It's well worth putting in the hours developing a solid alternate picking technique. You don't have to use it for blazing up and down endless harmonic minor scales; the technique gives you more freedom to make your own sounds. The important thing is being able to cross from string to string without losing the flow... sometimes this will be on an upstroke, sometimes a downstroke. You have to be ready for all combinations, and the only way to do this is PRACTISE! Check out this excerpt from 'Along the Tracks'...
Guthrie is a master of complex fusion, but his playing is never sterile... he never loses sight of how much music history is based on the blues. Learning from the blues doesn't mean you have to play all those cliché licks over a 12-bar sequence in A... be creative! Listen to singers, slide guitarists, saxophonists, pianists. Learn as many licks as you can, and listen carefully to how they make use of phrasing and the space between the notes. In this excerpt from 'Trial By Fire', Guthrie uses double stops, muted ghost notes, subtle bends, open strings and lots of space!
One of the reasons people become bored with their own playing is because they use the same scale shapes all the time. It's very important that you learn the notes over the ENTIRE fretboard. Every shape, every position, every string has its own sound, and the more sounds you have, the more interesting your playing will be. Check out this excerpt from 'Arctic Roll'...
We all know how to bend the strings, right? Well, prepare to be amazed by Guthrie's bending prowess. Instead of picking those safe old notes from the pentatonic, Guthrie finds ways of bending any note in any scale, pushing them up a halftone, a quarter tone, two tones, three tones... sometimes right off the neck! Here's a cool passage from the Albert King Custom solo, where Guthrie uses a wide variety of bends, even doing three different bends on the same sustaining note.
Material is likely the most influential as it vastly affects the tone of the notes. Electric and acoustic strings generally have steel cores with varying materials for the windings. Steel and nickel are common electric guitar string materials, brass and bronze are common windings for acoustics, and nylon (sometimes animal gut) is almost exclusively used for classical guitars.
String gauge is the thickness of a guitar string and is measured in thousandths of an inch. Common string gauges for a standard 6 string guitar are; light (10-46), medium (11-49) and heavy (10-52). You can also get fancier with skinny top, heavy bottoms and custom gauges.
There is also a thought that the angles frets wear away at strings quicker, but that can be remedied with a decent set. Our suggestion would be Elixir Strings due to their impressive durability which helps them to retain their tone.
Guitar masterclasses might be the number one tool for developing and pinning down your skills, but jam tracks allow you to use them in context. It is a lot easier to play a set tapping exercise in isolation then it is while playing other stuff too. So pick a technique, such as alternate picking, and use the track as a setting to nail that skill.
Learn the same lick all over the neck - This first one may seem basic, but that's because it needs to be! You should first aim to be able to play the lick in the SAME octave in as many different places as you can. The guitar fretboard is laid out in a wondrous fashion, making plenty of notes available in any position. This means you can play the same lick in the same octave in different places, but you can also start in the same place and then switch to a new position in the middle of the lick. Certain neck positions and variations in note positions will present different challenges to you; certain string sets will be more difficult to work with. There may also be times when a change of technique may be cool to try, such as string skipping a lick that previously used sweep picking. As you play the lick in various places, try to visualise the 'parent' scale or chord/arpeggio. This will both help you remember the lick, and help you to formulate similar licks when you come to use that position while improvising. The extension of this is to then transpose the lick up or down an octave and repeat the same method of playing it everywhere you can. It may seem like a dull approach but if you really work on this for EVERY lick, you'll open up a whole world of fretboard freedom. 2b1af7f3a8