I don’t want to waste too much time on my individual situation, but here’s the basic back story. Been playing 27yrs, mainly a thumb movement player for most things (with some forearm rotation), and elbow rotation player for very fast lines (think Zakk Wylde 2nps riffs). Tried to change/fix my technique, as there were very specific things I could not do and certain things that caused too much pressure in my shoulder/fingers, but inadvertently (over 2yrs) lost my old thumb movement without developing appropriate write/forearm rotation movements to make up for it. Long story short, after generally being able to play most things (Satriania, Vai, Wylde, speed metal), I have reverted back to a worse than beginner picker, I don’t know how else to put it. Beyond frustrating doesn’t begin to capture it!
The crazy discovery: If I flip my guitar around and play left handed, I can actually pick with good technique, palm muted at fairly high speeds (150bpm+), with very little effort, remaining totally relaxed (and I’ve never done this before in 27yrs!). Took me about 15 minutes to get comfortable, crazy I know. So I know what that feels like. But unfortunately, with my right picking hand, I have all this mess of old+recently modified bad picking habits, i.e. the muscle memory, that has taken over. We’re talking total mess, not being able to pick smoothly simple QUARTER NOTE passages without my right forearm/shoulder tensing up.
So here’s my question: How do you break bad muscle memory and replace with good memory? Is it possible after you’ve been playing 20+ yrs?
I understand people might ask, show me a video, you can probably pick right if you just use what you have and modify slightly. But I’m telling you, there are some screwed up bad habits in there that I’d like to get rid of. Is this possible? And if so, how? Do I literally sit there and practice qtr note passages at 50bpm? I appreciate Troy’s “start by picking fast”, but if I do this I will go straight to a Marty Friedman/Zakk Wylde/Gypsy style (i.e. wrist way up), elbow dependent / no wrist rotation tremolo picking which does not work for palm muting or playing slow riffs, and I will have A TON of tension that locks up the entire arm to fingers.
Any thoughts are appreciated, I just can’t seem to find an answer to this question, and the right way to practice if you’re not new to guitar but have bad engrained habits that need to be corrected.