Please Critique My Alternate Picking! (videos inside)

Hey folks,

I’d love some feedback on my alternate picking. As you’ll see in the clip below, it’s mainly a combination of wrist/forearm (I feel no tension except a slight fatigue in my forearm after extended periods of playing). My issue is that my technique is fluid and effortless on the top two strings, but as soon as I cross onto any of the four bottom strings, things get tripped up. You’ll see this in the video. Any tips? How do you guys think I should practice getting my technique fluid on the remaining four strings? Thanks in advance!

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These motions look and sound great! Really strong attack. You’re unplugged, right?

I used to have the same problem, just in the inverse. Spent way too much time on the lower strings while playing speed metal and the upper strings felt too tiny. The only real solution is to practice on whatever strings feel uncomfortable, since it’s likely a psychological problem.

If there is any sort of technical problem that you have with your motions I am unable to spot them.

Thanks for the feedback, @guitarenthusiast!

How, specifically, did you solve your problem (fluency on the lower strings, but awkwardness on the higher ones)? Did you just drill fast picking on the higher strings? What percentage of your max speed would you say you practiced at when trying to apply your speed to the higher strings?

Oh, and yes the guitar is unplugged in my video.

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Hi. I have a similar problem. Applying USX technique on thicker strings feels wrong. While thinner strings don’t give me a problem.
Though if I use my old approach (DSX-NSX) it’s opposite since I tried to play dethmetal a bit back in the time )

Interesting. I think my picking technique is “correct” because it feels effortless and is very fast on the higher strings. I’m just wondering how best to go about implementing this technique on the lower strings, which currently feel awkward. I have random instances where I can apply the technique successfully on the lower strings, but it’s inconsistent. What is the best way to make it as consistent as on the higher strings?

Yeah I tried to make numerous exercises from scale sequences and just drilled them like crazy on my weakest strings. Basically, I just picked whatever string I felt “scared” of and focused on that for a day. Then another day I did the next string. It took about a week or so.

Hmmm I never practice with a metronome when practicing technique. I’m not really sure how to answer that… I don’t really think of speeds as “fast” or “slow”… I try to play as relaxed as possible with the smoothest motion for a phrase and the speed is a consequence of achieving fluidity. So basically as fast as I humanly can without tension, just without a metronome clicking away.

Here is a Chris Broderick video that explains that last point in maybe a more succinct way, at 11:36 if the timestamp doesn’t go through when you click play:

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@guitarenthusiast this is a great response. I am going to try your idea of attacking the strings I’m “scared” of. Thanks for the tip!

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Was your phone attached to your guitar in any way? Or you just found a really solid angle? haha

Just propped my phone up against a coffee cup, nothing revolutionary!

You seem to ever so slightly change your angle of attack when you move to the lower strings, but it may not be significant. Perhaps the fact that you unfold your fingers when you play on the lower strings trips things up? You seem to have a nice “oscillation” going with the fingers brushing against the pick guard when playing on the high strings. Have you tried folding the fingers into your hand to get them out of the way?

I would also look at the amount of edge picking, and maybe try different picks and grips. Something less pointy, or the other way around, and so on!

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@Johannes thank you for your observations. The reason I “unfold” my fingers as I descend is to maintain some point of contact on the body of the guitar. I have always done this, even when I used my previous alternate picking elbow/arm technique (which you guys can see in the other videos on my channel if you’re interested). Without such contact, I lose any feeling of “stability.” I think the issue is simply unfamiliarity with applying my smooth picking technique on the higher strings to the lower ones. Since yesterday, I have been drilling this weakness and I have already seen improvement.

I am currently using regular Ernie Ball Prodigy 2.0 mm picks, but I am going to try Jazz III XLs next. I have always found the regular Jazz III’s to be too small for me.

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The is exactly the issue I am having… it sucks because it is really hard to undeestand what the hell is going on. .

@PickingApprentice well, I’ve done some research on this site and I came across a Martin Miller video where he advises his student to practice fast alternate picking in 9-note “chunks” at speeds slightly outside the student’s “comfort zone.” I am going to use this method to improve my alternate picking speed/accuracy/consistency on the lower strings as this appears to be the favored method on this site. Any comments/input from anyone on this strategy?

Hell if I know, man )
I ended up using USX/NSX on thicker 2 strings and USX on others. Which brings swiping sometimes.
Come to think it - it’s kind of logical, since before I had USX on thicker strings and NSX on others. It’s just became rotated slightly. I thought of increasing slanting angle more, but I already have ridiculous angle on high E (almost vertical) so I guess I should do what @guitarenthusiast did: practice that stuff. But I’m too lazy. I’m not a practice guy )

P.S. I found that playing with planted pinky helps sometimes but this method messes around wtih my muting habits, so…

Hey dudes,

Just wanted to update those of you who are interested: I started using the “chunking” method on the lower strings today and it has definitely yielded immediate results, even if marginal compared to yesterday’s video. Here’s a video of today’s practice. The first lick is a descending sextuplet run at 150 BPM, followed by an example of how I used chunking today.

After chunking on the low E string for a while, playing on that string becomes much less awkward. I also find that this method of practice lends itself to “zoning out” while playing, such that you almost naturally gravitate towards the least tense and most effortless alternate picking motion. What do you guys think?

Id be down to try 9 note chunks on 1 string. Any sequence in particular or just as long as it’s 9 notes on one string ? This could help with hand sync too

I just do chromatic sixteenth notes. Once I get comfortable with that, I’ll increase the size of the chunk until it’s as long as a passage would be. Then I’ll work on crossing strings, etc. Start with the simplest idea first and progressively make it more difficult.

I think you guys will find this interesting:

So I was practicing chromatic chunks on the sixth string and crossing from the sixth to fifth string at 230 BPM. I got it fairly clean and tight. Then I backed the metronome down to 200 BPM and was able to play an ascending/descending chromatic passage fairly cleanly with no problem. Check it out and let me know what you think.

nice work here - obviously generating a lot of speed. More than I can get!

Will be very interested to see how the chunking works for you - I have struggled with chunking as I have issues with hand sync and chunking is not allowing me to sort those out.

My feeling is you will solve this by doing what you are doing - practice - analysis - practice (rinse and repeat).

Really looking forward to seeing when you have put all this together! Keep us posted

@Interestedoz Thanks man will do!