Downpicking Tier List

Some background, I always wanted reliable scales in that typical triplets-at-130 BPM range, and thanks to the wealth of information and great advice here I finally did it. But then I thought to myself, “why is my downpicking still bad?”

So I dug around and realized downward-escape made sense as the pick stroke is always down, so the pick is always “free” that way. And lo and behold, made progress for the first time in decades. Now I get it; I never agreed that all-downs sounds “better,” but it does sound different; it sounds faster at the same tempo, and more intense. And it’s fun.

So I ask people with more experience, can you help me rate different, ideally pretty well-known songs in order of difficulty? I’ll start:

I’m a pretty big Maiden fan and though they don’t get mentioned much in downpicking discussions, some of their songs are fiendishly difficult. At the low end of the “tricky-downpicking” songs I’d put Run to the Hills and The Trooper. “Killers” is the same galloping technique at about the same tempo but requires more stamina. “Sun and Steel” is tricky to get those stabs on the A chord on the high strings.

Then there’s Number of the Beast, that intro is f***ing relentless. I used to play in a Maiden cover band and I don’t think I made it through the intro once without resorting to alternate picking.

Then there are Transylvania and Quest for Fire, somehow it escaped me that they’re single-notes with the odd chord so not as fearsome as I thought, maybe it’s just the 3/4 time throwing me but I find them pretty brutal.

There are plenty of songs I can add to the tier later as many of them I alternate picked in the past, 2 Minutes to Midnight is one that I’d put somewhere in the middle.

So all suggestions welcome, bonus points if someone recommends a Buddy Holly tune (a friend once told me Buddy had killer downpicking chops but I just don’t listen to his stuff at all, might make for a cool cover though.)

Thanks for reading!

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