Alternate Picking Exercises | Hub Guitar

Alternate Picking Exercises

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Let's take a look at some more advanced alternate picking exercises.

These exercises will put your left-right hand coordination to the test.

I'm going to do all of these exercises on fret 9, so they'll all start on C#. They can be played anywhere, though.

First, let's do the classic alternate picking exercise. This one is really time-tested. It's just 1-2-3-4.

Now we'll change the pattern to 1-2-4-3.

Next is 1-3-2-4.

Now 1-3-4-2.

Now 1-4-2-3

And last 1-4-3-2.

So those are the exercises. You should just set a metronome and play through all of them.

Now if you want, there are three variations you can do:

The first variation is to go through each exercise and stretch the index finger down a fret but leave the rest of the fingers in place.Just a quick example.

The next variation is similar, but with the fourth finger instead of the index finger.

And the last variation is to stretch both the first finger and fourth finger.

If you want more practice, you can try playing all six patterns with those three variations. If you practice these exercises, you should see a noticeable improvement in your alternate picking.


In another lesson on alternate picking we covered the basic patterns. This lesson is for players who want to really exercise their alternate picking and advance to a higher level.

The basic alternate picking exercise uses four notes on consecutive frets with fingers 1-2-3-4. This is great because it’s perfectly alternate (down-up-down-up) while also allowing for an occasional string change. But now we’re going to mix up the patterns to prevent your muscles from doing all of the thinking. This can really help get the hands coordinated. To keep it simple, we’ll always start on the first finger and we won’t include any stretches.

Patterns – Starting With First Finger

Pattern 1: 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Pattern 2: 1st 2nd 4th 3rd
Pattern 3: 1st 3rd 2nd 4th
Pattern 4: 1st 3rd 4th 2nd
Pattern 5: 1st 4th 2nd 3rd
Pattern 6: 1st 4th 3rd 2nd

Picking Pattern 1

Ascending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1234, ascending.

Descending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1234, descending.

Picking Pattern 2

Ascending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1243, ascending.

Descending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1243, descending.

Picking Pattern 3

Ascending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1324, ascending.

Descending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1324, descending.

Picking Pattern 4

Ascending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1342, ascending.

Descending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1342, descending.

Picking Pattern 5

Ascending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1423, ascending.

Descending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1423, descending.

Picking Pattern 6

Ascending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1432, ascending.

Descending

Chromatic alternate picking exercise for guitar, 1432, descending.

More Exercises

  • Repeat all exercises, this time with the 1st finger stretching one fret lower. For instance, frets II-III-IV-V becomes frets I-III-IV-V, with a first finger stretch.
  • Repeat all exercises, with the 4th finger stretching one fret higher where possible.

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