Developing a light touch?

Every time I pick up my guitar to practice, if I pick with a light touch I always sound better and it seems easier for me to get the pick through the string going up and down. This is how I would like to play. I’d like to develop a light picking hand. I feel it would lend itself more to being able to pick fast, which is what I’m practicing on.

So why don’t I then?

Well the problem is it’s not easy to just decide to do it and it comes.

It seems like before too long I’m picking more heavily and digging into the strings again. And then the pick gets stuck on the string (on the upstroke).

Anyone here play with a light picking hand?

Do you feel it’s something that can be learned with practice and patience?

I used to do super light picking - it’s great - notes sound amazing because the pick depth is lower and the time the pick spends on the string is much much less - so the actual note comes out and riffs sounds much more continuous. The problem with super light picking I found is the tactile feedback isn’t enough and it’s easy to mess it up. To counter this I now “Pick High” meaning I hold a triangle pick on one of the corners so my pick hand is much much higher up and the rotation angle is much less for the same distance. It sounds really great - pick spends less time “in the string”, and great tactile feedback. When I pick high I can easily hit 13.5 notes per second - where as “picking low” for the same effort max I can hit it 12 notes per second.

I learnt wrist DSX starting out picking really light, it was the only way I could find something that worked for long periods at over 170bpm 16th notes. As I became more comfortable with it I was able to pick harder without breaking out of the motion and now I have the best of both worlds, though I’ve not seen anyone say the same thing so your experience may vary :grin:

You can definitely learn it, it’s something I mention regularly.

Best way is to turn your amp up and the distortion up, that highlights everything. You’ll be forced to pick. light. You can also get really thin picks, even use paper, and practice lightly, it’s hard to feel, but thats the whole point, thats what you’re training, the nervous systems ability to focus and amplify.

Obviously when you play live light playing goes out the window, but if you’ve put the work in you will be playing with much more refined movements.

What does this actually mean?

For me, I try to barely skim the string, but my hand still has to move fast/hard, as otherwise it would hangup when I make mistakes (although some insurance here would be a flexible pick).

But I definitely seem to have a feedback mechanism where I try to barely hit the string.

Is this what you mean by picking with a “light touch?” If not, what do you mean?

You got it. Just skimming the string. Pick depth is very small.

So the king of this (if I understand) is Rusty Cooley.

But I have questions about what I’m doing:

  1. Does having good dynamic range dictate picking deeper? If not, how does one get dynamics?
  2. If somebody like Troy can play at any practical speed—where he doesn’t seem shy about getting significant pick/string contact—is shallow picking really important?

The reason that I ask is that sometimes I think that I should just beat my guitar up and not pretend that it is a delicate flower.

letting the pick bend gives you more dynamics - i.e. loosen your grip e.t.c.

Maybe a video will help? if you can @357mag be cool

Using 8-46 gauge (YJM spread) could help.