Picking in 3s

27 July 2022

Permutations can pull complexity out of simple exercises

Take a simple G major scale: Permutations1

Using strict alternate (down-up-down-up) picking, alternate the notes in the scale with the root, like so: Permutations2

It gets a bit challenging in the string skipping department, right? With practice, you'll find your right hand will grow accustomed to the distance between the strings. Playing this with alternate picking, you'll always play the changing note on either an up or down stroke, depending on which direction you begin the exercise with. Begin with a down stroke, the moving note will always be an up stroke, and vice versa.

We can tweak this exercise simply and make it more challenging. Once again, maintaining alternate picking, try playing the root twice as you alternate the notes in the scale, like so: Permutations5

What's different? Do you notice the alternation in picking that happens in the moving notes? The picking direction alternates, throwing your right hand off initially. Once you have practiced this slowly, you'll notice your right hand 'remembers' the distance between the sixth string and the others.

This exercise is always part of my warmup routine. Trying playing this on one guitar, then switching to another. Do you notice a difference in the string spacing between the two instruments? Switch between a nylon-string classical guitar and a Strat for an obvious example.