How To Do Alternate Picking On The Electric Guitar

Sup fellow guitar freaks, Darrin Goodman here with another little bit of guitar goodies for ya’. Today I want to give you a little electric guitar lesson on a really important technique, alternate picking.

Alternate picking is basically where you don’t do two down strokes or two upstrokes in a row. This is very important if you want to play fast runs in even groupings such as 1/8th or 1/16th notes. Not that you don’t ever double up pick strokes, but I have found that if you are good at alternate picking its easy to deviate from it when you need or want to, but if you are not good at it, it is very hard to do if you are not good at it.
In guitar tabs the strokes are indicated by these two symbols.


The one on the left is down and the one on the right is up.

Here is an easy alternate picking exercise that you can memorize easily and practice with a metronome and the best part is when you get it up to speed it sounds cool.

So for this first exercise we will be using four notes; three on the second string and one on the first string. Notice that all three patterns are the same notes, just written as ¼, 8th and 1/16th notes.

Next lets look at another one that is just a extension of the first exercise. This time we will use six notes; three on the first string and three on the second string. This time we with ¼, 1/8th and 1/8th note triplets.


Be sure to warm up for a few minutes and then spend about five minutes practicing these with a metronome. Once you can play it for three minutes without making a mistake you can turn up the metronome a notch or two. If you practice this way daily you will see great improvement in just a couple of weeks. I have been using this exercise daily for many years and I use it as a warm up before gigs.

I hope you found this helpful.


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