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Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:16 am
Posts: 94
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:19 pm 

I've been playing for 10 years and it is only in the last 5 years that I have noticed that the vast majority of metal guitarists hold their pick like this:


On the other hand, I've always held the pick with a clenched fist with the pick in between my left index finger and thumb. I am capable of playing all kinds of black/death/thrash metal with my clenched fist technique, but I am very flawed as there are certain riff styles common to the aforementioned genres that tend to cause tension in my picking forearm to the point where it is impossible for me to play no matter how hard I try to push through. For example, I can play "Sacrificial Suicide" by Deicide in its entirety with ease, but "Tormentor" by Kreator causes a lot of tension. I'm so confused what to do. YouTube guitar tutorials and fellow musicians I've met in person have given me mixed messages saying that there is no right or wrong way to hold the pick, while others have told me that playing with your fingers splayed out (like in the picture above) is better for control and precision. Lastly, numerous people have told that all I need to do is slow down the song that causes tension to the point where I can play it comfortably. I've tried this numerous times and all that really happens is that I am able to play "Tormentor" comfortably at 130BPM, but then as I crank up the BPM to 190BPM (this is just an approximation, by the way) it becomes impossible for me to play after a certain duration of time (like 2 minutes).

This is something that is extremely frustrating to me as I have tried on numerous occasions to change the way I hold the pick to the picture above, but whenever I do, I am incapable of playing all but the most basic of music. It's as if all the intricate picking I was capable of doing with a clenched fist (a possibly flawed technique) is canceled out and I am back to feeling like I did when I first picked up the guitar 10 years ago and tried to play "Smoke on the Water" on one guitar string. Through the years I have always tried to look for other metal guitarists that held the pick the way I do with a clenched fist and the only guitarist I ever saw doing it is Brian Hoffman from Deicide:


So what should I do? Should I dedicate the time to reworking the way I hold the pick with my fingers splayed out like in the first picture? Or should I continue clenching my fist and just slow the songs down and keep trying there?
Melodic black/death/thrash combined with Mongolian throat singing inspired vocals. Lyrics and themes about Chinese and Indian mythology and history: Starvation Official YouTube channel

Metal newbie

Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 11:28 pm
Posts: 79
Location: South Sound, WA
PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:34 pm 

Well, retraining is a bitch, but it sounds like it's limiting what you want to do. I'm in the middle of retraining my fretting hand to arch properly for chords after a long while of playing bass exclusively, so I feel your frustration. Can riff like a mother, but have trouble not fatfingering or dampening anything but the most basic of power chords.
Can't offer much advise on the grip, I'm still trying to learn proper picking technique after being pretty much exclusively a fingerstyle player for years.
But if you need to do it to make the sounds you want... there's nothing else for it.
Acrobat wrote:
I dunno, I'm a guitarist and it always feels like playing a giant cock... good music hits you HARD in the GENITALS.

Metel fraek

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:41 pm
Posts: 8119
Location: Finland
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:49 am 

From my experience, having your fingers "fanned out" allows you to have counterweight for your wrist movement, which gives your hand a nice momentum for lengthy tremolo-picked passages. This is especially helpful when you're tremolo-picking over several strings, like 4 or more, or even 2 or 3 strings with heavy gauges. You'll still need that "explosive" speed for starting tremolo parts, or changing direction due to rhythmical quirks, and it's technically alternative picking, so if you're used to economy picking everything, it might feel uncomfortable.

A perfect example of this style is Devouring Star, where the guitarist plays fast, very lengthy tremolo-picked chords, with a relatively low-tuned guitar, in Gibson-scale (string gauges have to be quite high). For fast single-note picking, this technique feels clumsy to me, because of the low angle and the large sweep of the pick.

Edit: So what I'm saying is that these are two techniques that you'd ideally have both in your toolbox, as it were, to be used at will for which ever kind of thing each is better for. You don't want to hammer down nails with a screwdriver, innit.
"A glimpse of light is all that it takes to illuminate the darkness."

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