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Welcome to part 3 of the Alternate picking guitar lesson series. During this lesson you will learn how to take the alternate picking technique you learnt in Part 1 and 2 and use it on scale fragments. By practising on scale fragments you are developing a skill you will use in your improvisations and it will then take you to understand how to use scales and modes before you can really start sounding great.

If you want to learn all about scales and modes, chords, arpeggios and theory then please see Be The Guitarist.

This first exercise is for you to develop both speed and accuracy by working in quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth notes with the same set of notes. Some guitarists like to keep the metronome setting the same, for example 90 bpm and play the exercise below, this can prove difficult because you are doubling your speed each time you change up the next note type.

Lets start by picking through an A minor pentatonic scale with strict alternate picking.

Exercise 1- A Minor Pentatonic Scale Fragment

A Minor Pentatonic Alternate Picking Exercise

A Minor Pentatonic Alternate Picking Exercise

By simply practising an A Ionian mode (major scale) with alternate picking you will start to make this your default picking pattern which makes lead guitar playing a lot easier. Practise this picking pattern of every down followed by an up with all the positions of the major scale.

Exercise 2- A Ionian Alternate Picking


A Ionian Alternate Picking Exercise

A Ionian Alternate Picking Exercise

Taking fragments from a scale like the A Dorian as shown below is a great way to isolate particular finger patterns and develop an even ability with varying finger patterns across the strings. All of these fragments combine to form scale runs that you hear from everyone from Paul Gilbert to Joe Satriani. Notice the exercise below is in triplets so you are aiming to play 3 notes per a click, not 4 as you have previously been doing. Try to hit the first triplet of each beat a little bit harder as this will build your ability to be a dynamic guitarist.

Exercise 3- Fragments

Alternate Picking Scale Fragments

Alternate Picking Scale Fragments

Come back for more alternate picking guitar lessons or have a look around the blog section for something different.

Have fun and keep practising!

Tom Clark

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