Sync Your Picking Hand with a Metronome

Let's focus on getting your picking hand synced and steady with some simple single-note exercises.

Before dealing with fretting-hand technique, let’s focus on getting your picking hand synced with the metronome with some single-note exercises. First, set your metronome to about 40 bpm and turn it on. Using all downstrokes, repeatedly play a C note on the fifth fret of the G string. Start out by playing quarter notes—one note right on each click of the metronome (Example 1). Try it out and adjust your pick attack until it’s right on target with the metronome, letting each note ring for its full quarter-note value until it’s time for the next attack.

Once you’re clicking comfortably along with downstrokes on each beat, the next step is to try some upstrokes for a technique called alternate picking. To do this, play the same fifth-fret C note with an upstroke on every other beat so that you’re playing downstrokes on beats one and three and upstrokes on two and four. Pay close attention to how your upstrokes sound; if they’re as clear and loud as your downstrokes, then you’re in great shape!


If not, practice the motion for a while by playing Example 1 with all upstrokes. After you feel comfortable playing one quarter note per beat, try playing two evenly spaced notes per beat, using alternate picking (Example 2).

Excerpted from Rhythm and Strumming Basics

Josh Workman
Josh Workman

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