Trouble with tremolo picking

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by ADADAD, May 30, 2018.

  1. ADADAD

    ADADAD SS.org Regular

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    I've been practicing a lot of right hand technique lately, as it is the biggest thing standing in the way of playing metal songs (I've given up on solos at this point).
    There are a few basic things to work on- down picking, tremolo picking, string skipping and so on, while playing fast, clear, and without noise.
    While I am far from playing the songs I want at 100%, I am slowly making progress. (Stuff like Death, Sylosis for example is pretty difficult because of the speed).
    I decided to take a shot at a Dissection song which involves tons of tremolo picking and I've discovered that my technique doesn't support tremolo picking low strings without palm muting.
    When palm muting, my hand can rest on the strings/bridge/saddles. When playing the DGBE strings, my hand rests on the lower strings to mute them anyways which provides a similar support to palm muting. But on the E,A strings if I want to tremolo pick I have nowhere to put my hand.
    Playing fast without having my hand on the guitar is difficult, probably horrible technique, and forces me into my old habit of picking from the elbow rather than the wrist (I did all I could, now picking 75% from the wrist, 25% form elbow. difficult to relearn how to play but worth it in the long run).
    So my question is what is the correct technique for tremolo picking on the lower strings? This of course also suggest my technique could be entirely off regardless of which string I play...
    I thought maybe the problem is with my guitar- it has a TOM so there's no place for the hand behind the saddles. With something like a hipshot I would still have room behind the saddles.
    But I don't want to blame the guitar. Even the guy from Dissection played a Les Paul so it must be something I'm doing wrong.
    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. Cynicanal

    Cynicanal SS.org Regular

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    Find something rest against; on a TOM, you've still got the strings behind the saddles to rest on. If not that, you can also try anchoring the bone on the pinky-side of your wrist on the guitar's body, depending on the body's shape (easier on guitars that don't have a lot of wood near the bridge).
     
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  3. Zender

    Zender Tinkering, please hold.

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    Tremmelo picking (for me) is done while having my pinky resting on the frame of the bridge humbucker, or the pinky side of the palm resting on the upper strings (DGBA) to mute them. When pcking the A string on any note, the fretting finger also mutes the low E with the tip of the finger, and all the others as well by lightly touching them with the fleshy part of the finger.
    That at least takes care of all the noise. Now to get up to speed on that single string. For me, the anchoring really helped in getting the right spot. After that, it's a lot of slow and steady practice. Don't go to fast, practice with a metronome. Quarter notes on 80 bpm is a good startingpoint, and see if you can keep that up for a whole 3 minutes before going faster. Each note should sound the same, no noise (be hard on yourself in this, it really does pay off to learn to mute a string in two places), and in a regular tempo.
    It takes a while to get this method to just click, but once it does...... :D

    Start with one note on a single string, once you got that down, move to 4 chromatic notes up:

    --5-5-5-5-6-6-6-6-7-7-7-7-8-8-8-8--, then four down --8-8-8-8-7-7-7-7-6-6-6-6-5-5-5-5-, then chromatic up, and go to the next string without misisng a beat and repeat the pattern. This makes you fast, and synchonizes your left and right hand, and teachest you how to mute the right string at the right time.

    Oh, and at all times, strictly alternate picking, down up, down up, .....down up... (I can still hear Petrucci say it from his rock discipline video....)

    ps... anchoring vs not anchoring and that whole discussion. I don't care. I anchor, and so do my guitar heroes (Morse, Petrucci, Satriani etc etc) at times.
     
  4. ADADAD

    ADADAD SS.org Regular

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    Thanks, I guess insisting on anchoring at the bridge with the palm won't work, I'll try anchoring with the pinky.
    I did try resting the hand behind the TOM but that just doesn't work well because of the drop in height.
    My guitar does have a stoptail, maybe I could raise it so the angle of the strings isn't too large and then I might be able to anchor there, though I don't know what other effects it could cause.
     
  5. Cynicanal

    Cynicanal SS.org Regular

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    You shouldn't have the stoptail that low not just for having a place to rest, but also because it's bad tonally and bad for your string life. It's adjustable because the bridge itself is; adjust it as high as you can while still having enough downwards pressure to stay tight in the saddles.
     
  6. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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  7. crankyrayhanky

    crankyrayhanky SS.org Regular

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  8. Zender

    Zender Tinkering, please hold.

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    If you have your right hand resting on your tailpiece, which itself is something like an inch behind your saddles, your hand is to far back.

    Try playing a single E or A note, while resting your hand somewhere on top of, or slightly behind (fractions of an inch, or a few milimeters). There is a point where the tone rings our clear, a point where it is slightly muffled (palm-mute) and a point where it's simply not ringing at all and just dead. Find the palm-muted position, that is where your hand should rest on the saddles. Now if you want to let a note ring out, you ever so slightly lift your hand at that spot. And put it back down and put it back down again when done. Try keeping the mute on the rest of the strings (ADGBE, or DGBE).

    In more general terms, you always want to rest your right hand on the saddles. Be it a stoptail, a tune-o-matic, or even a trem system. The place where you can palmmute is the place you rest your palm, and you move from there.

    This is hard to explain, and I don't have the video equipment to show. :(
     
  9. ADADAD

    ADADAD SS.org Regular

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    I meant increasing the tailpiece height will increase the string height behind the bridge and I can rest my hand on the strings more comfortably. Obviously I can't play properly if my hand is on the tailpiece. maybe if I had paul gilbert hands...
    Anyways since asking this question here I went to Keith Merrows (and Nick Johnstons) guitar clinic and saw how Merrow plays, he does rest his palm on the saddles of his hipshot bridge like I would like to but can't on a TOM. I also asked him this question after the clinic during the signing and he pretty much said that with a TOM you're screwed if you don't anchor on the body of the guitar or the high strings with your pinky.
    I'll try the wrapping strings over the tailpiece method next time I change strings, and will probably buy a guitar with a flat hardtail when I have the cash for it.
    Would have been nice to know this stuff when I bought the guitar, the TOM bridge really seems like and old, outdated and bad design. Not only the comfort issues but also they bend over time and you can't adjust them as well as other designs. Can't see why they are still in use...
     
  10. Zender

    Zender Tinkering, please hold.

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    Ah yes, you have a TOM.. sorry about that. I missed that part. But... My GR520 has a TOM too, and the same thing still works on that one as it does on the wrap-around I have on my Bo-El, and the Floyd on my RG. Squishy part of the pinky-side of the hand on the sadels to palm-mute them. Although I do distinctly remember when I started out, I had issues with the hand sliding down the back. I do always anchor on that guitar. Pinky on the pick-up ring does it for me. :)
     
  11. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    My TOM is string through body and I find myself resting my hand just behind the bridge on the strings.
     
  12. ScatteredDimension

    ScatteredDimension Sixstring Regular

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    This!

    It was almost shocking for me to realise, how bad I really was at 16th note picking when I started to pay attention to what was wrong with my alternate picking (after 10 years of playing). I started to play with a metronome and I could hardly do it at 80 bpm, but I is really worth it to start doing it where you can do it relatively comfortably... Now I am at about 105 bpm and slowly getting "there".

    Btw I used to pick with my hand in a fist position laying on the strings, but I switched to anchoring the pinky and the ring finger since I felt, that I needed more stability to my picking. With the fisted position I felt that muting is easier, but the stability issue was bigger for me... Whatever works the best for you is the way to go!
     

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