What’s goin’ on Lethal Guitarists? Before we get started, I want to thank Dean guitars for the new endorsement. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on a Cadillac – those guitars are the bomb.
How did last month’s lesson go? The “smart fingers” exercises are a little challenging, so hang in there and your playing will improve. This month I’m focusing on an even more challenging version of smart fingers called “angles.” It consists of eleven different notes spanning four adjacent strings per repetition. The fact that it’s eleven notes means that the alternate picking reverses itself every repetition – the first pass begins with a down stroke, the second with an up stroke. This makes the exercise much more challenging, but the better you are at this, the better your overall picking will be.
I first saw this exercise several years ago and I can honestly say it’s a great one. Practice it slowly at first, using the metronome and gradually building speed. When you’re ready to increase your metronome speed, a good guideline is to only increase the speed about five beats per minute as you gain control. If your picking motion is exaggerated at first, don’t get discouraged. As you improve on this exercise your picking motion will gradually decrease. That’s a good indicator that you’re gaining ground.
Strict alternating is extremely important, no matter how unnatural it feels. Over time it will become comfortable and natural. Sometimes you may feel stuck, but keep moving, and realize that it’s part of the process. Even several periods of being stuck are completely normal – be encouraged when it happens, you’re on your way!
I’ve illustrated this exercise moving up the fret board one fret at a time. You’ll want to move up the neck until you reach the twelfth fret, take a two-second break, then descend back to the first fret. Let’s check out “angles,” a fantastic way to improve your picking skills.
There you go Premier Guitar readers, another exercise that will have a dramatic impact on your picking technique and your overall guitar playing. We’re just getting started, so hang on tight as we progress through the Shredder’s Ph.D. series. We’ll learn a plethora of techniques to develop your shredding abilities until you become the technician you dream of. Remember that discipline and consistency are keys to achieving your goals. Contact me if you have any questions or comments about the lesson. See you next month!
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.