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I'm getting back into seriously playing guitar after a few years and I've noticed a synchronization problem. My left hand is much faster than my right hand while alternate picking sixteenth notes, starting at moderate speeds, eg. 120 bpm. To be more precise, when I play a pentatonic scale, two notes per string, the left hand lands on the second note, of each string, faster than the right hand. This ends up sounding as a hammer on followed by a picking of the second note. Curiously the problem is more pronounced when I play pentatonic scales, while it does not seem to appear with, say diatonic modes.

Starting slow and speeding up may not be a solution, as both hands are well synchronized at slower speeds. Is there something I can do to correct this problem?

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  • Do you have a feel for which hand is primarily responsible for the "out-of-sync-ness"?
    – Aaron
    Mar 31 at 19:22
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    I cannot be sure, but I think it's the left hand. I say this because the "hasty" fingering problem goes away when I need to fret more notes.
    – Hikaru
    Mar 31 at 19:26
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    Use a metronome to find out at what point things start going awry. Take note of that speed (or even a notch down as a build up to that speed) and use it as a focus for practise. Don't allow yourself to go any faster until it has been mastered.
    – Jomiddnz
    Mar 31 at 21:23
  • @Jomiddnz That would seem to be the practical way to go about it. Thanks!
    – Hikaru
    Mar 31 at 21:27
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It seems to me that you you answered your own question. Your main issue is not synchronization, but right (picking?) hand technique, which cannot match speed of the fretting hand.

The observation that the problem is more pronounced when playing scales with 2 notes per string in comparison to diatonic scales (2–3 notes per string, I presume) confirms this. Changing strings is typically more difficult for the picking hand than playing consecutive notes on the same string.

I believe picking hand speed is an issue for many guitarists, so your issue is not unusual.

Work on your picking hand technique, including changing strings, perhaps also string skipping. You may work on techniques like sweeping or economy picking which make changing strings easier, but I would suggest not to try replacing practice of alternate picking and down picking entirely with these techniques.

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