Hey all, I noticed when I play some things I find myself slipping up on my alternate picking and doing some eco picking. I want to play strictly alternate and for the most part I do. The thing is,

I have to play REALLY slow to watch my pick go up and down and completely make sure Im doing alternate but it's so incredibly slow that I can barely play a sequence of notes without my brain completely farting as to what the riff , lead, ect I was playing in the first place.

Any ideas on how I can quit wasting valuable practice time?

Are you conscious of where you are within the pulse of the music? The beat? Do you tap your foot?

I'm well aware those questions are not related to the picking mechanics, but sense of time comes first.
Just like you're trying to find a balance in your picking motion, you have to find a balance in you slow and speedy practice sessions.

Practicing slowly is equally as important as pushing yourself to play faster; the marriage of technique and skill.

If there is a riff you are trying to get down, (assuming you've already warmed up), alternate playing it through at the speed at which you can play it perfectly (technique, notes, all of it--this will be your slower speed) with playing through the riff at it's intended speed or faster if you can play it perfectly at it's intended speed.

Also, stick to what you want to play; play your style of music; keep it interesting for yourself. Play relaxed and play when you want to; this awareness makes a huge difference IMHO. Be sure you're not playing tense (arms, fingers, etc). Just general advice there
Anthony at Guitar Strings and Beyond
Thanks for the feedback, Its hard to be aware of any pulse/beat/feel of the sequence because
I am playing whatever it is so incredibly slow to make sure I'm picking it correctly. I almost
Feel like I need yo wave my wrist up down up down to know that's what my pick is doing but that's
Just plain silly. Maybe I'm overly paranoid
What is the sequence? The reason why you're tempted to economy pick is cuz you're outside picking needs work.

Outside picking is when you're approaching a pair of strings from the outside, rather than inside. Obvious, huh? Play the following with an up, followed by a down. That's outside picking. A down followed by an up will be inside picking, cuz your pick is within the confines of the two strings. Make sense?


In other words, if you're traveling from a high (thin) string to the next lower (thicker) string, like the following, the temptation will be to play it like: U D U U.

The aforementioned outside picking technique will require you to execute a downstroke instead.


Similarly, in a ascending sequence, you're tempted to play it like: D U D D.

But again, outside picking demands your hand to do the following: D U D U


Conversely, inside picking is not likely to cause you so many problems.
Last edited by mdc at Jan 12, 2013,
When playing a sequence slowly it can be harder to match the notes to the beat than when you play it a bit faster, I mean tapping your foot exactly to the beat at 20bpm is much harder than at 100bpm for example.

The solution really just is to practice - Going slow can be very annoying (not just because of the speed but the timing etc...) but it will get better, I promise. I started learning to alternate pick with a thumb pick the other day while playing fingerstyle, and at first going slow was actually harder than a moderate speed but after a few hours of practice my brain got used to it and now it's similar to practicing alternate picking (although much, much worse at the moment!).
From all you've said I think the best advice would be to focus less on the timing until you get to a point where you can play the song/arrangement/lick/whatever at a slightly faster speed. That's not saying to play it recklessly in terms of technique, but maybe simply "getting it down" or just a little raw fingering memorization should come first.

Everyone learns differently; none of us should overlook technique, but I firmly believe running into a block is as detrimental as failing to practice technique. Again, it's a balancing act; you'll find yours. Just a thought.
Anthony at Guitar Strings and Beyond
^ That's actually pretty good advice, sometimes you need to get a bit of muscle memory if the thing you're playing is completely new to you because you haven't made those movements before. Sometimes I find that I can't start practicing a song at even 20bpm, I need to learn the movements for the section before starting to play slowly to a metronome.
Thanks Anon17 Glad to hear someone has had similar experience and success with that train of practice.
Anthony at Guitar Strings and Beyond