Reels on the guitar

Reels on the guitar

Have been working on these tunes and really trying to focus on my right hand picking which has been the weakness in my playing for years. I feel I’m getting better but I’ve had to totally change my picking technique. Anybody out there have the same problem. Any advice would be appreciated
Cheers
https://vimeo.com/133137003

Re: Reels on the guitar

After 30 plus years playing guitar I started playing tunes on mandolin and later fiddle in tunes sessions in and around Manchester UK. After about 20 years of that I decided to try playing tunes on the guitar.

One problem I had was to do with the string length and subsequent fret spacing. It is about double that of the mandolin and fiddle. Another problem, or aspect of the previous problem, was the fact that this doubled string length results in playing an octave below the violins, mandolins, whistles and flutes etc that are playing in the same session and not being able to hear oneself.

The third problem was, and still is, picking speed. If I pick every note then I struggle to play reels at half the speed some fiddlers or flautists can manage. I don’t see this as a personal failure. Its more to do with the mechanics of the different instruments. A fiddle player can get a lot of notes with one bow stroke. The co-ordination needed between the two hands is less demanding than that of a guitarist who’s pick changes direction for each note. I am trying alternating picking at half speed and getting the in-between notes using hammer-ons, pull-offs or slides and when it fits picking adjacent strings with one picking movement. In order to make this work I have to play in more than just first position. For example A on the G string up to C can be a downward pick on the A continued to a downward pick on the C on the B string, or a hammer-on to the C on the same string. Pull-offs or hammer-ons between the seventh fret and the third or fourth fret can all be solutions in half speed picking. The plus side of this is that notes alternate in power and the ‘machine gun’ effect than banjo players can get from all notes having the same intensity is avoided. A down side is that each tune has to be learned afresh with this technique in mind.

To solve the first problem I made a half size guitar. Half the string length and an octave higher. It looks like a mandolin with a wide neck and six strings. It’s good for tunes but not so good for all the other stuff I might want to play on a guitar. So a mark 2 has a normal string length, 19 frets on an extended neck to the shortened body and has a capo at the twelfth fret for playing tunes and no capo for other stuff.

Jigs and hornpipes are OK but reels are still a problem with regard to speed. As I said before each tune has to be worked out and learned individually whereas on a fiddle, once I had the tune in my head, I could play it. I’ve got lots of reels in my head but learning how to do them with half speed picking is going to take some time.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Do you alternate direction for successive notes? Looks like you use mostly downstrokes, but I may be wrong about that.

Playing up to speed is a challenge (especially trying to throw in trebles), but it’s surprising how often you get comments along the lines of "that’s a really nice tempo for that tune" when you play something on guitar at a pace that is slower than the flutes or fiddles might play it. Feel free not to meet everyone else’s expectation on speed.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Thanks for the tips. I alternate mostly not every note mind you. I’m no too worried about the tempo to be honest as I’m more focused on playing cleanly and with a relaxed hand. I made a few mistakes too but it’s getting better. I record my playing every couple of weeks to see if I’m improving and it also puts a wee bit of pressure on you to get it right first time… Which I didn’t haha one day maybe. I used to play with a bouzouki player years ago and His picking hand was always so relaxed he could pick tunes at really fast tempo without breaking Sweat.

Re: Reels on the guitar

I would definitely look at playing D-U-D-U-D-U-D-U both for reels and hornpipes. These two banjo players are examples of what I am talking about, the pattern remains the same regardless of whether or not your moving from one string to another:
Kevin Griffin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-EvT2BOSqM

Brona Graham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zyAARv-2-M

J.P.Cormier is another example of someone with wonderful picking technique:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8W59k3UPEQ

Re: Reels on the guitar

Will do tony.
Thanks

Re: Reels on the guitar

Ive just threw my guitar out the window jeez oh. How good is the playing in these clips. None of them look like they’re breaking sweat. Great stuff cheers

Re: Reels on the guitar

Good work here. The guitar, is not usually known as a trad instrument. Arty Mc’glynn really put it on the map, for trad music.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Your right Michael. Artys the man I bought a tape of mcglynns fancy way back in the early 80s. It was through listening to that I got into ITM.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Somewhere on Nigel Gatherer’s site is a really good guide to mandolin picking. I don’t see that picking on a guitar should be any different, so I do recommend seeing if you can find it and work through it.

Posted by .

Re: Reels on the guitar

IMHO, the best method is a compromise between

1- alternate direction for successive notes. I use it for crotchets (quarter notes) and quavers (eights notes) to keep a steady rythm and swing

2- picking adjacent strings in the same direction (sweeping) when it comes to semiquavers (sixteenth notes) to achieve speed

in case of triplet you have to be able to break the alternate way to throw in a treble <D-(dud)> or <U-(dud)> or <D-(udu)> or <U-(udu)>.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Thanks again for the advice

Re: Reels on the guitar

There ARE several good reasons why most people don’t try to play tunes on a guitar in a session, and although none of them is an absolute no-no you should remember them when you hit difficulties.
The scale length is one, even though you only need to go up as far as the 7th fret on the top string for occasional tunes.
To set against that, of course, in regular guitar tuning you won’t need to go above the 4th fret on all the other strings, unless you’re playing some more involved fingering up the neck not using open strings.
Probably the most pertinent reason is the amount of projection a normal acoustic guitar has, and in the octave you are normally playing in, compared to other instruments you will be competing with. This may be why most guitarists are content to be accompaniment musicians in most sessions.
It’s also relevant to remember that many of the tunes are well suited to being played on the fiddle, where the notes lie easily under the fingers in standard tuning and the keys they are usually played in ( the mandolin is, of course, a fairly latter-day arrival on the scene, but the fingering arguments remain the same ). Trying to play the same tunes in the same keys on a different instrument needs flexibility and forethought ( I would include playing tunes in D on a C/G concertina in the same bracket ).
Having said all of that I play tunes on a bouzouki, in GDAE tuning, so I have to throw my hands about more than a guitarist, but there’s no accounting for folks’ taste !
Good luck.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Hello Pete
Thanks for the tips. Playing the tunes thing is Fun for me personally plus it’s a challenge. I don’t play at any sessions anyway would like too but I don’t think I know enough about accompanying ITM yet. I do know my way round the guitar but I wouldn’t want to sit in on any musical situation and not know what I’m doing. I would like to maybe meet up with someone that’s looking for a guitarist to back them. that would give me time to figure out parts. So if anyone lives in central Scotland and is looking for a guitarist give me a shout.
Cheers

Re: Reels on the guitar

Going up the neck is not a challenge for a well-seasoned intermediate guitarist.
More, you can use a (bluegrass?) trick : move up your left hand when your right hand is picking the open first string. And voilà.

|——————-0—|————-6—7—|
|—0—2—4———|—7—9—————|
|————————|————————|
|————————|————————|
|————————|————————|
|————————|————————|

It’s the same trick in reverse going up to down.
I hope the browser will not scramble my tab (^^)

Re: Reels on the guitar

Hi bobmarlec
I do that in the 2nd tune college groves. I play an open E on the 1st string then shift up to the 7th pos and play a G , F#, A on the 2nd string then a B on the 1st string. Funny enough I learned that shift out a bluegrass guitar book

Re: Reels on the guitar

reilly, just listened to your reels, lovely tone [reminds me of Dick Gaughan’s Coppers and Brass]
and neat triplets …………….do you hear a ‘but’ coming ? hard to explain with my minimal knowledge of formal music theory ,the tunes seem to be ‘plodding ’ rather than ‘loping’ along -is it maybe you’re stressing the on beat rather than the off beat? sorry I don’t have the technical facilities to post an example of what I mean. I’m in Kent so not too much chance of meeting at a session……………..

Re: Reels on the guitar

Hello Christy
I think I know what you mean it still sounds a bit stiff and regimented. My picking hand has always been the problem. I’m left handed but play guitar right handed no sure if that’s anything to do with it. I need to blame something on someone haha. I’ve noticed over the years the majority of the real good players work from their wrist so I’ve been trying do that. I feel that’s helped my tone and control but I still need to loosen up more. Thanks for the feedback Christy cheers

Re: Reels on the guitar

You have all the technique you need, but like Christy Taylor said, there’s something with the stress (or lack of it). I don’t even hear stressed on-beats, just a series of notes, which happen to sound like a tune. Not like the metronomic MIDI-like clips of the fiddler-who-shall-not-be named (not at all!) but there’s room for accented notes and phrases-rather-than-notes.

Re: Reels on the guitar

As said Jeff, you have all the tools to play a tune, but you have to let it breath (phrases) and sing (dynamics).
First, you have to work the relaxation of your right wrist + hand : practice tunes slowly and with a very very low volume, with the pick nearly falling of your fingers, as if you where practicing near a sleeping baby. It’s the "sleeping baby" trick haha

Dont worry about being left handed and playing right handed. As a lefty you have strong fingers for fretting. My brother is in the same situation and is now a professional musician and guitar teacher. Have you ever heard of a piano for lefties?

Re: Reels on the guitar

Hi Jeff
Yep it does sound like a technical exercise. I’m thinking too much about the technique than the musicality of the tunes. I think I need to spend more time listening and learning tunes from other players.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Thanks again just need to be more patient and slow down - walk before I can run.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Hi Reilly

Yes I’m having a similar problem at the mo. I played tenor banjo for a lot of years, but stopped a few years ago. I’ve recently taken up guitar and have been learning to flat pick some bluegrass tunes. This brought me into the realms of fairly strict alternate pickin and after a lot of work I’m gettin pretty much up to speed with it.

Problem is, now I’ve taken up the banjo again my playing is a bit confused because I have been working on strict alternate pickin. Not too bad with reels, but an issue with jigs. In the past I seem to have arranged my picking so that triplets and quadriplets (ye know what I mean) always fell on a down stroke. Also, I always used sweep picking when going between adjacent strings. This doesn’t feel natural to me now as I have been using fairly strict alternate and cross picking for some time. Now I’m finding that a lot of the ornamentation is falling on the upstroke and also I’m less inclined to sweep between adjacent strings.

This slowed things down for me somewhat as I was not as strong or fluent with the upstroke as the down. However, I feel that sticking with the alternate pickin will benefit me and I have been doing a lot of work on the upstroke so that my ornamentation feels natural whatever the direction of the pick. It takes time and a lot of work, but for me I think its the way to go. As I develop this skill I find all flows much more naturally, my right hand is more relaxed and I don’t come unstuck if I miss pick.

You are playing well, but like ayedbl noted above, it seems to me there are too many down strokes. In the first phrase you seem to pick down on the G string then immediately down, down/up/down on the D string. Looks and sounds to me like three down strokes in a row. I would play that down on the G then up, down/up/down on the D. To me it seems easier to do this and I think more fluid and less less staccato.

Not sure if any of this makes sense to you.

All the best and keep it up.

Re: Reels on the guitar

just wondering about Jeff’s reference to the ‘fiddler -who-shall- not be -named’ very mysterious, like something out of Harry Potter -ah well as my old dad used to say, no names no pack drill…………

Re: Reels on the guitar

Hi m1ll13
I know what you mean I’ve played a wee bit of bluegrass too. The up strokes I find is my weak point they always feel laboured no matter how much I practise them. I did go to a couple of bluegrass guitar workshop a few years ago and one guy said to stick to the alternating( Steve Kaufman) while the other played a combination of alternating and sweeping he was a phenomenal player - brad Davis. You heard of him really good bloke.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Wasn’t really sweeping what he called it was double down. If you finish on a downstroke and your moving to the string below play a downstroke on rhat too rather than sticking to an upstroke

Re: Reels on the guitar

From a banjo players perspective, the "double down" if you’re moving to the string below can maybe be a bit of your problem (I call that direction cheating with my students). If your hand is getting into a regular DU DU DU motion and you throw a DD in the middle simply because it’s a shorter motion, you’re bound to muck up your rhythm a bit.

I’m not saying that people don’t do that, but for me the very specific thing that got me over a speed/rhythm hump in playing reels was to always pick with the consistent DU DU motion. That’s more like your hand "dancing" to the rhythm of the tune, and you never feel like your hand does something unnatural to the rhythm. And since there’s a bit more emphasis on 1 and 3 in a reel, you’re picking those both down, which has a natural emphasis from gravity.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Feck! I’m going to have to start all over again haha. I’m going back to playing paper and comb.

Re: Reels on the guitar

not for nothing, but I keep a DU-DU going whether I’m going across strings, skipping strings, whether there’s cops kicking in the door, or commies coming down the chimney.

It makes a difference in how the line feels

This "double down" or "sweeping" is a bad habit that needs to be broken if you want to flatpick fast and loud. I think that even goes beyond this music to apply to any flatpicking. Its not easy, it takes years, and it is hard work

that’s how you know its the right way

Re: Reels on the guitar

Sounds excellent thanks for that

Re: Reels on the guitar

theres another one on the channel aswell.I play banjo too and i find the guitar is easier in the right hand because of the string tension to play triplets. the left hand can be tough. A good exercise is to play the the tunes without open notes to strengthen that hand

Re: Reels on the guitar

I’ll have a look. Aye your playing has that bounce to it sounds great. do you play a lot of tunes on the guitar?

Re: Reels on the guitar

yeah . I can now It takes time .Maudabawn chapel will sort your left hand out haha

Re: Reels on the guitar

Do you go there and pray to the patron saint of flatpickers… St Arty

Re: Reels on the guitar

Or st John the Doyle

Re: Reels on the guitar

Reilly I feel the consensus is definitely alternate pickin. I do stray from this at times in an effort to be sympathetic to the tune or get the feel I want. I don’t feel the need to ornament every crochet and doted crochet so there is breathing space. And, I agree with your bluegrass guy, Double down and double up works for me too in some places.

With regards to strengthening your up stroke, you’re right, a lot of work required to attain equal dexterity in both directions. I have been doing at least an hour a day solely working on upstroke exercises before I get into tune practice, its been slow, but worth it.

See how effortlessly GO’C does it. Good to see he can feck it up too.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsB0lHfUxKE

Re: Reels on the guitar

What kind of upstroke exercises do you do if you don’t mind me asking. Your
Right it’s a matter of sticking to it. I work on my picking too before I start playing any tunes
Gerry o Connor is something else so is cathal Hayden. They lads do it
Instinctively. Do you think they were taught that or that’s the way they’ve always
Played. I used to play in a band with a bouzouki player he was originally from enniskillen can’t get remember his name but he was the same great picking technique effortless.

Re: Reels on the guitar

when I was working on this, I played scales and arpeggios.

When I played the scales, I made sure every stroke was loud and clear. As loud as possible.

Then the arpeggio exercises worked on string crossings. One of the hardest things to do on a guitar is to maintain the DUDUDU pattern when you are crossing strings from the high strings back to the low strings. So build exercises that go back and forth across the strings, keeping the alternation intact (and play everything loud and clear)

Then skip strings, playing the arpeggios from low to high and back again, but skip intervening strings.

when you can play that last one through smoothly when you are playing both fast and loud then you have reached your destination.

I think I worked on this stuff for the better part of 10 years, so be patient with yourself

This type of practice cleaned up some junk I didn’t realize I was doing and this is what enabled me to raise my tempo barrier to over 300 bpm

Re: Reels on the guitar

you must mean 150 bpm ?reels are already too fast at that speed

Re: Reels on the guitar

A thought just struck me - do people really stick to a picking pattern? Is it really (REALLY) an either/or question about economic or alternate? Do people even plan ahead? To me, this is just overthinking and even artificial.

Reverend said:
"(…) to always pick with the consistent DU DU motion"

This could work for tunes with with nothing but quavers. However, there are tunes with other note values, with trebles/triplets, and for that matter, you may want to vary your playing. In all these cases, a strict DUDU pattern goes out the window. At least in my playing.

Re: Reels on the guitar

no, I mean I can play at tempos over 300 bpm. That does equate to reels at 150, but that’s not what I meant. I play bebop jazz and my drummer likes to play fast.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Jeff, I can tell you that I do not consciously think about picking, but if I just play what I hear in my head, the picking will work itself out to be "down" strokes on the beat and "up" strokes off the beat

so that a quarter note off the beat would probably involve repeating the up stroke for the next note

Re: Reels on the guitar

I’ve sent you a PM hope it helps

Re: Reels on the guitar

That I can understand.

What about phrases like these?
xxxx (3xxx xx
x2 (3xxx xxxx
x2 (3xxx xx (3xxx
x2 (3xxx (3xxx xx
(3xxx xx xxxx

I’m just saying that a strict pattern from beginning to end will result in some kind of chaos at various points in just about any tune. Make sure to have a backup plan, even if you realise it a split-second in advance.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Got it m1ll13

Cheers

Re: Reels on the guitar

alternating in general is a better generalisation so DUDU DUD)3UD UDU)3DU DUDU etc. This makes your upstroke as important as your down which it should be . It works for me very well.Gerry O’Connor does this aswell .Its too complicated any other way.The best technique is usually very simple rules. Irish music is unique because of its triplets so it cant really giving the same picking technique as jazz even

Re: Reels on the guitar

So the key is getting your upstroke as strong as your downstroke.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Correct. There is often an option to prep a phrase so you can do what you want/what you’ve planned, but of course it’s good to be able to do strokes in both directions.

A similar question arises now and then, but about fiddle and bowing patterns (and especially regarding accents, strong beats and playing bowed triplets/trebles), and my thoughts are the same. Either make sure your stuff "works" regardless of bow direction, or plan ahead. Or both.

On plucked string instruments, I’ve always applied sweep picking/direction cheating for string crossings (I’m no heavy metal guitar shredder, not at all, is just that it has felt natural to sweep). It makes my triplets smoother and crisper at the same time (UDU!), and always function as a better setup for the next beat.

Re: Reels on the guitar

As Jeff pointed out, when there’s a quarter note, the pattern for me changes, in that I will move my hand past the string without hitting it. But yes, I always pick 1 and 3 with down strokes and 2 and 4 with upstrokes. In a reel, that makes for a pretty natural triplet starting on a down stroke wherever you want. (Jigs are a different matter, and that’s probably for another thread).

And just as Nate said, I never think about my picking direction, it’s perfectly natural to me, whether I’m crossing strings, or moving the hand in either direction. And I don’t ever have to work out how I want to pick a particular phrase, and my ornaments will never end up changing my pick direction on the notes outside of the ornament. For me, this gives me all the flexibility in the world for my phrasing and variation without ever having to plan or practice to make sure I can pick it.

Again, I’m not saying my way is the only way by any stretch of the imagination. But implementing the regularity of my patterns is what propelled me over a pretty serious plateau in my playing. And since the right hand is really where the rhythm comes from on plectrum instruments, the picking patterns really helped me in being able to play with good rhythm, and fully control it.

The epiphany came to me when I had been playing for a couple years, and was sitting with a good teacher. I was struggling with a particular part of a reel, where it felt hard, and I couldn’t get that part up to the same speed that I could play the rest of the tune. It took the teacher all of 5 seconds to diagnose it, and he suggested the picking pattern. Trying to implement that felt like it ruined my playing for a few weeks, because I had a ton of muscle memory built up playing things without the pattern. But after a bit of time, it just became second nature, and I never had to think about it again…

Re: Reels on the guitar

> I’m just saying that a strict pattern from beginning to end will result in some kind of chaos at various points in just about any tune.

Blind application of rules without principle will always result in disaster. Not having any kind of rule at all is even worse. As a beginning fiddler I was held to a very strict one bow per note, downbeats on strong notes, that kind of thing. Now I do all sorts of things but that framework is very helpful to me in that I can orient myself without having to think about it. This is no different.

Posted by .

Re: Reels on the guitar

Du Du is best for playing fast,imo, and that applies to all forms of music including bluegrass.
I strongly disagree with George Shuffler, His kind of picking might work for him, for me, no thanks.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Who’s George Shuffler? I don’t see his name as a poster in this thread.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Who’s George Shuffler? … I had to look it up cos I didn’t know either. Apparently he was an American bluegrass player who developed a specific style of cross picking. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Shuffler
Apologies to my American friends for my ignorance. Bluegrass isn’t in my world.

Posted by .

Re: Reels on the guitar

George Shuffler and cross picking, please note he developed this style of 2 down and one up for slow songs, in my opinion if a player needs to play fast this style is not as easy to execute rapidly as simple down up.
Musical style of George Shuffler

"It was just out of necessity," was how George Shuffler described the birth of crosspicking. When Ralph and Carter played their slow songs there were long pauses at the end of every line, during which they would be catching their breath for the next line. During these pauses Shuffler had to take every break, and at the time the only two guitar styles were the Carter scratch and Travis picking. Travis style could keep the rhythm, but sounded repetitive during breaks, while scratch style could play lead but lost the rhythm. Shuffler created a style that allowed him to keep the rhythm and play a lead melody at the same time. This style was crosspicking, the guitar equivalent of a banjo roll. In the style the player used a flat pick to play three or more strings in sequence, which mixed a basic melody with fill notes to provide rhythm (two strokes down and one up). This created a flurry of eighth notes which perfectly filled the breaks, and allowed Shuffler to keep the rhythm with the melody. This style has since become one of the most important guitar styles in bluegrass, as important in the genre as flamenco is to Spanish guitar, or shuffles are to early rock and roll. While in early bluegrass the guitar was regarded as a novelty item, almost every modern bluegrass band has a lead guitar player."
Of course the above quote is debatable, Take a listen to Earl Scruggs playing lead guitar in Carter style and you ears will tell you the above statement is nonsense, there is no loss of rhythm.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA6jWj0bTi8

The relevance of all this is that the OP is using Carter style left hand as is Earl and is adapting it in my opinion successfully for Irish Music, in my opinion using cross picking only limits the ability to play very quickly, there are occasions when two downs or two ups "playing between strings" will work, and I guess the abilty to play competently and at speed in all directions must be the ideal.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Makes sense to me!

Posted by .

Re: Reels on the guitar

Wow- I’ve never seen Earl play guitar before!

Re: Reels on the guitar

How did we get from flat-picking with a plectrum, to finger-picking with the fingers? Postings on the wrong thread, maybe?

Re: Reels on the guitar

Hi Jim, welcome to The Session. I realize you are new here, but don’t be alarmed. Our discussions may tend to drift, but I don’t think anyone has ever been injured.

Re: Reels on the guitar

whos pickin banjo ere

Re: Reels on the guitar

@Cheeky : "It’s discussion, Jim, but not as we know it." 🙂

I should imagine that playing reels on guitar is more difficult that on fiddle (as mentioned before). Assuming your fiddle left hand is fine, the bow (mostly) maintains contact with the string and in that respect rapid playing is not difficult.

Not so with flat-picking, obviously, but when the pick moves to another string (eg from a Down to an Up on a higher-pitched string), it needs to move outwards to clear the string (correct?), then back in again to hit it on the up-stroke. Same going in the other direction too, so that’s a lot of extra motion - and it’s not used when bowing the notes on fiddle.

I’d guess that really good guitarists will keep all this movement to a bare minimum, and sometimes it’s hard to really see what’s happening even when watching the pick hand closely.

Of course to seasoned guitarists, all this extra movement will obvious and second nature and they probably don’t even think about it.

Any comments from the guitar gurus?

Re: Reels on the guitar

anybody who tells you that crossing strings slows you down or requires you to break your alternation hasn’t been in the woodshed long enough. That’s where I stand, Jim.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Nate,
Shuffler states the opposite, that his style is the only way he found he could do it, I disagree with him, and produced a video of Earl who in my opinion was a better guitarist than Shuffler, Nate I have been in the woodshed a long while and I never saw anything nasty, unlike the cross pickers in Cold Comfort Farm.
Sounds like some cross pickers could be getting cross, Earl never loses rhythm, as Shuffler tries to states here,"while scratch style could play lead but lost the rhythm." does he?

Re: Reels on the guitar

I don’t know who Shuffler is, and I really don’t care. What I do know is how to play a guitar with a pick. Crossing strings is part of guitar playing. All it takes is practice.

Re: Reels on the guitar

please read my posts , I have not said it is not part of guitar playing, it is my opinion based on many years playing, that in my experience playing fast is easier with as little cross picking as possible, for example if I have a choice of playing an e as an open first string, after a b open string, I would prefer to finger the e note on the B string and Fret 5Fret and go up down on the same string with the pick, than cross strings with cross picking , dependent of course on what the following note might be, and dependent on what left hand has to do
This is particularly important when you have a large interval in a tune, for example the beginning of Dalys Polka the notes are eaba eaba, a guitarist could play this e open top string, then a second fret third g string, then b open string then a, second fret third g string, this requires jumping over a string and using cross picking, but why make unecessary hard work, when the same notes could be played e fifth fret on second string then b on same string [alternate picking ] then a on g third string below, this avoids the necessity of having to jump a string from e to b and use cross picking and is naturally going to be speedier because there is less distance for the pick to travel
It is not just about practice, but about knowledge of the guitar fingerboard and realising that more speed can be obtained when playing on the same string,
Cross picking does not have to be avoided entirely, but if there is a choice of playing two notes on the same string rather than jumping a string, it is in my opinion unnecessary to use cross picking for the sake of it.

Re: Reels on the guitar

[*Cross picking does not have to be avoided entirely, but if there is a choice of playing two notes on the same string rather than jumping a string, it is in my opinion unnecessary to use cross picking for the sake of it.*]

Same applies to fiddle, of course. Economy of movement is of the essence.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Richard, what works for you works for you. I play bop, and jumps of 6ths and minor 7ths are idiomatic. I have to do them a lot or I don’t sound like bop. It is just as fast and just as easy to skip over strings or pick across adjacent strings, provided you spent the time practicing that. That is why I had to invest about 10 years on cross string picking when I was a young fella. I just had to do it more often, so I got more comfortable doing it, I guess

Re: Reels on the guitar

i kind of get what richard dalton is saying .iI do some of what hes saying but i could also do the opposite and it wouldnt affect me. you could learn tunes without open notes and with open notes and see the difference in sound and playability

Re: Reels on the guitar

Top marks to the camera man in the Brad Davis clip. Not!

Re: Reels on the guitar

The problem with open strings is that they ring louder, sometimes that is ok, sometimes it is not. Whenever you get away from open strings and start playing a pattern for example the blues scale, it means you can use the same patterns for many different keys, The disadavantage is when you get far from the nut and away from open strings you cannot hammer on and push off and do all the things so important for Carter style, and maybe trad irish music.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Enda Scahill says in his tutor and of course this is only his opinion, but he is a recognised champion flat picker on tenor banjo, HE appears to use down up on groups of quavers then down for a following crotchet, then if the down crotchet is followed by two quavers down up, he is adamant about correct picking for reels to obtain speed.
Picking for tenor banjo for reels in my opinion is no different to picking for guitar, to obtain speed for banjo you need what he calls a correct picking method, this appears to involve, down up for groups of quavers, followed by down for a crotchet and down up for two quavers if the crotchet is followed by two quavers, so on occasions the player might play two downs, but it may not necessarily be cross picking, if the two notes are the same note, or two notes that are on the same string, however using this system there will also be occasions when you will have to play two downs as a cross pick"going across strings"
He advocates various exercises in 4/4 to facilitate reel playing, one of these exercises involved playing 3 bars of crotchets that is 12 notes, down up down up across two adjacent strings, my advice would be get his banjo tutor which is geared towards flat picking Irish tunes, and is a tutor for ITM.
Once upon a time, I tried this out using E A D " tenor banjo tuning" as my top 3 strings on the Guitar, a D string was used instead of a G string it worked well, of course I could not use any tunes that used the lowest string of the banjo, but they are a minority anyway. A different approach which you may or my not find useful.

Re: Reels on the guitar

I haven’t posted here before, but I tend to go with the alternate-picking approach. Crossing strings is just part and parcel of guitar technique (although there are great players for whom a different approach works, as these videos show).

I also exploit open strings to facilitate position shifts. I like to play in standard tuning, and plenty of Irish tunes necessitate a move to fifth position to get the high B. Between first, second and fifth position, you pretty much have it covered. While it is true that open strings sound different from the same notes fretted, most flatpickers use a certain amount of right-hand palm muting, so the difference is not that noticeable, especially if you don’t use the same open note every time. Part of the joy of the guitar, after all, is that you can get the same note in different places, with different tonal qualities.

As for playing tunes on a guitar more generally, I have pursued it off and on, but in the end unless you are playing in an amplified concert situation or a quiet session with a small number of players, it is just not loud enough to be heard. Then again, the same goes for backing, unless you stick to heavy strumming. I take a banjo to sessions now, and the tunes sit more easily in that tuning as well as being more audible. The advantages of learning tunes on the guitar, to my mind, are that it gives you far more options when you are backing once you have the tunes under your fingers as well as in your memory; plus, if there is already a backer at the session, you can still play without getting in his/her way.

Re: Reels on the guitar

I go with the method Richard is talking about. Group of 4 quavers = DuDu
Crotchet followed by 2 quavers = D Du
The crotchet lasts a full beat so your missing the upbeat because theirs no note on the 2nd part of the beat. I find that keeps my picking in sync but I’m not saying that’s the way everybody should play it. It’s just another alternative.

Re: Reels on the guitar

thats not playing a triplet though.DUD)3 DU is applying the rules to the triplet so now you have two downs but happening alot quicker

Re: Reels on the guitar

I’m not talking about triplets. I’m just saying if you play a note (crotchet) which lasts a full beat then you move into 2 quavers you would play - ( D for the crotchet then DU for the 2 quavers.
1 2 +
D D U
So if you went into 4 quavers after that
It would be- 3 + 4 +
D U D U
Just one way that’s all

Re: Reels on the guitar

"I go with the method Richard is talking about. Group of 4 quavers = DuDu
Crotchet followed by 2 quavers = D Du"

"DUD)3 DU is applying the rules to the triplet"

Yes to all of this. The thing is the keep the downstroke on the beat.

Re: Reels on the guitar

That’s right pat that’s the way I’ve always looked at it.
Say for instance you start a tune on a quaver off beat( anacrusis if you want the technical term). I’d start with an upstroke so it’s leading you into a downstroke on beat 1.

Re: Reels on the guitar

"The thing is the keep the downstroke on the beat."
"Group of 4 quavers = DuDu"
"Crotchet followed by 2 quavers = D Du"
"DUD)3 DU is applying the rules to the triplet"
"Quaver pick up or anacrousis = upstroke so the first beat is a downstroke"

+1 here

Re: Reels on the guitar

Surely if you are going down up on quavers then four crotchets would be all downs.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Aye you can do 4 downs with 4 ghost ups

Re: Reels on the guitar

"Surely if you are going down up on quavers then four crotchets would be all downs."
Enda says odd=down even=up,1 st note of bar down, 1st note of 4 down, treble triplet =dud, note after treble triplet= down, this is applicable for reels.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Between crotchets you have plenty of time to sip your black stuff.

Re: Reels on the guitar

That’s a plan

Re: Reels on the guitar

As long as one does not get crotchety

Re: Reels on the guitar

A useful discussion, it’s got me practicing the reels again.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Hello Paul
Good to hear from another guitarist playing tunes on the guitar. What you working on ? I’ve been working on a few tunes but the biggy for me the now is the floating crowbar / the star of Munster. I’m learning off the arty mcglynn album. It’s a challenge but great fun to play.

Re: Reels on the guitar

Hi Reilly67.
You’re right – it is a challenge but I do enjoy playing these tunes. I’m not working on anything specific at the moment, just trying to keep everything smooth and fast but controlled. I’ve resurrected Castle Kelly over the last week as a good one to work on for the ornamentation. Others that I play regularly for practice are Over the Moor to Maggie and both the Old and New Copperplates.
I’d forgotten about the Arty McGlynn album - I’ll give it a listen again. I’ve been getting my ideas for tunes to learn from our local Irish sessions. Although I’ll listen to guitarists and banjo players when I specifically want to see/hear a technique, I’d like to get some of the fluidity I hear from fiddle players.
Here’s a link to a recording I did back in 2012 to check my progress after about 15 months of playing Irish tunes, though I’ve been playing guitar for a lot longer than that! https://soundcloud.com/paul-dengate/sligo-maid-silver-spear-edit/s-scPUT