Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Learn to Play the Guitar: Techniques You Can’t Do Without – Alternate Picking

The guitar is a great hobby to pick up in middle age or any age. In writing these posts, I try to focus on things I wish I had known about earlier or am glad I learned about when I did. One of those “glad I learned about when I did” techniques is Alternate Picking.

My instructor pushed me on alternate picking right off after I outlined that my interest areas were blues, rock, and improvisation. Alternate picking is just a two for the price of one thing. You pick the string on the down stroke as well as the upstroke, twice as fast in theory, right? If you have any plans to learn lead guitar you need to work on this technique and no better time to learn it than to start on it day one.

The day one routine my instructor gave me was 16th note pentatonic scale runs with a metronome. It seems very awkward at first but after a week or so, you will never want to go back. Once you become comfortable at a given tempo, ramp up another 10 beats per minute and go for it. If you incorporate this type of exercise into your practice routine, you will get your speed up and whip out those facemelter licks in no time. Really!