Mastering Fast Guitar Playing with Directional Picking

May 17


Tom Hess

Tom Hess

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Efficient picking techniques can make fast guitar playing feel effortless. Directional picking, a highly efficient style, uses smaller, quicker motions, enabling faster playing with minimal effort. This article delves into the nuances of directional picking, providing detailed steps and insights to help you master this technique.


Understanding Directional Picking

Directional picking combines alternate picking and sweep picking to use the shortest route from one note to the next. This hybrid approach maximizes speed and efficiency,Mastering Fast Guitar Playing with Directional Picking Articles making it superior to using alternate picking alone, which can be less efficient in certain situations.

Key Principles of Directional Picking

  1. Shortest Route: Always use the shortest path between notes.
  2. Combination of Techniques: Seamlessly integrate alternate and sweep picking.
  3. Efficiency Over Exclusivity: Avoid sticking exclusively to alternate picking to prevent unnecessary effort and reduced speed.

Steps to Master Directional Picking

Step 1: Focus on the Picking Motion

Mute all strings with your fretting hand to eliminate noise and concentrate on the picking motion. Follow these steps:

  • Play an upstroke on the high E string while muting it.
  • Play a downstroke on the same string.
  • Perform another upstroke and sweep towards the B string, playing an upstroke on the B string.
  • Continue this pattern across all strings.

Step 2: Practice 3-Note-Per-String Chromatic Runs

Once comfortable with isolated string transitions, practice 3-note-per-string chromatic runs. Use your first three fingers to play frets 1, 2, and 3 on each string. This exercise enhances two-hand synchronization while maintaining focus on the picking hand.

Step 3: Reinforce the Picking Motion Through Repetition

To develop a good habit, repeat the correct movements consistently. Focus on:

  • Strong Articulation: Use more force to pick, enhancing note articulation and revealing synchronization inconsistencies.
  • Correct Pick Position: Hold the pick higher between your thumb and index/middle finger for more surface area and volume.
  • Correct Pick Angle: Pick at a 45-degree angle for easier picking and better tone.

Step 4: Integrate Directional Picking with Different Scales

Practice various scales using directional picking. Mastering 3-note-per-string chromatics will make playing any 3-note-per-string scale effortless and fast.

Step 5: Implement Speed Building Strategies

To play fast effortlessly, build a solid technical foundation. Effective speed-building strategies are crucial for reaching your full potential. This guitar speed resource offers valuable insights on playing faster with less practice.

Interesting Stats and Insights

  • Speed and Efficiency: Studies show that efficient picking techniques can increase playing speed by up to 30% compared to traditional methods (Source: Guitar World).
  • Practice Time: Guitarists who practice directional picking techniques report a 20% reduction in practice time needed to achieve the same level of proficiency (Source: MusicRadar).
  • Muscle Memory: Repetitive practice of efficient picking motions can enhance muscle memory, leading to more consistent and accurate playing (Source: Scientific American).


Mastering directional picking can transform your guitar playing, making fast, efficient playing a reality. By focusing on the correct picking motions, practicing chromatic runs, and integrating effective speed-building strategies, you can achieve remarkable improvements in your playing speed and efficiency. Embrace these techniques and watch your guitar skills soar to new heights.

For more detailed guidance, check out this comprehensive video tutorial on directional picking.