Todd Simpson - Shred Journey

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Todd Simpson
Todd Simpson


Lesson Series by Todd Simpson


In this course, I'll be showing you how to get started with "Alternate Picking". In this lesson, I will try to assume nothing. We will start at the very beginning and work out way up. The goal of this series is to take you from 0 to 60 BPM (Beats Per Minute) and beyond. Once you can keep your alternate your picking steady and go across strings, you are ready to begin working up your speed. All it takes is practice.


Quick Vocabulary: "Beats Per Minute" (Per:

Beats Per Minute is a unit typically used as either a measure of tempo in music, or a measure of one's heart rate. A rate of 60 bpm means that one beat will occur every second. One bpm is equal to 1/60 Hz.

The BPM tempo of a piece of music is conventionally shown in its score as a metronome mark, as illustrated to the right. This indicates that there should be 120 crotchet beats (quarter notes) per minute. In simple time signatures it is conventional to show the tempo in terms of the note duration on the bottom. So a 4/4 would show a crotchet (or quarter note), as above, while a 2/2 would show a minim (or half note).

In compound time signatures the beat consists of three note durations (so there are 3 quavers (eighth notes) per beat in a 6/8 time signature), so a dotted form of the next note duration up is used. The most common compound signatures: 6/8, 9/8, and 12/8, therefore use a dotted crotchet (dotted quarter note) to indicate their BPM.

Exotic time and particularly slow time signatures may indicate their BPM tempo using other note durations.

BPM Related External links:

Music sample:

120 BPM tempo, Example of a basic 4/4, 120 BPM tempo - Play sound


It is very important that you learn to work with a “Metronome”. What is a metronome you ask? Good question. Here is a good definition from Wikipedia

A metronome is any device that produces a regulated aural, visual or tactile pulse to establish a steady tempo in the performance of music. It is a useful practice tool for musicians that dates back to the early 19th century.
(Source: )

Metronomes now exist in software form, either as stand alone applications or often in music sequencing and audio multitrack software packages. In recording studio applications, such as film scoring, a software metronome is often used to generate a click track to synchronize musicians. So your metronome can be a physical device used to count time or a computer program that runs in software. Either way is fine. The important thing here is that you get used to playing in sync with a timed rhythm. It will make your picking more even and stable and help you work out the synchronization between your right and left hand. In addition, you will be able to measure your progress as you increase the speed of the metronome pulse. So whether you buy a stand alone metronome, like the one pictured below, or download one for your PC, Mac, or iPhone, just make sure to have one handy. We are going to be working with a metronome in later lessons.


As we go through these lessons, I really do hope that you will feel free to participate and share your attempts at the lessons with me for review and feedback. I'll check in to answer questions and provide feedback on a regular basis, so if you have questions as you go, please ask user posted image If you have a camera/web cam of your own, think about recording your lessons and posting them to a site like It's free and it's a great way to track your progress and for me to be able to see you play and provide feedback and further instruction. Also, it's a great way to get used to playing under pressure so to speak. Eventually, as you play in front of audiences, you will get your "Stage Legs". This just means that you won't as nervous playing in front of people as you may initially be. With video, it's a good way to start heading that direction. You may find that something you could play very well, suddenly seems harder once there is a camera on you. This is not true for everyone, but it is a common theme. If you can get used to playing in front of a camera and learn to summon your talent at will, it can serve as a great way to get used to playing at your best level despite being filmed, watched, critiqued, applauded, or even heckled. So start recording yourself playing and start posting it to a video sharing site. It's a great way to connect with other players as well as to track your own progress. After a while, you will be able to look back on your older videos and see how much you've improved and that is a great feeling.

Before we begin, let's talk a bit about time and practice. Life is a busy thing and the only way to get better is to take control of your time and carve out time to practice each day. It is not easy in our hectic lives to find that time, but it is critical that you manage your time in such a way as to allow for daily practice, seven days a week if at all possible. Five days a week at a minimum. If you can, try to spend an hour each day with your instrument.

Before playing, always try to do some gentle stretches with your hands and wrists. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the bane of any musician. Avoid it by stretching lightly before and after playing. Also, do the usual things to help maintain yourself like getting enough sleep, and not over doing it when going out when friends. Learning an instrument can be made much easier by taking care of yourself so that your mind is clear and focused when you sit down to practice and learn.

I'm looking forward to teaching you how to get from 0 to 60 and beyond!


The Lessons

LESSON #1 - Getting Started With Alternate Picking
LESSON #2 - Adding Notes
LESSON #3 - Reversing Patterns /Changing Strings
LESSON #4 - Right Hand / Left Hand Synchronization
LESSON #5 - Back and Forth
LESSON #6 - Pedal Point/Tone
LESSON #7 - Back and Forth Revisted from lower to higher strings
LESSON #8 - Different shapes on different strings
LESSON #9 - Building speed
LESSON #10 - Incorporating Inversions
LESSON #11 - Inverting Inversions
LESSON #12 - Sliding
LESSON #13 - Using Full Scales and Inversions
LESSON #14 - Building Speed on Open Strings
LESSON #15 - Introduction to "Economic Picking / Directional Picking"
LESSON #16 - Triad Shapes Across 3 Strings
LESSON #17 - Using "Back and Forth" techniques in full scales
LESSON #18 - Integrating Solo/Lead Playing
LESSON #19 - Mini Clinic (Tapping/Hammering)
LESSON #20 - Pentatonic Finger Torture
LESSON #21 - Blitzkrieg Guitar Rythms / Lead as Rhythm
LESSON #22 - Extreme Legato / Shredding With One Hand
LESSON #23 - Extended Scale Runs
LESSON #24 - Building Left Hand Strength, Stretch and Speed
LESSON #25 - Combining Alternate Picking and Economic Picking
LESSON #26 - Asymmetrical Patterns on Symmetrical Shapes (Alternate Picking/Economic Picking)
LESSON #27 - Symmetrical Patterns on Symmetrical Shapes (Alternate Picking/Economic Picking Continued)
LESSON #28 - Scale Patterns (Alternate Picking/Economic Picking Continued)
LESSON #29 - Turning these lessons into licks/chops for use in guitar solos
LESSON #30 - Turning these lessons in to licks/chops for use in guitar solos Part II
LESSON #31 - Turning these lessons in to licks/chops for use in guitar solos Part III
LESSON #32 - Turning these lessons in to licks/chops for use in guitar solos Part IV
LESSON #33 - Working your stretch
LESSON #34 - Working your stretch, strengthening your left hand and increasing your speed
LESSON #35 - Developing Licks and Solos from Patterns and Scales
LESSON #36 - Shredding the Ionian Mode
LESSON #37 - Advanced Shredding in the Ionian/Major Mode
LESSON #38 - Alternate Picking/Economic Picking
LESSON #39 - Strict Alternate Picking (Focused on Difficult Finger Combinations)
LESSON #40 - Combining Inversions / Techniques
LESSON #41 - Pentatonic Finger Torture Part III
LESSON #42 - Alternate Picking / Economic Picking / Soloing in D Minor
LESSON #43 - Alternate Picking With Ascending and Descending Inversions
LESSON #44 - Alternate Picking/Economic Picking and Legato Phrasing in Musical Context
LESSON #45 - Hammer On / Pull Off / Alternate Pick
LESSON #46 - Alternate Picking in Context (Open String Work vs Fretted Work)
LESSON #47 - Working Your Stretch and Playing Without Your Thumb!
LESSON #48 - Exploring Various Methods of Shred
LESSON #49 - Taking it one step further
LESSON #50 - Alternate/Economic/Hybrid Picking & Playing without Picking or the Left Thumb
LESSON #51 - Shredding Whole Tone Scales
LESSON #52 - Shredding The Harmonic Minor Scale
LESSON #53 - Open String Pentatonics
LESSON #54 - Expanding Harmonic Minor
LESSON #55 - Building Long Scale Runs
LESSON #56 - Shred in Context / Solo Work
LESSON #57 - Shred in Context Part II
LESSON #58 - Shred in Context Part III
LESSON #59 - Triple picking and triads
LESSON #60 - Playing the impossible continued (Playing Full Solos With One Hand)
LESSON #61 - Inside / Outside Picking and Working Your Stretch!
LESSON #62 - Quadruple Picking!
LESSON #63 - Economic Picking In Context
LESSON #64 - Mixing and Matching (Alternate Picking and Economic Picking)
LESSON #65 - Pushing Past The “Barrier”
LESSON #66 - Neo Classical Approaches
LESSON #67 - Sweet Spots, Dirty Spots
LESSON #68 - Building A Solo
LESSON #69 - Building A Solo, Employing Previous Techniques
LESSON #70 - Endurance Intensive
LESSON #71 - Doxologia Minor Part II
LESSON #72 - The Magic Pinky (The Secret Sauce of Spooky Technique)
LESSON #73 - The Magic Pinky Part II (The Secret Sauce of Spooky Technique)
LESSON #74 - Spooky speed and symmetry
LESSON #75 - Love Me Lesson
LESSON #76 - Ninja Guitar E.G. Ben Higgins Influence Strikes Again!
LESSON #77 - Playing without gaps and keeping up
LESSON #78 - Shredding the blues
LESSON #79 - Thumbs akimbo!
LESSON #80 - Alternate Picking (Straight Line Speed VS Cornering Speed)
LESSON #81 - Spooky Rhythms and Riffs
LESSON #82 - Reverse and Inverse
LESSON #83 - Solo deconstruction/reconstruction
LESSON #84 - Extended Pentashred Licks
LESSON #85 - Funktified
LESSON #86 - Extremes of reach and speed
LESSON #87 - Neo classical
LESSON #88 - AP/Eco/Shred and the Zen of Picking
LESSON #89 - Tripeggios (Is it an arpeggio? A Triad? It's a Tripeggio!)
LESSON #90 - 2011 Final Lesson! (Last chance to work our pinky!)
LESSON #91 - "Inverted Hammering/Tapping" And "Fret Skipping"!
LESSON #92 - Speed is a byproduct of precision
LESSON #93 - Playing things you thought were impossible
LESSON #98 - Solo Madness
LESSON #99 - Racer X Style Part I
LESSON #100 - Racer X Style Part II
LESSON #101 - Inside outside picking until our fingers are inside out!
LESSON #102 - Rock Licks and Spiff Tricks!
LESSON #103 - (Lesson #3 Redux) Alternate picking reversed shapes
LESSON #104 - (Lesson #4 Redux) Advanced right hand - left hand synchronization
LESSON #105 - (Lesson #5 Redux) Advanced right hand - left hand synchronization Part II
LESSON #106 - (Lesson #5 Redux) Advanced right hand - left hand synchronization Part II

Lesson Series by Todd Simpson