I have been trying to learn proper alternate picking over and over again for the last decade, which always ended in frustration or forearm tendonitis. The last serious attempt is still documented on this forum somewhere, it basically looked something like this:
My biggest issue wasn’t even the string crossing but the motion mechanic itself. After watching Yngwie, Gilbert and Petrucci instruction videos, it always was crystal clear to me that you have to pick from the wrist. And I still have no idea why, but I just can’t pick faster than 150 bpm in 16notes from the wrist, even on a single string and extended practice sessions always ended in some weird wrist pain on the following day. So after being very frustrated with alternate picking around the beginning of 2019, I just started doing other stuff on guitar, learning some songs and quite a bit of sweep picking too. Now before that, my lower arm was always anchored heavily to the guitar body and most of the string tracking motion came from the wrist as well. But with 5 or 6 string sweep arpeggios, it’s pretty much necessary to have at least some forearm motion in there so I had to adapt the anchoring and get used to larger forearm movements. So few months later, I decided to try some alternate picking stuff again, but this time instead of using the wrist I used my upper arm, which always felt very alien in the few previous attempts with that technique. And yeah, it actually was not super controlled at the beginning but it obviously was faster than wrist picking for me.
Thank’s to Corona, I also had quite a bit of time in the last few months to further explore upper arm based picking and I’d be very curious to hear your opinion on it. It’s obviously a bit of a rigid technique, which still feels a bit awkward for 2 note per string licks but for faster stuff, I feel like it’s by far the easiest technique.
Personally, I am quite happy already, I have definitely never been closer to the Lamborghini before that and no more wrist pain is a very big plus. I probably should have tried different picking techniques early instead of trying to force something that is simply not working for me. And the combination of 1 way pick slanting and upper arm picking just feels incredible, honestly, it nearly feels like playing on one string. Honestly, if string crossing is not absolutely effortless, you’re probably doing something wrong. I always thought that I was using the correct string crossing technique, but in retrospect, I definitely was not. In terms of effort, it’s actually not that different from economy or sweep picking in my opinion.
So here are some videos, dwps felt really off at the beginning but it’s getting a lot better nowadays, mostly from practicing 2 nps pentatonics.
Uwps is a lot more comfortable for me and probably still a bit faster:
2WPS is still … in development
Thank’s for reading and thank you so much Troy, I would never have thought about upper-arm based motion mechanics without that Steve Morse clip.