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Picking Introduction
Topic: Technique Subtopic: General Level: Beginner Number of Readers: 72958

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Picking Introduction

The lessons in the other categories can sort of be organized, especially the theory lessons, because everything builds on everything else. But as for technique, or the way I look at it, I'm going to have a hard time putting them in some kind of reasonable order. I what I'll do is just jump right into the middle of things, and this category will just be a mishmash of all sorts of different lessons about technique.

Saying that, I'll still do my best do see if I can eventually put them in some kind of order.

Okay, this lesson is kind of an abstract on picking. Further lessons will deal with specific aspects of picking.

A pick, which is also called a plectrum, comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most popular shape is the triangle shape, with slightly rounded corners. The material and the shape of the pick can will affect what can be done with it. Soft picks(thin picks) don't create as much resistance with the strings, so some beginners feel that this is the best kind. But in my opinion, the hard pick is much better. It gives a better tone, and doesn't cause as much pick noise. Because it can create as much resistance with the strings as you want, you can play louder or softer simply by tightening your grip. Also, with practice, a hard pick will give you much more control. Many beginners feel that hard picks are clumsy, but with practice, the hard pick will generally be more useful than the soft pick.

The shape of the pick will also affect things. Most people like to pick with the pointy side of a triangular pick. Other people like to pick with one of the other two rounded sides. I prefer the rounded side, but it is a matter of opinion. I feel that by using the rounded side, I get better control. What I do is sand my picks, so that they are symmetrical, with no pointy side. But again, whatever feels best and more comfortable for you is what you should go with.

The manner is which you grip the pick will affect things. The classic grip on the pick is in-between the thumb and the index finger. But this is very general, there are many ways to hold the pick in-between the thumb and the index finger. Whether the thumb joint it locked or not, how much pick is exposed, and what angle the pick is held at are some of the considerations. Some people like to use the thumb and the middle finger, and some people like to grip the pick between their thumb and both the index and middle fingers.

Another important thing to consider is how you position your right hand in relation to the guitar. 'Anchoring' refers to what part of your right hand actually touches the guitar. Some guitarists think that all anchoring is bad, and that no part of the hand should touch the body of the guitar. In my opinion, anchoring can be beneficial, because it gives you better control. Probably the reason that many people believe anchoring is bad is because many people who anchor their right hand restrict the movements of their fingers or wrist, adding tension to their motion and playing, and sometimes end up injuring themselves. But if you learn to anchor in a relaxed way, having something touching the body of the guitar can give you added control, and a reference point to know where the strings are, hence the word 'anchor'. Some ways or anchoring include resting your pinkie(or other fingers) on the pick guard. This can serve as a reference. Other players place their palm on the bridge. If you do this, make sure that your wrist isn't rigid, it should be relaxed and free to move. Some players hook their pinkie onto the high E string while playing the lower notes. And some players leave their hand completely suspended, with no anchoring at all.

A final thing to consider is the motion that you're right hand, wrist, fingers or arm makes to actually cause the pick to hit the strings. Ideally, the smaller the motion, the better. This is extremely important if you wish to develop a high level of speed. Using the motion of the fingers or the wrist is the best way to pick. The motion should not originate from the forearm, because this would severely hamper your control. Compare it to holding a needle and a thread in different hands, at arms length, and then trying to thread the needle through the hole. The motion used to pick is a very individual thing... but I guess one thing that you should remember is to always stay relaxed. Tensing or locking you wrist, fingers or forearm will not be beneficial.

As you might have guessed already, there's really no 'correct' way of doing any of this. There are guidelines, but it's really up to you what kind of pick you use, how you hold it, how you anchor and what motion you use. But just remember, if you don't like the sound that's coming out of your instrument, or you're not able to perform certain exercises, maybe you should consider changing something about one of these aspects. Even a small change can make a huge difference. Experiment and find out what's best for you.

Things to remember from this lesson:

1. Picks come in different shapes, sizes and thickness'. Hard picks are generally better.
2. The strings can be contacted with any side of the pick. The pointy side of a triangular pick is what most people use, but some people prefer the rounded side.
3. The grip on the pick varies, but the most popular is to hold the pick between the thumb and index finger.
4. Anchoring refers to what part of your right hand contacts the body. Some people believe anchoring is wrong. If used properly, I believe it can be useful as a reference point and used to give a sense of stability.
5. The motion used to contact the pick with the strings should be such that you are in control, and your arm, wrist and fingers are relaxed.
6. There aren't really any 'correct' ways. Whatever is comfortable and works for you is the best.



Questions
Question posted by Scott Morris on 2000-01-16
I am trying to rapid tremolo picking ala Dick Dale. I have the single string down with no problem but with multi string I just can't seem to get. Any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by DGNR8 on 2000-05-30
I have trouble picking fast and cross-picking (I always hit the 6th string). Any pointers?
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by KingKong on 2000-06-11
Ive been playing guitar for about a year now. my biggest influence is dimebag from pantera. I was wondering how the hell he does those artificial harmonics. iI cant figure it out please help me.
There are 3 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by roxo on 2000-06-20
how do i play: E---5--3-2H3P2-0-----------------3/5-5-5/7-0---------------- B----------------5P3-5-5/7-7-----------------3P2P0----3H5P3- G-2---------------------------2----------------------------- D-----------------------------------------------------------
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by help on 2000-07-14
wat is tremolo picking?? i am self taught and so im not that good and i always come across it wen reading tabs...
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Sally on 2000-08-13
What are the numbers on the music for?
There are 4 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Andres Cruz on 2000-09-23
I´m a guitar player from chile. I've playing guitar for four years but i'm self taught so i'm just learning how to do sweep picking. I was wondering if you could send me some exercises about this topic, some advices are welcome also. Could you also post any lessons about? By the way my biggest influences are most italian heavy metal bands, but mostly labyrinth (olaf thorsen) Stormbringer
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Tobias Heinlein on 2000-11-23
Can you explain to me hoto do pinch harmonics right? Yours sincerly Tobias
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Marcos Rosas on 2000-12-07
cual debe ser el angulo entre el plectrum y las cuerdas, y como evito que la primera cuerda chille demasiado, para obtener un sonido más claro. el plectrum que utilizo es de 1.29 mm.
There are 5 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by John on 2000-12-12
How or where can I go to learn to read and write tabliture?
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Vinny on 2001-03-10
how do i play ---------------|--------------------------------|------------------------- ---------------|---------------------3---3------|---5---5---5------------- ------------2--|---------------------3---3------|---5---5---5--2---------2 ------------0--|----0--------3-------3---3------|---5---5---5--0---------0 -----0---3-----|--------3----1-------1---1----3-|---3---3---3------0--3--- ---------------|--------------------------------|------------------------- ---1-------------------------|--------------------------------------------- ---3-----------------3--3----|---5----------------------------------------- ---2-----------------3--3----|---5----------2------------------------------ ---------------3-----3--3----|---5-----5----0--------------0--------------- -----------3---1-----1--1--X-|---3--0--3-----------0---3------------------- -----------------------------|--------------------------------------------- -1----1----------------|----------------------|---------------------------- -3----3----------------|--------------------5-|565----5-6-5----5-6/8----- -2----2----------------|------------------7---|------7--------7------------ -0----0---X--3--3----3/|-5--5--5---7----7-----|---------------------------- -------------1--1----1/|-3--3--3---5----------|---------------------------- -----------------------|----------------------|---------------------------- --------------------8----------|-10-12-10/12/10----10---------------------- --6--8/10----8--10------10 13--|----------------13----13-10---10----12/10-- -------------------------------|---------------------------12---12--------- -------------------------------|------------------------------------------- -------------------------------|------------------------------------------- -------------------------------|------------------------------------------- ---------------------|---------------------------|------------------------- ---------------5-6-5-|---------------------------|------------------------- --9--10-9-----7------|-7------7----------------3-|------------------------- ------------7--------|-----7-----7/5---3---3/5---|-------0----------------- ---------------------|-------------------5-------|-5--3-------0---3-------- ---------------------|---------------------------|-------------------------
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Trygve Veslum on 2001-07-12
How do I hold a pick as comfortable and effective as possible? I want to pick rapidly, continiusly and clean??
There are 1 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Ives on 2001-07-13
Hi, i´m Ives...i saw a guy playing lead on a gig last week. He played the lead so fast and produced a heavy crazy sound. I guess he played his tabs with putting the volume and tone off and on the same time! Well, i don´t know if you can help me, but maybe you can give me an advise to learn playing faster tabs...anyways...thank u ! Bye Ives
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Artax on 2001-08-06
does anyone know what does "sweep picking" or "slide picking mean??? I would appreciate any answers... Thanx in advance
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by aash on 2002-03-10
HELP!!th equestion isnt exactly about this lesson...but im asking anyway. umm...there is lesson# 8 and lesson # 10 but can anyone send me lesson #9??please? coz think thats an important lesson, but it doesnt seem to be there
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by James on 2002-04-14
Hi I have taught myself to play guitar...by anchoring my pinky and ring finger to the pick guar but i want to be able to get the same sound but with a pick....I am just haviong trouble getting used to hitting the strings with a pick....any exercises that can help with this?
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Pablo Wainer on 2002-04-14
Hi i want to play the solo that play dimebag of pantera in the song cementery gates, i want to know what technique he uses.
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by award on 2002-09-06
my good pick depend of my amp and guitar? and its good use the trémolo effect?
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by high on 2003-09-08
hello?
There are 2 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Mr. Happiness on 2004-08-18
How are you ?
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by terence on 2005-04-05
how to palm mute like James hetfield in metallica , its super fast...
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

Question posted by Daan Enslin on 2005-04-23
I can do the normal finger picking quite good. What I struggle with though is to lern how to do the proper folk picking style. Like Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor & paul Simon type of thing - they all make much mor use of the thumb, etc. Any pointers will do.
There are 0 answers to this question. View/Post Answers

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