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Pick & Slide

The way I approach studying the steel is to break everything down in its smallest parts, study each separately, and then put them back together again. This way you can take a complex lick and study each of its parts. When I study a lick, I first concentrate on the movements that are involved. I try to look at them "physically" rather than "musically". I know if I make the moves properly the result will be music. (Most of the time). The simplest move we can make is to pick any string with one of our picks. A good beginning exercise is to play each string on your guitar with each of your fingers that have picks on them. You will be doing this eventually, so starting with this as one of your first exercise will help you learn faster. You need to concentrate on the move that each pick has to make.

To study this theory, we will start with the thumb. To the left, I've tabbed out the simplest move: the thumb picking a string at the first fret. We could use any string and any fret, but for studying purposes, we will use only one.

The example to the left adds to the simple thumb move, with a left hand slide. The length of the slide could be any number of frets but this shows us our simplest move. We are sliding from fret one to fret two. Simple.

The next move we use combines two individual moves of the right hand. The thumb and first finger are on adjacent strings and then they alternate picking strings seven and six. Once again we could alternate on the same string or any other two that your hand can reach.

To the left we see the opposite move of our first alternating movement. The hand and mind see's this as two different moves. Learn to start licks on any finger with a pick.

This shows us a natural progression. From a single picking movement, to a pick and a slide, and now we have the slide added to an alternating movement. We slide from the first fret to the second. The direction of the slide could be up or down the fretboard and the length can be of various distances. I measure the left hand in terms of fret numbers. We can slide from fret 1 to fret 2 or fret 1 to fret 24.

Here we see the movement starting on the first finger. The strings that we use just happen to be the sixth and seventh. We are concentrating on the movement and not on the music. The end result of our movements will be music, but we are trying to eliminate some frustration in reaching our final goal.