In the previous guitar lessons Absolute Basics and Three Note Patterns I started you off in the land of alternate picking by having you play some simple exercises meant to build your speed, accuracy, and dexterity. At the same time, the exercises were also designed to build your fretting hand's muscle memory so that your fingers become naturally accustomed to the sorts of patterns that you will encounter in your playing. Most exercises just had you playing patterns on one string, though the final exercises in each guitar ventured into some more difficult territory to give you a preview of alternate picking across strings.
The next step in your journey is to solidify your ability to alternate picking across strings. You got a taste of this in the final exercise from the Three Note Patterns guitar lesson. Now we are going to go more in depth, by showing you the most common three note patterns across two strings. The beauty of this is that once you master these patterns, you will have the skills to play just about anything on the guitar. You see, regardless of whether you are playing across 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 strings (ok, I guess some guitarists are now playing 8 string guitars) one you are proficient playing across two strings, you already have the foundation to tear it up across any number of strings. Well, almost - alternate picking across non-adjacent strings is a different ballgame - but I will cover that in a future guitar lesson as well!
If you mastered the exercises from the previous guitar lesson, you will find that the only challenge in this lesson is performing the string change. So in performing the exercises, pay close attention to the places where you will be changing from B to E string then back from E to B. Switching strings is the hardest part about alternate picking, and so by mastering these exercises, you will have actually mastered the single hardest part about alternate picking! This is why it is so important to aim for precise execution of these exercises. Do not increase tempo until you are playing accurately and in sync.
You will also note in the exercises that I show two ways to rhythmically play the exercises - one way using eighth notes and another way using 5 note 16th note groupings. Since a lot of people are using my guitar lessons to build their speed, it comes in handy to practice exercises in a way that lends itself to building speed. So once you get to the point where you are ready to take it up a notch, set your metronome to a comfortable tempo and play 5 notes a beat. Once you are playing 5 notes a beat at tempos greater than 140 than you can consider yourself as having mastered the exercises.