Jun 232017
 

Why-your-alternate-picking-doesn't-work-and-how-to-improve-itIf you are playing guitar for a certain time, surely you have tried to master alternate picking. This is a technique that a novice guitar player must learn in order to reach speed and the ability to play fast solos and melodic lines.

The theory behind alternate picking is very simple: when you play single note lines, you should always pick your notes with a down-stroke, then an upstroke, then a down-stroke, upstroke, down-stroke, and so forth, alternatively.

This kind of picking allows you to optimize the right-hand motion and reach speeds impossible to obtain with a one-way-only picking. If you never tried alternate picking, one simple exercise useful to get a feel is to play an open string with alternate motion: down, up, down, up, down, etcetera. Always remember to use a metronome when practicing this kind of exercises.

In this article we’re going to put our attention on a very specific issue that can emerge when applying alternate picking (if you need a complete introduction and basic exercises for alternate picking, please refer to the 22 2-String Alternate Speed Picking Exercises).

The main difficulty with alternate picking: Inside Picking.

Let’s take a look at the tabs below. Apparently they show the same exercise. But with an important difference: in the first exercise, the alternate picking starts with a down-stroke, while in the second with an upstroke.

If you are similar to the 99% of the other guitar players, you’ll find the first exercise easier than the second, even if the notes to play are the same. Why? Because in the first case, during motion, your pick stays “outside” the E and B strings, while in the second exercise the pick remains “inside”, trapped between the E and B strings. This is, in a nutshell, the main difficulty with alternate picking.


Outside Picking 
e:-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-|
B:--3-----3-----3-----3-----3-----3-----3-----3-----3----|
G:-------------------------------------------------------|
D:-------------------------------------------------------|
A:-------------------------------------------------------|
E:-------------------------------------------------------|
    D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U
 

Inside Picking 
e:-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-|
B:--3-----3-----3-----3-----3-----3-----3-----3-----3----|
G:-------------------------------------------------------|
D:-------------------------------------------------------|
A:-------------------------------------------------------|
E:-------------------------------------------------------|
    U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D
 

(D) Down-stroke: A down-stroke is played with a downward motion of the pick, toward the floor. On tabs it is indicated with an open-bottomed box
(U) Upstroke : An upstroke is played upward, toward the ceiling. On guitar tabs it is indicated with a V-shaped symbol

Playing between strings requires more precision and control because your hand can move only in a limited space. If you put your attention on this motion phase your general alternate picking ability will benefit a lot and you’ll be able to reach great speed and accuracy. Here below you find some exercises specifically conceived to train you on inside picking:


Inside The Cage 
e:-----5-----7-----8-----7-----5-----7-----8-----7-------|
B:--5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5----------|
G:-------------------------------------------------------|
D:-------------------------------------------------------|
A:-------------------------------------------------------|
E:-------------------------------------------------------|
    U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D

To add some variations, start this pattern from different frets and strings



JUMPING DEVILS
e:-------------------------------------------------------|
B:-------------------------------------------------------|
G:-----------------8-------------------------------------|
D:-----------7-----------7-------------------------------|
A:-----6-----------------------6-------------------------|
E:--5-----5-----5-----5-----5-----5----------------------|
    U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  

Translate this pattern up and down the fretboard


MAJOR TRIAD CROSSING
e:-----------8-------------------------------------------|
B:-----5--8-----8--5-------------------------------------|
G:--5-----------------5----------------------------------|
D:-------------------------------------------------------|
A:-------------------------------------------------------|
E:-------------------------------------------------------|
    U  D  U  D  U  D  U  

Translate this pattern up and down the fretboard


SPIDERS IN A BOX
e:-----------------------------------------6-----8-------|
B:-----------------------------6-----8--5-----7----------|
G:--------------------------5-----7----------------------|
D:-----------------6-----8-------------------------------|
A:-----6-----8--5-----7----------------------------------|
E:--5-----7----------------------------------------------|
    U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D

Translate the pattern up and down the fretboard, and play it also backwards

Inside picking: conclusion
In this article we’ve seen one of the most important aspects to care for a great alternate picking technique. Playing inside the strings is not easy as playing outside, you should always keep this in mind.

As a general rule, in order to maximize the outcome of a given alternate picking exercise, you should always practice it in two different ways: at first starting with a down-stroke, and then repeating it but starting with an upstroke. In this way, your right-hand will have to deal with all the kinds of motion and its dexterity will improve a lot.

About the author of this lesson:
Gianca is a guitar teacher and a software engineer from Italy. He is the founder of FaChords Guitar Lessons & Software, a free site that provides you with tutorials, interactive learning software tools and downloadable guitar ebooks.

Why Your Alternate Picking Doesn’t Work and How to Improve it
Source: Guitarhabits