Faster and Cleaner Alternate Picking with Paul Gilbert

Greetings and all that jazz,

Well, not really jazz. In this week’s guitar curation series, I have a lesson that will help you get faster and cleaner with your alternate picking technique. Although this technique is used in many genres of music (jazz included), the purposes of this lesson are mostly rooted in hard rock and metal genres.

Your teacher today is none other than Paul Gilbert – arguably one of the speediest alternate pickers out there. Throughout his career in Racer X, Mr. Big and his solo output, Gilbert demonstrated some seriously impressive fretboard dexterity, along with blistering 16th note runs, octave-spanning arpeggios and a distinct string skipping approach that resulted in many memorable and unique “shred” guitar solos.

I used to be obsessed Paul Gilbert. And although I’ve moved beyond a love of pure guitar speed, I owe a lot of of my technical abilities to this man’s teachings.

So if you’ve ever been frustrated with getting your alternate picking technique faster and less sloppy, the video below will help.

Watch the video, learn the lick, and then continue reading for some tips on how you can practice the lick and actually see noticeable improvements.

Paul Gilbert Alternate Picking and Pull off Exercise


So here are a few tips to help you practice this lick and gradually increase your speed and accuracy.

Step 1: Find your most comfortable tempo where you can comfortably play the lick accurately and in time. Be honest with yourself and settle on a base tempo that allows you almost effortlessly play the lick.

Step 2:From your base tempo, increase the metronome by 4 bpm and practice the lick in 1 or 2-minute intervals. Then, decrease the metronome by 2 bpm and practice again for 1 or 2 minutes. Repeat the pattern – Up 4, Down 2.

Step 3: Track your progress! Whatever your highest tempo is for the day, write it down. Then start with that tempo the next time you go to practice the lick. Click HERE for the Tempo Tracking Spreadsheet. It’s pretty intuitive but I included the Paul Gilbert lick and a few tempo examples to show you what goes in each column and row.

If you like this lesson and would like to see more curated lessons like this, send me an email using the contact form below. I’d love to hear about your guitar struggles and how I can best help you out.

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