I know the traditional explanation is to go slow, but I guess I need to change the technique here. How to do fast alternate picking?

There’s a song in which 14 notes are played in 4 beats. See the tab. Ignore the Blue line, it’s Indian notation. This is way too fast for me. With usual alternate picking I just cannot gain that speed.

In a Youtube video the tutor shows the way it’s played. I have created a small GIF clip (shared for educational purposes only) that shows how those notes are played.

But I have no clue how to gain that speed. What is the key to fast picking with such notes?

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  • What do the curves mean? Slurs? Mar 4 at 12:43
  • @Todd Wilcox - I am not too sure.
    – user87564
    Mar 8 at 8:10

2 Answers 2


Speed of action is a matter of training, which you can enhance by so called automation. It‘s a cycle to be repeated, e.g. daily.

Starting point:

  • set your metronom to a feel-good tempo, say 50 BPM
  • increase stepwise after a while, say in steps of 10 BPM
  • lower that rate as you approch your current „speed“ limit.


  • play a while at this limit, say it‘s 97 BPM today
  • next increase in tiny steps and play a while in each one of it, say 98, 99 and 100 (which will feel hard to keep)


  • lower back to your „speed“ limit of today, i.e.
  • 100, 99, 98, 97
  • very likely the „impossible tempo“ (97) feels less tough now.

Repeat, approaching your current limit again, which you may find to be 99 tomorrow.

Many things do happen in this process. The most important one is this:

  • at low tempo our mind (head) is controlling everything
  • now your body (finger memory etc.) soon gets what you want them to do
  • but it remains a conflict around your speed limit between head and fingers (control vs. let-go)
  • by deliberately exceeding and returning I described you learn to „switch-off“ control and trust your trained reflexes (fingers still remember)
  • you recognize by feeling less pain when returning to your initial limit (97 in my example)
  • after a night your body sorted it all out and you will have become a little faster
  • while being able now to use your head for more important things than finger control while playing „the impossible part“ with ease, grace and expression.

Worked for me on any instrument I tried.


According to your note groupings, I would play it like (down up), (down up down up), (down up down up), (down up up down)<2 upstrokes here because i would play this part using economy picking, (up).

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