In this lesson you will learn two rudimentary alternate picking exercises which you should start to include in your warm-up routine. In case you are not aware, alternate picking simply means down and up picking, in a repeating pattern (down, up, down, up etc etc). Although you can get fair speed by always picking down strokes, eventually you will hit a wall and won’t be able to go any faster, this is why we use alternate picking as you can go much faster even though it’s a harder technique to perfect. So break out your metronome or use ours and let’s begin!
Alternate picking exercises chart #1
This first exercise would have to be the most widely used and taught the world over, likely due to its simplicity and effectiveness. Take a look at the pattern, it’s a sequence of four notes ascending, then skip to the next string and repeat, the only part I would be careful with is the turn-around which is a slide up before descending the pattern of four. Go through the pattern as many times as it takes to get it into your mind (and/or play the audio sample further below), and then start your metronome on about 60bpm to 80bpm and play as written, which is sixteenth notes (four notes per beat on 4/4 timing) and start with a down stroke using alternate picking. Remember, only play as fast as you can without making any mistakes, otherwise all you are doing is practicing the mistake, not the pattern. Note that the chart below only goes up to the ninth fret, but you need to continue the pattern up the the twelfth fret.
I personally use this pattern (and chart #2) as my first warm-up exercise and have done so for the past 18 years, it’s not too hard on either hand and requires you to be accurate as mistakes are easily noticed. Once you feel comfortable with this chart then move onto the second exercise in this lesson.
|Alternate picking exercise chart #1|
Alternate picking exercises chart #2
This picking exercise has been called a number of different names, but I have always called it Topsy-turvey for obvious reasons. At first this exercise can be a little hard to grasp particularly when the third and fourth fingers come into play, just keep it slow until you can see the entire pattern emerging from the clutter. Begin with your first finger, first fret, first string and pick using an up stroke this time, then second finger, second fret, second string (down pick), now third finger, third fret, first string (up pick) and finally fourth finger, fourth fret, second string (down pick) before the whole hand position moves up one fret and repeats. Once again you will have to play this pattern on each pair of strings as the chart ends on the fourth and fifth string combination.
|Alternate picking exercise chart #2|
Well I hope you enjoyed learning these two exercises, just remember to keep using alternate picking for all these types of exercises as you will be thankful in the long run. You may want to include these exercises in your own warm-up routine.
Cheers & enjoy!