Single String Alternate Picking

by Taura Eruera

"How to pick twice as fast"

This is a headline you might see on some guitar web sites.

Guess what their secret is?

Well it's this!

If you can pick fast with all down strokes (like lots of rockers and metallers can), imagine what you can do with down strokes AND UP STROKES?

Twice as many strokes means twice as fast! Right?

Does logical mean irrefutable?


But there's little doubt that efficient alternate picking does produce speed picking on the side.

So that's why your lead and rhythm playing will benefit massively from you learning alternate picking.

It's a very powerful picking technique.

That will make you sound like a cool guitar player.

You can start learning the alternate picking technique here

If it's new to you, don't be surprised if it will feel difficult.

Don't beat yourself up.

Just feed your brain the correct information (over several small chunks):


  1. hold the pick firm with the power pick grip
  2. hold the pick firm like the needle in the record arm
  3. play with the pick perpendicular to the face of the guitar through each full stroke
  4. play with the front edge of the pick on the downstroke
  5. rest your pick on the rest string after the downstroke
  6. play with the back edge of the pick on the upstroke
  7. rest your pick on the rest string after the upstroke
  8. Play in the strings through the complete stroke


Then when your brain has encoded the information clearly, the brain then clearly passes the crystal clear instruction onto your motor system.

Your muscles then program themselves with instructions from the brain.  When they have proved the instructions are correct then they put each instruction on autopilot.

Just like they do when they brush teeth for you.  Or tie showlaces.

Then the muscles repeat the actions until the alternate picking habit is established in your body and nervous system.

Now you are an alternate picking expert at MM60 beats per minute.