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