Hi. I usually play music like Rise Against and some Metallica, but i seem to have a problem with my picking speed.

I've been playing for around 2 years and i don't consider myself to be a noob guitarist, but when it comes to picking (especially downstroke picking) im really bad.

It's really really bad. It's almost as i can't do the beginning riff on Master of Puppets. And if you take a listen to a song called Paper Wings by Rise Against (the second intro part) that is how fast i can pick. It's almost as if my hand just can't take any more, and there doesn't seem to be a way to improve my picking speed.

This is really starting to get annoying and frustrating as there is other songs i'd like to learn which requires fast picking, but i don't seem to get any faster speed no matter how much i practise.

I use a soft pick, but that doesn't make me suck 10% more than if i were to use a thick pick, would it?:P
Last edited by elloel at Mar 10, 2009,
Try using a hard, thick pick, maybe a 1.0mm Jazz III (very popular picks those, I use them too) and alternate pick. Superfast downstrokes aren't needed very often so it's often a better idea to pick alternatively. Alternate = fast + less effort

EDIT. Master of Puppets intro is just downstrokes, don't alternate pick that one
Basically for downstrokes, just like alternate picking, try to do as small motion as possible and stay focused on keeping the right rhythm. A metronome is helpful here too.
Last edited by Lewadra at Mar 10, 2009,
Yea i know, but on some songs there you just have to use downstrokes. Like on paper wings and master of puppets (the intros)
Ive been playing for about 8 months, but the 3-4 weeks been trying to practice more on my downstrokes. I have been using a metronome, set it 120bpm to start with, doing 2 stokes per beat, that was easy on that tempo. The highest i could reach previously was 160. Since ive been practising till my muscles ache, im now up to 176bpm, higher i can do, but i error more, 176 is with no errors for a long time. I also tend to put that beat on while practising the intro to master of pupetts and keep repeating it over and over. This has helped.
Okey thanks! I'll try to use a metronome.

When i compare myself to other people on youtube playing songs with fast downstroke picking it looks like they don't move they're hands at all. When i pick i do really big motions, i know im not supposed to, but its impossible not to :/
Quote by elloel
When i compare myself to other people on youtube playing songs with fast downstroke picking it looks like they don't move they're hands at all. When i pick i do really big motions, i know im not supposed to, but its impossible not to :/

It just needs practice. Some time ago my whole arm used to move when doing palm-muted downpicking. Now my lower arm and wrist move only slightly in my limit speeds (which is around All Nightmare Long main riff speed). My biggest problem is lack of stamina.

Just start slowly making small movement and increase speed gradually. Make sure your wrist is as much in angle with your lower arm as possible, it should help a lot.
I always play full songs (most of the time anyway). Lately i've seen some covers on youtube and not to brag but im so much better than them technically, but there are some fast picking parts which they just pwn me at.

I think theres something wrong with my hand... stupid hand >-<
I just found out i can't even play good riddance by Green Day flawlessly.

How the **** can people say that is a newbeginner song?

EDIT: I can play it flawlessly with downstrokes only, but cant with alternative picking wth?

This is getting so demotivating.
Last edited by elloel at Mar 20, 2009,
First of all, try not to get too frustrated about this. Master of Puppets is a really difficult song to play at anywhere close to song speed.

Basically, getting the fast picking down is a combination of making small precise movements, staying relaxed and not letting that tension build up as you are playing, and yeah, for fast downpicking, there's a bit of an endurance factor there too, but that's secondary to the first two things.

Just work to a metronome, and remember to take it slow and don't rush to play faster than you can play things well.

Also, I would definately invest in some heavier picks. A lot of people swear by Jazz III's which are very heavy. I use the green dunlop 0.088's which are lighter, but still what you'd consider a fairly heavy pick.

Why is this important? Couple of main reasons - 1. tone. For someone who likes metal and rock, you're going to be much more pleased by what comes out of your amp than with the light picks. 2. control/stability. a thin pick deforms when it hits the strings. So you have one moving target in your hand (the pick), trying to strike another moving target (the vibrating string). This is fine if you are making large strummy movements, because the deformation of the pick is too little to make a difference, but if you are trying to make small precise movements like when alternate picking this makes your job harder.

Anyway, good luck with this!
Honestly - I've always played master of puppets in a down style, but that's because i had the bad habit of always down picking when I started playing guitar.

But everyone plays it down style too. Try it both alternate and down picked. Find the way you like it best. make sure you start learning it slow and get a feel for both techniques as you come up towards song speed. Pick what feels and sounds best to you. There's nothing wrong with playing different.
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Also remember, that song (puppets) wasn't written and played by guys in their 2nd year of guitar
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try to play with as little tension as possible as well. No tension + small movement= good picking. Elimination tension will help with your stamina as well.
I can actually help because I had the same problem for two years. My problem was the way I held the pick and a light pick combined with a large picking motion(this was the least of my problems) hurt my speed significantly. Many people say there are two ways too hold the pick, one with it clenched in your hand and leaving your fingers hanging(correct way), and the other way is when your entire fist is clenched up. My first two months of guitar were without a teacher and the wrong way was how I learned how to hold the pick, it made a WORLD of difference, if you do this, it takes time to adjust, but when you do it becomes much easier. Secondly for me was the picks, I was very partial to the ultra light fender pick, not my smartest move. If you are using a light pick it can bend and that creates a longer pause(it could only be.01 seconds, it adds up) making your picking motions longer. I now use Jazz 111 picks, or my favorite Classic Celluloid medium and heavy picks, feels more comftorable then any other pick in my opinion. For a long picking motion it really depends on how large your motion is, if you have a teacher have them work with you on it, or have a friend who also plays guitar work with you. It will take a lot of practice but it will be well worth it. Also, don't worry about playing Master of Puppets, I still needed to get faster after I corrected everything and just recently can play the entire song begginning to end(I have been playing for 3 years).
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