Help Crack my Technique?

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Hi All - I’ve been playing guitar for about 15 years. I’m generally quite happy with my playing other than being limited with alternate picking speed - this limit is 132-150 BPM depending on the day with short bursts above that here and there. It looks to be a string hopping type of issue from what I learned in the course.

My main instrument is actually drums, which I’ve played since I could hold the sticks. I really enjoy guitar though and want to solve this problem.

I can max out my metronome on all of the table tests with little effort. I can tremolo pick but with a disgusting elbow motion that makes my knuckles look like they could pop any minute (I don’t really want to slow that down and control it, the limitations seem obvious)

In the video is somewhat how I normally pick - though I don’t usually fan the fingers out and anchor. I’ve noticed I do this when strictly going for speed. Sorry for the single note drone…I was holding the camera.

Thanks in advance!

Troy posted this in response to a similar post a couple of days ago, I thought I’d link it here because he puts it better than I ever could!

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What’s a “disgusting elbow motion”, you mean like this?

Obviously, elbow is quite capable, as Vinnie and also Bill Hall, who we’ve interviewed, demonstrate. It’s also almost never a motion you use in isolation — many great elbow players incorporate wrist motion, in combination with elbow, to tackle phrases that elbow can’t do by itself. Vinnie is famous for his pedal tone mastery using this approach:

Conversely, many wrist players are also good elbow players when they want to be, as for very fast DSX phrases or tremolo lines.

Moreover, the idea behind getting good at the first technique you can do well is that it teaches you valuable skills like what being correct, fast, smooth, and synchronized feels like. Without that information, it’s hard to know how to learn other techniques.

The pitfall is that you can end up falling into traps like your video above, where the technique is not really working correctly but you don’t know what to do to improve it. The trick is that you really can’t improve it. You must find a motion that you can do fast right away. You can’t skip that step. If it’s slow, it’s wrong.

Given your drumming abilities, you already have some sense of what fast/smooth feels like. You just need to find a picking motion that feels like that. I’ve said my piece on elbow, but if you’d like to keep experimenting with other motions, then the basic requirement is simply that it must feel fast and easy immediately.


Thanks Troy - I didn’t mean to imply that elbow motion is disgusting or unacceptable at a fundamental level, but rather my motion seems to be filled with a lot of tension even though it allows the speed. I do think there is some wrist motion in there that is working with the elbow…maybe even fighting a bit. When I do this (video below) it only works with the downward escape. If I turn it away from the guitar it stops.

Something very interesting I noted is that if I lay the guitar flat on a surface I can do this with almost no tension and there seems to be more of a wrist component to it.

Some of these ideas might help (from a master of elbow picking :wink: )

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