Tech Tip:Increasing My Pick Speed

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Jamie Roland; Louisville, KY


Q: Just an observation. Noticed the minimal hand/arm movement in John McCarthy's technique, I have focused on minimizing my excess movement and my speed has definitely increased. JM, did you focus on this or evolve to it?


By the way, great DVD. I have 3 of them now (Funk, Hands of Steel, and Advanced Metal). They are all great!


A: Thanks for the compliments!


Yes, I did concentrate on the minimal movement with my picking hand. I did an in-depth study of the best pickers, the ones with the most speed and accuracy (Al Dimeola and Yngwie Malmsteen to name a few) and found that they had very small movements made with the pick almost to the point that you could hardly see them picking!! I figured that this must be the key, the smaller the movement the less work you have to do to get results. I also found that most of them moved the thumb and index finger only when picking not the whole hand. This allowed them to focus on the small movements even better.


I developed exercises to help train myself to pick this way. Here is one of them:


When practicing scales or leads try to hold your middle, ring, and pinky fingers on the body of the guitar. Pretend that they are glued on the guitar! Now play the scales or leads leaving the fingers anchored down. This will make you only use the two fingers holding the pick to play. After playing this way for a while go back to your normal way of picking and you will feel the difference. This exercise will help develop the hand muscle that's to the right of the base of your thumb and make your picking stronger and more precise.



Hope this helps,
Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House Guitar