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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, so admittedly I'm not the most gifted of players, and now that A. school is ending, and B. I've been bringing a guitar to work to practice on lunch instead of playing video games, I want to get better.

A problem I've noticed is that my picking arm basically tenses up, to the point where I feel it in my bicep over time. This to me means I'm picking from the elbow and not the wrist, as I should be doing, right?

So the question is, are there some good exercises that can help me pick better from the wrist, as well as minimize movement?
 

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Bro of Bros, Bro.
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I've always maintained that just some of the basic chromatic 1-2-3-4 exercises up and down the neck are really good for both the left hand as well as the right hand picking technique.

I would start off really slow, and just concentrate on moving your right hand with minimal effort, just up-down-up-down, and so forth.

Another one that has helped me in the past is to start with something like the Locrian mode on the 5th fret of the low E string, and basically play the all the way up the neck, but using economy (i.e. down-down going from the 8th fret on the E to the next note, the 5th fret on the A. This will really help to start minimizing the movement, and get your wrist more involved.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Honestly, Chris got me started practicing trem picking on a single string at increasing tempos to help tighten up my (atrocious) picking technique, and while it's still pretty bad it has helped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good advice guys, thanks! Another option would be to have someone break my arm so I have to wear a cast! :lol: That way I'd have to pick from the wrist.

Hmm, there's a product idea: a cast made for guitarists that imobilizes the picking arm for practicing.
 

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Yeah pick from the wrist always. I got into the same shitty habit of picking from the elbow, but I've changed it to wrist and I've gotten a lot faster just because of that. Endurance is also much less of an issue.

What I found helped was forcing yourself to play the licks/riffs you always noodle with using your wrist, after that your mind kind of just assumes you should play everything else like that. :)
 

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What I used to do to help my right hand was bust out my metronome and do rhythms while increasing in speed. I used to do downpicking, alternate, and throw in some gallops and different patterns of 4s,5s etc. I also move up and down strings when I got somewhat comfortable. Usually I'd go up in speed until it gets a bit hairy, then move it back down for a minute and then set it a good 10/15 bpm faster and try that. The trick is to stop if you notice your technique is wrong or you're tensing up and bring the tempo back down and focus on staying comfortable and relaxed. If you can do that for a few minutes it'll really start to get tiring but I noticed it helped my tightness for rhythms and my endurance.
I should really go through that routine a few times again because I haven't done it in a while.
 

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Lord Super Awesome
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I cannot recommend John Petrucci's "Rock Discipline" enough for picking technique.....Also, Paul Gilbert. While they are virtuosos, they have a way of explaining tricks of the trade better than anyone. Lastly, it takes real work to break your current habits. I learned a ton from those guys and i FORCED myself to rethink my approach to picking. It increased my playing abilities exponentially.
 

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Learn a few 80's thrash songs. :yesway:

A strong picking hand (for rhythms especially) is one of those things, like any part of guitar playing, that you have to have some attitude with. If you bitch-pick it and go into it like a drone playing to a metronome, it's going to sound stale no matter how accurate you are. No offense Shannon, you're a great player, but your recent batch of vids is a good example. You're definitely playing the parts correctly, but it just seems like it's too mechanical. (To my ear, anyway, and you know what they say about opinions :lol:)

For leads, I just play boring shred triplets all the time, so I'm no help, but if you want to really kick ass at rhythms, imo you just can't do that with a light touch. Hammer the fuck out of the guitar, beat it to death, make it your bitch. It'll come across stronger and when you DO want to use a light touch on things, your hand will be strong, like bull. :metal:

So in a nutshell: Get precise, get fast, but don't think that your picking hand isn't responsible for feel as well. It totally is.
 

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A problem I've noticed is that my picking arm basically tenses up, to the point where I feel it in my bicep over time. This to me means I'm picking from the elbow and not the wrist, as I should be doing, right?
Seanbabs' warm-up is great too.

 

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Wirelessly posted :)dio:: Mozilla/5.0 (Android; Linux armv7l; rv:6.0.2) Gecko/20110902 Firefox/6.0.1 Fennec/6.0.2)

Everything in Chris' post. :agreed:

All the really good players pick hard. For shred, there is no better example than Yngwie manhandling his guitar. All the thrash guys from back in the day just hammer the fuck out of everything. Plus, picking like a man means you need less gain, which makes your sound bigger and more articulate.

Workout tune: Disposable Heroes. If you cannot stay loose, you will cramp up and fall behind. The riff is dirt simple, so it is all about stamina. You just focus on the right hand.
 

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Lord Super Awesome
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No offense Shannon, you're a great player, but your recent batch of vids is a good example. You're definitely playing the parts correctly, but it just seems like it's too mechanical. (To my ear, anyway, and you know what they say about opinions.
You need to see my live videos.
As for the last few done in my house, there were a couple of things going on there. First, i am trying to hear the track i am playing to. No easy task when you are trying to get even recorded volumes with a tube amp, itunes and a webcam. So yeah, there is a high element of listening concentration going on. I could barely hear the original track. :lol:
Second, i did a closeup of the guitar for those using the vid as a way to learn the song. So mechanical, probably so, but you cant base your opinion of my playing and the techniques that worked for me on those vid. Take them for what they are....
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Some more good ideas, thanks guys! Believe it or not, I just got the JP and PG videos on VHS. Sister in law had them, because she used to play. So I'm going to convert those to iPad format and start working with that, as well as Sean's vid.
 

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Bro of Bros, Bro.
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One of my favorites is Frank Gambale's Chop Builder. Playing it all the way through is one hell of a workout.

There are a bunch of videos of it on youtube. I've got a VHS of it with the tabs somewhere...

 

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A lot of good advice in this thread. I try to use riffs or solo parts from songs as excercises becase it's more fun and doesn't feel like "practice"which can be dreadful sometimes. Moreover you can maybe use a lick or two in your own music.

I have taken a few lessons from one of the Guitarists in the swedish metal
band Avatar (they have recently finished recording their fourth album). One of the first things he talked about was hitting the strings hard enough. Actually I could at first really not belive how he punished his guitar right in front of me :eek: I had never seen anything like it before.

good luck/Henrik
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
One of my favorites is Frank Gambale's Chop Builder. Playing it all the way through is one hell of a workout.

There are a bunch of videos of it on youtube. I've got a VHS of it with the tabs somewhere...

Frank Gambale-Chop Builder Parte 6 - YouTube
Awesome exercise; which video of his is that off of? I wouldn't mind picking it up.

Also, whenever I see old Frank Gambale pics/videos, I can't help but think of

 

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Bro of Bros, Bro.
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It's called http://www.amazon.com/Chop-Builder-Frank-Gambale/dp/B00007CWI9, and it's about an hour long technique workout. It starts off slow, and then it builds up very nicely.

It's got an awesome cool down outro at the end.

It's pretty cheesy, but it's a great video. It really improved my technique by leaps and bounds.

Check out some of the youtube vids for it. You may be able to pick up some things from it, but the real key is to play the whole thing through with him.
 

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Alright, so admittedly I'm not the most gifted of players, and now that A. school is ending, and B. I've been bringing a guitar to work to practice on lunch instead of playing video games, I want to get better.

A problem I've noticed is that my picking arm basically tenses up, to the point where I feel it in my bicep over time. This to me means I'm picking from the elbow and not the wrist, as I should be doing, right?

So the question is, are there some good exercises that can help me pick better from the wrist, as well as minimize movement?
the tensing thing isnt to do with picking from the elbow as such its usually a control thing. when you are playing 'at the limit' your body tends to tense up the muscles as it thinks it will allow you more control but actually it has the opposite effect. the only advice i can give you is the usual start slow and work up so that you eventually just relax at high tempos. i have this problem as well and im not always the best at taking my own advice!
 
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