Ok, so as I've mentioned, I'm trying to re-learn how to pick. I've had inefficient technique pretty much my whole life - when I first started, I held a pick with three fingers, sort of a triangular grip between my thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. In college, I realized almost no one did it this way, so I got the hang of holding a pick between my thumb and pointer fingers. However, I still had my hand open, with my fingers splayed out and generally mu pinkie anchored a little in front of my bridge pickup. As demonstration, here are the two pictures I'd posted previously to demonstrate (not of me, obviously):
So, I've been working on that for the past week. So far, it DOES seem to be helping - my picking seems to be maybe a little faster, but certainly way more even and accurate. I think it's a question of inertia - with the mass of your picking hand less spread out and more compact, it's more efficient to make small, fast movements with it.
The problem I'm having, though, is my fingers, now that theyre tucked in instead of safely out of the way, keep getting in the way when I palm mute. It's fine on the bass strings, but muting the treble while picking rapidly is beyond me at this point.
Anyway, so far I've run into two videos that have been a lot of help. This Guthrie Govan video that giannifive posted:
Guthrie Govan - Guitar Techniques - Module 1 (Alternate Picking). Êîììåíòàðèè : LiveInternet - Ðîññèéñêèé Ñåðâèñ Îíëàéí-Äíåâíèêîâ
and this Paul Gilbert lesson from the "Get Out of My Yard" DVD:
[VIDEO]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpJNUGHxC3M]YouTube - Paul Gilbert Alternate Picking Lesson[/VIDEO]
One thing they both explained that finally clicked when Gilbert demonstrated it in the video above is the utility of holding your pick at an angle relative to the strings for fast picked runs. I'd always tried to pick in such a way that minimized the sound of the pick attack, but Gilbert's demonstration where he goes back and forth between fairly straight and fairly angled really drove in the point that for fast alternate picked runs, sometimes really playing up the sound of the attack is a good thing. It's also a spectacular example of the truism that tone is in the hands - there's a pronounced change in the sound between the pick being almost straight on and at more of an angle.
The problem here of course is I've always picked fairly agressively anyway, so now if I'm picking at an angle for that machine gun alternate picked sound, the difference between my tone while picking and while playing legato is more pronounced, while previously I've been able to go back and forth between the two with minimal change. I need to spend some time thinking about this - maybe this isn't a problem, and maybe it's good to have those different timbres at your fingertips. Or, maybe I need to get the hang of going back and forth between angled and direct on the fly...
Anyway, I'm going to keep updating this blog-style as I continue to work on re-learning how to alternate pick.
I also went from three fingers to open hand to closed hand. Get out of my head!
I've found that with a closed hand, you have to really tuck the remaining three finger up there, and leave the index and thumb further away from the palm of the hand. It also helps to rotate the wrist so that the hand is perpendicular to the fretboard. If you really take the time to look at your picking hand, you will see that it is rotated slightly, since the thumb pushes up one side and not the other. You may just need to concentrate on lifting up the pinky side of your hand.
What may have helped me the most, though, was learning to not rest my hand on the top of the guitar. You can rest your hand on the strings--indeed, you SHOULD for proper string muting--but not on the surface of the guitar, since it messes up your hand angle. It actually helps to practice this on a Strat, since the bridge is so low that it forces you to use a better wrist angle. Tune-o-matics, by comparison, give you more room to be sloppy.