Hopefully you’ve already read the “GUITAR PICKS” article, because we’re going to begin this lesson with picking.
Q: “What’s the best way to hold your pick?”
A: The ideal way would be to hold it between your index and thumb, with the point of the pick aiming at the body.
* try holding the pick in the center-it’ll give you more control.
Your picking hand should be “anchored” when playing scales and single-note passages. This just means that your hand should be sitting on the bridge (or Low E string) of the guitar. Don’t try using your pinky to hold up your picking hand. It’s just plain wrong and other guitar players will point at you and laugh.
And NEVER try to play single note runs using what I call the “Claw Machine” technique. This is when a guitarist tries to play with their hand suspended in mid-air.
When strumming chords, your hand should move freely across the strings.
holding the pick, fingerstyle, “clawing”, RH tapping. pinch harmonics? CAR PICKUP SUV!!!!
downstrokes, up strokes, down up/up down, alternate picking, try playing each note 3X dud/udu
Guitar picks (or plectrums as they are sometimes called) come in a variety of different sizes, shapes, gauges (thickness) and composition. I’ve seen and played picks made out of real tortoise shell, copper, brass, stone, wood, bone, feathers, carbon graphite, synthetic resins and celluloid!
They each have their pros and cons, but you’ll find certain types better suited for different styles and playing techniques.
Face facts…SIZE DOES MATTER!!! A ridiculously large pick
doesn’t help your technique at all.
The idea is to have your thumb and index finger holding close to the center of the pick.
With a large pick, you have too much “sway” on the striking side (and opposite side). Imagine trying to sweep your floor with one hand holding a broom in the middle. There’s a lot of wasted motion to compensate for the big broom’s size. Now imagine the same chore using a small hand broom. Each sweep is more productive and you are much more accurate with a small, easy to manage tool. The same concept holds true for your pick…
So…OVERSIZED picks are BAD!
The most common shapes:
*All of these shapes are small enough to be accurate and manageable. Try several to find a shape that suits you.
Gauge refers to the thickness of a pick. Usually they are rated:
Extra thin/light (.44mm)
extra heavy (1.20-3mm & beyond)
The thinner the pick, the more “give” it has. It is ideally suited for lightly strummed acoustic guitar chords or even funk guitar chords that you might want to sound “softer” and not so heavy handed. Thin picks don’t have enough mass to really move the string hard-they have a little play in them. These are a good choice for beginners.
Thicker picks don’t give nearly as much as thinner ones, so their contact with the string is more forceful. These picks are excellent for single note runs because they don’t bend at the end of a pick stroke. Given their extra thickness, heavier picks respond more immediate than picks that bend or “wag”. These picks take a while to adjust to (many beginners hit the strings so hard that they pull the guitar out of tune).
A good player should be able to play with any size and gauge. Compensating for the differences is a sure sign that your picking hand is progressing nicely.
The composition of a pick has a big impact on the sound and feel. Dense materials like stone and metal have a brighter sound than porous materials like wood or ceramics. They also are considerably more durable.
Nylon is another popular pick material, but it tends to wear down much quicker than other composites.
A word of advice: stay away from “novelty” picks. You know the kind that change pictures when you tilt them. These are usually nothing more than stamped cardboard with a thin coating for the design. A few hours of real playing and they become confetti in your hand…
I use custom-made 351 shape “glow in the dark” picks by Steve Clayton USA (medium to medium/heavy thickness).
A metronome is a device that keeps a constant tempo. These help musicians with their rhythm and timing. Metronomes come in many guises from simple electronic devices, to spring-wound wooden jobs to modern drum machines and software.
BUT THEY ALL DO THE SAME THING- PROVIDE A CONSTANT RHYTHM.
Here are a few tips to improve your rhythm and meter:
Start the metronome at a SLOW speed (somewhere around 50-60 beats per minute.)
Try playing a simple Major scale hitting one note simultaneously with the click/beat. Feel free to slow it down if you are struggling to keep up- but don’t increase the speed yet. (There’s nothing worse than someone trying to pull off a fast run when they can’t execute it cleanly at a slower speed. TRUST ME-THERE’S NO SHORTCUT TO RHYTHM AND TECHNIQUE. If you want phenomenal technique, take your time and be patient. You’ll thank me later.)