Alternate Picking 101. Part 1

Here we are going to go thoroughly into the concept of alternate picking.

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Alternate picking is the process of moving your pick in an down-stroke/upstroke pattern. It is very important to use your wrist in alternate picking ... NOT your whole arm, or elbow. The strength will also come from your forearm muscles. Any forearm workouts will really make your alternate picking more powerful and dynamic. It is extremely important to use a metronome for each and every one of these alternate picking exercises. One important thing to remember while doing these exercises are that: even though alternate picking is strictly down and up picks, you can do whatever picking pattern you want, as long as you are picking every not. Because some picking patterns are more comfortable than others. Here is one basic alternate picking pattern that never fails to get the job done for practicing alternate picking. This is a chromatic exercise that allows your wrist to become limber and helps you to begin to build fluency. Before you start these exercises, do a warm up by twirling your wrists back and forth clockwise, and counter clockwise. Do this for approx. 5 minutes, then get into these exercises and use a metronome if possible. Practice each excerpt at a slow tempo.

Excerpt One:

Ascending E-----------------------------------------1-2-3-4--- B---------------------------------1-2-3-4----------- G-------------------------1-2-3-4------------------- D-----------------1-2-3-4--------------------------- A---------1-2-3-4----------------------------------- E-1-2-3-4------------------------------------------- Descending E-4-3-2-1------------------------------------------ B---------4-3-2-1---------------------------------- G-----------------4-3-2-1-------------------------- D-------------------------4-3-2-1------------------ A----------------------------------4-3-2-1--------- E-------------------------------------------4-3-2-1

Excerpt Two:

Here we are taking the same chromatic sequence and spreading it across the fret-board in a backwards horizontal like pattern. Ascending: E------------------------------------------9-8-7-6 B---------------------------------8-7-6-5--------- G-------------------------7-6-5-4----------------- D-----------------6-5-4-3------------------------- A---------5-4-3-2--------------------------------- E-4-3-2-1----------------------------------------- Descending: E-7-8-9-10--------------------------------------------------------- B----------8-9-10-11----------------------------------------------- G--------------------9-10-11-12------------------------------------ D-------------------------------10-11-12-13------------------------ A-------------------------------------------11-12-13-14------------ E-------------------------------------------------------12-13-14-15

Excerpt Three:

One More Chromatic Excerpt that uses string skipping instead. Starting on G.
E------------------------
B-----------------3-4-5-6
G------------------------
D---------3-4-5-6--------
A------------------------
E-3-4-5-6----------------
Now ... Same Idea, But Descending in a backwards string skipping order.
E-6-5-4-3-----------------
B-------------------------
G---------6-5-4-3---------
D-------------------------
A------------------6-5-4-3
E-------------------------
After this, now we shall go and introduce triplets into our alternate picking hand. Why is this important? Because it trains our wrists to be able to play many different tuplets in alternate picking. It makes your picking more fluid and smooth once you learn to do two-five notes per string patterns. Here in this excerpt, we are starting on G, and outlining the G major scale in a triplet or sextuplet pattern (depending on the speed you play it at. This is a very movable shape, so you can play this shape anywhere 6th string root. Ascending E----------------------------------5-7-8 B----------------------------5-7-8------ G---------------------4-5-7------------- D--------------4-5-7-------------------- A-------3-5-7--------------------------- E-3-5-7--------------------------------- Descending: E-8-7-5---------------------------------- B-------8-7-5---------------------------- G--------------7-5-4--------------------- D---------------------7-5-4-------------- A----------------------------7-5-3------- E-----------------------------------7-5-3 Here is one more triplet pattern that is using the A Whole Tone scale in a triplet pattern on three notes per string.

Excerpt Two:


E-------------------------------------10-12-13
B-----------------------------9-11-13---------
G---------------------8-10-12-----------------
D--------------7-9-11-------------------------
A-------6-8-10--------------------------------
E-5-7-9---------------------------------------
Here is a quintuplet chromatic pattern that is very similar to the first chromatic exercises that are shown. Starting on A.
E----------------------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------------------------
G------------------------------------------------------------5---------
D-----------------------------------5---------------5-6-7-8-----8-7-6-5
A----------5---------------5-6-7-8----8-7-6-5-6-7-8--------------------
E-5-6-7-8----8-7-6-5-6-7-8---------------------------------------------

E-----------------------------------------5---------------5-6-7-8
B----------------5----------------5-6-7-8---8-7-6-5-6-7-8--------
G--------5-6-7-8----8-7-6-5-6-7-8--------------------------------
D-6-7-8----------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------
Now to insert arpeggios. Alternate picking arpeggios is a very good way to further mature and strengthen your picking hand and wrist. Surprisingly, it also helps when you go to practice your sweeping shapes, and arpeggios. We will start with your basic Major, Minor, Diminished, Half Diminished and Dominant Shapes. Here is your A minor Shape: With E as the root, or tonic.
E--------------8-12-8-------------
B-----------10--------10----------
G---------9--------------9--------
D------10------------------10-----
A-7-12------------------------12-7
E---------------------------------
A Major Shape: with F# as the root (tonic). E--------------9-12-9------------- B-----------10--------10---------- G---------9--------------9-------- D------11------------------11----- A-9-12------------------------12-9 E--------------------------------- A Dominant. Over an arpeggiated A7 chord, this sounds very beautiful.
E-------------------12-15/17-15-12------------------
B----------------13----------------13---------------
G----------12-14----------------------14-12---------
D-------14----------------------------------14------
A-12-15----------------------------------------15-12
E---------------------------------------------------
A Minor 7th Flat 5 Arpeggio (Half Diminished): very unique sounding, and very jazzy.
E-------------------11-15/17-15-11-------------------
B----------------13-----------------13---------------
G----------12-14-----------------------14-12---------
D-------13-----------------------------------13------
A-12-15-----------------------------------------15-12
E----------------------------------------------------
A Diminished
E------------8-11-8-----------
B---------10--------10--------
G-------8--------------8------
D----10------------------10---
A-12------------------------12
E-----------------------------
A Augmented. Very odd and Dissonant sounding.
E-------------9-13-9------------
B----------10---------10--------
G-------10---------------10-----
D----11---------------------11--
A-12---------------------------12
E--------------------------------
This is the end of this session. I will post a second lesson shortly that covers more. I just want to see how this lesson does. Have fun! If this gets positive review, ill continue on with more lessons. Enjoy.

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4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Dynamight
    The 4 note per string exercises are imo only interesting if you start with an upstroke, otherwise they're played the same as if you used economy picking. 1 or 3 note per string is much better because the initial stroke changes at every string, making it perfect for learning cross-string alternate picking.
    thetimo
    A dominant has a major third (A - C#), otherwise a very good lesson.