Monday, October 20, 2008

Inside to outside

A while ago I made the decision to improve my alternate picking technique. Aided by instructional DVD's from Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci (although mostly the former), I set out to basically change the way I have played guitar since 1992. I've always used alternate picking, but I've always incorporated sweep picking and economy picking when crossing strings, to get a more fluid, legato-like sound. Problem is; it has kind of worked all too well, in that when I pick fast, you can't hear the "attack" as well as you would if I was playing with strict alternate picking, meaning that I sound semi-legato even when applying muting techniques - but only when I play across two or more strings. Players like Frank Gambale also do this exclusively, but guess what; their playing also sounds legato-like almost no matter what amount of muting they apply.

I spent a lot of time with a metronome getting my technique to where it is (or was) at, and in a not so surprising turn of events it's hellishly hard to change how I pick. Basically, I've changed from inside picking (which allows me to "sweep" across two or more strings using one down- or upstroke) to outside picking, where I religiously alternate up- and downstrokes (unless I'm doing sweeped arpeggios, in which case it's business as usual). The result: my technique sucks now, and I'm relegated to playing runs and phrases at less than half the speed I'm accustomed to. Even worse; when I play pieces I've done for years, muscle memory is working against me, and I revert to my "old" picking patterns, only to catch myself mid-run.

At the end of the rainbow there's hopefully a more crisp tone, but at the moment it kinda' just sucks, because while I have no idea how long it'll take to build up my new technique, I'm not practicing technique the old way.


Anders said...

Yes, I've noticed you've been lacking in the technique department lately. You've started submitting Eric Clapton tunes to the guiar quiz...

Wilhelm said...

Yeah; that's what's become of me :-(