Pick stroke direction
Devin (or anyone)
I'm having trouble maintaining my pick direction in a lot of situations. If the song I'm playing is straight 8th notes, or even several quarter notes in a row that are all down strokes, I'm fine. But when I add hammers or pull-offs, I start tripping up. I've tried the suggestion of continuing the pick direction after the hammer or pull-off so that I'll be going in the right direction on the next stroke that actually hits a string, and as long as I think about it, I'm OK. But once I stop thinking about it, my pick hand wants to stop and I always seem instinctively to want to make the next stroke an upstroke no mater what the tab says.
Is there some exercise I can do to help with this problem or should I just go with my instinct? I concerned that if I don't get this right now, it's going to screw me up when I get to the point where I don't want to depend so much on tablature.
Thanks, and I hope I explained this situation so it's not completely mud.
I've actually received several e-mails from people out there asking this same thing. To build the best technique and speed in the long run, I'd say the general rule is that you'll want to keep the DUDUDUDU alternate pick stroke going over each 8th note count 1&2&3&4&. It's easy to get thrown off by the hammer-ons and pull-offs...to get your brain and picking hand working together on instict, you might try picking every note of a song instead of playing the song with the hammer-ons and pull-offs. If you pick all the notes, maybe it'll build up some good pick direction muscle memory, and after you build the muscle memory, then try adding the hammer-ons and pull-offs back into the arrangement.
At this point, I don't really think about the stroke direction of each individual note, but I'll focus on the down up down up alternate picking pattern that I want to keep moving throughout the entire song. You might also try muting the strings with your left hand..then pick or strum DUDUDUDU over the muted strings..keep that pattern going and try to hum the melody of the song on beat with your pick strokes. This could help with timing so you can match the melody notes with the proper down or up stroke.
Tony Rice strayed away from the DUDUDUDU strict alternate picking when he felt like it and he was able to play super fast. I think it's fine to go with your instinct at times but I think alternate picking is best most of the time.
Molly Tuttle's version of "White Freightliner Blues" is a really good example of how down up down up alternate picking can build some really efficient picking. It's hard to tell what direction she's picking since it's so fast, but you can paste the video URL into our AB loop tool and slow down the video to see it better https://countryguitaronline.com/ab-loop-video-player/
Good luck! Hope some of this helps.
Thanks for your suggestions and I will try them. I don't know if I might be making too big a deal out of this, but it has been really frustrating for me. It really comes into play when I try to play an up-tempo tune (like Gold Rush) faster without looking at the tab's pick stroke directions. It doesn't seem to be as big a deal on, say, your version of Bill Cheatham, which also has a lot of hammers and pull-offs, but has a slower flow. (And thank goodness for your version of Old Grimes!)
BTW, I've have seen that video of Molly Tuttle. She plays so fast that I don't know if the looper slow it down enough to do me any good. :). I did take something from it though. After I watched it, I started cupping my picking hand into a loose fist when I play and it seems to work for me.
Again, thanks Devin.
It's funny you mention cupping the hand in a loose fist because I've been working on the same thing the past few weeks after this Molly Tuttle video popped up again on my YouTube feed. She's got a really nice style with her right hand. In the past I've planted my pinky during flatpicking runs and kept my hand a little more open when I strum but Molly Tuttle's style caught my attention. What style is best, who knows. For me, I think planting my pinky has held my speed back a bit, so I started making a pretty big adjustment to more of a Molly Tuttle style closed fist and my speed is increasing. It's a little sloppy now and I'm missing notes I normally wouldn't but it should pay off in the end I hope. The closed grip pick strokes and strumming sound a little smoother to me also. Definitely going to experiment with it more..really good topic for a lesson video at some point.
Anyways, good luck with the pick stroke direction. Let me know how it works out.
Thanks for that advice. I went back and practiced that style on the A part of Gold Rush and it has helped a lot. Once I got used to doing it that style, I started putting the hammers and pull-offs back in and try to remember that the next pick stoke will be in the same direction as the hammer or pull. It's not completely muscle memory yet, but it's getting better. Again, thanks.
I must say I'm having the same problem with pick direction!! I guess I developed some bad habits. I'm trying to fix it but it's not going very well. It's almost like starting over again. Very disappointing.It only happens with hammers, slides & pull offs. I hope I have a break through soon.
The pick direction is STILL something that I have to get used to, but with the songs that I've practiced the most from this site -- I realize that using Devin's exact picking I am able to play songs faster and smoother. Definitely takes getting used to though!
Yep, I struggle with this, too. Picked up a lot of bad habits that are really hard to break.
Up down pick strokes are a great habit to practice because I've found they make my strumming hand much more flexible and i've started to swivel my wrist more while strumming. This brings out a richer, more textured sound which lends itself to all sorts of styles as well as country and Bluegrass. Devin has a great video where, at the end, he introduces a strumming pattern involving bass notes with quick strums in between. This is easily one of the best things I've learned since coming here a few weeks back. I say "learned", it's very much a work in progress, but getting better all the time.
Wonderful Molly Tuttle video. Thanks for posting. I notice that she's using her upper forearm as her anchor, and resting her wrist on the E string at times. I'm interested in that closed fist style because i find my pinkie does some funny tapping stuff on the pickguard if i'm not careful, especially if the nail is too long. Something new to practice!
I love watching Molly Tuttle's playing. This short video has her playing a D-18, the same guitar I have. Unfortunately, I can't play mine as well as she plays this one.
@jocelyn The first time I saw Molly Tuttle was this video on YouTube with her and her brothers. I was just blown away at how good they were! She's 14 in this video. Amazing. I guess her brothers didn't continue with their music, at least I haven't seen much of them lately anyway.