Get Better with Ninja-Like Picking
Heavily Benefits the Metal Guitar Player
So you play the six-string, you say. Walk with me as we look at a few ways to alter your picking hand approach. Become a fretboard chameleon!
Many a guitar player will hit a skill plateau, and find it difficult to progress. Whether it's boredom, lack of practice, or flat out poor discipline, we've all been there. Us guitar players all strive to become Hendrix, but at some point along the way we turn into Johnny Open Mic Night and accept mediocrity.
I'm going to examine an often overlooked way in which you may be able to get more out of your picking, by, well, changing the pick itself.
There are literally hundreds of styles that range from very large picks (for bass players) to extremely thick picks (for, uh, bass players) to small, thin "jazz" style picks. Despite having the word "jazz" in their description, they can be used for literally any style of play.
I personally play heavy metal guitar, in standard tuning, inspired by many of the all time classic bands from the '80s. I focus on rhythm, but make it a point to spice up my playing by throwing in a few lead licks here and there. Palm muting technique is quite important to this genre, as you must have developed solid picking hand skills to pull it off correctly.
Because of the speed of play, as well as the required string skipping, I often stumbled and awkwardly fluttered through rhythm lines that just didn't sound crisp and were lacking when compared to the pros. What the hell were they doing differently? I would spend hours trying to figure it out, when one day a shredding buddy of mine introduced a simple solution.
The guitar pick I had been playing with was just too large and bulky for what I was trying to accomplish. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a few Jim Dunlop Jazz III picks. "Try this." He said.
Immediately I noticed a difference. With a smaller, more tactical weapon in hands, striking the strings quickly and accurately was much easier, and more importantly achieved the effect that I was going for, but could never quite pull off.
Let's consider a few reasons why this is the case:
- Speed - Metal in particular (but often other styles too) requires you to be quick! With a smaller picking attack, palm muting and quick strokes were far more fluid.
- String skipping - Easily the biggest benefit was the ability to move across the strings, skipping one or even two to hit notes on the fly without scraping randomly and creating undesirable sounds that rang out and made me cringe.
- Sweep picking - Let me just say that I cannot sweep pick at all. However, I have noticed that many players who are skilled enough to do this use very small jazz III type picks. The "sweep" can just....sweep.
- Palm Muting - With a smaller object to hold between my fingers, it was easier to drop my hand up and down as needed to mute strings. It's a minimal size difference, but absolutely noticeable.
Whether you are an acoustic player, slide player, or chicken-picker, your picking hand weapon of choice could be affecting the sound that comes from your axe. Jim Dunlop Jazz III picks offer a completely different approach that can help you achieve the desirable subtleties that make a good guitar riff or lick sound great.
Experiment! It doesn't take a lot of time, and even if it improves only one song you play, it's still an improvement. I now use multiple types of picks during a show, depending on what song I my band is rocking. It makes all the difference to me!
Cool Guitar Picks to Change Your Sound
Amazon Price: $17.60 $9.79 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 3, 2014)