Improve Your Picking

In order to pick faster, you need to think about several basic
The efficiency of your picking motion:
– You do NOT need to pick with the least amount of motion
per note.

– You do NOT need to use the least amount of force per note.

 … but you DO need to minimize the motions that do not
contribute to the sound you want to make.  For example: when
playing a scale, letting your pick move away from the guitar after
each note is very inefficient (which makes it difficult to play fast).
Another example, when playing rhythm guitar (with all
downstrokes), you need to practice minimizing the time it takes
your hand to return to its original starting point (rather than trying
to pick with the least amount of effort).
The efficiency of your fretting hand movements: The fingers of
your fretting hand should not move too far away from the guitar
neck, and you should be able to use each finger of the hand
without affecting the behavior of other fingers.  Likewise, your
fretting hand will need to learn to act independently of the picking
hand.  In other words, the fretting hand will usually be required to
apply less force to fret the notes than the picking hand will need to
pick the notes (with some exceptions).  You need to be able to
control the behavior of each hand on its own, without involving the
other hand.
Your coordination/synchronization: Focus your practice on
developing the ability of both hands to pick and fret each note
simultaneously.  This may sound obvious, but it is often the
biggest problem I see with new students who first come to me for
Your guitar set up (and picks):  Make sure that you use a very thick
pick (you must not be able to bend it). Also, it is a myth that you
will be able to pick faster by tuning down your guitar (to reduce
string tension), or by using thinner strings.  This actually makes
the strings harder to control.  Of course, you “can” learn to play
very fast with such a set up, but that type of set up by itself does
NOT make you play any better.