Down-stroke picking and palm muting
The riffs and rhythm guitar work in this month’s track will really test your down-stroke picking and palm-muting technique. Down picking adds uniformity to the attack and improves the timing. Obviously, there is a tempo when down picking is no longer really possible, but with some practise it is possible to get up to a fair head of steam (My Sharona is a fairly brisk 146 bpm). It’s best to practise down-picking quavers (eighth notes) with a metronome at a slow tempo at first, and only when you can execute the part accurately should you raise the bpm. Remember, speed is a bi-product of accuracy and you should strive to execute the riff correctly at a slow tempo first. With this solid foundation established, it is easier to raise the tempo up to a performance grade.
The palm mute helps to thicken the sound, and also adds a percussive attack to the notes. In My Sharona the dynamics used are very effective and a light palm mute is often employed. Adding a palm mute to the notes does, however, change the position of the picking hand slightly and anchors the heel of the hand in one position. It is, therefore, a good idea to practise alternating between a heavy palm mute and then slowly releasing it. If you have a floating vibrato style bridge, be careful not to push the strings out of tune when you apply the palm mute.