Following on from last month, we’ve got some more ideas to build technique and facility this issue. Everyone’s different in their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, so it’s totally normal that one exercise might seem easier than another for different people. When approaching a particular exercise, remember to start slow and build from there. I’ve rarely seen examples of people playing exercises fast when they can’t play them slowly as a starting point.
An alternate picking idea across two strings kicks off Figure A. At first look this may seem easy. And whilst, yes, it’s not harmonically complex, or even mechanically awkward, it can be quite tricky to play fast without some work. 150–160bpm should be a test for a lot of players, but try to go for endurance too, not just a quick five second burst. Movement across two strings really seems to be the toughest part of the exercise so you’ll have to pay particular attention to your alternate picking to make it clean.
For hammer-ons and pull offs Figure B takes groups of quaver triplets in a kind of G major sound. In the first bar only pick the first note of each triplet group - D, G, D, G - and hammer on the remaining two notes in each group, making sure everything is sounding even. Then the reverse occurs in the second bar where you pick the first note of each group, and pull off the last two notes. Again, you should be aiming for a consistent and even sound in both tempo and dynamics.
Lastly, Figure C incorporates alternate picking and sweep/economy picking. Written as two quavers, a quaver triplet and a crotchet, you should alternate picking the first two notes and then sweep the first note of the triplet (F#) across the second string to the first string (G). You then alternate pick the rest of the triplet (A) along with the last crotchet (B). As this grouping feels like three beats, it then moves across the bars sounding like it starts on the four of bar one, the three of bar two, the two of bar three and so on. Together with the combination of picking, it then makes for a cool lick that moves across the bars and pushes your right hand.
As always, these are just examples; all of them can be extended up and down the fretboard, moved across positons and changed to suit your needs. Exercises don’t have to necessarily be boring, but they should be challenging enough to push your playing and technique. You’re only limited by your imagination and often the best exercises come from you wanting/needing to conquer a certain lick/phrase/part of a song.