In this guitar lesson we are going to learn an exercise that will help you develop your alternate picking skills. Learning how to change from one string to another is one of the things that most guitar players struggle with when they are learning how to use alternate picking. Inside and outside of the string picking can be real problem areas for some players. This exercise really isolates the problems of changing from string and inside and outside of the string picking.
The first thing that you need to understand in order to play this exercise is alternate picking. Alternate picking simply means that you alternate playing up and down strokes all of the time without playing two up-strokes in a row or two down-strokes in a row. For this exercise make sure that you are always “alternating” up and down-strokes.
Now we need to understand what “inside and outside of the string picking” is. Inside of the string picking is when you play a note on one string with an up-stroke, move to higher string, and pick that string with a down-stroke. You could also be playing a note on a string with a down-stroke and then move to a lower string with an up-stroke. Either way, it is like your pick is getting trapped between two adjacent strings.
Outside of the string picking occurs when you play a note on a string with a down-stroke and move to a higher string with an up-stroke. You could also start on a higher string with an up-stroke and move to a lower string with a down-stroke. When you pick outside of the string it feels like you have to jump over the strings with your pick in order to play.
This example really focuses going from string to string with your picking hand. Let’s go over the picking pattern so that you can be sure to get the most out of this exercise. Make sure to use alternate picking. Start out with four pick strokes on the 5th fret of the 5th string with your 1st finger. You should play down, up, down, up. Now play 7th fret of the 4th string using your 3rd finger, one time with a down-stroke. Go back to the 5th fret of the 5th string and play it four more times starting with an up-stroke. You should be playing up, down, up down. Jump over to the 7th fret of the 4th string and play it one time with an up-stroke. Now return to the 5th fret of the 5th string and play it twice this time. Down, up. Head back to the 7th fret 4th string for the last time and play it once with a down-stroke. Finish off the pattern by picking the 5th fret on the 5th string 3 times. Up, down, up. Now just loop the pattern over and over again.
The pattern that I am using for the right hand is pretty irrelevant. You can play this exercise by mixing up any notes you want on two adjacent strings. I was palm muting all of the notes on the 5th string but you don’t have to do that either.
Make sure that you start slowly and use your metronome to increase speed gradually. This exercise should really help you improve your picking hand accuracy.
Once you have completed this guitar lesson you may want to watch the lesson on the left hand guitar fundaments, right hand guitar fundamentals, or the right hand picking exercise!