Introduction to Alternate Picking

This lesson begins our study of alternate picking on the guitar.

Alternate picking is basically just a repeated down/up motion on one string in the picking hand that is synchronized with the left accurately.

This kind of picking style is all about minimal movement and accurate timing. Try to use as little movement in both hands as you possibly can to play the exercises.

The more proficient and economical you are in your hand movement's, the more control and velocity you will get in the long run.

So make sure to watch the video closely and try to recreate the movement's of both hands.

You should start out at a very slow tempo, so that you can actually pay attention to every note you hit and can make sure that it is well played and well timed.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions, Im here for ya.. 😀

Here is the PDF download for this lesson.

Introduction To Alternate Picking PDF


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Introduction to Alternate Picking


  1. fretfanatix on March 13, 2010 at 6:14 am

    For any new guitarist who wants to become a shred head lessons like this 1 are crucial.If you don’t get this right from day 1 you will always struggle with your lead technique.
    Unfortunately for myself i never had lessons and for years couldn’t understand why my lead was so bad until l day a friend pointed out that i always down picked when i changed strings(he saw this because he started getting lessons and was doing the same thing)it took me a long time to overcome this and im still struggling with my picking technique.
    So pay attention and make sure regardless of what your doing its up down up down.
    Thanx Carl why weren’t you doing this back in the 80’s lol.

  2. Carl Brown on March 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    LOL!! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Actually I was doing this in the eighties, except I was practicing the lesson instead of teaching it. 😀

  3. Wave on January 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Absolutley amazing
    you’re awesome Carl!
    I’ve seen most of your videos and they helped me alot
    Thank you very much!

  4. al mandel on January 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Thanx for the lesson Carl.? Should alternate picking be used all the time> Such as doing scales major minor pentotonic etc

    Thanks Al

  5. Mohan Hegde on May 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks a lot buddy!! … I’m from India and these lessons are really helping me out as a beginner… 🙂

  6. Jawid on January 21, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Dear Carl,
    You would not believe that how famous you are!!! Here, in Afghanistan, I am learning from you, and do my best to tell friends about your AWESOME site. Hey man, You are the MAN.

    Thank you so much,

    ps. You became a JEDI, IMMORTAL.

  7. Chris on December 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Hi Carl,

    I have been dealing with a similar problem that fretfanatix mentioned. I have been working diligently to correct it and to incorporate alternate picking. I still find that at higher speeds I slip back into economy picking, though. In looking at your Cliffs of Dover lesson (how I found you), I notice that you advise economy picking at times. How do you decide when to alternate and when not to?

    Thanks much

    • Carl Brown on December 10, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Hey Chris, the main determining factor for me in whether to use economy or alternate picking is the tone.

      Economy picking is basically combining alternate and sweep picking and that sweep sound tends to create kind of a rounder, smoother, bubbly and bouncy tone to me. That was a lot of adjectives! 🙂

      Strict alternate picking has a much more aggressive and percussive tone to it. So I recommend mastering both no matter which of the two techniques is the easiest to you for a particular phrase.

      I personally prefer the tone of economy picking so I use it for most of my more high speed lines but others may prefer the straight alternate picking tone and just use economy picking from time to time.

      Hope this helps! Carl..

  8. Basel Khalil on July 18, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Hey Carl
    In the arpeggiated picking technique ,do we keep the pick in 45 degree also ?

  9. Patricia Russell on April 15, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    I’ve always had a burning desire to play lead – I think you have the key to the basics right here. Love your site and I just joined for a month too.

  10. zois asimakopoulos on September 8, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Thanks Carl. Very helpful…

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