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Lesson Series

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Andy Wood - Country Guitar Part 4: Balanced Alternate Picking Continued ...

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 39 **

In continuation of our last column, we're going to look at an idea here which I alternate pick, and I want you to understand why I alternate pick it.

The thing with alternate picking is it's just a technique. You use it to play ideas, but these same ideas could be hybrid picked, or economy picked - as long as the notes are there. As I've explained, my background in mandolin playing had given me a great deal of experience going down and up, so I favour that, but a player like Brent Mason (who is one of my all time heroes) actually uses a thumb pick and his middle and ring finger to achieve a similar effect - pick middle pick ring repeat instead of down up down up.

What we're focusing on here is technique that allows us to play whatever we want, not technique that limits us to play what our technique allows us to play.

So when you look at your typical rock shredder, they tend to favour one picking mechanic over another – some are good inside picker, others are good outside pickers. Some favour 3 note per string picking (Paul Gilbert, John Petrucci etc) while others find it easier to pick 2 notes per string (Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson) – and while there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, in Country music, it wouldn't be enough as our phrases aren't dictated by notes per string, it's about the actual notes - speed comes later.

So in this lick we're outlining an A or an A6 sound. A6 has the same notes as an F#m7 though, so you may find it easier to see this as being shape 4 of the F# minor pentatonic pattern, but I like to see the little A triad on the top 3 strings.

We begin by picking the 5th, #5 (chromatic) and 6th on the G string before jumping to the B string and playing the root, then walking chromatically from the 3rd up to the 5th on the high E. So in terms of notes per string we've had 3, 1 and the 4 so far - so being a good “pattern picker” will not help you here.

We then play out trust b3 to 3 movement on the high E and come down the arpeggio and target that same b3 to 3 movement on the D string before ending on the root. So, notes per string wise, we have 3, 1, 6, 1, 3, 2, 1. A nightmare to play fast if you've only ever practised Paul Gilbert licks!

Stick with it though and just keep your technique focused on what you use to execute the ideas you hear, not the other way – we don't want to be hearing ideas our technique makes easy to play.

You can apply this logic to any line, just keep playing down up down up until you get where you need to be - I'll see you next time!

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