My best alternate alternate picking exercises

Six notes up and down

Before I end this series on alternate picking I want to give you some of the "exercises" that I have used to build my picking speed. Please pick the ones that you are most comfortable with. The first two are super simple but also very fundamental. I use these licks all the time and you will too once you have them down. You can take these two licks and use them to go all the way up and down the neck. Try going all the way up an A-minor scale on the high B and E string. Shifting up one step in the scale for every sixth note you play. Here's the first one:

This is the same lick, but instead of moving upwards, you move down the neck instead. Notice how every minute change in how you play the notes, represents a new challenge:

We're in the key of C-Minor so the markers on your neck wont fit too well with the scale :)

Twelve notes up and down

This exercise is a bit harder because you have to adjust the position of your picking hand while you pick. The lick is simply 12 notes up and down the A-minor scale. It's a much better and more useful exercise than going across all six strings at once. And if you can get your hands around these four strings, then the last two will be rather easy. The key is to start with something manageable:

Nine notes up and down

This one can feel a bit awkward to play in the beginning. but you'll get used to it very quickly. Every time you start to play the nine notes all over again, it's with a different pick stroke. You start with a down stroke, then you play nine notes - then you start with an up stroke and so on. Many players practice starting everything with a down stroke, so it feels extremely weird to suddenly turn that around. But being able to start of your lick with both and upstroke and a down stroke will come in handy in the future...

Combining groups of sixes

This is just a little example of how you can combine these different exercises into something that sound cool. Construct your own "paths" around the fretboard and practice playing these simple runs in different combinations:

Hard but worth it

In my experience there's only one thing harder than shifting from string to string, and that's shifting back to the same string that you came from immediately. The classic little "four notes up and down Paul Gilbert lick" is not a good place to start in my opinion. It might have been an excellent beginning for Mr. Gilbert, but I recommend practicing something with a little less string shifting to get you going. In this exercise I play four notes up and down, then I reverse that lick and play four notes down and up. It's and excellent exercise, but be careful not to break your neck on it. It's a hard lick to master - and while you play the easier stuff you prepare your self for this. You actually get better at playing the hard stuff when you play the easier stuff!

Check out the tab in the menu called "Ressources" I've collected all three-note-per-string patterns in the scales I use the most. Start by learning the seven patterns in the Major/Minor scale, and practice the licks and runs in as many positions and places on the neck that you can come up with. If you get lost and overwhelmed by the sheer mass of patterns, focus on one single pattern for an entire week. Then go on to the next and play only that pattern for a week. This is a very good and very effective way to chop up that challenge.