Years ago, I recall reading a lesson in which Steve Morse presented one of his original picking exercises used to build his phenomenal picking technique. During my years of teaching at the Atlanta Institute of Music, I was inspired to also compose a few "picking etudes" of my own.
The following is a short piece employing a triplet pattern that is navigated through a series of interesting chord changes and builds into a challenging ending featuring wide intervals. I have used this exercise for years to warm up before sessions, gigs, and clinics. After a few weeks of practice, you'll find even the most awkward of melodies will be much easier to pull off, which helps greatly not only with chops, but sight-reading as well.
Remember the big goal for most of us as guitarists and artists are to bring forth the sounds we hear in our head. This exercise is merely a tool for bringing us one step closer to realizing that goal.
Start slowly, build speed gradually, and use alternate picking
Shane Theriot is a guitarist dividing his time between New Orleans and Nashville who has played and/or toured with the Neville Brothers, Adam Nitti and Dave Weckl. He also does clinics for the Hamer guitar company.
His debut solo CD is entitled "Highway 90", an original mix of fusion, New Orleans second line and jazz/rock grooves beneath burning guitar lines.
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