Alternate Picking Fundamentals
I had a guitar student who had been playing guitar for several years but did not know about a very important technique called alternate picking. So I opened up his eyes to this great technique and in a matter of weeks he had made more progress with his picking ability than he had in all his previous years of playing! The idea is that to help improve speed and efficiency, we alternate between up strokes and down strokes, instead of using consecutive downstrokes.
The exercises in this lesson will ensure that you develop impressive alternate picking technique. After a few months of practicing these, you will feel as if your right hand is possessed! But be sure to practice these exercises slowly. You do not want to play these fast and sloppy. Only play them as fast as you can while maintaining clean, accurate technique. Use a metronome as often as possible, and play them with and without distortion. And if you have an acoustic, be sure to practice on that as well. Playing picking exercises on an acoustic forces you to become a cleaner player.
Four Play – Alternate Picking Exercise
A lot of lessons on alternate picking focus on achieving maximum possible picking speed. Lessons of this sort take advantage of picking patterns that lend themselves to ludicrous speed. While starting out with such lessons will certainly help you generate picking speed I believe there needs to be a progression to more intricate picking patterns which focus on speed as well as coordination. Think of it as grad school alternate picking (my lessons on alternate picking arpeggios certainly fall into that category!).
One of the greatest challenges when alternate picking arises when you are encountered with notes constantly changing strings. It is well worth your effort to practice exercises that reinforce the act of rapidly shifting back and forth between strings. So in this lesson, we will go over a simple picking exercise to that end.
Basically, we take a scale and sequence it using a repeating pattern of 4 notes. Starting on the first note, play first 4 notes of scale, then go to the second note and play next 4 notes starting from that point and so on. This is referred to as a scale sequenced using quadruplets.
Alternate Picking Exercise Audio – Slow[audio:https://www.cyberfret.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/alternate-picking-exercise-slow.mp3]
Alternate Picking Exercise Audio – Fast[audio:https://www.cyberfret.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/alternate-picking-exercise-fast.mp3]
Above is the tab for this exercise. You will note a couple things. First, there is a fairly frequent shift back and forth between E and B strings. Second, there is a position shift in order to reach up to the 10th fret and then another position shift to get back down to the 5th fret. Third, I have indicated the exercise to be played using alternate picking.
The key with this exercise is to pick with a consistent speed. Though the consecutive notes on a given string can be played quite rapidly, the string changes become the limiting factor in speed. No sense in playing consecutive notes as a blur and then slowing down for the string shifts. Playing to a metronome will help you keep a consistent speed.
Hope you enjoy!
Visit Brian Huether at Guitar-Dreams.com
©2007 Guitar Dreams. All Rights Reserved.