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Flamenco Guitar Techniques: How to Practice Picado

Learn how to practice picado in this flamenco guitar lesson video from Howcast.


Okay, so I'm going to show you how to get your picado fast. The key, like we said in the last video is alternating your fingers, okay? Like we said, when you switch strings it's very tempting to repeat the finger, because the finger's already leaning on it, so your brain is going to say, "I might as well use that finger. It's already there." It doesn't work that way. We have to program our brain so our fingers always repeat, no matter where they're leaning.

I'm going to show you a couple of exercises you can use to get your brain trained to alternate your picado constantly. The first one is we're going to play two notes on the first string, one note on the second string. Two notes on the first, one on the second. So two notes first string, one note on the second. Now you have to watch your fingers very carefully. Every time you play the second string, it should be played with a different finger.

The first time you played it with Finger I, next time you get the second string, it's got to be played with Finger M. If you notice you repeated one of the fingers, you're doing the exercise wrong. It means you have to slow it down. So let's see how this works. So now I played with I-M. Okay, this is one of these exercises where you really have to slow down the revolutions in your brain, and really do it very slow, and slowly speed it up.

It doesn't take long to speed it up, but you really have to start slow, and it could drive you crazy for a minute, but only a minute. Okay, and if you care to make it a little more interesting, you can throw a chromatic scale on there, and you can also do the opposite. You can start on the string below playing two notes on the second string and one note on the first string. Two notes on the second, one note on the first.

So now every time you play your first string, it's got to be with a different finger, I-M, I-M, I-M. Okay, you can also make it interesting by doing a chromatic scale or whatever you want to do. The way I usually practice this is I come down with the first exercise, come all the way down, and then on my way up, I do the second. Which is two notes on this string, on the string below, and one note on the string above.

Okay, I'm doing it a little fast. Do it very slow and always looking at your fingers making sure you are alternating all the time. Another very valuable exercise you can do with picado is chromatic scales. But we're going to do chromatic scales where we play five notes per string. Meaning you're always going to start with the open string.

If you play four notes per string, what happens is every time you switch strings, you're going to switch with the same finger and we're avoiding the point of alternating. So if we start with an open string, I'm going to start with my index finger, so if I'm doing everything right, when I get to my fifth string, the first finger I'm going to use is my middle finger.

On the fourth string I'm going to start with my middle, with my index back and forth. So every time I get to a new string I start with a new finger. Here we go. Open, middle, index, middle, index and I like to do this all the way up, all the way down. Okay, one thing to note, regardless of the picado is your hand position, when you play these chromatic scales and try to avoid your pinkie flying out like this.

That's a big mistake and that's more of an electric guitar kind of position. Okay, in flamenco guitar you really want to try to keep your pinkie very close to the neck, so your hand always stays in this position, not this one. So while you're practicing these picado scales pay close attention to your pinkie and don't let it fly off. Just keep it nice and close. So have fun practicing your picado.

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