Shred guide: How to get good at alternate picking – part 2

Welcome Back!

 

In part 1 we went over the basic concepts of alternate picking and practiced a few lessons to get our hands used to the feeling of alternate picking.

If you missed part 1, you can read it here.

In part 2 we will be going over quite a few exercises that will help you learn all the different ways of optimizing your licks so that you can pick in the fastest way possible.

Remember what we said in part 1 while going through these exercises.

“The ability to pick at super speeds comes from a logical and technical approach based on the foundation of picking the most notes possible while exerting the least effort needed”

If you have taken it upon yourself to learn scales, then you might find that the patterns you know are not optimized for alternate picking, especially on the descent.

This is why it is important to learn the notes on your guitar neck or at the very least how they relate to each other.

Do not worry if you haven’t learn them yet. By practicing the exercises below, you will gain an understanding of how the notes on the guitar work together.

Figure 1 is the standard G Major 2-octave scale that you might find in a guitar textbook. The descent of the scale is particularly awkward for your picking hand if played with any kind of speed.

 

Figure 1
                                   -------------awkward------------------
|-----------------------------3-5-|-7-5-3---------------------------------||
|-------------------------5-7-----|-------7-5-----------------------------||
|-------------------4-5-7---------|-----------7-5-4-----------------------||
|-------------4-5-7---------------|-----------------7-5-4-----------------||
|-------3-5-7---------------------|-----------------------7-5-3-----------||
|-3-5-7---------------------------|-----------------------------7-5-3-----||

By adding a few changes to the position of the notes that we play, we are able to achieve a much shorter picking path for the right hand. It may seem harder to play at first but once your muscle memory kicks in you will be able to reach a much higher picking speed.

Figure 2

|-------------------------------5-|-7-5------------------------------------|
|-------------------------5-7-8---|-----8-7--------------------------------|
|-------------------4-5-7---------|---------9-7-5\4------------------------|
|-------------4-5-7---------------|-----------------7-5--------------------|
|-------3-5-7---------------------|---------------------9-7-5\3------------|
|-3-5-7---------------------------|-----------------------------7-5-3------|

You should use the same method to restructure all the scales you know.

Below is a chromatic scale pattern that makes use of finger slides on the top and bottom strings to create a loop that you can play to infinity.

 

You can play this anywhere on the neck and it will help build finger strength.

Figure 3

|----------------------------|-----------------4-5-6-7/|8-7-6-5------------------|---------------------------------||
|----------------------------|---------5-6-7-8---------|--------9-8-7-6----------|---------------------------------||
|----------------------------|-5-6-7-8-----------------|----------------9-8--7-6-|---------------------------------||
|--------------------6-7-8-9-|-------------------------|-------------------------|-10-9-8-7------------------------||
|-----------7-8-9-10---------|-------------------------|-------------------------|----------11-10-9-8--------------||
|-8-9-10-11------------------|-------------------------|-------------------------|--------------------12-11-10-9\8-||

Here we have a lovely two-and-one-half-octave whole-tone scale that descends two-notes-per string or four notes with finger slides.

 

This is another great scale to keep in your backpack for solo building. If you use hammer-ons for the ascent nobody will say anything. 😉

Figure 4 (whole-tone)

|--------------------------------------11|13-11----------------------------------------||
|-----------------------------10-12-14---|------14-12-10\8-----------------------------||
|---------------------8-10-12------------|-----------------10-8------------------------||
|--------------7-9-11--------------------|----------------------11-9-7\5---------------||
|-------6-8-10---------------------------|-----------------------------------8-6-------||
|-5-7-9----------------------------------|---------------------------------------9-7-5-||

Another useful scale for solo building is the diminished half-whole scale depicted in figure 5 and 6 below.

 

Figure 5 (diminished half-whole)

|-------------------------------3|5-3-------------------------------||
|-------------------------4-5-7--|----7-5---------------------------||
|-------------------3-5-6--------|--------8-6-5\3-------------------||
|-------------4-5-7--------------|----------------7-5---------------||
|-------4-6-7--------------------|--------------------9-7-6\4-------||
|-5-6-8--------------------------|----------------------------8-6-5-||
Figure 6 (diminished half-whole)
|-------------------------------------|------------11-12-14-12-11\9-------------------|---------------------------|| 
|-------------------------------------|10-11-13/14------------------13-11----10\8-----|---------------------------|| 
|----------------------------8-9-11/12|-------------------------------------------11-9|8\6------------------------|| 
|------------------7-8-10/11----------|-----------------------------------------------|----10-8-7\5---------------|| 
|---------6-7-9/10--------------------|-----------------------------------------------|-------------9-7-6\4-------|| 
|-5-6-8/9-----------------------------|-----------------------------------------------|---------------------8-6-5-||

Here we have an extended major, melodic-minor and harmonic-minor scales that we have arranged for fast alternate picking as well.

 

Figure 7 (extended major)

|------------------------------------------|------------16-17-19-17-16\14---------------------|------------------------------||
|------------------------------------------|14-15-17/19----------------------17-15-14\12------|------------------------------||
|-------------------------------11-13-14/16|---------------------------------------------14-13|11\9--------------------------||
|--------------------9-11-12/14------------|--------------------------------------------------|-----12-11-9\7----------------||
|----------7-9-11/12-----------------------|--------------------------------------------------|---------------11-9-7\5-------||
|-5-7-9/10---------------------------------|--------------------------------------------------|------------------------9-7-5-||
Figure 8 (melodic-minor)

|------------------------------------------|------------16-17-19-17-16\14---------------------|-------------------------------||
|------------------------------------------|13-15-17/19----------------------17-15-13\12------|-------------------------------||
|-------------------------------11-13-14/16|---------------------------------------------14-13|11\9---------------------------||
|--------------------9-10-12/14------------|--------------------------------------------------|-----12-10-9\7-----------------||
|----------7-9-11/12-----------------------|--------------------------------------------------|---------------11-9-7\5--------||
|-5-7-8/10---------------------------------|--------------------------------------------------|------------------------8-7-5--||
Figure 9 (harmonic-minor)

|------------------------------------------|------------16-17-19-17-16\13---------------------|-------------------------------||
|------------------------------------------|13-15-17/18----------------------17-15-13\12------|-------------------------------||
|-------------------------------10-13-14/16|---------------------------------------------14-13|10\9---------------------------||
|--------------------9-10-12/14------------|--------------------------------------------------|-----12-10-9\7-----------------||
|----------7-8-11/12-----------------------|--------------------------------------------------|---------------11-8-7\5--------||
|-5-7-8/10---------------------------------|--------------------------------------------------|------------------------8-7-5--||

We can also play arpeggios-minor seven, dominant-seven, diminished-seven even easier  because of the two-notes per string pattern.

Figure 10 is a cool Amaj7b5 arpeggio that’s easy to both pick and finger.

 

Try playing other four note arpeggios and their inversions using two-note-per string fingering patterns.

Figure 10

|---------------------9-11-9-------|---------------||
|----------------9-10--------10-9--|---------------||
|------------6-8------------------8|6--------------||
|--------6-7-----------------------|--7-6----------||
|----4-6---------------------------|------6-4------||
|-4-5------------------------------|----------5-4--||

When making your own solo, you tend to want to avoid just running up and down textbook scales. It’s repetitive and can get boring for the listener.

We came up with some exercises below that are based on short, easy-to-pick patterns up and down the neck.

 

Use these exercises as picking warm-ups and as inspiriation for your own shredding solos.

Figure 11

|---------------------------------|---------------------------------|----3-6----6-8------8-10-------10-13-|-------13-15-------15-18-18b--rb\13~-||
|---------------------------------|---------------------3-6-----6-8-|3-6----6-8-----8-11------11-13-------|-13-15-------15-18-------------------||
|---------------------------------|-----3-5-----5-7-3-7-----5-7-----|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------------||
|---------------------3-5-----5-8-|-3-5-----5-8---------------------|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------------||
|-----3-5-----5-8-3-5-----5-8-----|---------------------------------|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------------||
|-3-6-----6-8---------------------|---------------------------------|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------------||
Figure 12

|-----------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------------|-----------------------------------||
|-5-4-----8-5-----9-8-----12-9------|-13-12-------16-13-------17-16----------20-17-------|-17-16-------16-13-------13-12-------12-9------|-9-8-----8-5-------5-4-----4-1-----||
|-----5-4-----8-5-----9-8------12-9-|-------13-12-------16-13-------17-16----------20-17-|-------17-16-------16-13-------13-12------12-9-|-----9-8-------8-5-----5-4-----4-1-||
|-----------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------------|-----------------------------------||
|-----------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------------|-----------------------------------||
|-----------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------------|-----------------------------------||
Figure 13

|-----------------------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------||
|------9-12-------12-15-------15-18-------12-15-|-------15-18-------18-21----------15-18-------12-15-||
|-9-10------12-13-------15-16-------12-13-------|-15-16-------18-19----------15-16-------12-13-------||
|-----------------------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------||
|-----------------------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------||
|-----------------------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------||

And that’s it! You now know everything you need to know to understand the concept of alternate picking and apply it to your playing.

 

You can use this knowledge to build amazing licks and solos and reach the next level as a guitarist.

These exercises may seem difficult at first but as long as you practice for at least 10 minutes every day you will make massive progress in a surprisingly short amount of time.

All the best! – Guitar Graph

 

Image – Pixabay
Edited – Photoscape
Victor Geiger
 

Victor is a young creator with big dreams and a passion for recording and engineering music. As a seasoned guitarist he is well versed in the art of rocking out to many genres and is also known for dropping some sick beats. Enjoy his writing here and find his music on SoundCloud.

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