Saving Pick Strokes and Gaining Speed

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INFO & EXPLANATION

RELAX AND BURN

FEWER STROKES MEANS MORE SPEED

First of all I have to preface this whole discussion of speed with one fact: If you become more tense the faster you attempt to play, you are fighting against yourself. The fastest players I know are also the most relaxed players I know. Be sure to review the article titled, "Speed Kills? No, Tension Kills Speed!" in the TIPS section of the public area of the site for a more detailed discussion on this topic.

Question for you. If I asked you to play an ascending scale of 18 notes and play them as fast as you are able without becoming tense, would you use alternating down and up strokes to play them? If that's true, what would you say if I could show you a way of saving 5 pick strokes yet hitting all the strings along the way? Think you could gain a little speed? Definitely!

That's what this lesson is about, increasing your speed by saving pick strokes. Most of the time, you'll find players using alternating up/down pickstrokes to play rapid passages. For example, look at the Notation/TAB below.

The above example shows the typical alternating down/up picking technique. But a closer look at the above example reveals that there are exactly 3 notes per string. So now, take a look at the example below. The only thing that has changed is the way we're handling pick strokes.

I'll step through an explanation of this for you:

The first three notes (on the 6th string) are down - up - down strokes. Here's where the stroke savings happens: The downstroke used to play the 3rd note (B note at the 7th fret, 6th string) should be used to play the 1st note on the 5th string (C note on the 5th string at the 3rd fret). This pattern, down-up-down-down-up-down carries throughout the example above. Starting on any note in the example above, you should use the pick-strokes indicated from that point. Now take a look at the example below.



This example starts with the 2nd note from the example above. If you think you have to start every run you play with a downstroke you are limiting yourself. In the example to the left, you start with an upstroke because there are only 2 notes on that string.

Again, you use the downstroke at the string crossing to carry you to the next string. One main movement that allows you to pick 2 strings.



This technique is demonstrated in the HANDS video. Be sure to view it prior to practicing this technique. There are some natural tendancies you need to avoid and these are covered in the video. To view the video, click the HANDS button at the top of the page.

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NOTATION