2.4 Time to Drill
No, not a call to grabbing a Paul Gilbert endorsed Makita drill, sticking on some picks and attempting to break some speed picking records, but the real start to your dedicated chop building quest with some drills designed to hone in on specific technique development.
Throughout these courses and modules you will encounter an approach to learning that concentrates first on building your core ability, before playing ‘real music’.
The reason is simple: many fans of highly technical shred guitar jump straight in at the deep end trying to nail full speed attempts of their favourite licks from the off. This almost always end up as sloppy exercises in musical futility. Then they wonder why shred gets a bad name…
If you want to have any chance of playing shred guitar well, you have to isolate and practice the individual physical aspects – be it picking, legato, string skipping etc - required to execute your desired licks and ensure you have the basic physical chops down.
The following three drills are taken exclusively from Position One, and stick to the 1st and 2nd strings.
Drill 1 takes a simple 4 note descending pattern that utilises a picking and legato combination to get you started. Notice that the picking is solely confined to the 1st string: the G and E notes on the 2nd string are generated entirely by the fretting hand utilising a hammer on from nowhere pulled off to the index finger. Experiment with fingering: some of you may find that applying your pinky is more natural than the 3rd finger to hit the 8th frets.
If you are encountering any excess string noise, try to ensure that the underside of your index finger remains in contact by resting – thus muting – the 1st string when you move to the 2nd string: don’t arch it or you will risk the 1st string ringing out. Equally, don’t keep too much pressure applied (i.e. ‘barreing’ the strings) as you will find that the 5th fret 1st string becomes audible as well.
It’s a juggling act that is at the heart of clean metal playing: muting and controlling the strings is the key…
You also need to ensure that the tip of the fretting hand fingers are stubbing against the strings directly above that which you are playing, as your picking hand won’t be able to zone in that closely due to the physical arc of the picking movement.
These two elements are particularly apparent when playing lines that require legato, as exclusively picked lines for some reason tend to be naturally easier to keep clean.
2.5 Drill 2
Drill 2 moves things to strict alternate picking, so you may find this one easier to play cleanly on first attempts.
2.6 Drill 3
Drill 3 keeps things along the same lines, but includes a repetition of the first two notes on the 1st string: this sort of lick played at supercharged velocity has a pleasingly machine gun like quality that players such Paul Gilbert and Zakk Wylde much value when the time is right for some raw pickin’ aggression…
Hopefully you’re up and rolling now, so let’s look at how we can expand upon these three basic patterns.