When you are holding your new guitar, have you ever noticed how you play your guitar? More precisely, how do you use the pick of your guitar? In most cases, beginners only strike the strings downwards with the pick. But this is not the correct way, and this wrong practice can cost you a lot shortly. In this article, you are going to read about the alternate picking technique.
What is Alternate Picking?
Alternate picking is a guitar-playing technique in which the guitar is played with alternating upward & downward strokes continuously. For example, you play an effortless, simple piece of music, which consists of 20 notes, you will pick each note upwards & downwards alternately.
Is Alternate picking Necessary?
The straight answer is YES. Alternate picking is necessary because it will allow you to play more than twice as fast as you would play if you only strike downwards. This is because every time you play a note downwards & you tend to hit the next note downwards too, you have to bring the pick back up, missing an opportunity to hit a note in-between.
Alternate picking is more efficient as you have to move your hand less to play the next note. Timing is a critical factor in playing an instrument, and if you are not practising this from the very beginning, you may have to start over again.
The Angle of the pick: The angling of the pick is critical in case of alternate picking. At first, try holding the pick parallel to the strings of your guitar, then try picking the string upwards & downwards alternately. You would realize that this is quite difficult.
Naturally, if you are picking your guitar alternately, the flat position of the pick will make it more difficult. So what you can do is, bend the pick to a slight angle in such a way that only the tip of the pick touches the guitar strings. Hitting with the edge will make the pick glide off the string smoothly. Eventually, with time, you will gain speed and realize that this technique is actually a boon.
Move-In, Move-Out: Once you are done with holding the pick at an angle, next is the movement of the pick. You have to move your pick in-out-in (towards the guitar & out).
Practice: The above 2 methods are the only techniques you need to know to understand how alternate picking works. However, to master the skill practice is the only option. Though this is not a technique that can be mastered overnight, however, I would recommend starting guitar finger practice with the alternate picking method. This is the reason I have placed this article even before starting the basic finger practice.
Basically, for your best interest, I would recommend, from now on every note you play on your guitar, irrespective of what it sounds, should be played using the alternate picking technique.
Alternate Picking Exercises & Lessons
Alternate picking can be practiced from our basic finger exercise practice article. It’s just that you need to play the tabs with the alternate picking method. Doing the basic finger practice with the alternate picking technique will be the most efficient way of learning guitar as you would be mastering this alternate picking technique & strengthening your fingers at the same time. Starting this practice early will save you months of time in this guitar learning journey.
Below is a video which shows what alternate picking is & how it is done. Watch the video & start implementing today.