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Best exercises for improving pick technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by phxlbrmpf, Nov 7, 2004.

  1. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I finally decided to work on my pick technique a bit, and so far I'm making okay progress. I've put together a bunch of exercises to play over and over again, but I still occasionally "choke" on a few lines when playing fast and alternating between strings. Anyone know some "instructor-approved" exercises? Lots of thanks in advance.

    By the way, most metal/punk lines I've come across so far are really more fun to play with a pick -- why is that?

    I'm using Fender medium picks because I prefer the way they sound, I've found that heavy picks sometimes sound "scratchy" and not aggressive enough for my liking. My current main bass is a Status Energy which does a great job at retaining enough bottom and "omph" when played with a pick.
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    (Take it easy, Dude. I can think of a couple things that are fun, but I don't just discuss it in the open - what are the finger-snobs going to think now?)

    Anyway - as a former pick-only player, I can think of one thing: While 'raking' is discouraged by many finger-stylers, with a PICK that's where it's at. What I'm saying is that to conserve motion and play fast, my original bass teacher (back in the 70s - a pick player) taught that especially when it comes to moving one string over - like with a run or scale - you should be in the habit of starting on a stroke that lets you 'rake' over to the next string. Like for an ascending major scale in the first position from the root you'd start on an UPstroke, so that when you finish the second note on the lowest string you're already heading in the right direction to use a DOWNstroke for the next note that's on the string below. for a major scale it works perfectly - UP, DOWN, (next string) DOWN, UP, DOWN, (next string) DOWN, UP, DOWN. You can really get that going fast! (My teacher could anyway; I wasn't really strict enough with that technique - it's one thing I worked on when I started playing bass again a couple years ago.)

    I've been forcing myself to play pretty much with fingers only because I'm just learning finger-style in the last less-than-a-year or so, but some songs our band does I just HAVE to use pick on (because it sounds so good!) - and once I've got finger-style down pretty well (maybe another year?), I think I'll go back and try to advance myself on plectrum also. I can't see it possible to duplicate with fingers the sound of a heavy rounded-triangle pick that's ham-fisted between two fingers and a thumb! BLANG-BLANG-BLANG!! Sometimes I like to intentionally angle the stroke so that I get a raucous squeek on each note! (I think I've said it before: I call that my 'pitbull on a short chain' sound)

    One thing I like about pick playing is that it's natural to mute strings above the one you're playing with the 'meat' of your picking hand, and mute the higher strings below with 'intentional slop' on the fretting hand (like I still do now with finger style). It's not really fair for me to say though, because I'm very used to pick playing, and not so much with finger style.

    I'd better stop thinking about this so much, or I'll stop working on my fingerstyle so dillegently. ..Maybe the finger snobs are right - maybe those picks are a 'slippery-slope' to style-destruction. I feel so dirty now.

  3. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    because it's just more fun to play with a pick in general :)

    ohh, I dunno really, maybe because a lot of the original lines were played with a pick so they just sit better with that technique

    I dunno what technique advice to give you as there are amillion ways to get results with any technique... I like to rest/anchor my pinky and fingertips across the strings to mute the ones i'm not playing... I tend to position my right hand by default about 2/3 inches from where they meet the bridge, but obviously different basses have different 'sweet spots' to pick... on my P-bass, i'm picking about an inch behind the pickup (bridge side)

    alternate picking & raking is the key, but I must admit I haven't thought about right hand technique for years... I think most of the time, your technique sorts itself out provided you're not doing anything majorly weird - I spent some time at first watching Scott Thunes, and basically emulated his technique
  4. Running scales in thirds is on of the most effective right hand exercises, IMHO. Eighth notes at high tempos will get your hand moving for sure. One exercise I do a lot, both with a pick and fingerstyle, is triplet patterns on scales. Something like, C C E, D D F, E E G, etc. Any pattern that involves combination's of string crossing will help.
  5. Dynna


    Oct 23, 2004
    Practice crossing strings if that's what's giving you problems.

    Do the Steve Vai angular exercise....



    Practice these using ALTERNATE picking ONLY. And make sure to start each exercise with a down stroke, and then do it again starting with an UP stroke.

    Don't forget to reverse the exercise as well.(starting on the bottom string)
  6. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    practice alternate picking triplets and skipping strings with them.
  7. Rich600


    Nov 22, 2004
    Learn how to do chuggah rythym, erm, a good one is the trooper bassline, i find that a good exercise for warming up my picking hand for both pick and fingerstyle.