Jazz Guitar – Picking Techniques

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 30,637
    Expert guitarist Dan Leonard demonstrates picking techniques on the jazz guitar.

    Dan Leonard

    Guitarist Dan Leonard has been a full time performer and teacher since 1987. He has taught hundreds of students jazz, blues and rock improvisation; from intermediates to working professionals. Over the years he has distilled his approach into the basis for his forthcoming instructional book “Organizing the fretboard for improvisation”. Dan began his career playing in regional rock bands. After studying classical guitar and composition in college he turned his focus to jazz, which is where it has stayed to this day. He is currently guitarist with Blind Pig recording artist Deanna Bogart as well as leader of The Dan Leonard Trio. His first solo recording “Time Alone” was released in 2000 with the follow-up, “The Middle Path” due out in the fall. His many performances include The Vaison Jazz Festival in France, The Monterey Blues Festival and The Clearwater Jazz Festival.

    Dan Leonard: Hi! I'm Dan Leonard and in this clip I'm going to be talking about techniques that are commonly used in jazz mainly with regard to the picking hand.

    So, I'm going to go back to the G Major scale and demonstrate this, three ways, one way is with alternate picking where I'm going to be strictly alternating down and upstrokes, so, playing the scale that way.

    It's like that, and then there is a technique called Economy Picking, in which when you go from one string to the next, from one adjacent string to the next you repeat this in the case of the ascending scale or you repeat a down stroke as you cross. So, now the picking is going to go up-down-down, up-down-down, up-down-down, up-down-down, up-down-down, I'll go that far in the scale, here it is that a medium tempo, and as you descend the scale, as you cross strings youll end up with consecutive upstrokes. So, I'll take it from the root here, youll have, up-down-up, up-down-up, up-downSo that's another common picking technique, it's a little more economical than alternate picking, but they both have their value.

    Another good way to practice scales is strictly legato technique where you pick as little as possibly basically only when you get to a new string, and you use hammer-ons and pull-offs to articulate the notes, which builds facility with your fretting hand. So, I would recommend practicing all of your scale fingerings, these three ways or atleast experimenting and see what feels best to you. Alternate picking is definitely the most conventional and economy-used technique. So, I would certainly focus on that the most.