Guitar lessons in Edinburgh

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Welcome to the guitar lessons in Edinburgh blog! Here we've got some lesson material mixed in with some musings on learning music in general. Feel free to join in!

 

To pick or not to pick?

By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Nov 2 2018 02:22PM

If you're a pick style guitarist, you're often encouraged to pick when you practice, and when you play. But is this a good idea? As with any stylistic choice, there are pros and cons to both sides, being an Edinburgh guitar teacher it's a question I've often pondered. For me personally, I've always been a pick style guitarist and so in a 'grass is always greener' kind of way, have always wondered if minimal picking would be the best way to go. So let's discuss that: The main negative behind picking is that learning to co-ordinate the right and left hand to pick accurately takes a long time. A very long time. If it was given the attention it deserves, it would consume the vast majority of any Edinburgh guitar lesson. Possibly the biggest technical challenge to any pick style guitarist; if you try and pick what you play you're essentially adding hundreds of hours to your practice time if you want to get a clean sound. It's very hard to get right, which brings us to the next issue: legato. When using a pick one has to be very careful and listen attentively to ensure 'true legato' is being used, it's so easy to unintentionally leave spaces between the notes and end up with a very messy sound. When slurring, using either slides, pull-offs or hammer-ons the legato is built in to the technique so there's less room for gaps. You also end up with some natural dynamics (listen to John Scofield!), the picked notes will come out as accents and the slurred notes un-accented, giving you some interesting dynamics without much effort. Sounds like a lot of pros, but apart from the fact that picked notes sound cool (of course they do!), you lose control when you rely on slurring techniques. The ability to fully control the attack and dynamic range of the notes is harder (listen to Pat Martino as an example) when relying on slurring. Achieving even note values is also more difficult without picking, and lastly the actual fingering required to play various melodies has to be changed to accommodate a slurring technique, whereas by picking every note you can pretty much play anything anywhere. Overall it's kind of a question of practice time, if you've got the hours ahead of you available then being able to pick effectively is definitely useful. Otherwise, learn to slur! As always, to find out more visit www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com

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