How to Improve your outside picking Technique:
If you struggle to get more speed and clarity in your picking hand, these lessons were designed for you. These exercises will help to solve outside picking issues. Many guitarists struggle to find a practice routine that can improve sloppy mechanics, as well as make the technique you are working so hard to, useable. One of the ways an experienced teacher can help you is to show exercises that focus exactly on the problem at hand, and how to practice it.
These exercises are all presented with outside picking being the challenge to overcome. Outside picking is when you pick the note that is higher in pitch with an upstroke, leaving your hand out of position and causing synchronization problems if not addressed. Here is a tab example of outside picking. All exercises will address this further on.
Example 1 is a great basic pattern to get you started on reversing back on your outside picking. Each time the A string, 5th fret is played, your picking hand must return back to the low E on a downstroke. Since the lick is a group of 6 notes, it’s easy to memorize. Standard 80’s shredder stuff, and useable for many applications.
Example 2 is the same pattern, only presented up one octave. You’ll notice, the picking, fingers used, and all the motions are the same. However, the strings themselves will have a different feeling since they are not as thick as the low E and A strings.
Example 3 is a combination of both of the previous exercises. Runs like this always sound impressive, and are super easy to memorize, since they are the same fingerings and picking hand motions.
Now we’ll start to really turn up the speed. Sextuplets, with a slightly different picking pattern here. Same outside picking applies, but, since the lick is faster the difficulty increases. Slow down the metronome if you have a hard time on these.
Building on all previous examples. We take the idea of “sequencing” a lick, up the octave. This time with the sextuplet pattern, going all the way up to a 17th fret, a high A. All the picking from previous examples is the same in this one.
Example 6 is harder still, but the time spent learning it is worth the effort. The difficult part of the picking, the movement from the low E to A string with an upstroke, is increased. You’ll see in the example that now in each measure you perform that motion twice. This is another way to get the most out of your practice time, create variations that make the tough sections magnified.
The final example. This one combines everything shown so far, and puts it in practice. Double outside picking each measure. Position changes from A minor to D minor in measure 2, flying up to E minor, and ending with a harmonic minor twist at the end.
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Try to focus only on your picking hand, minimizing any movement that is not practical or necessary.
Find songs or solos that have this technique as a highlight, and master them!
Pay special attention to not make any extraneous noise with either hand. Muting with the picking hand is a must.
Be creative! Come up with a single variation and figure out how many octaves you can play it on the fretboard.
Experiment with using different scales and modes in your patterns.
Practice any lick you learn in EVERY key! This is very important!
Listen to players with great picking hand technique (even if you don’t like shredders!) Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Jason Becker, and Shawn Lane are a few examples.
Magnify your mistakes! Create variations that make this weaknesses stick out even more, so you can improve them faster by hitting them more often!
M E T R O N O M E !! There is no way you can accurately gauge your progress without using a metronome for these exercises.
Study with a teacher who can help you reach your goals!