** As featured in issue 6 **
I am known for my alternate picking technique, but I actually started out playing mostly legato passages in my early years of learning the guitar. I am left handed, so it seemed the path of least resistance to use my fret board hand to play extremely fast legato passages. It wasn’t until I was playing the guitar for just over five years (15 years old) that I started really critically listening to guitarists like George Benson, Joe Pass, Al DiMeola, Robert Fripp, etc… and realised they were picking a lot more notes than I was. I absolutely loved the aggressive sound of their playing!
Now, I was on a quest to learn this technique. I asked myself the question - how does one pick fast? I listened, learned and watched everyone I could, in every style, to find the answer. I taught myself alternate picking. I came up with my own exercises and later on, was able to find books that showed me shapes of what to play, but not really how to play them. I am not saying in any way that I invented every exercise I practice. There just weren’t the resources available for the electric guitar at that time, so I came up with my own ways of doing things.
What I am imparting to you in this lesson is the culmination of years of research and experience. The musical (and alternate picking) epiphany for me was when I came to the realisation that guitar players have many more differences in their technique than similarities. Many times I have been asked the question regarding someone’s technique – “am I doing this right?” That is an extremely important question. I asked myself that question and at that time, I had to find out the answer for myself. I have an unusual way of holding my pick and striking the strings, so this was very important to know and feel confident that just because I was playing a different way, that wasn’t necessarily a “bad thing.” I discovered I did the “little things” with regards to my picking technique that other great players did. I sincerely hope this helps!