I noticed he uses straight up alternate picking when moving across strings. This of course only makes the speed he achieves even more amazing in my opinion.
When I picked up his picking technique 2-3 years ago, I didn't try to copy it precisely. I just adopted some of the finger anchoring and pick holding stance.
So where Mab might do the following on a three notes per string ascending sequence: DUD UDU DUD UDU Or descending: UDU DUD UDU DUD
I adopted a technique that removes the switching of stroke direction when moving through the strings (essentially a 2 string sweep pick): DUD DUD DUD DUD Or Ascending: UDU UDU UDU UDU
This works best for me because I can't personally move my hand to a new string as quickly I can move my wrist to produce the notes on a single string. The lack of direction change during string switching therefore removes some of that lost time allowing me to hit the first note on the new string faster.
I don't personally see the benefit of adding in the extra seemingly inefficient direction change?. I prefer to combine alternate, economy and double string sweep picking wherever possible.
I would love to hear some more opinions on it though, maybe even from the man himself!
Last Edit: Jan 16, 2016 13:20:23 GMT -6 by mikjames
We are all born with certain tendon and ligament attachments which makes certain things easy for some and hard for others and vice versa. There was a collegiate wrestler who set collegiate records at The University Of Oklahoma named Danny Hodge who went undefeated, going 46-0 with 36 pins. he was a 3 time NCAA Champion and set a record for never once being taken down from a standing position! Hodge went on to become a Silver Medalist in the Olympics (he would have won a gold medal had there not been a highly controversial call by one of the referees which penalized Hodge unfairly). Hodge was renowned for his incredible grip strength, He was able to crush an apple easily with one hand. He could take any standard pair of brand new pliers and break them just by squeezing hard Sometimes he and a friend would go to hardware stores as a joke and after breaking several pliers, they'd tell the manager "These pliers are defective"! He was known to play a practical joke where he would go into the shower room before everyone else and twist all the knobs off the faucets so nobody would be able to take a shower.
Now I'm not suggesting that MAB was born with double tendons in his forearms and hands, but probably whatever genetic advantages over the ordinary person he was born with, he is using to maximum potential. If he could pick faster some other way he would. I once asked Michael in a clinic if he thought it took longer to do an outside string change with alternate picking (down on B string, up on E string) or to just use what he at the time called alternative picking where he picked down in the B string and then another downstroke on the E string. He said no, he thought it took the same amount of time.
I believe the reason being that while technically the distance travelled in alternative picking is slightly less, whatever speed he might potentially gain from that, he loses by using a type of pick stroke which is less powerful and fast than his alternate pick stroke due to certain biomechanics and kinesiological advantages provided by the alternate picking pick strokes he uses.
If there is a Danny Hodge of alternate picking it is Dannyjoe Carter. He is able to alternate pick faster than anyone else in the world (documented in Guitar World magazine and Willjay's study found here in the forum) and he uses just his fingers and thumb in his right hand to move the pick - exactly what MAB for years and years said was the one thing NOT to do! He said it would slow you down and "When you go to shred, you're dead" ( from Original Speed Kills on VHS). Dannyjoe can play at least 17 notes a second using no wrist or forearm movement when alternate picking, getting all his speed from his fingers and thumb. Here's an example of just how fast he can move his thumb and fingers and notice the incredible amount of economy of emotion in his picking hand! Do you even see it move? I saw him do this right in my own home so it is no trick; it is real. Even standing right next to him as he alternate picked at maximum speed, I barely saw any moment at all in his right hand when picking fast. In fact the faster he picked, the less movement I saw and the more economical he seemed to become!:
Now, why would Dannyjoe Carter be so effective using the one technique MAB said was the one thing not to do if you want to alternate pick fast? Clearly the answer is we are born with certain biomechanical differences including such things as our ligament and tendon attachments. MAB's technique is effective for him. Dannyjoe's technique is effective for him. You have to find the technique that your own body is best suited for! This will require a lot of experimentation and a tremendous amount of frustration but it is the only way of finding out what technique works best for your body. MAB and Dannyjoe Carter are my two favorite extreme shredders (guys capable of playing 16 or more notes per second). That they have such different, almost diametrically opposite styles of alternate picking suggests that the genetics one is born with plays a major role in which type of picking motion will allow them to achieve their full genetic potential regarding the highest alternate picking speed they are able to reach.
These two videos show these guitar virtuosos playing at mind boggling speeds in which they display themselves fulfilling their maximum genetic potential for speed in alternate picking. Just as the way our genetics dictate the way our individual bodies are constructed which in turn dictates which type of motion will best allow them to actualize their full genetic potential for speed, our genetics also determine what our top attainable speeds are for alternate picking or for other guitar techniques such as trilling. There is really only one way to trill. Some people, no matter how much time and effort they put into practicing their trills will never even approach Tony Iommi or Scott "Wino" Weinrich's level of trill speed. Dave Gilmour is a musical genius and a legendary guitarist but he would never attain the trill speed o Wino or Tony Iommi. Gilmour would never attain the alternate picking speed of Yngwie Malmsteen. He has stated in at least one interview that his fingers just aren;t capable of ever becoming able to move fast. So he focused on a style of playing in which he didn't need much speed. Check o ut Wino's incredibly fast trill (on acoustic guitar!) at around the 40 second mark:
Last Edit: Jan 19, 2016 19:36:33 GMT -6 by blackjack
By the way, on the subject of how each of us is born with his own unique genetic gifts, some of which predispose the person with the particular genetic endowment to do things the average person cannot do, or as relates to alternate picking, predisposes the person to pick in a certain way that makes optimum use of his particular hands and wrists, I'd like to demonstrate just how real this phenomenon is. So, here is a 20 second video of the legendary Danny Hodge crushing an apple with one hand when he was already near 80 years old!
Last Edit: Jan 26, 2016 23:32:43 GMT -6 by blackjack