Why Copying Other Guitarists Isn't The Best Way To Learn Proper Guitar Picking Technique For Fast Speed

by Tom Hess

Do you wish you knew how to use proper guitar picking technique to play fast and clean just how you want?

Many guitarists simply follow whatever it is that their favorite players do and assume this is the best approach.


This approach causes you to latch onto potential flaws in their technique that may actually hold you back. A lot of great guitarists may use a certain technique that has flaws, but are simply great at working around those flaws to play well due to playing for many years.

Additionally, it may be that your favorite guitar players have already reached their musical goals using their specific guitar picking style..

Although this has worked for them, this is not a guarantee it will work for you.

Instead, you should focus on making things easier for yourself by using proper picking technique for guitar that makes fast playing feel effortless.

What is this guitar picking technique?


Directional picking.

Directional picking means:

Whenever you must move to a thinner string (higher in pitch), use a downstroke. Whenever you must move to a thicker string (lower in pitch), use an upstroke. Then use alternate picking while remaining on a single string.

This is like combining alternate picking with sweep picking to give yourself the best of both worlds.

Question: “Tom Hess, does directional picking take a long time to master?”

Answer: This is a common question I get from guitarists are just beginning to switch from using strict alternate picking to using directional picking. It will take some time to get used to this technique – maybe weeks maybe months.

Good news:

  1. Directional picking uses the most efficient movement possible in any guitar playing situation, making your guitar playing infinitely cleaner and faster than it is now.
  2. You don't have to force yourself to start over from scratch entirely. Simply phase in directional picking by practicing with this technique at least a little more often than you practice with alternate picking until it becomes natural.

How To Master Directional Picking

Using alternate picking causes you to use inefficient movement, and you end up wasting your time trying to fix the mistakes this causes. As you practice directional picking, you find that this not only helps you fix sloppy mistakes at fast speeds, but makes playing fast feel effortless.

Note: Learning how to play guitar with proper picking technique relies on first holding the pick the right way. This is critical, so don't ignore this.

Learn the best way to hold a guitar pick.

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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