Wizard of Shred

June 25, 2018 | Author: Julian | Category: Musical Techniques, Musical Instruments, Musicology, Elements Of Music, Music Theory
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Wizard of shredIn this example I use only two basic arpeggios: The tonic and the dominant chord in the key of A- minor. I alternate between the G# diminished arpeggio and the A-minor arpeggio in different inversions across the neck. Practice slow and with precision. Keep working at a pace where it feels effortless and easy - and speed will follow naturally. Neo Classical Sweep Lesson In this lick I'm combining the A-minor arpeggio with it's dominant Eb Diminished arpeggio. You can continue to play the sequence down the fretboard going from one to the other through the shapes of both arpeggios. This lick uses hammer ons and pull offs as well as picking and sliding. You can pinpoint the sliding by looking at the fingering on the tablature: When ever I use the same finger to fret two consecutive notes, I'm sliding from one note to the other. Practice slow and with 100 % control at all times and speed will follow automatically. Tablature This is a little piece I made based on Paul Gilberts arpeggio string skipping technique. I've added the fourth and the ninth on every arpeggio. But even though each arpeggio has a total of six notes in them (A note more than than the pentatonic scale) they still sound like arpeggios. Add this neo classical arpeggio sequence to your vocabulary by practicing only one arpeggio until you master it. Then move on to the next and practice that. There are only 3 shapes that you need to conquer. Once you have them all down, it's a relatively easy task to put them together. Use the tabs below and start by getting the first bar up to tempo. Practice at a pace where you are in absolute control and speed will follow naturally. Tablature This is a great alternate picking exercise. Performing the frequent string shifts can be a challenge but if you persist and refuse to give up, you will get them down. Remember to practice slow and with precision. Keep working at a pace where it feels effortless and easy – and speed will follow naturally. Shred Lesson This piece is pretty straight forward. It’s a combination of two well known sequences used in a lot of classical music. Notice that I use sweep picking to play the diminished arpeggios in the end. Practice slow and with precision. Keep working at a pace where it feels effortless and easy – and speed will follow naturally. Classical Sequencing Lesson AMAZING LICKS In this lick I'm combining the A-minor arpeggio with it's dominant Eb Diminished arpeggio. You can continue to play the sequence down the fretboard going from one to the other through the shapes of both arpeggios. This lick uses hammer ons and pull offs as well as picking and sliding. You can pinpoint the sliding by looking at the fingering on the tablature: When ever I use the same finger to fret two consecutive notes, I'm sliding from one note to the other. Practice slow and with 100 % control at all times and speed will follow automatically. Tablature The main challenge of this Paul Gilbert inspired string skipping lick, is to get the string skipping right. But the secret to getting it right is to make sure that you are using "outside" picking when you do it. When you move from the G to the high E-string you start with a down stroke and end with an upstroke. This will make it very easy not to hit the B-string in between the two. When you go from the high E-string to the G-string you start with and up stroke and end with a down stroke. It's really quite simple and the picking pattern is described in the tabs as well. Practice the first bar until you've memorized it completely. Then forget about the tabs for a minute and practice it until you can do it with your eyes closed. It's not important to play it fast at this point. Then forget about the first bar and do the same with the second bar. When you can play that without thinking too much about it, put the two together so they become one. When they're both easy to play at a slow pace you're ready to build some speed. Wear your guitar like a jacket until you master this pattern. What ever you do, don't put it down. If it's there in front of you all day, you'll practice every time your hands are available. You eat, you have conversations, you watch TV, you visit the bathroom, and you do all of these things with your guitar strapped to your body. See if you can go through an entire day like this. Make it a fun challenge! In this lick, I use position shifting and a lick from one of the previous articles, to create a third lick. Combining licks in this way is a great way to develop the ability to improvise at very high levels of speed. The more you can combine what you know, the more choices you have. As an exercise, try to come up with at least one new way of using these ideas used in today's lick. See if you can play the whole thing backwards. Play the lick over multiple strings. Change position with your left hand in another way. Do what ever you can to create something new. When you feel confident at playing this lick, take it up the fretboard. I'm playing in the key of G- Minor but you can of course play it in any key or scale you like. Playing this lick always makes me smile. It's an insane way to utilize position shifting to create a one string sequence that looks and sounds this frantic. But it's also an incredible left hand exercise (If you're a right handed person) Think about it: In order to play any 3 notes per string scale pattern from string to string, you have to change fingering to match the notes on each of the six strings you play. You do the same thing here, but on one string only. The only extra challenge you will have to deal with is moving your hand up and down the fretboard horizontally, instead of vertically. I hope that makes sense. The point is this: This lick might seem weird and even impossible to play at first, but give it an extra shot and you'll notice that it really isn't that difficult simply because your fingers are quite used to the task. Your left hand will have to fly across the fretboard so make sure you have a very light touch on the back of the neck. Picking 3 note triplets in this particular sequence and at this speed, can only be done on a guitar in this way. So that's a good reason to develop this technique - and, as I said, It's a lot of fun. I’ve decided to create a category with nothing but licks in it. This allows me to offer you some value even when I haven’t got much time on my hands. This is a sequence I came up with by reversing a well known Yngwie lick. I haven’t included the original lick in this video but if you wonder what it is just reverse today’s sequence. It feels extremely awkward to play these notes in the beginning. It’s almost like there’s something wrong with the lick! But be persistent and you’ll find that it becomes not only easy to play but it also feels natural with time. Have fun with it! Malmsteen study The final Malmsteen lesson In this last article in this series, I would like to bring your attention to the obvious. From my perspective Malmsteen has one final lesson to teach us mortals and it revolves around the concept of passion. Most of us start out in life with a lot of hope, enthusiasm and passion. But as the years go by we find ourselves with an increasing amount of responsibilities and “stuff” that clutters up our lives. Every new choice and achievement brings with it more stuff to handle or take care of. In the end, being passionate and curious becomes the last thing we focus on. We’re so busy making a living that we forget completely to design our life the way we want it. Give it first priority But there is another way. We can give passion a first priority in our life and then have everything else revolve around that. Instead of being frustrated and stressed about not having enough time for what we really want to do, we can put what’s really most important in the place it deserves. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s always possible. Have you lost control? The reason why I’m bringing this up is because I hear so many people say that they don’t have an hour a day for practice. Their time is consumed by studying, a job, or family responsibilities. But is it really true that Intelligent and capable adults can’t have one hour a day for themselves? One hour out of 16 available hours in a day! Think about it for a moment. What’s really going on here? You know for sure that your life is out of control when you can’t seem to find an hour a day for yourself. The more I think about it the more absurd it seems to be. But trust me, I’ve been there my self so I’m not pointing fingers. Resistance from other people The fact is we are in control and we can create that time to practice every day, but we have to make that choice. And when we do, everything else seems to fit in after all. You might experience quite a lot of resistance from people who want your time and attention, but when you start being very clear about your priorities, other people will follow gradually. When you’ve moved through this period of change you’ll wonder why you didn’t make this choice years ago. Being true to what matters The times has changed many times since the long haired heavy rock eighties. But Yngwie has not. He plays the same music, wears almost the same clothes and does the same things he did back then. Though he has been accused of everything from being arrogant to full of himself you cannot accuse him of being anything but true to what he loves to do. I can’t look into his brain and tell what’s going on in there, but from what I can see by his actions and his statements, he decided a long time ago that music was his first priority. What’s a priority? But what does that mean? It means that what ever job you have, though you might enjoy it very much, you have it so that you can finance your musical activities and your life. And it also means that if your job gets in the way of playing music, it doesn’t serve its purpose anymore. It means that every choice you make is made considering it’s positive or negative consequences with regards to you guitar playing. Whether it’s buying a new house, applying for a new job, getting a new car. What ever it is, you ask yourself “Is this going to help or hurt my passion for playing guitar?” - It might also mean that you’re constantly looking for ways to support yourself by playing music, selling music, teaching music, writing about music, working for other musicians or doing something that relates to your passion. Do you need to take charge? What new decision could you make right now that could bring more passion into your life immediately? What creative ideas could you come up with that could increase the amount of time you spend with your favorite instrument? Do you need to take charge of your time and claim that extra hour a day? Or maybe you can find two hours? The foundation for everything else What does it do to the quality of your life when you choose to play guitar a lot? What happens inside of you? When we build our lives around passion instead of having passion be the last thing we make time for, we create that base level of happiness and satisfaction that we can then bring to all other areas of our life. Everything in your life benefits from this choice. Though people might say they don’t want you to spend that much time on yourself, they really don’t know what they are missing out on if you don’t. Feed the beast If you are unable to find a secure place for what ignites your inner passion, you have no chance of developing the skills you want. I’ve had a lot of people come to me saying that they just realized how much they really wanted to become a great guitar players. I’ve seen the passion and excitement in their eyes, but I’ve also seen it die again when they didn’t feed that passion well enough. Passion is like an animal that needs food. And it’s food is time. If you don’t give your passion enough time, it dies on you. For some people it becomes an inner rotting corpse that ruins their lives from within. It becomes the inner longing for something more, for something greater than merely making a living. Hidden Neo Classical Run The reason why I call this lick "hidden" is that I have heard Yngwie use it a lot of times, but I've never seen it transcribed anywhere. Yngwie uses alternate picking for this because it's very hard to play with economy picking. A very useful lick that I'm sure you can find many applications for. Stay out or win it back If you’re relatively young and don’t have many commitments and responsibilities yet, then I hope this article will inspire you to make some intelligent choices and to stay out of the trap so many of us fall into. If you feel you’re already in that trap, decide to make some small but important changes today. Win back some land. You don’t have to go all the way instantly to make a difference. Make a short list of simple actions you can take to make more room for what’s important to you. But do it now, this minute. Don’t put it off. If you do, chances are you’ll get caught up in some other thing and forget about it. How to create more time Go to your employer and ask him or her what you need to do to work less while earning the same. Don’t ask for a raise, ask for more time. Look at your budget, and see if you can cut down on some expenses. The less expenses you have the less money you have to bring in every month and the more time you can create for your self. Ask your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse what you would have to do for him or her in return for an hour for yourself every day. Could you take a full day off every or every other month to practice? Take the first action It’s not important whether or not your actions bring you all the way or not, just act. Take the first step. Then when everyone has grown accustomed to the changes, take another step, and then another. Gradually you will win back what was lost and build a life founded on passion instead of necessity and strain. Be creative Most people dismiss this idea right away. “If I could find more time I would have already” they say and forget that we often don’t see the opportunities we have right in front of us. We are so focused on “what needs to be done” that we don’t see all that’s possible for us. Try this simple game to loosen up your mind a bit: Imagine yourself one year from now, having found all the time you need to practice and become the guitar player you want to become. Imagine that you are where you want to be ideally. Then figure out how things became that way. How did you do it? What changes did you make? Write the story starting from the end all the way back to the present moment. In other words, ask yourself this: “If I have achieved this one year from now, how would I have achieved it?” Open the gift every day I’m not saying that we should all quit our jobs, grow our hair and start playing guitar full time no matter what. The point is to remain in close contact with the exciting, passionate part of ourselves, and to nurture it by scheduling time for it. Everything in this universe serves a purpose, even when we can’t figure out what it is. The drive you have towards becoming a better guitar player also serves a purpose. Honor it, take it seriously, it’s a gift. The art of phrasing fast Is it possible to play a solo that only consists of fast runs, without it getting boring to listen to? Some would say no. But in my experience there's a perpetually long haired swedish male who masters this art to perfection. Whether you like Yngwie Malmsteen's music and style or not, his playing is a treasure chest of ideas and insights that you can use to radically improve your playing, no matter what style or instrument you play. Though the man himself seems to be completely unaware of most of these insights. Are fast and slow two separate things? What's fast in your experience and what's slow? I used to distinguish between "normal" guitar playing which was slow and fast guitar playing which was, you guessed it; fast. I didn't think about integrating the two so you couldn't tell the difference. Until I started studying Mr. Malmsteen. Most other guitar players, and this goes for any style of music, has two "gears" that they play in: 1. Slow or semi slow melodic lines 2. Very fast runs. If you listen to guys like John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola you'll hear this very clearly. Their solos consist of slow to medium paced melodic lines followed by an occasional fast run (Often accompanied by clapping and cheering from the audience) But you are not in doubt as to what's going on, the two are not blended seamlessly together, they are two separate things. How to speed improvise The same thing goes for most other guitar players out there. But this guy Yngwie has integrated the two completely and this enables him to get away with playing very fast solos that doesn't get boring. If you're reading this you probably like the fast elements of guitar playing, but my guess is, you wouldn't care too much for solos that only contain ultra fast runs and licks. Though fast is cool, it has to be blended with the slower lines in order for it to be interesting. Then why is it that Yngwie can get away with playing solos that sometimes contain 99 % fast runs? Well part of it is his ability to end and begin his lines on the coolest notes available in the moment, but that is just another element of today's lesson, which is; The ability to not only "play" fast but to "phrase" fast. Blazing licks, created on the spot One thing is to be able to throw in some fast runs once in a while, but another is to create phrases that contain both slow and fast notes, this is where the real power is. This is where you really get the most out of your hard earned skills. In today's video I give you an example of me playing, using only short phrases of fast and slow notes. I've also included some "licks" that you can look at to understand what's going on. But these licks are created on the spot. They are improvised if you will, and your focus should be to develop the ability to create phrases like this yourself, not to learn a bunch of phrases that you'll get bored with anyway. This is how to go about developing the skill of phrasing fast: 1. Learn and practice sequences A lick is a series of notes that you find cool enough to want to practice. A sequence is a series of notes that repeat themselves through the scale. Pick any scale that you know, then start at the highest note in that scale pattern and play four notes down. Then start at the second highest note in the scale pattern and play four notes down from that. Continue like that until you run out of strings. That's a sequence, and you can create an unlimited number of sequences by using your imagination. Classical music is made up of these mathematical patterns moving through scales and arpeggios. When you spend enough time practicing and mixing different sequences you develop the ability to create fast improvised lines on the spot. This won't happen when if you only practice licks. The next step is to spend some time mixing these sequences and you do that by playing around with them in different scale patterns across the neck. 2. Use legato and economy picking Alternate picking is one of my favorite picking styles but it's the least usable for this purpose. you'll get results faster if you allow yourself to use a lot of hammer ons and pull offs to generate the fast parts of your lines. Because you don't have to synchronize these lines with the picking hand they allow you to have a lot more freedom. Economy picking is my second choice for this purpose. Sliding from string to string connects the notes and creates a legato-like flow of notes that's very useful. And it's easier for you to do which makes it more likely that you'll actually use it. 4. Just do it! The way to learn to do this is to do it. And here's how to go about it: Create a lick right now that has both fast and slow notes in it. Don't make it too hard or complicated. Build it on techniques you know already. Then repeat that lick ten or twenty times. Then create another one on the spot. Look for the cool notes to start and end the lick on and see how interesting you can make it. Then keep doing that over and over again. If you keep at it you'll eventually get it right the first time so you wont have to repeat the lines you create. This is the surest way to developing the ability to phrase fast. And it's a lot of fun for you to do! I can easily spend an entire hour creating lines that mix fast notes and slow notes, and coming up with cool beginnings and endings. When you do this every day, you end up not distinguishing between licks and runs - they become one. There's no fast and slow anymore, there's just you playing and using whatever elements that helps you create the sound you're after. Phrasing Fast VS Playing Fast Example 01 Phrasing Fast VS Playing Fast Example 02 Phrasing Fast VS Playing Fast Example 03 A simple but radical idea This article contains one very important distinction when it comes to soloing. It’s applicable to any style of music and any instrument really. When I figured this one out, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about it anywhere. At the time, I had read my way through a lot of material on music theory and improvising, but nowhere had I come across this simple idea. I promise you this: If you will, not only read, but also apply what you learn on this page, you will experience a lot more freedom and fun when you kick in the extra distortion and start soloing. An essential Yngwie trademark In my alternate picking articles, I’ve been stressing the importance of practicing with a metronome. It’s so important to develop precision in a technical and rhythmical sense, especially when you play fast. The main reason of course is to make sure that you synchronize the right and let hand in systematical and predictable way. This article however is about the complete opposite. It’s about playing “out of time” This is one of Yngwies trademarks and one of the main keys to his unique style. Playing outside the rhythm But before we go on let’s be very clear about what I mean by “playing out of time” When it comes to notes, you can play “outside the scale” simply by choosing notes that don’t fit the key you’re in. This is a technique used very frequently in Jazz and Fusion music. But you can also play “outside” in a rhythmical sense, that is, you can leave the beat of the music completely for a while. When you do this, you forget about playing triplets, quarter notes and eight notes. You leave the mathematical equation of the music for a while and launch out into a run of lick that doesn’t fit the beat in any way. Yngwie is outside most of the time Malmsteen is out of time, 90 % of the time! He is not connected in any logic or mathematical way to the basic beat of the music most of the time he plays solos. In some solos it’s 95 %. Compared to other guitar players that’s very extreme. Paul Gilbert, for instance, “leaves” the music only 5 to 10 % of the time and most other shred metal guitarists never does. So this is quite a remarkable. Most of the fast stuff Yngwie does has no connection to the music rhythmically, but when he begins and ends his runs, he’s very much connected.You could say that his solos mainly consists of fast “out of time” stuff with slower lines in between that are “in time” Try listening to a solo of his right now and notice how much of the time he’s wandering outside the rhyhmical context of the song. Raging fireballs of fury When I started learning to create my own solos I had no idea that I was “allowed” to move outside the song in this way. I found it very difficult to play improvised solos because I felt I had to begin and end every line perfectly in this sense. Ibelieved that I had to create "a song" on the spot with perfect in-time endings and beginnings. Then I started to wonder what made Yngwie's playing so chaotic, free and refreshingly spontaneous and then it hit me: He’s focusing a lot more on the sound of the solo rather than the single note. His solos are raging fireballs of fury and not perfect lines of licks and notes arranged in a neat, logical rhythmical sequence. Tension and release Learning how to play outside the scale is essential if you’re a Jazz musician. But it is equally important to learn how to play “outside the rhythm” when you’re a rock player. Music is a constant string of tension and release. When you play outside the basic rhythm of the song, you make your “inside” licks sound much more interesting. You release the tension that you created by playing outside the rhythm. The same thing goes in relation to the actual notes you are playing. If all you are doing is playing the notes of the chord playing in the back ground, it’s going to sound pretty boring after a while. So you need the other notes of the scale to create some tension. And it becomes so much more fun to solo when you’re not strapped into the rigid rhythmical structure of the song all the time. You get a chance to wander of into the wild and come back into the beat again when you’re ready for it. When it comes to rock music, Malmsteen is a true master of this discipline. Listen and learn, then start doing it yourself. Old School NeoClassical Lick 01 This is pure vintage Yngwie. A must-know lick for the Neoclassical shredder. I use my second finger to slide up to that high note in the end. Old School NeoClassical Lick 02 This is the same lick played on all strings thorugh the Harmonic minor. Yngwie uses this specific type of run in a lot of his compositions. Old School NeoClassical Lick 03 Yngwie likes to end a lot of his phrases in this way. Notice the pickup switching from the neck pickup to the bridge pickup in the middle of the bend. Play around with this until you get that wah- like effect. If you're using a humbucker in the bridge position, chances are this effect won't be very convincing. simply because most humbuckers hasn't got enough high end. If you want to be able to create this effect, replace your bridge pickup. Here’s how to implement this in your own playing 1. Select and practice licks that has an uneven amount of notes in them A lot of the licks on this website consists of 5, 7 and 11 notes. And these doesn’t fit the 4/4 time signature very well. Playing these licks and runs forces you to leave the rhythm of the song and go for some outside playing. In my experience it sounds really great to use sequences and runs with an uneven number of notes, to produce these out-of-time lines in a solo and the reason is this: The ear can’t find the beginning and the end in these sequences because it’s not used to patterns with an uneven number of notes in them. So it gives up and focuses on the general sound of the notes instead. It’s easier to play outside the rythm with uneven sequences and it easier to get a great sounding result. Runs that are based on triplets, for instance, seems to want to get back into the rhythm and they have a tendency to sound “wrong” when you use them for outside playing. It’s a bit hard to explain in writing but you’ll experience this yourself when you try it out. At least half of the sequences and runs that I have in my vocabulary has an uneven number of notes in them. 2. Practice playing out of time deliberately Try this on for size: Start your metronome or use a backing track you can solo over. Then begin your solo playing in-time. Fire off a couple of cool sounding in-time licks and then go for something fast. If this feel completely awkward to you, use a legato lick or run to do this. You might even add some tapping to the mix also. Then slow the lick down gradually until you are able to find your way back into the rhythm and end the lick in a funky rhythmical way. Repeat this process over and over again until it feels natural. To really own this technique make sure that you use "outside playing" to it’s fullest extend over the next couple of weeks or months. Exaggerate it as much as you can. Sometimes we need to overdo something in order to break an old pattern of playing and phrasing. If you do this enough you’ll start to use it without thinking about it. It will become a part of your musical vocabulary, a part that is going to add unbelivable variety and spice to your solos. Improvised or prepared? What's best: A totally improvised solo or one that is carefully prepared and structured in advance? I used to not like the improvised solos very much. "Go home and come up with something worth listening to" I thought to myself whenever I heard Jazz players dive into mass quantities of, what seemed like, random notes. But at the same time I was convinced that you should be able to improvise your way thorugh a chord progression and be able to come up with a cool solo on the spot. Then later in my life I seemed to get bored by the neatly aranged set of notes that came from prepared solos. The best of both worlds But Yngwie Malmsteen seems to be able to combine the two. He doesn't prepare every note but rather the overall structure of the solo - And then he improvises to fill in the blanks. This, to me, is one of the most effective approaches I've come across. You get the best of both worlds: The melodic structure that the ear likes so much, while maintaining the wild unpredictable emotional essence of the solo. The old way of doing it If you prepare every note, your solo wont vary in essence from the song it's in. The song is a set of prepared-in-advance notes and chords that sounds about the same everytime they are played - and in order for the solo to be really interesting it has to offer something else. When people started to improvise in Jazz music, they basically played the melody of the song and then made small and large alterations to that melody. So they kept the basic structure of the song, while adding something new to it. That approach quickly turned into solos that had nothing or very little to do with the melody. Two Neo Classical Diminished Arpeggio Variations The first part of this lick is an Malmsteen classic with a very special sound to it. The second part is a variation of the first. Look closely at the slow part of the video to get a hold of when to pick, when to slide and when to do pull offs. The cool thing is that you can "steal" this part of Yngwies playing without sounding like him. It's another lesson that you can learn and apply to your own unique playing style. There are two approaches you can use to implement this strategy in your own playing: 1. The Jazz method The first one I've touched upon already: Play the melody of the song and make spontaneous alterations to it along the way. If you're a beginner this is a very, very effective way to build a good solo in very little time. But there's another version of this idea and it is this: Create your own melody and improvise over that. Instead of playing the melody of the song, come up with a new one for the solo. Create a little composition of your own that really sounds good. Think about composing a little song, within the song. Make sure that it's easy and comfortable for you to play and that it doesn't have lot of wild, fast runs in it. Then record the chord progression and play the melody over that until you can do it with your eyes closed. Then, when you're ready, begin to improvise and create small and large alterations to the melody.Then move on to bigger ones, then leap into longer runs and come back to your melody. Make sure that you never move so far away from you melody that you can't find your way back to it again. This approach will add unbelievable structure and logic to your solos and it's so much fun to do. You'll always have that safe place to return to while creating improvised solos and never loosing your place. You might spend an hour going through this process, but when you show up at rehearsal, people wont believe their ears. 2. The Yngwie Method Yngwie uses a somewhat similar approach though he doesn't create a whole melody. He figures out how to begin and end the solo in the coolest way possible. This might be just a note or an arpeggio that he goes to when the solo begins and ends. This might be a simple decision as to what high note creates the coolest sound. Then for the solo itself he has a general idea of where to go when. What scales, arpeggios or sequences to play where - but the rest is improvised. This gives him the freedom to preserve his over-the-top flamboyant playing style while maintaining a logic musical direction to his solos. Try combining what I wrote about in my last article with these two methods. Sing the ideal solo you hear in your head. Then figure out how to play that solo and then lastly, practice changing that solo on the spot. Improvise on the basis of what you've created. This will give you some real power. If you've never done any of this before, please try it now. Then record the result and judge for yourself. It might be the best solo you've ever played. And it's uniquely yours, it's fresh and new, and it's improvised. If it doesn't feel great, get rid of it! The second principle that Yngwies brain seems to work by is the concept of “The path of least resistance” Choosing the easiest way around anything sounds like a no-brainer but in this case it isn't. This principle can make or break your success in shredding and when I started applying it to everything I did, I made so much progress in so little time, I couldn't believe it. When I first began to study Malmsteen, I noticed that every technique he used and every lick he played was governed by this simple rule: If it feels great to play stick with it, if it doesn’t;get rid of it. This was quite a revelation to me. But at the time, I had created several rules that didn’t correspond too well with “the path of least resistance” Here are some of them: 1. Playing licks and sequences on only one string is too easy 2. The harder it is to play the cooler it sounds 3. Short cuts are for wussies 4. Economy picking is cheating 3's and 6's combined This is a variation of the lick from my last article. The original lick was based on a four note pattern. In this example I'm mixing that with a six note pattern. I use alternate picking for this one, but you can use economy picking here also! Play around with this and see if you can come up with more variations yourself. The Malmsteen rules Rules like this will ensure that you have very little fun shredding. Because everything becomes a matter of technique rather than a matter of music and fun. It is paradoxical though, that the guy who’s known for long haired speed guitar can teach us so much about focusing on the music instead of technique and skills. My rules wheren’t very effective but Yngwies rules produced one of the most admired playing styles of our time. His rules might look something like this: 1. Always choose the easy way over the harder 2. If it’s possible to play the lick without shifting strings, then do it! 3. Intelligent short cuts are for intelligent people 4. If it isn’t easy you wont use it anyway 5. So discard anything that doesn’t become easy What your fingers love to play When you master Yngwies favorite licks and sequences you realize that all of them feel extremely cool to play. It’s like your fingers want to play them. When I discovered this I started discarding licks and sequences that didn’t feel good after some time. Today I still do that, all though I sometimes stretch myself to play licks that are quite uncomfortable. But as a main rule, I don’t want to spend too much time practicing something that I know I wont use in a live situation anyway! And boy have I practiced a lot of licks that never saw the light of day because they just wasn’t any fun to play in the end. Scroll down to see tablature Every lick should be your favorite Here’s how to use this in your own development: When ever you start practicing a new lick, be very alert to how it feels to play it. Of course, every fast lick feels uncomfortable to play in the beginning but how does it feel as you progress and become better? Can you see yourself playing it in the future with ease and enjoyment? Or is that not going to happen? The more you focus on this when you take up new things, the better you become at discovering “bad licks” faster. You don't want to spend weeks practicing something that you'll never actually use. Look at some of the things you are playing now. Are there any licks, runs or sequences that you need to get rid of because they don't feel very good to play? And are there licks that you really, really dig that you could expand upon and get more out of? Easy for you doesn’t mean easy for everyone What do you instantly play when you pick up the guitar? Every lick you learn should eventually end up feeling like those favorite licks. At least 75 % percent of the licks on this web page I never actually use in live situations. Why? Because they don’t “come to me” when I improvise. My hands just doesn’t go there because they don’t feel that good to play. But the Yngwie licks I have to consciously avoid playing (in order not to sound completely like him) because they feel so good. But a lick that doesn’t feel right to me, might be the lick that you love and vice versa. Most of what Paul Gilbert plays would be impossible for Yngwie to play and the other way around. So you can’t tell in advance what your fingers might like, so be open to anything and be attentive as you practice. One string Neo-classical sequence This is one of Yngwie's favorites and a really useful lick. One string Neo-classical sequence Variation Here's a variation on that same lick. Your fingers will be doing the same job, only the fretting hand moves in a different way. Focus on usability over impressiveness Another very important thing to focus on is whether or not the lick is really useful: Can you easily integrate it with other licks and sequences or is it very hard to use in a context. Again, everything Yngwie does is very easy to mix up with every other thing he plays. Many advanced tapping techniques sometimes requires too much concentration and precision to be useful when you improvise. The same thing goes for crazy string skipping licks and insane stretches of the fretting hand. I’m not saying you shouldn’t practice those also. But what we are focusing on here is how to achieve that fluent easy looking Malmsteen playing style. The most powerful mindset A very good example of usability over impressiveness is economy picking. While alternate picking has some very cool sounding benefits, economy picking is much easier and requires a lot less focus and concentration. And it also has some very cool sounding benefits although different from those of alternate picking. Most people want to learn alternate picking over economy picking and for most people it’s not about sound, it’s about how hard it is to do. Alternate picking is are more desirable technique for most people because it’s harder to perform. Learn it by all means! But know that you have to get rid of the mindset of “harder is better than easy” if you want to shred like the great swede. Scroll down to see tablature Build a foundation of effortlessness It’s important to build a basic vocabulary of sequences and runs that are effortless for you to play. A place that you can return to when ever you have been wandering out into the unknown. Choose wisely when you build this vocabulary because this is what you are going to use the most in the future. And remember, if it isn’t easy, you wont use it on stage anyway. Your foundation of runs and licks, though impressive, should be something you can play while talking to a friend. Then you can always move into the more uncomfortable realm of four finger tapping and insane stretching when ever you feel like leaving that secure foundation. 99 % of Yngwies playing comes from his basic vocabulary and 99 % of what he plays is easy and almost completely effortless for him to play. Choosing the path of least resistance is one of the keys to his secret super power. Use it! One string Up and Down variation A key lesson This article contains one very important lesson that we can draw from the playing of Yngwie Malmsteen. It represents an important key to building effective solos while having immense fun. When you apply it consciously to your own playing, you will experience a greater sense of freedom and playfulness than perhaps ever before. How to get beyond repetitive playing Why is it that Malmsteen's solos seem so alive? What makes his style so unique? Well, of course his creativity has a lot to do with it, but I would say that there are three main reasons for this. I'll cover one of them in this article. The first reason is deeply related to the fact that Malmsteen is often accused of being extremely repetitive in his playing. Some people focus on and hear the same sequence and licks over and over again, and it is as true for Malmsteen as it is for most other players: The same bundle of sequences and licks is used again and again. But Malmsteen has another feature: His playing is instantly distinguishable from most other players. His style stands out. And this is what some people hear; The sound of his style, his tone and his classical influences - Not the emotional content. The best stuff is in the little things When ever we come across something new that stands out, we tend to focus on what stands out and not what doesn't. If you haven't seen a black man all your life and suddenly you are confronted with 10 of them, you are going to think they all look alike. Because all you focus on, is what's significant and different about them. And of course if you're black and you never seen a white person in your life the same thing will happen. But as you get to know these people, you also suddenly see the nuances in their faces. You gradually discover that these peoples appearances are just as different as those of your own color. A corny example perhaps, but I hope it illustrates my point. And my point is this: Licks are tools and not the result When we listen to music that we're not completely familiar with we do the same thing: We focus on what's new and we don't hear the nuances at all. If you're not into classical music, every piece of it sounds about the same. If your not into hard rock every song seems to be the same kind of noise. And if you're not deeply acquainted with the playing of Malmsteen all you'll hear are the same sequences and runs over and over again. But there's a reason why this guy doesn't constantly learn new licks that he can use to impress you with: He's so happy with the ones he knows already, and the actual notes he plays are secondary. And this is the key: Every solo is an expression of emotion not a display of licks. Of course you need notes to produce the emotion but they are the tool not the end result in them selves. Never run out of licks again This is so important to get, because if you don't, you are going to have a feeling of constantly running out of phrases to play when you solo. Don't you know that feeling already? That sense of "I don't have anymore licks or ideas to put into this solo!" That, my friend is the thought of an amateur. And I'm not saying that to put anyone down, but to make you discard that thought completely so that you can have more fun. B.B. King can express himself with just a couple of notes. That's his "song" if you will. His bundle of licks, runs and sequences is very limited. But it's perfect for what he does. And I'm pretty sure this guy never "runs out of licks" because he doesn't think and play that way. Demonic Harmonic Minor Run Yngwie likes to remove the third note in the harmonic minor scale and the reason is clear: It makes it sound more evil. When you do this, two obvious and simple fretboard shapes shows up, that you can use to create this doomish sound. From licks to ideas Next time you listen to Yngwie play, notice how demonic and wild his solos can be. Then think about this: Could he have played a totally different set of notes and still have created about the same emotional content? The same expressiveness in the same places? Of course he could. So when you build your own vocabulary of licks and runs, be sure to use them in as many different contexts as possible. Consider every lick a tool for expression, not as something with value in and of itself. The way you turn your licks into tools, is to play around with them and change them again and again. Look upon every lick or run as an idea rather than a lick. A lick is something fixed, an idea is something you can use in many different scales or patterns. It's something you can expand upon and create completely new things from. Right now, choose a lick or that you really know well. Then ask yourself these questions: 1. How can I use this in another context? 2. Could I transfer it to an arpeggio shape? 3. What's really cool about this lick? 4. And how can I use and transfer this "coolness" to other licks? 5. Could I play this neo classical lick in a blues scale context? 6. Could I expand this lick and make it even cooler? 7. How many new licks could I create from this one lick? 8. What small changes could I make that would change the lick completely? An exercise that will move you up the ladder fast Here's another really useful exercise that can have amazing consequences to your playing: Record a chord progression that you really like - Then, instead of beginning to solo over it,sing the solo instead. It's not important whether or not you sing the actual notes as long as you create the general picture of the solo. Do you remember playing an imaginative guitar when you where a kid? What came out of your mouth when you did that? How does the craziest and coolest solo sound like, in your head? I know this seems third grade but try it out, and if you can, record what you are singing. Then put the notes to the solo and create the actual thing. This is how Malmsteen's solos are build. He's not sitting in his studio singing his solos but what he plays comes from what he's hearing in his head. What are you hearing in your head when you think about a cool solo? Record it and then use your current musical vocabulary to create an actual solo from that. You don't have to be able to play like the best to do this. Just use the tools you already have to come as close as you can. Because what's in your head, is an expression of emotion, not a display of licks, and that's the place you want to get to. Becoming a blast to listen to If you constantly focus on and strive to play what you hear in your head, you will soon forget about how many licks you know. When you remove your focus from the notes you're playing to the general sound and feel of the solo, you also move into the ranks of the pros. Singing the solos you want to play, removes the limitations of what you can do on your instrument. Your ideas become intuitive and creative - they wont be based on what licks you have at your disposal but instead they'll be an expression of you. With time you move from having to prepare every solo to being able to play what's in your head on the spot. Forget about whether you sound repetetive or not and get into being a blast to listen to. That's the lesson. The evil scale patterns of doom Now here's the shape that I use in today's lick. It's based on the A-Harmonic Minor. As you can see it's the same shape repeated in three different octaves This pattern inverts itself further up the fretboard. Try playing the same lick in this pattern as well: One of the reason why these patterns sound so dark is that they revolve around the diminished triad. In this pattern I've marked the notes (grey) of the diminished triad, following the pattern exactly: Yesterday I gave you some ideas on how you can integrate sweep picking with economy picking. Today let's look at the Major and Diminished shapes. But before we begin let's repeat the "integration recipe" that I talked about yesterday, here it is again: 1. Come up with a simple lick that uses sweep picking and another picking technique 2. Repeat that lick until it's easy 3. Come up with another lick and repeat the process New playmates This process of integration is something I practice daily. Over time, you develop some licks and runs that are really comfortable to play - these become your home base, - the place you like to go when you pick up your instrument. Integration is really the process of expanding that home base. It's like inviting new playmates in and giving them a fair chance to become part of the group. As you play, you stay with the home base, while being consciously aware of using some other element that aren't that comfortable to play yet. Going up the neck You might take the diminished shapes and play them over the Harmonic Minor, and then go through each shape up the neck and practice going in and out of that shape, from the diminished triad into the scale and out again. You stay in one scale shape while you repeat the 3 steps in the integration process until you really feel you master that place on the neck. Then you move on and have some more fun. Focus on playing the stuff you already know, while mixing it with the stuff you don't know yet. You don't just want to learn sweep picking, you want to master it, and you only master it when you use it all the time. "When I'm on stage the savage in me is released. It's like going back to being a cave man. It takes me six hours to come down after a show" Angus Young Fooling around is the key As always it's a very, very effective idea to decide on one type of arpeggio and the practice going in and out of that for a predetermined period of time. You might decide to play only Major arpeggios and integrate those for an entire month - to make sure that you really master those before moving on. I always have a "topic" of the week. Something I practice every time I pick up the guitar. This process of Integration looks a lot like "fooling around" on the guitar, it's fun and relaxing to just play what ever you like. C-Major Arpeggio - Sweeping and Legato This is a very useful way to end any arpeggio with some legato playing. Practice going from the legato technique into other licks and runs you know. The extra element But when you're adding that little extra element, It becomes a lot more fun because you're growing and figuring out new stuff while you "fool around". Also: this is how you develop your unique style. In this process you develop your own preferences of what you like to play. You create little licks of your own all the time, and these licks become part of your own unique vocabulary. If you follow this process of integrating sweep picking with your other picking techniques and you plan your weeks and months in advance. (Which is only a decision of what to focus on) sweep picking will become a natural part of what you do, instead of a gimmick that you pull out of your hat. "If you hit a wrong note, then make it right by what you play afterwards" Joe Pass Create miracles At some point you have to move from playing licks to just playing. Licks are examples of what is possible but no more than that. You should take each lick, learn it and go "What else can I do with this idea?" Then come up with a variation on the same idea, practice that until it's easy, then come up with another variation and so on. When you do this enough, you create the power to improvise intelligently. You develop so many "roads" that your fingers can take at any given moment and this gives you unbelievable freedom, it's more fun and it's what every ambitious guitarist is dreaming of being able to do. The process of integration can work miracles for you if you use it every day. A-Minor & B-Diminished Arpeggio Example In this example I use two arpeggios together. I made a mistake in the video! The slow version is different from the fast version, so I created a tablature that showed them both. For some reason playing chromatic runs fits very well within the sound of the diminished triad. How can you use that little idea in other places? Integration is the key Sweep picking is a one-of-a-kind technique. It's so radically different to perform than alternate and economy picking (Though it is closer to the latter) For a long time I wondered why I wasn't using sweep picking very much when I was soloing. Even though I was very good at it, I didn't use that technique very much. Then I pin pointed the problem and found out that I needed to integrate the technique with my other picking styles in order for it to flow naturally. Integration is a concept that I overlooked completely when I was first starting out. I used to know a lot of pretty impressive runs and licks, but I couldn't really connect them into anything musical. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” Muhammad Ali A perfect blend When ever you've learned to use a new technique it's very important that you spend som time integrating it with what you already know and master. The cool thing about this is that it's a lot of fun! when you've spend enough time on this process, sweep picking will blend in perfectly with all your other techniques and you wont even think about when you are using what technique. The outcome is to teach the brain to use what ever technique suits the purpose best. A-Minor integration Example 1 The first lick is really simple. I go down the A-Minor harmonic scale and connect it with the A-Minor arpeggio on the A-string The rules of the game If you skip this process how ever, you will not develop the kind of freedom that I know you want. The whole point of building killer skills is so that we're able to have more fun and there's nothing more satisfying than to be able to set yourself free on the fretboard. If you have to think and evaluate every note you play, you are not really enjoying yourself. Here's the rules of the game: 1. Come up with a simple lick that uses sweep picking and another picking technique 2. Repeat that lick until it's easy 3. Come up with another lick and repeat the process A-Minor Integration Example 2 The second lick is constructed in the same way as number one, only in a different position and with different patterns. It's very useful to find ways to come into and out of the arpeggio patterns at the bottom and top of them. 3 examples of integration I created the licks in today's video in this way. They are simple and very straight forward but they include both economy picking and sweep picking. Create your own licks and practice them until they feel comfortable to you. You aren't supposed to remember every lick that you create, just practice it until you master it, then forget about it and create another lick.Then, every time you pick up you guitar, come up with a new phrase that utilises at least on technique besides sweep picking and go through this very simple process. "I forced myself to play for one hour every day. One hour was a long time, because I was a total beginner and didn't know how to play anything!" Paul Gilbert The smaller the better You might want to start with something less massive than the licks in today's video. Try playing a four note sweep, then mix it with some notes from the scale and then return to the four note sweep. The more manageable and simple the ideas are, the greater the chance that you will actually use them in a real life situation. Remember, the licks you come up with doesn't have to be great art, just come up with something, repeat it several times, then move on to another one. Don't be critical of yourself in this process but play, play, play and then play some more. Have fun! A-Minor Integration Example 3 The third example is a little more colorful. Now spend some time with each arpeggio pattern, coming up with licks that integrate the pattern with it's surrounding A-Minor scale. 7 Arpeggio patterns and you're set In this article, I'm going to give you the basic sweep picking patterns that I use when I improvise. They are very simple and can be used in any type of music. I'm talking about the Major, Minor and diminished triads. While there are many variations on these basic arpeggios, these are the fundamental three types you really need to master. You can add chord extensions like the 9th the 11th or other add-on notes to make the sound of the arpeggio change completely. But if you know your basic triads, adding other notes to them will be easy and fun instead of confusing and overwhelming. I use these three types of triads in many different contexts and they are not limited to a Neoclassical type of chord progression. They work just as well for Blues, Flamenco or Jazz. So the benefits of being able to effortlessly sweep these Arpeggios are huge. The 5-string Major shapes In my last article I showed you the three 5-string patterns of an A-Minor arpeggio. This 5-string pattern is convenient because it allows you to create a 16 note sweep from start to end. Let's look at it's Major buddy, the C-Major arpeggio in it's three inversions: The first pattern is the easiest to finger. Focus on getting the middle three notes to sound separate by using one or both of the techniques I wrote about in my previous article. Use your second finger as a bar and roll it as you do the sweep. Here's the second pattern, starting on the E-note on the A-string: This pattern can be a little tricky to play because you have to create two bars in it. For the first bar on the A- and D string, use your third finger and not your pinkie. You can use your pinkie to create the bar but it's a lot easier to use your third finger. Then use your index finger for the bar on the B- and E-string. Here's the last Major pattern: This is my favorite Major triad pattern because you can play all the notes with a different finger and this makes it easy to get a clear sound out of it. It has one challenge though (No free lunches) you have to make that wide stretch of an entire 5th on the A-string. If this seems very hard for you here are some tips to make it easier: How to make that stretch happen 1. Place your left hand thumb as low on the neck as possible. The more your "hug" the neck with your fretting hand the harder it is to reach far. Position your hand like a classical guitarist would. The thumb should be placed on the middle of the neck (vertically speaking) It gives you more "phrasing control" to place your thumb very high behind the neck (Picture 1) but it gives you more stretching power when you lower it (Picture 2) 2. Pull the neck closer to your face! Again: Think about how a classical guitarist sits when he plays. If your elbow is placed below the neck, it'll be much harder for you to make the stretch. (Picture 1) But If the elbow is under the neck however, you'll be able to reach and stretch your fingers much further. (Picture 2) "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962 Only one diminished pattern These are the three 5-string Major triad patterns so all we need now is the pattern of the diminished triad. Luckily the diminished triad is pure symmetry. It's one minor third repeating itself over and over again. Here's the first pattern: To make it a manageable 5-string pattern that resembles the Major and Minor patterns, I've taken out one note in the arpeggio. The D note on the G-string in the 7th fret should be marked as well but that would mess up our system so I left it out. And, that sacrifice creates an extremely cool sounding and useful pattern. The next pattern looks exactly the same only three frets higher: As you can see there's nothing new here. Only the position of the pattern shifted. Let's do it again and move it up three frets: The diminished triad doesn't really have a root note - since the triad looks exactly the same no matter what note you start on. All the notes in the triad could be regarded root notes. Diminished Shape Mega Sweep Picking Fun Today's lick is practically the same as yesterdays only the pattern has changed from a Minor to a Diminished triad. So there's nothing new here for your picking hand. How to blend sweep picking with other techniques If you're into neoclassical metal or Blues Rock of any kind you'll come a long way with these shapes. In fact, you don't need to learn any other patterns than these to be able to create a lot of cool phrases. 98 % of what I do, I do with these patterns or smaller parts of these patterns. Practice and play with them until they become second nature to you. My next article will be about how to integrate these patterns into the Minor / Major and Blues scale so you can use them as an integral part of your soloing. "I don't follow trends no matter what. I just do what I do and that's it" Yngwie Malmsteen making economy picking more versatile If economy picking is the only picking style you master, you have to be very careful with how you structure your licks. You have to have an uneven number of notes on each string in order to be able to make the string shifts happen. Also there are a few things that are practically impossible to play with economy picking only, because of this mathematical limitation. But there's a quick and easy way around this and it even has some nice side benefits to it: Mix economy picking with legato (Hammer-ons and pull-offs). Because economy picking and legato have a more soft sound to them compared to alternate picking, they go very well together. Frantic Rush 01 Play impressive stuff faster and have more fun Today I have included two downward economy picking runs that include pull offs. Notice what this does to the sound of the lick and to the level of skill it takes to play it. The pull offs give you a little break from picking. Though it is a very small break it can mean a lot to how fast you learn the lick. Previously I've touched on the effects of having a large enough pause between the more challenging parts of a technique and integrating some legato techinque into your picking actions can help you play faster and have more fun. Also the the legato mixture gives you a more loose and easy playing style and a change to reposition your picking hand or the pick itself. Though it's a tenth of a second we're talking about your brain will use this little break to readjust and prepare for the next challenge. That's why it will feel easier to play when you have it down. The trap you don't want to fall into (Though most people do) I'm posting quite a few licks and runs on this blog in my hope that they will inspire you to try new things. But there's a trap that I wouldn't want to see you fall into and that is this: Taking on too much a one time. It sounds so basic and simple, yet it is the secret to getting what you want. You can practice ten licks for ten weeks an accomplish almost nothing, but you can also take on each one lick, each week and make massive progress. You practice exactly the same amount of material during the same amount of time, the only difference is the sequence in which you take on the challenges. Everything at once, will make your brain act like a child with ADD. One challenge at a time will make your progress soar. But that doesn't mean you can't try out new things and practice a lot of different licks in a day, you just have to decide on what one or two licks you are working on 80 % of the time. If you start every practice session by working on those one or two things and you measure your progress, you'll carve through the clutter of an overloaded mind and create results fast. It's amazing how many things become so much easier when you master just that one thing to perfection. Most people dabble with too many things and never get to master any of them.So they never experience the exponential growth that comes with mastering one little thing at a time. Frantic Rush 02 Planetary mastery in eight weeks When I started out I intuitively decided on one single little simple challenge that I would practice to perfection (I did somethings right after all) "If I can just play this as fast as Gilbert, then I can play as fast as him right?" I said to myself - And then I focused my entire energy on that one lick. I had a lot of other things I dabbled with on the side, but 80 % of my focus was dedicated to that one particular lick. It took me eight weeks to play that thing as fast as anyone on the planet. That's the power of focus! From then on I could say with complete confidence and conviction "I am one of the fastestguitarplayers in the world!" And no one could argue with me :) But bragging wasn't the coolest thing about that particular achievement. The consequences of mastering one small thing are the following: 1. You create proof that you really can learn anything you put yout mind to 2. You build unshakable confidence in your own abilities 3. You quickly develop a reputation of being ultra fast (which makes you want to live up to that reputation and practice more!) 4. You now have something to build on, which speeds up your progress radically. The Magic of Mastery If you move from mastering one thing to mastering another you accelerate your progress more and more. You learn faster and faster until you wont believe what happened. This is why the pros sometimes look like they have some kind of magical power. You look at them and think "I've been practicing for a year and I can do 1 % of what he can do, so I'll need another 99 years to become that good?! He must be extremely talented..." I used to believe that until I experienced what exponential growth means to your development. When you really master one thing, and then another and then another, instead of taking on one hundred things and do them "OK". You activate what Einstein called the greatest force in the universe: Compound interest. It's growth doubling it's own value all the time. Here's how it looks: Kill the challenge In the beginning it's like watching the grass grow, but as you build on what you master already, you progress faster and faster, until you literally take of completely. And that's when people are going to point their fingers at you and say "He must be born with that talent". The way to activate that kind of growth is through mastery. Kill the challenge. Eradicate it. Disintegrate it. Focus your energy and go for it. Well I hope you have a lot of fun with today's lick. Mixing economy picking with other techniques really makes it so much more valuable. In my next article I'm going to show you how to integrate economy picking and alternate picking into a third picking style that has immense power. The most effective and versatile technique Today I'm going to introduce you to a simple but radical picking technique: It's the "Pick-the-notes- in-the-easiest-way-possible-technique" It's the most versatile and effective way to pick, that I know of. Alternate picking has a vital advantage. It doesn't care much about how many notes you play on each string. It's based on such a simple mathematical up and down process that you can use it for almost everything. A player like Al Di Meola uses this technique only, to play scales as well as arpeggios. Necessary vs Possible Economy picking is different. If you want to rely solely on economy picking - you have to be very aware of the number of notes you play on each string. This is necessary in order to make sure that you come into every string shift with the appropriate up or down motion. But there's a third way to play and it goes like this: 1. Alternate picking when it's necessary and 2. Economy picking when it's possible Let's repeat that one more time: 1. Alternate picking when it's necessary and 2. Economy picking when it's possible If you pick like this, you make the string shift happen in whatever way it's possible and most convenient. If you happen to come into the downward string shift from a downward picking motion, you continue that motion onto the next string. But if the opposite is the case you alternate the picking motion. It's a very simple formula but it results in an uneven picking motion, that seem to be more difficult than just straight alternate picking - but it's not! How to go about it This is the way I pick most often. I use strict alternate picking when that's my only option or when I want that picking sound of terror. I use legato (hammer ons and pull offs) when I want a softer more "liquid" sound. But economy picking lies at the base what I do. So it becomes an effortless blend of all three techniques. The way to practice this form of "hybrid picking" is to take any lick you know already and go through it, starting with an up or down stroke. Then pick you way through the notes and when you reach the string shift, sweep over the strings if that's possible or alternate your picking motion if it's necessary. This will give you a weird uneven picking motion, but it is surprisingly easy when you get it up to speed. When you do this enough, you'll begin to forget what you are doing and your brain will naturally seek the path of least resistance and choose the appropriate technique for the situation. But why not stick to one picking style? There's a price tag on alternate picking and it says "Energy". It takes energy and focus to produce a clean precise alternate picking run, no matter how skilled you are. There's also a tag on economy picking and it says "structure". With economy picking, things get easier and more effortless, but it is at the cost of flexibility. Your fretting hand has to structure the notes so it fits the uneven picking pattern. But if we combine the two, we get the versatility of alternate picking and the effortlessness of economy picking in one package! Now you have freedom... and the downsides of each picking style are almost completely gone. 7 Notes down The first example is very simple in it's essence: 7 notes from the top to the bottom, played over and over again in different positions. But the interesting thing is the mix between economy picking and alternate picking. You start out with economy picking but as you return to the first note again you shift strings with a down- and an upstroke. This is also called "outside picking" as opposed to "inside picking" because you move your pick on the "outside" of those two strings. If you started that strings shift with an upstroke you would be picking "inside" the two strings. The outside picking string shift is easier for most people to perform. Try it out! You'll find that it's quite a pleasant way to move your picking hand :) The 4 note Sequence This is a classical sequence that I'm sure you know. And it's a perfect example of how you can use this picking technique to play a rather complex and difficult picking pattern. It's hard to get up to speed using only alternate picking. But when these two techniques come together in one, it's amazing how effortless it becomes in the end. I've included the fingerings for this one, because that gets a little tricky when you move from the G to the B string. Let's mix the two And here's a mixture of the two. Also, I've thrown in some pull offs in the beginning to loosen things up a bit. Now things are really getting spicy here - You can bang your head against your stack while you play this one without loosing your place (Eventually :) Dysfunctional Blues This last example is based on the E-blues scale with an E-minor Dorian on top of it. (In other words: There's a lot of notes involved) The main idea is still the 7 notes from the first example, but here I pass over three strings to turn around the lick. It seems like a daunting string shift but it's really not that hard when you are picking "outside" the strings. (Don't get me wrong, - everything on this site is "hard" but we're making things easier here) I'm ending the lick with a nice little clean economy picking run. Be careful not to get overwhelmed by the sheer mass of notes. Break everything down into manageable pieces. Memorize the first 6 or 8 notes, then ad three more and so on. Have a great time practicing! How to pick like a Swedish virtuoso Scroll down to see tablature Play with flow and ease If you want to play like the wind and the water, economy picking is for you. Alternate picking feels and sounds like a machine gun, where as economy picking flows like a river. Once you have it down, economy picking feels easy in comparison to alternate picking. It feels completely effortless and that frees up a lot of energy to focus on other things. As a consequence, I always use economy picking unless I want that machine gun like sound from an alternate picking run. the sound of economy picking is more mellow, like a stream of notes with no end to them. It's very easy to leave the basic rhythm of the music and wander of in long runs. Listen to the playing of Yngwie Malmsteen. He is "out of time" more than 80 % of the time, in other words, he plays as fast as he wants, regardless of how the notes fit the beat of the music. And economy picking is superb for this kind of playing. Today's lick is a very nice way to start practicing economy picking. I used this lick to get started with economy picking. It's important not to start with a lot of strings shifts all at once - but to choose licks that have some pauses in between this critical challenge. In this sense, this lick is perfect. If you practice this for a couple of hours you might get a sense of what awaits you when you learn it to perfection: It becomes very, very easy to play in the end... Aggressiveness vs Flow If I have to play something really tight and aggressive, I always go for alternate picking. If I have to play something with more flow and ease to it, I go for economy picking. But I have that choice, many other players don't. And it's stupid because once you master one of the techniques, the other isn't that hard to learn. Most people think they have to choose between alternate picking and economy picking. My advice is to learn both. If you can do some alternate picking and some - sweeping then you're already half way into economy picking. The only difference between this technique and alternate picking is the way you shift between strings. Break the lick down It's a very good idea to break the lick down into smaller parts. This gives you less to focus on so that you can give your full attention to your right hand. Practice this until you can play it slowly with your eyes closed. Then take it with you and practice in front of the TV or outside on a park bench :) - Notice that I'm not using two upstrokes when I shift from string to string, but rather one single upstroke that hits both strings in it's way. What it comes down to is this: Can you pick the notes or not? When you have several options - you can chose the most appropriate for the purpose - and this is an amazing advantage to have. When I play, I hardly distinguish between the two techniques because I use them both intertwined. There are some things that are very hard to play with alternate picking but that are easy to play with economy picking. Then there are licks that cannot be played comfortably unless you use both techniques - so I really urge you to learn both of these techniques. When I started practicing economy picking I got results almost immediately. I was pretty good at alternate picking at that time, but I started to do little things with economy picking, integrating little bits and pieces here and there. As time went by I used it more and more. The biggest challenge The biggest challenges with economy picking is - you've guessed it - shifting strings. What you need to learn is to sweep from string to string, and not do two up or down strokes in a row. Because you sweep rather than pick, it requires a different way of practicing than alternate picking. You need to practice the licks slow, but while you do it, be sure to play them so slow that you can get the sweep right. Your pick has to pass from one strings to another in an even motion. You might have to play very slow to accomplish this. Then you increase the tempo like you would with any other technique. you can look at the "sweep" as one up or down stroke that covers two strings. Because that's exactly how it should look and feel to you. I'm going to repeat myself again here, but only to make sure that you remember this: To "sweep" is to play more than one note with the same stroke! In economy picking, one upstroke turns into two notes. So you have to practice making big up and down strokes that flow evenly. This is the discipline. The difference is minute but very important. Watch closely as I demonstrate the difference between picking two upstrokes and doing one single sweep that covers the entire string shifting process. It's a little hard to see the difference, but it's there and it's crucial:


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