My picking accuracy is bad

I’ve just passed the 6 month mark (middle of Dec) and am looking at my progress. I’m just starting Module 11. I’m looking at where I’m struggling the most at this point in my journey. I’ve also moved into G3 of the theory course.

I’ve noticed that my picking accuracy is pretty terrible. I realized this with the improvisation to the backing track exercise, as well as the La Bamba riff exercises in Module 10. Scales, alt picking, hammer on intro, basically any picking exercise is frustrating because I just am terrible at it (among many other things that I am bad at). Is it normal to have bad picking accuracy at Module 11? I realize the time in months matters not, that everyone is going at their own pace. But Im thinking in terms of modules, is it normal to be bad at picking still in the middle of G2? By what point in the courses should I not be bad at picking the right strings?

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If time in months doesn’t matter, then why would the module you’re on? It’s not about time or lesson progression, it’s about how long you’ve spent practising and the quality of that practice. We all have strengths and weaknesses, meaning we’ll all be spending different amounts of time on things.

If you have identified strumming as a weakness, then focus on it. Build more practice into your schedule, review previous lessons to ensure you’re doing it right, and take it slow until you get to where you want to be.

At the end of the day, it’s all about practice… same as everything else.


Yes, it is normal to still be struggling with pick accuracy at this point. It takes lots of time and focused practice to get good at it.

I’m at Grade 3, Module 17, and my pick accuracy is still not as good as I’d like it to be.

“Picking the right strings” is a pretty broad topic. I spend 10 minutes of every practice alternate picking up & down both a Pentatonic and Major scale pattern, so I’m good at picking one string after the next. But, there is no way I can think, “pick the G string” and my hand just knows where to go yet.

The best way to get better at whatever part of “pick accuracy” you feel is lacking is to create a 5-minute practice item that works this skill, do it slowly and perfectly, and slowly increase the speed over time to keep it challenging. It really works!

Enjoy the Journey :slight_smile:


I agree with Ross, you have identified your weakness and even mentioned the La Bamba riff. Set aside some practice time to go back and get this right. It doesn’t mean you have to stop moving forward with the things your good at but going back even as far as the Peter Gun Riff to get your picking hand up to speed would be a good thing. Sometime you need to go back to move forward.
Make sure you get it right before you get up to speed.


Well I suppose the module doesn’t matter either. I guess I want to know I’m somewhat “normal” in my progression, and it’s hard to let go of the concept of normal.


As you said, picking strings in a row is better for me than going to a specific string, especially one of the middle ones. I do need to make sure I’m specifically practicing it.

I guess the key for me is thinking it’s ok to move forward in spite of bad accuracy, and you’ve indicated it is, while giving it specific practice, perhaps above and beyond a couple of minutes revision. I’ll set aside 5 or 10 extra minutes for some picking exercises.

Well, many of us have gone through and continue to go through the same challenge. I’m reluctant to use the term “normal” for anything I do for fear of getting called out on that by those here who know me well :wink:

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What is normal? Being the best you can be is better than being normal. So if it takes you a little longer to be the best you so be it.
It will make you better than normal in the long run.


I’d say that as a relative beginner my picking is actually one of the stronger parts of my guitar playing (it’s definitely not perfect have no doubt). The thing that got me here was in one of my previous attempts at learning I used Rocksmith 2014 a fair amount and to be successful at that you need to look at the screen and therefore can’t be looking at your picking hand. I’m not suggesting that you invest in an old copy of Rocksmith but specifically practice without looking at your picking hand at all. Yes it will be terrible at first but you’ll quickly improve, especially if the position of your hand is in a fairly consistent position then you’ll soon instinctively know how far to move your hand to pick a particular string. I don’t think you develop that instinct if you look at your hand for reassurance

One picking exercise that I’ve found extremely helpful used to be in Justin’s Classic course, and involves picking each string in succession using first all down strokes, then all up strokes, then DU, then DUDU. You can mute the strings with your fretting hand or, as I do, play the open strings. Use a metronome starting at an easy speed. I started at 60bpm and worked up to 80. I’ve now worked up to 120bpm with consistent accuracy after over a year of consistent practice.

My one rule is not to watch my picking hand. Learn it by feel.

I’ve been amazed by how much daily practice it’s taken me to improve my picking accuracy, but the effort & frustration has finally paid off. If you work at it, you will definitely improve.

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Pick accuracy must be one of the hardest things. Mine is nowhere near where I’d like it to be, it has improved a lot with practice though.

Something else to add to what others said, is look to have an anchor. It helps your hand locate the strings. Either pinky down or forearm on the corner of the guitar body.

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Also, experiment with different picks. They’re cheap, and one or another material and hardness or thickness might hit a sweet spot that makes it just slightly easier to pick individual strings accurately.

@jkahn and @Twin_Six - all good suggestions, thank you. I’ll try them for sure.

I find the Wish You Were Here riff to be a great exercise for picking accuracy.

The combination of strummed chords followed by the picked sections…which can begin on the G, A, D, and E strings…requires a lot of concentration to nail even when looking at your picking hand.

I’ve been practicing without looking, which is even harder, but seems to be essential to play it in a relaxed way.

I used to believe that if I practiced it enough while looking, my pick would just automatically find it’s way to the correct string via muscle memory…but this has not happened.

Recently, I have been consciously visualizing the string I want to pick before I play it I form a mental picture of all 6 strings under my picking hand, and then mentally focus on the string I want to pick.

This seems to help, but is nowhere near 100% reliable yet.

Can anyone comment on whether this is a good approach? Those who are good at it…how do YOU do it?


It will become a natural part of your playing with practice. Not looking at both hands is something most people don’t practice and it becomes a bad habit. The fact that you’re doing it will improve your playing much quicker. Your ears don’t lie to you, they pick uo mistakes faster than your eyes do.

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I think looking at the strings is akin to riding a bike with stabilisers on and the fastest way to learn to ride is the get training wheels off otherwise you’re learning to rely on them. It’s right to start out that way but after a while it’s only hindering your progress

Thanks. Do you do something similar WRT to visualization, as I described it?

I’m starting to think there’s a big mental and kinaesthetic component to learning to play the guitar, which is completely invisible to some of us beginners.

Some people seem to intuitively figure out these things, and perhaps don’t even realize what they are doing. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people! :slight_smile:

Hence my questions…appreciate your response.

People who sing usually stop looking at thier fingers subconsciously because the end up reading the words and chord which is just as bad if they don’t learn to memorize songs.
I personally have never use visualization but I can see it being a good way to help to stop looking at your fingers.

Good point…I think starting to sing along with my playing is what motivated me to stop looking at my hands.

Not so much because I was looking at lead sheets (though I do that sometimes), but because I could feel that that my posture was more relaxed…and that improved both my singing and my playing.

So if you don’t visualize, how do you reliably pick the right string without looking? What’s your mental process? Hear the note in your head, and your pick just “magically” goes to the right string?

Did you have to deliberately practice that skill, or did it “just happen”?