What is Double Picking on Guitar – A Comprehensive Guide

Mastering different techniques is essential to improve your playing skills and create unique sounds. One of the most popular and effective techniques is double picking. But what exactly is double picking on guitar?

Key Takeaways

  • Double picking involves using a down-up motion with your pick to strike the strings, resulting in increased speed and accuracy.
  • Understanding double picking is crucial for any guitarist who wants to improve their playing skills.
  • Double picking is an essential technique that can help you play faster, cleaner, and more accurately.

Double picking is commonly used in various music styles, including rock, metal, blues, and jazz. In this article, we will explore the fundamentals of double picking, different exercises to improve your technique, and techniques from renowned guitarists.

Understanding Double Picking

As a guitarist, it’s important to have a variety of techniques in your arsenal to create different effects and styles of music. One such technique is double picking, which involves using a pick to quickly strike two consecutive notes (usually on different strings) in quick succession. In this section, I will explain the concept of double picking and the difference between double and alternate picking.

Concept of Double Picking

Double picking is a technique used to play fast and accurate guitar lines. It involves playing notes in rapid succession, using a down-up motion with the pick.

Double picking can be used to create a variety of different effects, from a fast, staccato sound to a more sustained, legato tone. It can also be used to increase the speed of a guitar solo or to play complex riffs with ease.

Difference Between Double and Alternate Picking

Double picking is the same thing as alternate picking. These are also sometimes referred to as “tremolo picking”.


Importance of Double Picking

I have found that double picking is an essential technique to master. It involves using a down-up motion with the pick to strike the strings, resulting in increased speed and accuracy. Double picking can be used to create a variety of different effects, from a fast, staccato sound to a more sustained, legato tone.

One of the main benefits of double picking is that it allows for faster playing. When playing solos or melodic lines, it can be challenging to keep up with the tempo of the song. Double picking can help you keep up with the pace and play more complex lines with ease. It also allows for smoother transitions between notes, which is crucial when playing fast passages.

Another advantage of double picking is that it can help you achieve a more even and consistent sound. By using a down-up motion, you can ensure that each note is played with the same amount of force and tone. This is especially important when playing complex passages, as it can be easy to accidentally play some notes louder or softer than others.

In addition to improving your playing, mastering double picking can also help you develop your own unique style. By experimenting with different picking patterns and techniques, you can create your own signature sound and stand out from other guitar players.


Fundamentals of Double Picking

Double picking is a guitar playing technique that involves picking two consecutive notes in quick succession using a pick. It is an essential technique for guitarists who want to play fast and accurately. In this section, I will discuss the fundamentals of double picking, including downstroke and upstroke, picking speed and accuracy, and the role of the metronome.

Downstroke and Upstroke

When practicing double picking, it is essential to understand the difference between downstroke and upstroke. Downstroke is when you pick a string by moving the pick downwards towards the guitar body, while upstroke is when you pick a string by moving the pick upwards towards the guitar headstock. Both downstroke and upstroke are crucial for double picking, as they allow you to alternate between picking two notes in quick succession.

Picking Speed and Accuracy

To master double picking, it is crucial to develop both picking speed and accuracy. Picking speed refers to how fast you can pick the strings, while accuracy refers to how precisely you can pick the strings. To improve your picking speed, you need to practice playing scales, arpeggios, and other guitar patterns at gradually increasing tempos. To improve your accuracy, you need to focus on picking each note cleanly and evenly.

Role of the Metronome

The metronome is an essential tool for guitarists who want to improve their double picking technique. It helps you develop your sense of timing and helps you maintain a consistent tempo when playing. When practicing double picking, it is essential to start with a slow tempo and gradually increase the speed as you become more comfortable with the technique. The metronome can help you achieve this by providing a steady beat to practice along with.

In conclusion, double picking is a crucial technique for guitarists who want to play fast and accurately. By understanding the fundamentals of double picking, including downstroke and upstroke, picking speed and accuracy, and the role of the metronome, you can develop your double picking technique and take your guitar playing to the next level.


Double Picking Exercises

As with any guitar technique, the best way to master Double Picking is through practice. Here are some basic and advanced Double Picking exercises that can help improve your guitar speed and accuracy.

Basic Double Picking Exercises

  1. Double Picking Two Notes on the Same String: This exercise is as easy as it can get since we’re only using two notes on the same string. Start by playing the first note with a downstroke, then the second note with an upstroke, and repeat. Increase the speed gradually and make sure you attentively listen to any inaccuracies.
  2. Double Picking Across Two Strings: This exercise involves playing a note on one string and then playing a note on the next string with a downstroke, followed by an upstroke on the same string as the first note. Repeat this pattern across two strings, then switch to the next pair of strings.
  3. Double Picking Across Three Strings: This exercise is similar to the previous one, but instead of playing across two strings, you will play across three strings. Start with the low E string, then move up to the A string, and then the D string. Repeat this pattern across all three strings, then switch to the next set of strings.

Advanced Double Picking Exercises

  1. Double Picking Across Four Strings: This exercise is a bit more challenging than the previous ones. Start with the low E string, then move up to the A string, then the D string, and finally the G string. Repeat this pattern across all four strings, then switch to the next set of strings.
  2. Double Picking Across Five Strings: This exercise involves playing across five strings. Start with the low E string, then move up to the A string, then the D string, the G string, and finally the B string. Repeat this pattern across all five strings, then switch to the next set of strings.
  3. Double Picking Across Six Strings: This exercise is the most challenging of the basic and advanced Double Picking exercises. Start with the low E string, then move up to the A string, then the D string, the G string, the B string, and finally the high E string. Repeat this pattern across all six strings, then switch to the next set of strings.

Remember, these exercises are just the beginning. There are many more Double Picking exercises out there, and the key is to practice consistently and gradually increase your speed. With time and patience, you’ll be able to master this technique and take your guitar playing to the next level.


Double Picking in Different Music Styles

As a guitarist, it’s important to be versatile in your playing style. Double picking is a technique that can be used in many different music styles, from blues to jazz to country. In this section, I’ll explore how double picking is used in each of these music genres.

Double Picking in Blues

Blues music is known for its soulful, emotional sound. Double picking can be used in blues to create a fast, staccato sound. This technique is often used in walking bass lines and shuffle blues style. To enhance your skills even further, you can practice major/minor scales and arpeggios using three-note-per-string scale patterns with the double-picking technique.

Double Picking in Jazz

Jazz music is characterized by its improvisation and complex chord progressions. Double picking can be used in jazz to create a fast, fluid sound. It’s often used in jazz solos to create intricate, melodic lines. To improve your double picking skills in jazz, you can practice playing scales and arpeggios at a faster tempo.

Double Picking in Country

Country music is known for its twangy sound and storytelling lyrics. Double picking can be used in country to create a fast, rhythmic sound. It’s often used in country solos to create a driving, energetic feel. To improve your double picking skills in country, you can practice playing scales and arpeggios using alternate picking and double picking techniques.

In conclusion, double picking is a versatile technique that can be used in many different music styles. By practicing double picking in different genres, you can improve your overall guitar skills and become a more versatile player.


Double Picking in Scales

Double picking is an essential technique that can help you improve your speed, accuracy, and timing. When it comes to practicing double picking, scales are a great place to start. In this section, I will discuss how to incorporate double picking into two popular scales: the G major scale and the minor pentatonic scale.

Double Picking in G Major Scale

The G major scale is a seven-note scale that consists of the notes G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#. To practice double picking in this scale, start by playing the scale ascending and descending using alternate picking (down-up) on each note. Once you are comfortable with this, you can start incorporating double picking.

To double pick a note, simply play it twice in quick succession using alternate picking (down-up). For example, when playing the G note, you would play it once with a downstroke and then again with an upstroke. This technique can be used on any note in the scale.

Practicing double picking in the G major scale can help you improve your speed and accuracy. It can also help you develop your sense of timing, as you will need to keep a steady beat while playing the scale.

Double Picking in Minor Pentatonic Scale

The minor pentatonic scale is a five-note scale that consists of the notes A, C, D, E, and G. To practice double picking in this scale, start by playing the scale ascending and descending using alternate picking (down-up) on each note.

Once you are comfortable with this, you can start incorporating double picking. To double pick a note, simply play it twice in quick succession using alternate picking (down-up). For example, when playing the A note, you would play it once with a downstroke and then again with an upstroke. This technique can be used on any note in the scale.

Practicing double picking in the minor pentatonic scale can help you improve your speed and accuracy. It can also help you develop your sense of timing, as you will need to keep a steady beat while playing the scale.

In conclusion, incorporating double picking into your scale practice can greatly improve your guitar playing skills. With practice, you will be able to play scales faster and with greater accuracy, while also developing your sense of timing.


Double Picking Techniques from Renowned Guitarists

As an aspiring guitarist, it is essential to learn from the best in the business. In this section, I will discuss the double picking techniques of some of the most renowned guitarists in the world.

Yngwie Malmsteen’s Double Picking

Yngwie Malmsteen is a Swedish guitarist known for his fast and intricate playing style. He is considered one of the pioneers of neo-classical metal, and his double picking technique is a significant contributor to his unique sound.

Malmsteen’s double picking technique involves using a combination of alternate picking and economy picking. He uses this technique to play fast and complex arpeggios, scales, and runs. Malmsteen’s technique is characterized by his use of legato phrasing, which allows him to play long, flowing lines with ease.

Paul Gilbert’s Double Picking

Paul Gilbert is an American guitarist known for his work with the bands Racer X and Mr. Big. He is also a prolific solo artist and has released several instructional videos on guitar playing. Gilbert’s double picking technique is characterized by his use of string skipping and economy picking.

Gilbert’s technique involves using a combination of alternate picking and economy picking to play fast and intricate lines. He also uses a lot of string skipping to create wide intervals between notes. Gilbert’s technique is characterized by his use of legato phrasing, which allows him to play fast lines with ease.

John Petrucci’s Double Picking

John Petrucci is an American guitarist known for his work with the progressive metal band Dream Theater. He is widely regarded as one of the most technically proficient guitarists in the world.

Petrucci’s technique involves using a combination of alternate picking and sweep picking to play fast and complex lines. He also uses a lot of legato phrasing to create fluid lines that flow seamlessly. Petrucci’s technique is characterized by his use of wide intervallic jumps, which allows him to play complex arpeggios and runs with ease.

In conclusion, the double picking techniques of Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, and John Petrucci are essential for any aspiring guitarist to learn. By incorporating these techniques into your playing, you can develop a unique and intricate playing style that will set you apart from other guitarists.


Improving Your Double Picking

In this section, I will discuss some effective ways to improve your double-picking skills.

Guitar Lessons

Taking guitar lessons is one of the best ways to improve your double picking skills. A professional guitar instructor can help you identify your weaknesses and provide you with personalized exercises to address them. They can also teach you proper hand positioning and picking techniques, which are crucial for developing speed and accuracy.

Self Practice

Self-practice is another effective way to improve your double picking skills. Start with simple exercises, such as double picking two notes on the same string, and gradually increase the difficulty level. Make sure you keep increasing the speed, but also pay attention to accuracy. If you notice any inaccuracies, slow down and work on them until you can play the exercise perfectly.

In conclusion, improving your double picking skills takes practice and dedication. Whether you choose to take guitar lessons or practice on your own, make sure you focus on accuracy and gradually increase the difficulty level. By incorporating hybrid picking into your practice routine, you can add variety to your playing and take your double picking skills to the next level.


Conclusion

In conclusion, double picking is a crucial technique for guitar players who want to increase their speed and accuracy. By using a down-up motion with the pick, guitarists can strike the strings twice in the same amount of time, resulting in a faster and more precise playing style.

Overall, mastering the technique of double picking can take time and practice, but it is a valuable skill for any guitarist looking to improve their playing ability.


FAQ

What are some tips for beginners learning double picking on guitar?

If you’re just starting out with double picking on guitar, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Start slow: Double picking requires a lot of precision and control, so it’s important to start at a slow tempo and gradually work your way up.
  • Focus on accuracy: It’s better to play slowly and accurately than to rush and make mistakes. Make sure each note is clear and distinct.
  • Use a metronome: Practicing with a metronome can help you develop good timing and rhythm.
  • Practice regularly: Consistent practice is key to mastering any guitar technique, including double picking.

What is hybrid picking and how does it compare to double picking?

Hybrid picking is a technique that involves using both a pick and your fingers to play notes on the guitar. It’s often used in country and bluegrass music, as well as in other genres.

While hybrid picking and double picking both involve using the pick to play multiple notes in quick succession, they are not the same thing. Hybrid picking allows for greater flexibility and control, as you can use your fingers to pluck strings while holding the pick. Double picking, on the other hand, is strictly a picking technique.

Is double picking essential for mastering guitar playing?

Double picking is a useful technique to have in your guitar playing arsenal, but it’s not necessarily essential for mastering the instrument. There are many great guitar players who don’t use double picking regularly, and there are other techniques that can be just as effective for achieving speed and accuracy.

That being said, double picking can be a valuable tool for playing fast, intricate passages, and it’s worth practicing if you’re interested in expanding your skill set as a guitarist.

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