What is Alternate Picking guitar Technique?
Alternate picking is a strict Up/Down or Down/Up Picking Movement as opposed to a hammering on and pulling off technique. We do this by employing a relaxed wrist motion plucking “Up and down” or “Down and up” from the “Wrist” in a strict alternating manner.
We sometimes use a floating motion across the strings and sometimes a pivoting or anchoring technique by resting our palm lightly on the bridge of the guitar.
Never do we pick from the elbow, forearm or shoulder, or push on the fretting hands tendons!
Odd and Even Patterns: CONSIDERATION:
ODD: With an ODD pattern every time you cross from one string to another you will be starting on a different picking stroke than the one you started on previously.
EVEN: With an EVEN pattern every time you cross from one string to another it will be with the same picking stroke
When Holding the pick [plectrum] the thumb needs to be “Rigid” but not tense [Flexible is the best definition]. The tHumb is the powerhouse. Any tension goes into the thumb gripping the pick: Never the elbows,forearm,shoulder.
Ex.2 Simple exercise for holding the pick
Put out your hand as if to shake hands
Bring the fingers in as if to hold a cup
Bring down the thumb. It can remain “Flexible” but not wobbly and helpless. [Inside of plectrum grip. [Fingers Lightly Folded In]
Basic Grip with the THUMB as the “Powerhouse” [Never the arm/elbow]
Ready to Play! Although the thumb is gripping the plectrum firmly there is no tension in the hand or wrist.
The Classic Plectrum Grip [My Style]
The hand is closed but it is not tense. The fingers are lightly tucked in. The wrist is loose. This is a very common grip. This is a really excellent grip if you are having problems with your picking hand. This is the grip as used by the great improvisers like John Mclaughlin and Al Di Meola.
Other Plectrum Picking Grips:
Different players grip the pick in different fashions.
Whichever grip you choose always remember that regardless of how you hold the plectrum the “principles” remain the same. The Thumb being the powerhouse that takes any “Pressure” as we “Pluck/alternate from the wrist”.
If we look at the diagram below we can see what is PHYSICALLY taking place when we are crossing the strings.
If you pluck UP on your 1st string you will have to SKIP OVER the second string before plucking DOWN on it.
So when we are plucking across the strings we are in a way string skipping. Most people I have taught are completely unaware of this. This is why so many people find/assume that alternate picking is difficult.
ALTERNATE PICKING ALIGNMENT
IN THE DIAGRAM BELOW WE CAN EASILY SEE THE RIGHT HAND CROSSING THE STRINGS PICKING EACH STRING NATURALLY AS IT COMES. WE CAN ALSO SEE THAT THE RIGHT HAND IS ALWAYS ALIGNED WITH THE STRING IT WISHES TO PLUCK.
Aligned with the 6th string Open E
Aligned with the 5th string Open A
Aligned with the 4th string Open D
Aligned with the 3rd string Open G
Aligned with the 2nd string Open B
Aligned with the 1st string Open E
If you do alternate picking properly and pluck each string and each note of a phrase with a loose wrist and and relaxed arm/hand then you will avoid injury. But if you just do a tremolo and hammer on then you will put yourself at risk.
Bad Jammed Wrist. Will stick crossing 3 strings
Right Hand aligned correctly with string.
ANCHORING MEANS PIVOTING ON THE BRIDGE LIGHTLY
FLOATING MEANS NOT RESTING ON THE BRIDGE FOR SUPPORT. ALTHOUGH THIS SUPPORT COULD COME FROM RESTING THE ARM ON THE BODY OF THE GUITAR [MAINLY ACOUSTIC].
BELOW IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT I DO WHICH IS A MIXTURE 70% FLOATING WITH 30% ANCHORING.
ANGLING THE PICK
SOME PEOPLE PREFER TO ANGLE THE PICK. SOME PEOPLE DO THIS NATURALLY.
Pick Flat Pick Angled
VERY COMMON EXAMPLES/EXERCISES:
Basic Alternate Picking Rhythmic Values:Exercise
One string exercise:
“DOWN” SKIP OVER PLUCK UP-WHEN CROSSING
“UP” SKIP OVER PLUCK DOWN-WHEN CROSSING
EXERCISES: “Coming “Up” on the up stroke”
2 strings crossing repetition alternate picking “EVEN” Groupings
2 strings crossing and left hand “Shifting” whilst alternate picking “EVEN”Groupings
JAZZ DOUBLE TIMING 16THS SEMIQUAVERS
START WITH A “DOWNSTROKE” AND FEEL THE LAST STROKE IN THE GROUP OF 16TH NOTES WHICH WILL BE AN UPSTROKE.
Jazz Fusion Line:
ii V7 I BUILT ON 4 NOTE GROUPINGS OF 16THS CALLED “TETRACHORDS” or “CELLS”.
Count: 1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a
EXERCISE 4: GROUPS OF 6 NOTES “ODD” GROUPINGS
FREVO “Rasgado” INTRO By John Mclaughlin/Paco De Lucia
String Skipping Alternate Picking Exercises:
Starting on an “UP” Stroke
String Skipping starting on a “Down” stroke
String Skipping starting on a “Up” stroke
“Odd” Alternate Picking scale triplets across all 6 Guitar Strings Exercise:
“Odd” Pattern Doubled to become “Even” Pattern
It is best to use a “Hard” Plectrum for alternate picking. [Jim Dunlop do some very good hard plectrums].
The Metronome: EMPLOYING THE METRENOME IS THE ONLY WAY TO LEARN QUICKLY AND EFFECTIVELY.
THIS WEBSITE PAGE IS ONLY A GUIDE AND WAS WRITTEN FOR THE MAIN PURPOSE OF HELPING A BEGINNER/OR ANYONE STRUGGLING TO UNDERSTAND ALTERNATE PICKING AND AVOID INJURY WHILST LEARNING IT.
CLICK BELOW ON BOOK COVER FOR FREE ALTERNATE PICKING GUITAR EBOOK PDF FOR EXAMPLES
IF THIS LESSON WAS OF USE TO YOU THEN PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO US BELOW ON YOUTUBE, THANKS!
ALTERNATE PICKING JAZZ FUSION IMPROVISATIONAL STYLE OF JOHN MCLAUGHLIN CLICK
Alternate Picking “Triplet” Style Al di Meola CLICK