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New questions directed to Byrd may upon occassion be selected for placement on the "Ask Byrd" section of the website if we find them of general interest to fans".

Forum: James Byrd Message Board
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Picking Technique

Hi James

Great tips in the 'Ask Byrd' section, however one thing I see hasn't been asked is about picking technique.

What is your technique? Are you a hard picker or a soft picker or does it depend on what you're playing? any examples of what requires what?

Also tips for building speed and accuracy would be good.

Hope to hear new music soon.


Re: Picking Technique

Hi Pete

I guess I'll answer this in a couple of parts:

Hard or soft: Both, depending on what I'm playing, and what kind of tone I'm using. If I'm using a clean sound, and I don't want to hear a pick attack, I'll move forward towards the neck, and I'll use a technique similar to Eric Johnson where I sort of "stroke" the string, letting the edge of the pick slide along it by using more of "bounce" in my wrist.

If I'm playing with distortion and I want a very aggressive tone, I'll move back toward the bridge, and the wrist motion is strictly side to side with the pick kept vertical. But I would not say I'm picking "harder", just with a different motion.

I use Dunlop "Sharps" 1.5mm, and they contribute to a very clear definition when playing fast.

As far as over-all technique goes, I have a "system" of sorts. I "set-up" my picking, so that if I'm moving from the low strings to the hight strings, alternate picking changes strings with a down stroke. And if I'm moving from high strings to low strings, the change of string begins with an up-stroke. Anf of course I use sweep picking if I'm crossing three or more strings.

The other technique I use if I want to play a long excursion, is a four note per-string technique; you can play all the way up or down the neck on a single string extremely quickly when you get it down, and you can connect to other strings at any point.

For "speed" improvement, get a metronome, and practice tremolo picking one note on a single string. Then start bringing in the left hand. Pedal tones on open strings are good at first to develop left and right hand time coordination (very, VERY important), but then bring in triplets.

There is also a time NOT to pick every note. Many of my scales are played picking two out of three notes. My fastest playing though, is strictly alternate picking every note.

You can see virtually ALL of these techniques used in my youtube live video of "Avianti Etude":

Hope that helps.


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