Showing posts with label down-picking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label down-picking. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Guitar Technique: Remember the Fine Art of Down-Picking

I did a post awhile back extolling the virtues of alternate picking (striking the string with your pick both on the down stroke and upstroke) as a technique you can't do without. Then, I ran across an article by Dave Mustaine in the February Guitar World pointing out that many of today’s players overlook the art of down-picking. Hmmm.

I have focused almost solely on alternate picking in my practice routine. But, if anyone would know about picking technique, Dave Mustaine, one of the pioneers of thrash and speed metal would, so I decided to give it a try.

I used the intro for Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” as an experiment. I had been using alternate picking for it and though I had tweaked all the elements of my signal chain I was still not satisfied with how it sounded. It just did not have the authority I hear in the recorded version. With down-picking I found an immediate improvement both in punch as well as consistency, I’m into this! So, why did this work so well?

When it came to the improvement in punch I think it goes back to the adage that the most important part of your signal chain is the guitar itself. So, what would have more influence on the tone than the pick attack? Seems reasonable.

As to consistency, I think that improvement came simply because down-picking is the best pick technique for that particular intro. By attempting to emulate the tone using the wrong technique I ended up struggling at speed and running off the rails.

What this experience shows me is that while alternate picking is still an essential tool, I just need more tools for the toolbox! Continuing to add to the toolbox really helps us latecomers to the hobby make up for lost time.

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