IN THE WOODSHED

Char­lie Grif­fiths con­tin­ues to help you hone your gen­eral gui­tar skills. This month: strict al­ter­nate pick­ing of arpeg­gios.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Mov­ing your pick from string to string is one of the most nec­es­sary but over­looked skills on the gui­tar. In this les­son we will fo­cus purely on this skill by ac­cu­rately ar­tic­u­lat­ing arpeg­gios by al­ter­nate-pick­ing one note per string. A com­mon prob­lem with pick­ing across strings is that the pick can some­times get snagged on the strings, or we hit the wrong string, or even miss the string al­to­gether. Prac­tis­ing al­ter­nate pick­ing arpeg­gios will give you more con­trol over your note ar­tic­u­la­tion and pick­ing con­fi­dence. The main ben­e­fit of this ap­proach is con­sis­tent tim­ing; when your hand is mov­ing con­stantly in a down and up mo­tion there is an in­her­ent mo­men­tum that helps keep the notes more even. So we min­imise the chances of the pick get­ting caught up in the strings by us­ing a shal­low pick at­tack. Don’t dig into the strings too much and only use the very tip of your plec­trum. Aim to let the pick glide over the strings in a smooth mo­tion rather than jump­ing over them in a hop­ping fash­ion. Some play­ers such as Al Di Me­ola and Steve Morse ad­just the an­gle of their pick by turn­ing the wrist slightly. This is a great way of fine-tun­ing the tra­jec­tory of your pick so it nat­u­rally glides past the string you wish to skip over or avoid. You can also buy picks with bev­elled tips, which does a sim­i­lar thing.

We have four ex­am­ples for you to try. The first one is in a typ­i­cal rock bal­lad-style arpeg­gio pat­ten. It’s based on held chord shapes and is played with a triplet feel. The aim here is to pick the notes evenly and smoothly while let­ting the notes ring to­gether.

Ex­am­ple 2 has a Ra­dio­head-style flavour and fea­tures string skip­ping. This ex­am­ple will help you hone your wrist move­ment by ex­ag­ger­at­ing the range of mo­tion be­tween pick strokes. Ex­am­ple 3 is in­spired by al­ter­nate pick­ing mas­ter Al Di Me­ola and is a much more com­plex pat­tern based in 16th-note phras­ing. This part uses palm mut­ing to keep the notes sep­a­rated and tight.

The fi­nal ex­am­ple is in the style of Steve Morse or John Petrucci with a six-notes-perclick feel. This will help you build speed and mo­men­tum in your pick­ing.

Prac­tise each ex­am­ple slowly with a metronome to en­sure ac­cu­racy, then speed up grad­u­ally at around 5bpm at a time in or­der to in­stil con­sis­tency at a range of tempi. Fi­nally, try play­ing along with the back­ing track we’ve pro­vided - and have fun.

WHEN YOUR HAND IS MOV­ING UP AND DOWN THERE’S AN IN­HER­ENT MO­MEN­TUM THAT HELPS KEEP THE NOTES EVEN

NEXT MONTH Char­lie looks at the var­i­ous ways of be­ing cre­ative us­ing Dou­ble-stops

Ex­per­i­ment with palm mut­ing and let­ting strings ring on when al­ter­natepick­ing arpeg­gios

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