How to improve your alternate picking

Hello everybody, 

in this video lessons, I will show you how to improve your alternate picking routine.

A good alternate picking routine will surely help you in making consistent improvements and leveling up your technique in a decent amount of time.

As I always say, taking care of your picking technique is one of the most important details for modern (and working) guitarists. 

Having an effective picking technique will bring you the necessary sense of timing, relax and stamina that will be necessary to front any music situation and to play any kind of music style.

Alternate picking can be considered as the basics of modern guitar, and even if it is not mandatory to play everything with this technique, if you decide to play the guitar with the pick, for sure it might come in handy.

There are several basic techniques for modern guitar: we can decide to play with the pick, so in this case we will have to decide between playing with alternate picking or economy picking.. or both.

If we decide to play with the fingers of the right hand and not use a pick at all, we will have another wide range of opportunities. 

It is of course not possible to master every technique at a consistent level, so I always suggest to my students to make a choice, and pick up the technique that comes more natural for them. You may also decide to use the right hand only sporadically and go entirely with legato… The choice is yours.

In any case, improving the alternate picking is hard work, but it always pays back.

Not only our playing will be more precise and accurate, but we will develop more solid skills when it comes to playing rhythms, for example. Your way to approach the right hand will have also an impact on your funk rhythms or your way to play tighter metal riffs. Overall, it influences your sense of groove and overall ability to be tight on a tempo.

To improve our alternate picking, it will be necessary to follow these lines:

  1. Choose a very easy and repetitive pattern first, and synchronize both hands on an easy to remember sequence. 
  2. Once you have down your general synchronization, try to use chromatic exercises like 1234 4321 on all the possible sets of strings
  3. Keep a relaxed posture and don’t over stress your articulations
  4. Start with very slow speeds, from 40-50 bpm, and increase the speed slowly, 5-10 bpm at a time. 
  5. Vary the exercises: use major scales, pentatonic, minor harmonic and melodic scale, symmetrical patterns and scales. Your fantasy is the only limit.

Don’t forget to be patient, it takes time to improve your skills. 

Another very good strategy can be to record yourself to see where you are located and what works and what not. 

Let me know down in the comment what you think of these lessons!!


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About me

My name is Ignazio Di Salvo, well, Iggy for all my friends as my name is difficult to pronounce for non Italian speakers.

I am an Italian Guitarist, Singer, Composer, and Music Educator living in Belgium.  

I am passionate about music production and writing, I publish two articles every new week about music and music production-related topics.