Beginner Alternate Picking

Learn how to alternate between up picks and down picks.

View the full lesson at Beginner Alternate Picking | JustinGuitar

This is a good speed exercise I just added to some grade 2 practice. I’ve been struggling with eye of the tiger (the one guitar just hitting the c note on 5th string) and I do ok with alternative picking, but if I want to be faster, this is the proper technique. Thanks a bunch for clarifying proper technique for alternate picking on single string to increase speed and it helps with accuracy as well.


This one has me a little bit confused.

I’ve watched the video a couple of times and luckily my pick action was always a bit angled so that’s cool. I’m literally just combining this with a sort of Chord Perfect exercise - angled alternate up and down picking on each played string on each chord we’ve learned so far for a few minutes. Is that…it?

I’m not questioning the process as I’ve already seen how much it’s working in other areas. Just checking my interpretation isn’t off.

First I thought I was “flat” picking with no slant, then I tried it with too much slant and I got a weird scraping sound as the pick edge interacted with the wound strings, and then I went back to what I was doing and realized it had a slight slant to it anyway! Lol. I guess the moral of the story is don’t overdo the slant.

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Flat in this sense describes the flat face of the plectrum.

Thumb picks tend to have a slight curvature to them.
Pleactrums are flat.

In use, you do not want to be striking the strings ‘flat’ - i.e. at a perpendicular.

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | Community Moderator, Official Guide, JustinGuitar Approved Teacher


I have two questions:

  1. I understand that there are many ways to alternate pick depending on the person and what’s comfortable for them. Justin mentions Downward Pickslanting (DWPS) in the video but is he using that here? From Justin’s video, I interpreted “angling” as slightly angling the pick towards the fretboard from a parallel position. Lets call this the horizontal angle of the pick. However I see that the vertical angle (the pick angle towards the floor or towards the roof) remains neutral. From what I understand about DWPS should’t there be some sort of a downward angle vertically as well as the slight rotation (horizontal angle)?

  2. When I tried picking with a horizontally angled pick, I noticed the pick glides between the strings a lot smoother when going up/down and I’m able to pick faster.

    However I also did noticed that when angled, opposed to flat, “the sound of the pick hitting the string” is significantly louder and more noticeable (a rubbing sound) on the 5th and 6th string. Is this common?

    Demo 1: alternate picking (flat pick)
    Demo 2: alternate picking (angled pick)

    I think the sound comes from the sides of the pick (edge of the pick) that normally doesn’t hit the strings gliding against the guitar. I tried playing around with different picks, and I noticed the jazz master III was the only pick that didn’t produce this rubbing sound when angling the pick.

Thank you!