been a good while since I posted here. I finally got a new computer and am able to record videos again. Thought I'd post a recording of my warmup session this morning. Love to know what you all think of it.

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#25

RE: Picking across strings

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sat Sep 13, 2014 3:12 pm
by mr. gurgle (deleted)
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Cliff thanks for this video, it was really good and inspired me to play too. My practice/play session for the day was a mess. But once I saw this video I was inspired to pick the guitar up again. "I'm happy to say" that I stole some of your runs in 6:29 forward and built some licks and runs around that idea (fours in E min etc.). Thanks.

Your technique looks good too, enough to tackle those sequences nicely and apply speedy picking to your runs. Good execution and looks like you have the confidence while you play. What can I say. I was inspired and isn't that what music is supposed to accomplish? So thanks again. Keep up the good work and those tasty melodic lines!

(That guitar is also some specimen!)

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