How To Get Faster In No Time With 5 Guitar Picking Exercises
Wish your guitar picking technique was incredibly fast, accurate and impressive for anyone listening?
I've got 5 guitar picking exercises for you that are sure to massively improve your technique in no time.
These exercises focus on improving your technique from many different angles so you are able to speed pick, sweep pick and play string skipping licks fast like the pros.
Watch this free video with 5 powerful guitar picking exercises to play with speed and precision like never before:
Click on the video to begin watching it.
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Now you have exercises to practice that are sure to improve your picking technique very quickly. However, guitar picking technique can be improved and practiced in many other ways too.
Use these additional tips to refine your understanding of guitar picking technique and get faster in less time:
Guitar Picking Technique Tip #1: Master Using Efficient Motion In Your Picking Hand
It's very hard to play guitar with clean speed if your picking hand motion is inefficient. This causes sloppy mistakes to ruin otherwise awesome guitar licks and solos.
Getting rid of extra movement in your picking hand makes fast guitar playing feel effortless so you play smoothly just like the pros do.
Check the efficiency of your picking hand's motion while playing by:
- Paying attention to any extra or unnecesary upstrokes or downstrokes (see video again for an explanation on this).
- Observing how far you bring the pick up/away from the strings after playing a note (keep it as close as you can).
Make sure to watch your picking hand as you practice to identify any mistakes. Do this especially during difficult guitar licks or exercises where it is easier to lose focus due to multiple challenging tasks.
Guitar Picking Technique Tip #2: Pick Scales At Fast Speeds By Isolating Tough Notes
Do you ever notie yourself stopping or slowing down during a scale (such as during parts where you need to change fretboard position on the B string moving to the E string).
Very frustrating, right?
What is going on here and how can you smooth out your scales?
Often during difficult guitar runs, your picking hand efficiency breaks down because both hands are not in perfect sync.
One way to correct this is to practice the difficult parts of the scale (and the notes that lead into them) in isolation from other parts you mastered. Practice a few notes at a time by playing them at your max speed, with a rest in between each repetition. Then combine them with the rest of the scale until it is fast, clean ad smooth.
Double picking is a powerful way to keep your hands in sync.
Try double picking every note of a scale at a slower tempo than what you normally practice it at. Then slowly increase to improve your two-hand synchronization.
This helps lock both hands together, making playing scales with tons of speed feel effortless. Practicing this exercise for just a few minutes before you practice a specific scale makes it much easier to pick like normal (only picking each note once).
Guitar Picking Technique Tip #3: Focus on learning to hear your mistakes in real time at faster tempos.
For example, when you are playing a scale sequence at or near your top speed and notice that your hands aren’t in sync, you need to be able to tell which note(s) are not clean while you are playing.
To do that, your listening needs to become much more refined.
Practice breaking up difficult guitar licks into smaller chunks of a few notes at a time. Then practice these few notes at your top speed. This makes it easier to spot your mistakes.
Another strategy that will help you during faster playing (especially with legato) is to go back and forth between faster playing and slow playing many times (in 15 second intervals).
When you only play fast for some minutes at a time, eventually your hand becomes tired and your technique gets sloppy (reinforcing bad habits).
So if you go back and forth between very slow and very fast playing in shorter bursts of effort you will have a chance to reset your muscle memory by reviewing slow/perfect technical motions before playing again at your top speed.
This helps the muscles to learn the correct motions faster and ingrain them into your top speeds.
What Is The Next Step For Getting Amazing Guitar Technique?
Get started working with a guitar teacher rather than learning all by yourself.
It's frustrating to get stuck in your guitar playing progress and clueless of what you need to do to get better without someone experienced to help you. This is a big reason why I encourage all guitarists take lessons with an excellent guitar teacher.
This is very useful for helping you make fast progress, because a really good guitar teacher is reliable at getting you to understand when you are going down the wrong path, how to improve any existing poor playing habits and get new perspectives about playing guitar that you may not have known about if you learned completely by yourself.
Not only does this make playing guitar more exciting, it makes it much less frustrating.
Also, you become a greater player, faster.
Here is what my guitar students say about taking lessons and how it changed their musical lives for the better:
“I found Tom Hess on the net through articles, and I read quite a few of those before I went to Tom’s website. Even though I’m not a metal player at all, and Tom is obviously a metal player, I could still see that his ideas and way of teaching could really benefit me. So I pretty much signed up for online guitar lessons with Tom straight away once I’d gone through the website, and it’s just been a real eye opener with the way he teaches…”
... the integration of concepts that he’ll give you and having a really structured strategy… not just week to week lessons, but things that - you can see from one lesson to the next - really develop and continue to work on your technique and your theory and aural skills and those types of things. So I’d played a long time… 20 years before I really caught onto Tom, and I’d had a lot of lessons, and I’d taught and played but I can really see improvements in my technique, sweeping, and picking which weren’t strong parts of my playing.
I feel like Tom has a good gauge of where you’re at as a guitar player and what you need, and there just seemed to be so much more stuff in the lessons week to week than what you’d ever get in an hour or so in a one on one lesson… way more. So yeah I think that and the forum. I think, I’d pay the money just for the forum. That alone would be fine… I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all. So that alone is massive!
The price for the lessons, that’s nothing... nothing. You know, I think it’s, pretty cheap to be honest. I don’t mean that in a bad way, cheap. Cheap is not a good word, but I just think it’s great value… awesome value. I mean, you know, you could pay that for one-to-one lessons and you just don’t get the same results and support of the forum and the content and the strategies.
Other teachers I’ve had have been good players, and some have become good friends too. But when I’ve started lessons with Tom I’ve got something to compare that to and a lot of it is just sort of teaching songs from week to week… a lot of the lesson will be left up to you… you’ll go to your lesson and they’ll be like what do you want to do today? At the time I said, oh do this song or that song, but with Tom you start to realize that you know, there’s more to it… the goals and you know he’s sort of more in contact with what you want to be able to do as a player, because he’s asking you the questions and then setting up the strategies, so I find that really good.
Yeah I can see more results in 18 months in a lot of areas in my playing than you know 20 years. So it’s sort of, you know, would’ve been great 20 years ago to have met Tom.
Simon Candy, Melbourne, Australia
"When I came to Tom for online guitar lessons, I already had a decent overall level of technique and understood the basics of music theory pretty well. I had taken lessons with other teachers before, and went through several guitar method books that promised to teach me how to become a great lead guitar player. I learned all the materials in these books and courses and picked up some useful tips and knowledge along the way. Yet for some reason I still wasn't feeling like a musician. I struggled very much with writing my own songs, creating my own solos and pushing my guitar technique and speed to a higher level (especially sweep picking, alternate picking, and playing clean at high speeds).
When I started learning from Tom, the main thing that made him different from other teachers was that he was showing me how to excel in all aspects of my guitar playing by applying the skills that I already knew together with the new material that I was learning from him.
He made me aware of both strengths and weaknesses in my playing that I did not even know I had. From there he gave me the knowledge, tools and guidance to literally transform my guitar playing by enabling me to overcome things that were preventing me from becoming a truly creative and self-expressive guitar player. These were the kinds of things that none of my previous guitar teachers and books I studied were able to do for me.
After Tom made me aware of all the things I was missing in my guitar playing and provided me with the strategy and tools for solving them, I began to make very fast progress in all areas of my guitar playing.
I can now write my own music and can create lead guitar solos that I am happy and fulfilled with. I also have the technical skills to confidently and easily play anything that I want to express. I have overcome all of the lead guitar challenges that I struggled with before, and increased my guitar speed to virtuoso levels. More importantly, I have the knowledge and understanding of how to continually improve my guitar playing and musical skills to higher and higher levels to continue expressing myself with my music. Overall, I have definitely transformed in a huge way as a musician and as a person through my lessons with Tom Hess. I am grateful to him for guiding me towards becoming the guitarist I always wanted to be!"
Mike Philippov, Indiana, USA
“When I first heard about Tom Hess, I saw that he was a teacher that was very dedicated and serious about it, and that drew me in immediately. That this is a guy that has a plan, has a goal and really if you’re serious about learning guitar, this guy is equally as serious in a way. So it resonated with me straight away.”
I started out just learning by myself and as many others I got stuck. I had a few issues I wanted to get by, but when I met Tom and talked with him and started lessons with him, he opened up a whole new world of possibilities of what guitar playing can be.
I feel very grateful that I found lessons from Tom since I then did what worked from the very beginning. Many guitarists I see that played way longer than I did, they have build up many bad habits. That from the very start, there was clear instruction of how to practice correctly. You build the ability for high speed and whatever you want from the very beginning and you don’t waste time doing inefficient things. So I’m very grateful that I did that, and now I really feel I am able to reach whatever level I want.
The reasons why I think I feel so motivated all the time is because I know that the thing I’m working on is relevant for me and it’s exactly the direct thing I need to get.
The forum just kicks ass. The people in the forum - it’s just like unconditional help all the time. They love to help out, and you also get very inspired by seeing someone just really getting speed really quick and then you say if he can do it, I can do it. It works on the mental side of being a guitarist and that of course that’s the most important thing. Just being around other musicians like that, is just you learn so much faster, is so much less frustration when you can see that all the people are having the same issues that you do, not anything special or anything. It’s just part of learning process, so it kicks ass.
Magnus Gautestad, Norway
Playing with excellent guitar picking technique is only the beginning for becoming a top-tier lead guitarist. Learn more ways to play guitar like a pro with interactive guitar lessons.