Drill #48 – Alternate Picking Exercise

richardsguitarstudio on November 4, 2015


Nate from Richards Guitar Studio and Richards Rock Academy shows you a great alternate picking exercise on guitar that helps increase speed, endurance, and synchronization between the picking and frethand fingers.

When practicing an alternate picking exercise on guitar, you want to start slowly, playing evenly and controlled, and only begin increasing speed once you  have committed the exercise to muscle memory / reflex in the hands. Use a metronome to systematically increase speed gradually over time. When practicing this alternate picking exercise with a metronome, play eighth notes (2 notes per beat, “1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +” using down-updown-up etc picking).

Why do drills such as these? Don’t they seem like a waste of time? On an almost daily basis, I see YouTube videos of great guitarists sharing their warm-up drills and exercises, scales, arpeggios, stretches, etc. Recently, off the top of my head, some of those artists include Alexi Laiho, Jeff Loomis, John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, and Steve Vai. I’m constantly on YouTube for my lessons so I get to see many of these videos pop up in my recommendations. If warm-ups, drills, exercises, etc are worth the time of such great guitarists, than they are certainly worth our time and attention.

  1.  Practice with a metronome. Jeff Loomis recommends it, so….yeah….do it.
  2. Be patient. Speed takes time. I’m currently trying to increase my tremolo picking speed, and I’m telling you it is frustrating sometimes. I know what I want to do, I know the goals and techniques I’m striving to perfect, but my hands simply won’t do it – yet. I know I’ll get there, and although it isn’t happening right away I know I’ll wake up one day and BOOM my tremolo picking will be faster than ever. It’s sort of like diet and exercise – you do it and your body will respond. It’s inevitable.
  3. Stop practicing the exercise, then revisit. Once you’ve gone as far as you can and hit a wall, move to doing other exercises for a month or two, then come back to this one. You’ll find that doing a 2nd time around can actually push your speed farther. Don’t expect to get all the way to 100% in the first season of practice. It takes revisiting.

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