Guitar Picking Exercises that are a Joy to Play

Practicing the guitar picking exercises on this page will not only improve your picking, making it more accurate and agile, but will bring some fun too.

Don't run on high speed right away, set a comfortable tempo on your metronome or drum machine and let's roll...


"Plain" Alternate Picking Exercises

I call them plain because they are played straightforward, 16 equal notes per bar (or 4 notes per metronome's click).

exercise 1

simple alternate picking exercise - tablature

The main purpose of this exercise is to warm up your picking hand, get solid, accurate alternation between up and downbeats.


exercise 2

Play this exercise in two modes:

1. Straightforward as the previous one.

2. Accenting every fretted notes, making the notes on the open string sound on the background.

with accents
major sounding guitar picking exercise - tab


exercise 3

Play this drill in the two previous modes using a clean guitar sound. After that, fire up the distortion and have fun with the backing track right below.

I used palm mutes with the notes on the open string for cooler effect.

distorted guitar
backing track

middle-eastern sounding guitar picking exercise


exercise 4

melodic guitar picking exercise


exercise 5

cool guitar picking exercise


Alternate Picking Exercises And Triplet Notes

This is different to the previous exercises where we picked four plain notes per metronome's click.

The triplet picking is more fancy, you will need to play three notes per click now, still using alternate picking.

And it feels awkward when you play it the first time :)
It takes some time to begin to feel the pulse of three equal notes per beat.

Just focus on your picking hand and rhythm until you get it.

After that you can adopt exercise 1, 2 and 3, for triplet picking. You'll need to withdraw one note on the open string in each group of four notes.


exercise 6

You'll need more participation of your fretting hand on this one. The drill sounds kind of Neoclassical and resembles the style of Bach.

guitar exercise sounding in style of Bach

Go to Guitar Picking Exercises - Part II (Rhythmic Picking)



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At the 3rd exercise, fire up the distortion and enjoy the backing track below, near the tab
When playing with the alternate picking try to slightly angle the plectrum as in the picture below.

You'll be able to play faster and more rhythmically correctly with much less effort

Click here to check out more of my best practice tips and general guitar exercises.


You might find it's easier to begin playing two notes per click and after some time, inject the 3rd note.

Here is a good explanation on triplets and how to count them. ---->

This article is for drummers, but you'll get the idea.