What’s up Lethal Guitar readers!? Welcome back to our third edition of The Shredders Ph.D. courtesy of me, Jeff Beasley and Premier Guitar.
So far we covered some pretty hairy picking exercises with “Smart Fingers” and “Angles.” This month let’s continue our quest for technical nirvana. One of the most important aspects of picking hand development is the ability to go from a down stroke on one string to an up stroke on the next string. There are certain exercises you can do that target this idea. Guitar greats Al Di Meola and Paul Gilbert have some of the most effective approaches I’ve seen in the past thirty years. I’ve personally made use of their ideas over an extended period of time and have found them to be some of the more practical and beneficial exercises. These typically have a very productive effect on your overall picking technique. They enable you to be comfortable enough with your picking abilities to center on what’s important…being creative and musical.
Creativity is simply taking a chance. Fear cripples your creativity because it keeps you from taking that chance. Having freedom in your technique helps eliminate fear and gives you the courage to be creative! A great jazz singer, Nanette Natal, explained this concept to me about ten years ago and it really had an impact on my perception of what technique really is. Hopefully it will help you too -- so ponder this idea and I think you’ll have a better understanding of how important technique can be for you as a musician. First we’ll take a micro view at some great examples of the Di Meola/Gilbert picking exercises then, a macro look for application purposes. Off we go into the wild, blue yonder…
Ex 1. This is the initial picking idea that targets the down stroke on one string to the up stroke on the next string. It’s critical to start with a down stroke to achieve the outside the box idea.
Ex 2. Embellishing the first idea, we have two points in this exercise where we target the up/down idea.
Ex 3. We keep the target notes but change the melodic direction a bit in this example. We continue our focus on the picking while offering a more challenging idea for the fretting hand. Also we’ll use a compound time signature.
Ex 4. Example four contains the target notes and doubles our use of them. Here we execute two down/ups in a row making this exercise a little more difficult.
Ex 5. In our final example we illustrate a larger application of the initial picking exercise in the major scale. I often use this approach to create a myriad of notes during an ascending passage. Keep in mind any of the examples could be used here and in any scale utilizing three notes per string.
Ok guys we’re three deep in our discussion of technical development. Stay tuned because I’ve got quite a bit to show you. Remember to practice with a metronome, use a clean tone at first and alternate your picking strictly for maximum benefit. See you guys next month in Lethal Guitar.
©Jeff Beasley 2007
Jeff Beasley holds B.A. degrees in Music and Classical Guitar. He offers his readers 30 years of experience in studio, teaching and performance. He is on the National Guitar Workshop faculty in Nashville, TN. Jeff's CD "Tiebreaker" is available through CD Baby, Guitar 9, and Jeff's website; GuitarSource3.com. Jeff holds endorsement agreements with Peavey, DiMarzio, RKS, THD, Ensotec, Robert Keeley, Knucklehead and In Tune.