30 November 2010

Guitar Picking Exercises Part 1

Recently while I was working on my guitar soloing I noticed problems with my picking.

Too often I'd find myself picking the wrong string for the note I wanted to play and instead picking an adjacent one. I'd either get a muffled note or a wrong note boomed out loudly.

I decided to create myself a set of picking exercises to develop this skill and fix my problems.

Today I'm going to share my first exercises with you. So here in this post are some basic alternating picking exercises.

Open Strings And Scale Patterns

In the exercise tabs below each note is shown picked as an open string. If you work like this then you can concentrate on your picking hand with no distractions.

But it's a good idea to do the exercise over some scale patterns or chords too so it is more like real playing as you work your right and left hands together.

Basic Alternate Picking Exercises

Alternate picking is the foundation of many other picking exercises. As you pick you play notes alternately with down strokes and up strokes. It is an essential skill to master if you want to develop regular picking rhythm and speed.

The two exercises shown below give you basic alternating picking practice as you move down the strings and back up working one string at a time.

Eighth Note Exercise

The first exercise is played as straight eighth notes. I work through them at different tempos and also use a sixteenth note variation

E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E
|---------------------0-0------------------------|
|-----------------0-0-----0-0--------------------|
|-------------0-0-------------0-0----------------|
|---------0-0---------------------0-0------------|
|-----0-0-----------------------------0-0--------|
|-0-0-------------------------------------0-0----|


When you play the eighth notes ensure you start on a down stroke each time you move to a new string. Then do the same exercise starting on an up stroke for each string.

Triplet Note Exercise

|-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-|
E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E
|-------------------------------0-0-0---------------------------------|
|-------------------------0-0-0-------0-0-0---------------------------|
|-------------------0-0-0-------------------0-0-0---------------------|
|-------------0-0-0-------------------------------0-0-0---------------|
|-------0-0-0-------------------------------------------0-0-0---------|
|-0-0-0-------------------------------------------------------0-0-0---|

When you play the triplets above you should start the 6th, 4th and 2nd strings with down strokes and the 5th, 3rd and 1st strings with up strokes. Then start over again beginning with an up stroke on the 6th string.

If you don't make a mistake you should start the 6th, 4th and 2nd strings with up strokes and the 5th, 3rd and 1st with down strokes.

That wraps up this set of exercises. In the next part of the series we'll make things a little more complex by working across pairs of strings. Click here to sign up for free and be notified by email when the next lesson is published.

Update: Now you can read and try these other parts of the series...
Guitar Picking Exercises Part 4 – Alternate Across The Fretboard
Guitar Picking Exercises Part 3 – String Skipping
Guitar Picking Exercises Part 2 – Adjacent Strings

2 comments:

Don McKee said...

There's an an alternate picking exercise over at justinguitar.com that will give you a workout:

http://www.justinguitar.com/en/TE-002-TheSpider.php

Justin describes it as

The ultimate alternate cross string picking exercise. Not good for beginners, but once you can play a few scales and starting to alternate pick, this exercise is the daddy

Enjoy!

-Don

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Don, the spider looks like a good picking workout. Thanks for sharing.

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