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Scale Picking on Technique

One of the standard ways of developing your speed and technique is to practice scales with a metronome and gradually increase the speed. Beginners should start very, very slowly, and not aim to build up the speed too much - but simply to get used to playing in time with a metronome.


The pdf TAB

You should start by downloading the pdf file TAB for this so you can see what is going on... here


The Lesson

1. I would recommend starting with Position 1 of the major scale (in G Major , start with your second finger on the 6th string root, at 3rd fret). See the Major Scale Patterns if you are unsure about this. Remember that most of your early work with scales should be just around Position 1 until you can use it well!

2. Aim to get your note well synchronised with the metronome click, don't let yourself rush. Rushing is common in beginners so try and relax and play with it. Don't fight against the click of the metronome - you won't win!

3. Try and tap your foot too to help develop your internal metronome.

4. If you are new to technique exercises then you should start at something like 1 note per metronome click at around 60bpm (Beats Per Minute). Better to start very slowly and get it right. Aim for clarity in every note, don't let any notes smudge or be muffled. And make sure that you are using your finger tips. See Example 1.

5. Only when you can do a scale PERFECTLY 4 times consecutively (in a row) should you move the speed up. You might want to start by moving the metronome up by 10bpm at a time to start but as you get closer to your maximum speed you should slow the increments, maybe just going up by 5 or even 2 bpm at a time.

6. Once you get to 160bpm, move on to 2 notes per click at 80bpm (eighth notes). This means that you will play one note with the click and one note in-between. This is great practice for your alternate picking too because the down pick will always be with the beat and the up pick will be between the clicks! See Example 2.

7. Once you get up to 160bpm again, then move to doing 4 notes per metronome click. This is called playing 16th notes. See Example 3.

8. Get up to a reasonable speed in Position 1 (like 16th notes at 120bpm) before moving onto the other scale positions.

9. A really fast speed is 4 notes per metronome click at 160bpm. A good target speed for general playing is 140bpm, only speed metal rockers will need to play much faster than that.

10. Make sure that you monitor your technique. I would suggest getting a private lesson or two to check you are picking correctly and that your hand position is good. Remember not to let your wrist bend too much. Ask around among good players and get a teacher recommended.

11. One thing to check as you get faster is that the pick is not moving too much. Remember that you need to make small movements to achieve the best speed. If you find that your pick is moving much more than a few mm from the string then slow down and do some work very slowly and make sure that the pick stays close to the strings.

12. Another common issue is the angle of the pick, check out the lesson on this. Remember it should be at an angle of around 10-15 degrees to the string.


Final Words

The most important thing to remember is to do it accurately and clearly - with out this your scales will sound rubbish! Take your time, do it properly and when you play fast it will be clear and sound totally cool. I know how exciting it is to play fast and it is a lot of fun, just don't push yourself further than you are ready to go!


Video Lesson

Lesson ID: TE-301