OUR COVER FEATURE this month is all about picking. Actually, it’s the lead feature in a set of three that aims to hone your entire picking repertoire, since most players wanting to improve tell us that picking is at the top of their technique wish list. This month it’s that good old stalwart: alternate picking.
Now, stop me if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve always said my own picking is pretty weak (I can’t do Guthrie-style amazing speed bursts, for instance), but my fretting hand is fairly good within my limited style base.
A couple of years ago, Shaun Baxter did a feature in Creative Rock where he said something like: “You think it’s your picking hand that’s at fault, when in all probability it’s actually your fretting hand not keeping up.” This staggered me and I immediately picked up my guitar. He was right. That horrible mis-match of picking and fretting-hand speed in my own playing (where it seems like you’re fishing in a box of spanners), was indeed sloppy fretting. I was honestly staggered. Phil Capone mentions this in his excellent first picking article but all I’d add is, make sure you also concentrate on your fretting in any and all of Phil’s exercises; you’ll soon see if it’s that side letting you down, and be able to upgrade both hands in one fell swoop. Especially when it comes to crossing strings, we often presume it must be the picking letting us down, since it has to jump across from one to another, but it’s just as likely that your first fretting finger to land on the next string is late and the others are crashing in behind it also out of time, probably rushed. But you’ll blame the pick every time!
If this phenomenon hadn’t crossed your mind (as it genuinely hadn’t mine), I’d be interested to hear if Shaun’s point provided food for thought and perhaps even assisted in getting you through this first picking article. Do let me know.
WIN! On page 74, you’ll notice a re-run of our amazing competition to win thousands of £££s’ worth of group gear. Open to UK residents only, it’s an amazing chance to kit your whole band out with top-of-the-range gear. Please do enter – and I’ll see you next month with more great stuff!