How Directional Picking Makes Fast Guitar Playing A Lot Easier

by Tom Hess

As soon as you use efficient picking technique, fast guitar playing begins to feel very easy. Directional picking makes fast guitar playing totally effortless. How? The picking motions used are smaller and quicker – providing you with a lot more speed with less overall effort. This video shows how this works:

Note: You need to watch the whole video, otherwise you won’t understand the remaining ideas in this article!

Commonly Asked Question: “Tom Hess, is directional picking only compatible with 3-note-per-string scales? Does it work with scales that use more than 3 notes on a single string... and/or pentatonic scales?

Answer: Directional picking technique works in any case regardless of the situation. The core ideas of directional picking is to use the shortest path to connect one note to the next. This means that you will sometimes use alternate picking and other times sweep picking. By integrating both together, you get the most speed for the least amount of effort.

It is a mistake to use exclusively alternate picking, because this means sacrificing efficiency in some situations… leading to more effort to achieve less overall speed.

To completely master directional picking, you’ll have to learn how to seamlessly combine sweep picking and alternate picking together. By working on 3-note-per-string scales, you force yourself to improve this part of your playing and will master it much faster.

These are the five steps to follow in order to master directional picking with 3-note-per-string scales:

1. Focus Only On The Picking Motion

First, mute all the strings with your fretting hand to keep them from making noise as you pick. This is essential for programming the correct picking motion into your picking hand and keeping your focus on the motion itself. Now do this:

-Play an upstroke on the high E string (the thinnest string) as you mute it.

-Play a downstroke on that same string.

-Play another upstroke on the string and pull the hand back towards the B string using a single sweep picking motion. Play an upstroke on the B string.

-Play a downstroke on the B string.

-Play an upstroke on the B string once again, repeating the exact same sweep picking motion before, this time towards the G string. Play an upstroke on the G string.

-Keep playing this pattern until the scale is finished.

Play the video beginning at 50 seconds to observe a demonstration of how to correctly use these picking motions.

2. Play 3-Note-Per-String Chromatic Patterns

Once you can easily pick through the pattern from step 1, transition to playing 3-note-per-string chromatic patterns. As an example, use only your first three fingers to play frets 10, 11 and 12 on each string. This will both improve your 2-hand synchronization skills and help you stay focused on the motion being used in your picking hand.

3. Improve The Picking Motion Through Continuous Repetition

To form a good habit, you have to train yourself to repeat the correct movements. Use laser-like focus to get through this step as fast as possible. Focus on:

-Using Correct Pick Position: Don’t simply use the tip of the pick. Hold the pick between your thumb and index/middle finger higher up to pick with more surface area. Additionally, play with the pick down deeper into the strings (towards the body of the guitar). This will give your notes more volume with less effort.

-Using Correct Pick Angle: Pick the strings at a 45-degree angle. This makes picking much easier and gives you better tone.

-Using Strong Articulation: Use greater force while picking in order to give the notes better articulation and bring out any mistakes in your 2-hand synchronization.

4. Integrate Directional Picking Into Context Using Different Scales

Integrate directional picking into all the scales you already know. Having the ability to play string changes with 3-note-per-string chromatic patterns helps you play any 3-note-per string scale faster and with less effort.

5. Use Solid Speed Building Strategies To Become A Much Faster Player

Before you can play fast without much effort, you’ll need to have built a solid foundation with your technique. To fully reach your guitar speed potential, you need to have one or more effective speed building strategies in place.

This guitar speed eGuide helps you increase your guitar speed while reducing your practice time in half.


Author's Bio: 

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a professional touring musician, composer and successful rock/metal guitar teacher. He helps guitarists around the world learn to play guitar online. On his website, you can find guitar playing tips, free guitar resources and more guitar articles.