Guitar Lesson – September 11th, 2009


It seems my new instructor, Kit, is a bit like Mr. Miyagi and right now he has me waxing cars and painting fences.  I trust it’s all going somewhere.

First off, he had me stop practicing scales all together because of my picking motion.  He told me not to do one more scale until he tells me.  Somewhere along the way I apparently picked up the habit of “economy picking” rather than  strict alternate picking.   My previous instructor, Bruno, also suggested I try to stop economy picking but he wasn’t quite as fanatical about it as Kit seems to be.

Now, personally I don’t see what the problem with economy picking is, but as of yet I haven’t gone over picking and scales with Kit and I’m sure he has a reason.  So, as I said… I just have to do what he tells me to do.  I’m sure some day I’m going to get into a guitar fight and it will all come together in dramatic fashion.

How do you pick?  What is your opinion on economy picking vs alternate picking?

I was also given an interesting memorization excersize, which I believe is to help with learning notes forward and backwards.  And I do need help with that.  Obviously I know all the notes; A-B-C-D-E-F-G.  And I know the notes backwards as well… but not very quickly and not when starting with a middle note.  So to help with this I was given this excersize…  First Kit wrote out all the notes in a circle like so:

Now I’m supposed to say them out loud in the following pattern:
etc, etc, etc.

Until you get to G.

I was also given another finger excersize.  This excersize will help with transitioning to notes down the neck.  It’s pretty straight forward: you just go up the neck with your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers, starting on the first fret.  After you play the 4th fret with your 4th finger, you jump to the 5th fret and play that with your first finger and repeat up the neck (1st finger again on the 9th fret, etc) and repeat with each string.  The goal is to make the transition as smoothly as possible on the big jumps.

Kit also likes to show you something and then promptly tell you never to think about it again.  Like I said, I trust down the road everything will come together.

Well, I’m off to paint some fences.

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10 Responses to “Guitar Lesson – September 11th, 2009”


  1. […] this weeks lesson we continued with the “circle of notes” diagram that I wrote about in my last lesson.  My instructor Kit likes to call this his “Dr. Seuss” lesson since at first glance it […]

  2. […] lesson was mostly focused on my picking technique.  As I mentioned in a previous post, somewhere along the way I picked up the habit of economy picking.  Upon seeing this my instructor […]


  1. Economy picking is actually a viable technique — Jimmy Bruno and Frank Gambale both use it exclusively.

    I actually abandoned economy picking a couple of decades ago in favour of alternate picking because I felt it was the more ‘correct’ way — although my natural tendency was for economy picking. Now I incorporate both. There are some things that just can’t be accomplished without economy picking.

    Here’s a method I use to get my students to memorize the notes on the guitar. I tell them to spend one week on each string:

    6th:0 1 3 5 7 8 10 12
    E F G A B C D E

    5th:0 2 3 5 7 8 10 12
    A B C D E F G A

    4th:0 2 3 5 7 9 10 12
    D E F G A B C D

    3rd:0 2 4 5 7 9 10 12
    G A B C D E F G

    2nd:0 1 3 5 6 8 10 12
    B C D E F G A B

    1st string is the same as the 6th.

    After 5 weeks you’re done and you now know the fingerboard pretty well!

    .-= Clinton Carnegie´s last blog ..PRS Al DiMeola Prism.. and the Bird from ‘Up’? =-.

  2. Chris says:

    I’ve never understood the extreme push towards alternate picking. I myself use economy picking exclusively, unless I am using straight down strokes for an effect. Why jump across strings when you can just barely move the pick and hit the next note?? I just don’t get it. Yeah, I heard the explanations… I just don’t buy them. I’ll stick to economy. 🙂

    • nevertoolateguitar says:

      That’s the way I feel about it. But, I’ll see what he has to say when we get to scales.

      It seems like it would be song dependent as well. Some songs just work better one way or the other. But what do I know at this point?

  3. Storm says:

    I am sorry, but nobody (friends or family) want to here you play what this teacher, and possibly your previous one, is showing you. They people around you want to hear MUSIC as I am sure you do! Ask your teacher for a song or, at least, a study. A good teacher should be able to provide some nice piece that is level appropriate. A really good lesson/teacher might even hit on a familiar, favorite or requested song, explain the technique and theory behind it and how it helps YOU.

    Not that learning fundaments isn’t important. I stress them in my lessons. But alot of these ‘CAGED’ forms, picking patterns and note naming can and should be worked into learning music, riffs and songs. I know (especially when teaching adult beginners) not to lose the sight of the fact that playing the guitar is supposed to be FUN! Cool, too. 😉

    Keep at it, picking and writing. Good reading!
    .-= Storm´s last blog ..Guitar Jam Track for Jam Bands: Key of C =-.

    • nevertoolateguitar says:

      My old instructor didn’t really give me songs to learn, but he did give little chord progressions. My new instructor so far has just quickly been going over the basics to see where I am. He actually did give me a song to learn for next time (which I’ll write about this Friday).

      I of course realize nobody wants to hear me or anyone play scales.


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