How To Increase Your Guitar Speed Using Directional Picking

Which picking technique is the best for increasing your picking speed?

  1. Economy picking
  2. Directional picking

Find out how these picking approaches work, which approach is best for you and how to apply each one into your guitar playing by watching this video:

Click on the video to begin watching it.

See my other guitar playing videos, available to my YouTube subscribers - follow my channel by clicking the button below:

When you practice directional picking on scales (and when you practice sweep picking), the main thing to pay attention to is the motion of changing strings.

When you sweep pick you change strings for every note and when you play scales, you change strings every three notes.

Regarding scales, here is the string changing motion you do NOT want:

Stopping the hand after playing the last note on the previous string and then you initiate the motion again to finish moving the pick to the next higher string.

This is a big problem that will slow down your speed severely.

What you need to do is make the string change happen in one smooth motion as shown in the video.

To play two consecutive down strokes on adjacent strings when ascending you simply let the pick fall from the first note to the second note using gravity. This cuts the motion down by a third and makes it so much easier to play fast.

When you are sweep picking, your picking hand and fretting hand must line up perfectly together. If they don’t, your notes ring together (resulting in messy playing) rather individually as they should.

Fix this by improving the coordination between your hands.

Try this out:

Spend about 10-15 minutes per practice session focusing only on playing two strings at a time.

For example, pick only the 15th fret on the B string and the 14th fret on the E string.

Do it like this:

Starting on the B string/15th fret, pick with a downstroke and continue with that downstroke picking the 14th fret on the E string.

Then go back by picking the 14th fret on the E string using an upstroke and continue that upstroke moving it through to pick the 15th fret on the B string once again.

To keep the strings from ringing out together, mute each string after you play it by lifting the finger that was fretting the note up off the fretboard (very slightly – it should still be touching the string).

Then use your picking hand thumb to mute any strings below the one you are playing on at the time.

Fix A Common Problem That Occurs While Picking Scales At Fast Speeds:

Slowing down at different points within the scale (such as the higher parts where you need to change position).

Why does this happen?

Often during tough parts, your picking hand efficiency breaks down because you have not fully mastered coordination in both hands.

To correct this, isolate these problem areas by working on the harder parts of a scale pattern separately from the ones you’ve mastered for 5-10 minutes during your practice time.

For example: Parts of a scale that require a change in fretboard position.

Bonus tip -

Keep the directional picking in-line (continuing the picking motion perfectly) by double picking the highest note in the pattern before descending.

Double picking is also a great way to keep your hands in sync together. Try double picking every note of a scale or arpeggio you want to work on at a slower tempo than what you normally play it at.

This helps lock both hands together like the gears of a watch, leading to incredibly clean and effortless speed. Working on this simple exercise for just a few minutes before you practice a particular pattern, gives you a boost because it makes playing single notes at a time feel much easier.

What Is The Next Step For Getting Faster On Guitar?

Let me tell you about the best one-two combo:

Having a great guitar teacher combined with tracking & measuring your progress consistently.

A great guitar teacher gives you all the information, advice, coaching and training you need to fulfill your potential on guitar as fast as possible. This means no more struggling to make minimal progress and a massive increase in the motivation you feel to keep getting better (because you get consistent results).

I know this works because I've seen it in my own playing and designed special lesson plans and tools to help other guitarists get better while tracking their results along the way.

Here are just a few testimonials from some of my students who got big results by taking guitar lessons:

Playing killer guitar solos requires both technical ability and the ability to create musical phrases with tons of musical expression. Learn how to do this with interactive guitar lessons.

© 2002-2023 Tom Hess Music Corporation