Alternate Picking - Part 2 (Guitar Lesson)


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Nick Greathouse

Alternate Picking - Part 2

Alternate Picking Part 2 will build up your technique by adding a second string.

Taught by Nick Greathouse in Speed and Technique seriesLength: 21:23Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (1:03) Lesson Introduction Welcome back to my Speed and Technique lesson series! This time we’re back to alternate picking so make sure you’ve brushed up on all of the examples from the first lesson and get ready to tackle some exercises that will take your picking to the next level!
Chapter 2: (2:47) Alternate Picking Review and Outline In the previous alternate picking lesson we covered picking on one string, so every example would force your picking hand to eventually “subconsciously” alternate pick when playing scale lines.  We’re going to take that concept one step further and test just how “subconscious” your technique is by crossing strings.

One thing that will make this a challenge is that I have designed most of the exercises in a way that you have to cross strings going in the “opposite” direction than your hand is moving.  Most of the time when moving from a lower to a higher string you have to cross using an upstroke, and conversely with a down stroke when picking from a higher to a lower string.  So you have to pick on the “outsides” of the strings you’re playing rather than getting stuck in between them (because usually when you get stuck between strings it’s difficult to get back out).
Chapter 3: (9:38) Exercises 1-12 All 24 of the exercises in this Lesson use the exact same fingerings as the first alternate picking lesson (and the legato one for that matter), but the main difference here is that you add the fourth string to each one (the fingering is the same for both strings).  Once again, I encourage the use of “speed-burst” practice (which I covered in the first lesson) with all of these exercises.
  • Exercises 1-3: These three examples are played as triplets playing three notes ascending on the fourth string and one on the third then descending.
  • Exercises 4-6: These three examples are played as triplets, only ascending through the six notes in the fingering.
  • Exercises 7-9: These examples are the retrograde (backward, descending) versions of  exercises # 4-6.
  • Exercises 10-12: These three are probably the most challenging exercises so far because you have to cross strings for every note, and it can be awkward for your fretting hand at first as well…so start these ones out slowly and concentrate on accuracy.
Chapter 4: (6:20) Exercises 13-24 In the “second half” of this lesson we’re going to cover some sequences that you’ll see later in the alternate picking lesson series.
  • Exercises 13-15:  The time signature changes for these three, we’re now in ¾.  This is a sequence of “quads” where you play three groups of four notes gradually ascending through the fingering.  You’ll see this sequence in future lessons, so get used to it.
  • Exercises 16-18:  These three are the descending versions of #13-15.  Once again, you’ll be seeing these later on so practice them!
  • Exercises 19-21:  We’re now back in 4/4 doing a sequence in thirds.  If you’re not sure what a “third” is, refer back to some of the phase 1 lessons that refer to intervals.  You’ll be seeing more of this sequence later on as well.
  • Exercises 22-24:  These are the retrograde (backward) versions of the previous three exercises.  You’re now playing descending thirds through the scale.
Chapter 5: (1:30) Wrap Up So that’s it! You have your work cut out for you. Apply all of the practice techniques covered in the first alternate picking lesson to this one and get used to the sequences that we’ve covered here because you will be seeing them in Alternate Picking Lesson 3!

See you next time!

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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


MR_FOREVERALONEMR_FOREVERALONE replied on May 5th, 2016

dang your my favourite teacher here!

Time TravelerTime Traveler replied on March 29th, 2016

The point of a camera on his face helps me how? I like Nick but this was not much help

Marc_XMarc_X replied on April 19th, 2014

The pick has been a concern of mine also. I was wondering too what the right position between the thumb an index finger would be, Nick. I wanted to say that these exercises have really gotten my left hand to move easily. Thank you, Marcus

dobbyndobbyn replied on January 7th, 2014

Nick fairly basic question but what is the best angle of the pick for speed and alternate picking between strings Thanks Paul

gibstratgibstrat replied on December 27th, 2010

great lessons and warmups thx

brett911brett911 replied on August 10th, 2009

Nick, The lesson is great except the tab for Scene 3: Exercise 1 seems to not match what you are playing at 0:50. It looks like you are playing 679 on the 4th and then 3rd string however the tab is different?

ca6691ca6691 replied on November 14th, 2008

wut type of pickups are you using? great lessons by the way

Speed and Technique

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

This exercise-heavy series serves to improve your playing dexterity, coordination, synchronization of your left and right hand, and speed building in the techniques of alternate picking, sweep picking, and legato.



Lesson 1

Alternate Picking Part 1

Nick starts his series with Alternate Picking part 1. Improve your timing, speed, and execution with this important lesson.

Length: 21:23 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 2

Legato Playing Part 1

Nick lays down the building blocks for legato playing. Strengthen and improve your left hand skills in Legato Part 1.

Length: 12:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Sweep Picking and Arpeggios Part 1

Nick lays down the building blocks for sweep picking. Precision and relaxation are crucial when it comes to this technique.

Length: 21:27 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Alternate Picking - Part 2

Alternate Picking Part 2 will build up your technique by adding a second string.

Length: 21:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Legato Playing - Part 2

Nick takes Legato playing a step further with more advanced examples such as full scale patterns.

Length: 33:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Sweep Picking and Arpeggios - Part 2

Nick teaches you some new sweep picking licks and demonstrates how to connect arpeggios together.

Length: 24:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Alternate Picking Part 3

Nick covers 5 practice sequences in the key of A major that will beef up your alternate picking technique.

Length: 36:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

Sweep Picking part 3

Nick teaches the basics of sweep picking with exercises that have helped him.

Length: 22:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Pentatonic Sequences and Techniques

Nick teaches exercises and techniques for the B Minor Pentatonic scale.

Length: 21:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only

About Nick Greathouse View Full Biography Nick Greathouse was born on December 11th, 1980 in Canton, Ohio. He was exposed to many different musical styles from a very young age. Growing up in the "MTV generation" some of his earliest memories involve watching Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Guns n' Roses with his brother and cousin. His mother played piano, sang and filled the house with the sounds of singer-songwriters Cat Stevens, Jackson Browne and Elton John and his father was always listening to country music along with classic rockers Tom Petty and Bob Seger. He never had to look far to hear great music.

Though he was constantly surrounded by music, it wasn't until Nick heard his first Beatles album (Revolver) when he was 10 that he became interested in being a musician. Shortly thereafter, his older brother got an electric guitar which Nick began to play (while his bro was out of the house!). The moment his fingers touched the strings for the first time, he was hooked and had to have one of his own.

Throughout high school Nick took guitar lessons and would jam with his friends as much as possible, his skills on the instrument improved significantly. He would spend hours with his cd player learning Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix songs by ear. But after hearing Steve Vai's album "Passion and Warfare" guitar playing became an all out obsession.

After high school, at age 18, Nick began teaching guitar lessons at a local music store. He also entered the music program at Kent State University where he studied classical guitar with George Bachmann. During this time he performed many solo guitar recitals and also played with the guitar ensemble. When he honed his reading chops to a high level he started playing in pit orchestras and band for local theaters.

Nick took a break from Kent in 2004 when he moved to Hollywood, California for a short time to study at Musician's Institute (GIT). While there he had classes with Daniel Gilbert, Joy Basu, Tom Kolb, Carl Verheyen, and his private lesson instructor Jean-Marc Belkadi.

Nick returned to Ohio in order to finish his college education. He joined a local metal core band called Last Second Decision which was formed by his brother. During his tenure with Last Second Decision Nick began taking lessons from one of his heroes, Cleveland based guitar virtuoso, Neil Zaza. They became fast friends and since then Nick has gone on to perform with Zaza numerous times including television appearances, local club gigs and the holiday spectacular "Neil Zaza's One Silent Night" at Cleveland's Playhouse Square. Nick also appears on the 2007 CD "Neil Zaza's One Silent Night: A Night at The Palace".

Nick is a graduate of Kent State University (BA Music) and continues to teach privately at a music store in Kent, Ohio and also at his home. He is very excited to be a part of the JamPlay team!

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