Alternate Picking Technique For Guitar - Lesson 2

Hope you've been having fun with the alternate picking exercises that we covered in the last lesson on alternate picking. (If you haven't learned them yet, then I recommend doing it before starting with this lesson).

In this alternate picking lesson we are going to experiment rhythmically with five-note patterns. To do that we'll take Alternate Picking Exercise 1 from the last lesson and play it using two different rhythmic subdivisions…

  • Eighth-Note Triplets: This is when you play three evenly-spaced notes per beat.
  • Sixteenth Notes: This is when you play four evenly-spaced notes per beat.

Playing five-note patterns with these subdivisions is a lot of fun. And it is a really good challenge as you'll soon find out. So let's jump right in with the first exercise…

Alternate Picking Exercise 1: Played Using Eighth-Note Triplets

Alternate Picking Exercise 1: Eighth-Note Triplets

Playing the exercise using eighth-note triplets creates a really interesting rhythmic effect. You'll notice that you have to play the five-note pattern six times in a row before you get back to the beginning. By "the beginning" I mean the point where you play the first note of the five-note pattern on the metronome click using a downstroke. (Side Note: Don't panic if this isn't clear just yet. It will make a LOT more sense when you actually play the exercise along with a metronome. In other words, don't just try to understand this stuff by reading only…make sure you actually take the time and effort to learn and practice the exercise!).

I've put the exact same exercise below but this time I've drawn boxes around the first note of the five-note pattern…

Alt Picking Exercise 1

Alternate Picking Exercise 1: Played Using Sixteenth Notes

Alternate Picking Exercise 1: Sixteenth Notes

When you play the exercise using sixteenth notes you'll notice that you only have to play the five-note pattern four times before you get back to the beginning. (Remember, "the beginning" is when you play the first note of the five-note pattern on the metronome click using a downstroke). And here's the same exercise with a box drawn around the first note of each repetition of the five-note pattern…

Alt Picking Exercise 1 Explained

I should say here that if what I've been saying has been totally incomprehensible, then it may mean that you have some gaps in your understanding of essential timing concepts. If that's the case, then you might consider in investing in my Alternate Picking Fast Start course. (It's an excellent way to gain a rock-solid understanding of rhythmic subdivisions and also get better at playing in time to a metronome).

Your Homework

Before you move onto the next alternate picking lesson, I really recommend doing the following…

  • Learn Alternate Picking Exercise 1 and learn how to play it using both eighth-note triplets and sixteenth notes.
  • Practice both rhythmic variations of the exercise until you have reached (or exceeded) the following speed goals…
    • At least 160 bpm when playing the exercise using eighth-note triplets.
    • At least 120 bpm when playing the exercise using sixteenth notes.

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