Can someone tell me what is the best exercise to improve picking speed ? I wanna improve mine really bad .....since i am REALLY BAD AT IT including alternate picking ....im too slow ....a major reason why i make mistakes on solos ....
the call of ktulu by metallica is supposed to use downstrokes but i found it imporved my alternate picking skills once you can play it at full speed also, its a bad ass song
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When i first started this is how i did it, Just sit down and watch tv or something while picking down and up on your 6th string until you get comfortable then move it to all the other strings then when you get be go Down on 6th up on 5th down on 4th up on 3rd down on 2nd and up on 1st then descend the same pattern and when you get more comfortable go down up on all strings then down up down and then down up down up and the way up to 16th notes on each string and i guarentee this will helpp you but start on one stirnd just going down up down up over and over and watch tv and do this until you do not have to think about it then gradually add speed, then when you feel comfortable with this you can do some scales like this and if your good then check out John etrucci's rock discipline he uses all alternate picking and also guitar world has lessons in every issues where Steve Morse and Michael ngelo batio show you scales and little solo's using all alternate picking, if you do what i tell you i guarentee to you that in a month you will be completely alternate picking everything without even thinking of it, and you can still always use down picking or down down up up if you want but for quick runs and stuff you will always use your alternate picking,remember that alternate picking is the hardest to master even harder then down down upp or upp down down with some sweep paterns, so just practice alot and keep to it and you will get really good, hope this helps also if you like dream theatre then try playing some of there stuff and you can get real good at it but they used some odd time signatures so if i were you i would do everything else first and then check out some of there stuff to play along with.
Learn songs that have fast guitar playing in it.
Your technical prowess should come in the context of actual music my man.

There's no quick way to build up shredding skills. Just take the time to learn a songs that you want to learn, and really work hard at it.
Chromatics helped me a lot.




Go up and down the string, moving down the fretboard once you hit an E string.

You can also run through your scales with a metronome and slowly start to increase the tempo of it as you gain speed.

Better yet, do both with a metronome.

Songs are a lot more fun than practices so give those a whirl.
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Practice with a metronome. You can buy one or download somewhere on the net. Then start at any speed, lets say: 120 bmp. Practice first playing chromatics stuff (1,2,3,4 exercise will do) playing one note per click, when you feel comfortable with it, play 2 notes per click and so go on. Another way is set a speed so you can play four note per click, which mean one string per click (playing the 1,2,3,4 exercise), everytime you cross a string or play four notes, then the next note you pick it harder. This way you will have control of your picking hand (see the John Petrucci's Rock Discipline video for more details).
Besides being a guitar player, I'm a big fan of the guitar. I love that damn instrument. Steve Vai

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yeah listen to the guys when they say the 1234 excercise go from the 6th string to first doing 1234 on fret 1234 the go backwards either 4321 or 8765 and repeat up the neck i reccomend you do both of these but start just going up then down and then make the transition, and you can try 1324 or 1423 just mess around and you can get good control of your picking hand and fretting hand, but i must stress that you want to hold your pick right dont use the whole pick or even half the pick use just a little of the tip and thats where some speed can come from, mess around with how much pick you want to use and you will find a confortable grip and how much pick you will want to use,then move onto the songs.
The 'fast' riff in Seek and Destroy - Metallica, helped me with downpicking.

Oh also the 'fast' riff in Master of Puppets - Metallica, improved my downpicking speed.
Try gear shifting with chromatics.

Play something like 1 2 3 4 at 80 bpm (16ths), and playing perfectly clean, switch from 16ths to 32nds (4 notes per beat to 8 notes per beat) by repeating the 1 2 3 4 pattern twice within a beat. Make up patterns doing this and move it up and down the neck.
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This is the funniest thing i've ever read on UG.
lespaulrocks39, you sir are awesome.
grab a metronome, and practice scales and picking techniques and once u feel comfortable at a certain speed, set ur metronome faster and just keep going.
Play scales up and down all across the neck, using all fingers and alt picking.
Also, play riffs from songs like the spider riff in Master of Puppets (as cizzie said.)