One of the especially cool things about a guitar is the fact that there are almost always at least a few ways to play the same notes. This fact allows (and forces) us guitarists to explore the different possibilities available through experimentation with alternate fingerings, picking strategies and phrasing. Often, while there are many ways to play the exact same notes, there is usually a “magic” fingering and picking pattern that allows for the easiest and most effective execution of the phrase.
Hailed by Guitar World as a “fretboard wizard” and voted “Best New Talent” by Guitar World readers in 1991, Nuno Bettencourt has maintained his relevance since first coming onto the national scene in the late '80s, thanks to his inventive playing, killer tone and skillful songwriting.
I’m going to focus on manipulating economy picking for the powerful execution of rapid-fire arpeggios. To get a grasp of the fundamental properties of these economy picked arpeggios, Example 1 depicts the three basic forms of simple two-string, root-3rd-5th arpeggios found in any common minor or major key (Minor, Major and Minor flat 5). For the sake of this lesson, we’ll stay in the key of Am.
Here are licks that will clean up any guitarist’s picking technique and give them the control and accuracy to improve their ability to achieve the speed and fluidity they desire. Though there are exceptions to this rule, make sure the alternating pick strokes are accomplished with firm, yet relaxed grip of the pick and a rotation of the pick hand wrist similar to that of turning a key in a door.
In the last installment of Guitar Strength, I showed you how to take a simple two-string fretboard shape and move it across three octaves in order to create long, fluid lines that traverse a wide range. This time, I’ll show you how to take the technique to the next level by combining “neighboring” shapes.
The technique is simple: Take a fingering pattern “shape” and shift it across the neck over three octaves. Use of this technique can, however, impart a broader and more sophisticated scope to a lick while also acting as a no-brainer means of navigating greater expanses of fretboard terrain.
More often than not, notes are picked, plucked, slapped, popped, tapped, slid in to, pulled off to or hammered-on to from another note. But there is another oft-overlooked technique that can add slippery finesse, intervallic interest and muscular, musically arousing power to your playing: the “hammer-on from nowhere."