Learn A Great Way To Get Faster Guitar Speed Without Using Alternate Picking For Everything You Play

by Tom Hess

Think alternate picking is the best guitar picking technique for speed?


Alternate picking is useful sometimes, but terrible inefficient at other times. This means, when you use only alternate picking, you end up slowing yourself down.


Use directional picking.

This just means you always use a pick stroke that moves in the direction of the string you are switching to. For example, using an upstroke while moving from the B string to the G string or a downstroke when moving from the A string to the D string.

This makes your picking technique more efficient (and fast).

However, switching from strict alternate picking to directional picking is often more difficult than it should be for guitarists.

This happens for two big reasons:

Reason #1. It Requires Correcting Old, Ingrained Habits

One of the most difficult things about improving guitar speed is correcting old habits and going against what you are used to.

You feel resistance to making this change and end up returning to your comfort zone.

This is not a cause for alarm as most guitarists go through this.

Good news is:

This won’t last for a long time.

You start improving your guitar playing habits by remembering that you are getting better and using this to push through the resistance you feel.

After as little as a week or two, the new habit of using directional picking will click much more and you’ll see massive improvement in your overall guitar speed.

More good news:

You don’t have to totally give up on your old guitar picking technique as you make your way through this process. Arrange time to practice guitar speed using directional picking and (less) time playing freely using what feels comfortable for now.

Over time, the practice time you use to develop better habits will begin overriding your old habits because it becomes easier and works better. This gradually motivates you more and more to use the superior approach.

Reason #2. Directional Picking Pinpoints Inconsistency In Your Technique

Directional picking helps you get faster guitar speed by forcing you to articulate notes better with precise timing.

Guitar players who only play with alternate picking almost entirely neglect practicing the skill of articulation. Some of them don't even know that this is something you can or should practice.

Identifying nuances like this is what takes your guitar picking to a level much higher than before by showing you smaller areas that need to be developed to improve.

Here’s an extra tip to help you integrate this technique into your guitar playing while practicing scales:

While speed picking through yours scales, work on picking with more force on the strings.

This helps to develop your picking articulation, 2-hand synchronization and makes faster playing feel even easier and cleaner. In general, you typically will not be picking as forcefully during faster playing as you do when playing slowly, but the greater your overall capacity for articulation during slow speeds the easier it will be to articulate each note cleanly at faster speeds when you try to increase it.

When doing directional picking, your pickling hand needs to fall onto the next string during string changes. Make sure it is not stopping in between strings (a common mistake).

For example, when you transition from the 6th (E) string to the 5th (A) string, your pick needs to fall onto the 5th string immediately after the last note on the 6th string is played (not stopping in the space between 6th and 5th strings).

Directional picking requires you to sweep pick the string changes whenever it is possible. This is key to mastering this technique.

However, developing amazing guitar speed isn't just about learning techniques…

… it’s also about practicing effectively in order to get the most results from your efforts in as little time as possible.

Learn a powerful way to practice right now by watching the video demonstration in this guitar speed article.

Tom HessAbout Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.

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