Whether for a few people at a coffee shop, an open mic, a club or theatre, playing live is the best practice you can have. There are no do-overs. You have to play on the beat and when the solo comes to you, you better be ready!

I struggled for years with playing fast, particularly lead playing. I would be able to easily ascend using downstrokes but then when I would descend I noticed the upstrokes were not coming as easily as the downstrokes were. I wondered why that was and I experimented with a few different changes to my picking hand that I had heard and seen other pickers do over the years.

Maybe you have heard these already but either way, I wanted to share them with you because I believe they will help you improve your tone and ability to play faster and cleaner.

Pick Angle, Anchoring and Pick Location

  • Pick Angle: Refers to what side of the pick contacts the string. I have found ​that playing downstrokes on the back side of the pick is preferable to the front (neck) side. I break this concept down more in detail in the video.
  • Anchoring: Refers to placing the little finger of your picking hand on or near the pick guard to provide stability allowing you to play with more finesse.
  • Pick Location: Refers to where on the strings you place the pick to provide a tight surface for a good pick motion and to draw the best tone out of your guitar.

In the lesson video above, I break down these 3 concepts in detail and demonstrate how to apply each technique.

As a side note, I think it is important to emphasize not over-doing these concepts. In other words, they should be applied on the basis of feel. You should apply these concepts in a way that feels comfortable to you. After all, the objective is actually to make picking easier, thus enabling you to play cleaner, faster, better.