In this lesson, we're first looking at fast guitar picking as a rhythm technique, using the lower tones of the guitar. This is commonly heard in speed/thrash metal and their derivatives, but also in rock in general.As we'll be using a form of alternate picking, I recommend you first take the introductory alternate picking lesson.
Alternate picking is simply the repeated down-up motion of your plectrum over the strings. Fast alternate picking is known as tremolo picking.
Tremolo picking goes back to the rock and roll of the 50s and 60s, and was popularised in Dick Dale's surf rock classic, Misirlou...
Think also about pick gauge. For fast guitar picking, I prefer to use .60mm as it flexes over the strings more easily. Again, the less obstruction the better!
Let's start slow and simple on the lowest string. At first, keep the distortion switched off as we want to be able to hear our progress clearly.As we're going to be speeding up, your pick hand stability is important.
Seee which one (if either) works most comfortably for you.
So, now our pick hand is in place, watch the video below and alternate pick (down-up-down-up-etc.) the low E string at a constant tempo (use a metronome to help). Try speeding up gradually. There's no hard and fast rule for this, you just have to use your judgement on whether you're running ahead of yourself.
Notice how I keep my picking "sweep" tight around the string I'm playing. This is to ensure you don't accidentally hit the adjacent strings.
As shown in the video, you should also practice this same action on the A string above. Beginners especially find the A, D and skinnier strings harder to alternate pick at first as you need to keep your picking "window" tight to avoid hitting strings above and below.The example above is the essence of 80's and 90s speed and thrash metal. The same tremolo picking technique is also used in shredding solos, but we'll look more at the lead application of tremolo picking in another lesson!
Once you're confident with the core tremolo picking technique and are satisfied with your speed and endurance, it's time to churn out some riffage!
Again, don't jump ahead of yourself. Start just on the low E string again, but this time, try changing fret in rhythm, like in the example below...
In fact, you'll be surprised at just how many thrash riffs solely use that bottom string of the guitar, mostly because it has the thickest, bassiest tone (and it's easy to just hammer out - very little obstruction). Use the entire length of the neck...
Hope you've enjoyed this lesson. Remember, heavy metal and thrash are really good for building your speed and strength with fast guitar picking whether you like the genre or not.Was this lesson useful? Please let others know, cheers...
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