I know the title sounds dramatic, but let me explain.
I’m in my 40s and have been playing guitar since I was 12. I’ve never been a good alternate picker despite many periods of dedicated focus toward improving it. When I was in my teens I was a good rhythm guitar player and did lots of fast legato stuff and sweep picking, felt like I was a good guitarist, and was kind of blissfully unaware that my picking was really holding me back. Then in my 20s I wanted to play Yngwie and Paul Gilbert licks, and would spend months at a time banging my head against the wall with a metronome just not being able to break through the plateau. Then I’d give up, go back to playing Metallica songs, and then start the whole thing over again a year later. I made no real progress for many years.
In my late 30s I reached a point where I got comfortable with the fact that I’m never going to be PG or Yngwie, and was OK with it. I’m just going to focus on what I can do well, and try not to dwell on what I can’t. I was having fun playing again, learned a bunch of songs that I had considered too easy or beneath me, filled some gaps in my knowledge, even did some blues jam type stuff. I was in a good place with my playing.
Last fall, I decided it was time for some dedicated time working on my chops and I started a 100 day plan practicing 4 different things for 15 minutes a day each. I definitely made improvement in the areas I was working on and felt good about my playing overall. It was the first time I really felt like I got better in well over a decade.
Then a few weeks ago a friend who plays in a good rock band told me that he would need another guitarist to fill in for him for a few shows, and maybe I could do it. So I check out the band’s setlist and start learning Still of the Night by Whitesnake. There is of course the blazing alt picked run in the solo, but I could fake my way through that. No big deal. What tripped me up is the violin part. It’s 16th notes at all of 104 bpm, should be super easy for someone who has played guitar for 30 years. No so for a rigid UWPS’er though.
I had an epiphany a while back and realized that DWPS does not refer to what way the pick is “leaning” but whether the tip of the pick travels in a path toward or away from the guitar. I’m sure it’s spelled out here somewhere, but I bought the Cracking the Code season pass back in 2016 and watched all of those but never came to the forum or dug any deeper, so I though downward pickslanting meant simply slanting the pick downward.
So like I said one of the things I’m good at is rhythm guitar, metal stuff like fast downpicking and gallops, etc. I filmed myself playing Master of Puppets and realized that even banging on the open E I’m using UWPS. I’ve never, ever used DWPS and that’s why Still of the Night is giving me fits.
So here I am ready to give it one last shot before I give up on alternate picking forever. I’m through my 100 day practice routine, and ready to focus 100% on this. I signed up for the Masters in Mechanics and I’m going to start working on the Teemu Mäntysaari interview right away because I read here that he’s good at teaching DWPS to players who don’t get it. I’m prepared to do some Skype lessons with him too. Wish me luck. If I don’t make it, I’m doomed to a life of blues jams
Here’s a quick video of some stuff that I can pick fairly well. It was just something that I recorded to show that a PRS can be a “shred guitar” so it’s not musically very interesting or anything.