How to alternate pick on guitar: exercises to make you play faster

How to get started with alternate picking
(Image credit: Future)

Beginner guitar: New guitarists tend to pick every note in the same direction. Most favour downstrokes, though a few gravitate to upstrokes. 

Still, seeing as your pick has to travel in the opposite direction to get back to where it started, you may as well pluck another note on the way. That way you can play twice as many notes with the same amount of movement. 

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Chris Bird

Chris has been the Editor of Total Guitar magazine since 2020. Prior to that, he was at the helm of Total Guitar's world-class tab and tuition section for 12 years. He's a former guitar teacher with 35 years playing experience and he holds a degree in Philosophy & Popular Music. Chris has interviewed Brian May three times, Jimmy Page once, and Mark Knopfler zero times – something he desperately hopes to rectify as soon as possible.