Mid tempo alternate picking struggle


So I’ve had this problem for years now and I just can’t seem to figure it out. I can downpick alright IMO and also I find tremolo picking on one string quite easy… But when I go start alternate picking (on one string) it somehow always feels awkward (past 110bpm)…

I think my pick (and hand) is in neutral position and the down and upstrokes feel relatively the same, but when bringing the tempo up, the picking starts to feel really awkward. It feels like the pick starts to get stuck on the sides of the string. (my pick/hand wants do downward slant and thats when the pick gets stuck usually on the upstroke) I try to pick from the wrist only since at 120bpm it sounds crazy to incorporate the arm at all… My shoulder tenses up quite easily also.

I have a video. Fist is downpicking at 100bpm, then tremolo at 190bpm and last the alternate picking at 120bpm. When i downpick I have some downword slanting going on and upward when tremolo picking. I can’t seem to keep the pick at the same angle when alternate picking at slower tempos so it is

Can you help me identifying the problem. Should I just stick to trying to up the tempo slowly on the alternate pickin? Sometimes I get up to 135bpm and today it feels I could’nt get past 120bpm…

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Answering to myself.

I think the problem is the same with couple other posts in the recent days. My pick angle is not right.
Also the “start playing fast and clean it up from there” seems to be the way to go for me, since the fast tremolo picking feels fluent and the notes have more or less the same volume and feel and the pick angle feels right. When playing at lower tempos my wrist wants to move more (in the sense that the pick angle varies). I need to keep the picking angle the same at all times. If anyone has other input for me that would be great!

Why could it be that at least for me it feels hard to keep the pick angle the same at relatively low tempos? Maybe just not enough practice with this technique?

Simply put, you are not doing the same mechanic slow as you do fast. I’m not the best at critiques (hopedully someone will chime in), but it looks to me that your fast tremolo is DSX and when you go slower, you change to either a neutral slant (trapped) or even a slight USX motion which doesnt seem that efficient for you at this stage.
To test the theory, play 3 notes on one string and then 3 notes on the adjacent string (then stop - don’t loop) with your fast tremolo motion. If that is fine and you can sync up your fretting hand with it, you will have a savage DSX picking motion to use.


Hey @Thompson99 sorry for not noticing this earlier! Welcome to the forum and great playing!

I think @PickingApprentice nailed it! Let me add a platitude: tremolo picking is alternate picking! So you already have a fast alternate picking motion and can totally use that movement for phrases that are not “tremolo”! I also think it looks like downstroke-escape, so make sure you practice it with licks that conform to this (last note on each string must be a downstroke).

I’m also pretty sure you can learn to control the tremolo movement at lower speeds - just give it a shot and let us know (say 16th notes at 150-160 bpm?).

Instead, the 120-ish bpm limit suggests that the movement you call “alternate picking” is most probably string hopping - I would probably suggest to ditch this one especially if it gives you discomfort as you mention. You can of course try and look for a different USX motion that is efficient (try different pick grips and arm orientations). You will know immediately if you found one… because it will be fast!

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Thanks guys! @tommo I know that tremolo picking is alternate picking, just saying… :smiley: But I really feel better now when I know that there isn’t something wrong with my arm or I just simply suck! Already dumped the USX motion that I have basically always used…

What would be a good excercise for let’s say two strings, because that’s where the problems really start haha… On one string I suppose “fast” runs, like 5-6-7-8-5-6-7-8-5 on the g string are a pretty good start or just 9 notes hitting the same notw (so it ends on the downstroke)

@PickingApprentice I tried the 3 and 3 notes excercise and I will later post my current situation on that!
Thank you!

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@Thompson99, here are some exercises you can loop that go back and forth across 2 strings, while maintaining UWPS and DSX. Not sure if your fretting hand is more comfortable going between index-middle-pinky or index-ring-pinky. Most people I know prefer one over the other, I’m of the former camp. So if you’re like me, here are 2 good exercise that cross 2 strings. Picking for all of them is D-U-D-U etc throughout

This one has a triplet or sextuplet feel.


This one has 16th note feel

And here are 2 analogous exercises that use index-ring-pinky of the fretting hand

triplet/sextuplet feel:



They’ve all got a nice circular flow to them when looped. All the string changes occur after a down stroke.

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