Shred Guitar Lesson 02

Learn the technique of Alternate Picking!

Ultimate Guitar
In this lesson we will cover alternate picking. You should already have some kind of practice from the first lesson and you should also be pretty warmed up. We are going to look at some 3 note per string scales like the E minor. We will also look at a couple sequences within the scale and get some alternate picking exercises in there. So, let's get down to business. Alternate picking is when you play a note with either an up-stroke or a down-stroke then the opposite type of stroke, so you should go Up-Down-Up-Down or Down-Up-Down-Up. The first exercise will be a simple 4 note repeating pattern within the E minor scale. Here it is:
You should play this pattern using fingers 1-2-4 and 1-3-4 in order to create a nice stretch in between your fingers for later lessons. This will also help build dexterity and pinkie strength. The next exercise goes across two strings. It is in the key of E minor and uses the same notes as the last exercise. It goes like this:
The note on the G string should be played with an up-stroke if you start on a down-stroke. The stroke you start on doesn't really matter, but it is only a matter of personal preference. If you start on a down-stroke you should be aware that you have to skip over the string when you go to play the G-string note. That is what makes this a difficult technique to learn. You should start out slowly and play these exercises until you can get them perfect and clean, because when you turn on the distortion you will not want notes to ring out. As before, use both combinations of fingers and repeat the pattern. This next exercise will be the E minor scale. It starts on the 12th fret of the E-string and goes all the way up to the 17th fret on the high e-string. Here is the scale:

You should be able to play this scale cleanly and without error. The top note in the scale repeats and you go back down the scale ending on the root note. Remember to play it slowly at first and use very strict alternate picking. The next thing we will look at are some sequences in the scale in order to spice things up and give you some ideas of what to do within the scale. Here's the first sequence:


In this sequence all you're doing is playing the notes on the A, D, G, and B strings twice. It's not that difficult to do, but it's really fun. The next sequence is one of my favorites. The pattern is like this:
You start out on the root note, then play four notes in the scale. Next, you start on the second note in the scale then go up four notes. Then, start on the third note of the scale. The pattern repeats until you hit the 14th fret on the D-string which is an E. It is also the root note of our E minor scale. It is very important to note where the root notes are in the key you are playing in. This will help give you a road map of how to improvise. More on that in another lesson. You should play all these exercises until they are perfectly clean. Play them slowly. Be careful of hitting a wrong note when switching strings. Alternate picking is one of the most useful and important techniques when it comes to shredding on the guitar. In the next lesson we will discuss the technique of legato and we will also learn another scale shape in the key of E minor. As Always do the warm-up from lesson one and practice your alternate picking. When you can play these exercises without error you can move on to Lesson 3.

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jacob, I know you got a ton of flack on your first lesson, but you are doing an amazing job. You're wording it so anyone can understand it, and the exercises really are helpful. Keep up the great work bro!!!!
    Killer job with these lessons man. They are very helpful, easy to understand, and set a perfect foundation for beginning to learn the shred guitar technique! I look forward to more!
    My Last Words
    Well ain't this revolutionary.. Inbe4 I don't have any contributions to this site whatsoever. Now, COMMENCE THE DOWNVOTING. _____ Nothing personal mate, it's just that this stuff isn't really relevant when there's already a ton of lessons on this site covering the exact same thing.
    Well. I wanted to start out from the very beggining. I feel like if i just skipped ahead to 8 finger tapping i would have cheated alot of people on vital lessons on shredding. Hopefully you got at least something from this lesson
    My Last Words
    I think the demand for 8 finger tapping is higher than the demand for introduction lessons like these, considering the fact that the latter are posted every day.
    I dont go by demand. I wanted to do a lesson by lesson course so thts what im doing. The people who want 8 finger tapping will have to wait. However if anyone has any questions about 8 finger tapping they may email me and i will b more than happy to answer to the best of my ability.
    My Last Words, get over yourself. More than just guitar virtuoso's come to this site. Many more than who comment in these forums come here to get news, tabs, and yes LESSONS.
    This one was a bit better than the first however you only started covering the proper art of shredding in your last tab. runs are an important part of shredding all bands use them!!
    Thanks. I did some more runs then that. The other licks are sequences which are also a type of run. At least its the way i think. Thanks or the comment. Hopefully lesson 03 eill be better
    Lewis Dawg
    Hey Jacob for the last exercise instead of the last ABCDE run should it go ABCD BCDE? By the way great lessons so far, don't really care if they've been covered before it's nice to be able to have a complete set and follow it as it's made.
    You could play it like that if you want to but i just put it like that because the lick sounded more complete to me. You can take these exercises and play them however you want to its good to mix things up thanks for the comment