#1
I've been playing guitar for many many years, and have played most songs that are too fast for down-picking as alternate picking. However, I've been developing my down-picking speed as this tends to make rhythm playing, as in fast thrash metal, sound a lot better, to me anyway.

So how do I develop the stamina needed in my right hand to push myself faster and faster? (aside from just playing and playing) Is there any other physical exercise I can do to develop down-picking speed?

As an example of down-picking speed, I can play Jump In the Fire all downpicked at the correct tempo. However, I can't quite play the Tornado of Souls verse section all down-picked. Is it just a question of more and more practice, or there something else I can do to supplement the guitar playing?

(The ultimate goal would be Master of Puppets all downpicked. Right now I play VV^VV^VV^ on the intro, which sounds cool too.)
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#2
I think your ultimate goal should be Origin's Antithesis. All downpicked.

Seriously though, it's just practice. If you find your hand getting tired it either does not have enough stamina or you're tensing up. A tensed up arm is using more energy than needed and restricts blood flow. Not good.
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#3
James Hetfield holds his pick with 3 fingers (Thumb, Index and Middle), which probably aids in the process of all down picking. Also, tattoos and a beard might help...
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#4
Quote by Mopy
James Hetfield holds his pick with 3 fingers (Thumb, Index and Middle), which probably aids in the process of all down picking.
Probably not.
Also, tattoos and a beard might help...
This however, is some solid advice. Don't forget to have your guitar hanging around your ankles, that helps too.
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#5
Don't forget to stretch your forearms too.
They also make these devices called a "Gripmaster" that is an exercise tool you hold in your hands and helps your hands/wrists/forearms. It's almost like a stress ball. I use them at my desk at work.
#6
Quote by SeeEmilyPlay
Don't forget to stretch your forearms too.
They also make these devices called a "Gripmaster" that is an exercise tool you hold in your hands and helps your hands/wrists/forearms. It's almost like a stress ball. I use them at my desk at work.



gripmaster has been really useful for me. i started playing again after about 10 years off, and i gotta give alot of credit to that little piece of equipment for the speedy recovery back to where i was. each finger has its own compression coil, and theres also a padded compression coil for your palm. also comes in different resistances, medium is the lowest i would purchase. best 12 bucks i've ever spent!
#7
Quote by Mopy
James Hetfield holds his pick with 3 fingers (Thumb, Index and Middle), which probably aids in the process of all down picking. Also, tattoos and a beard might help...


I will try all these things. [throws razor in the rubbish]

Quote by SeeEmilyPlay
Don't forget to stretch your forearms too.
They also make these devices called a "Gripmaster" that is an exercise tool you hold in your hands and helps your hands/wrists/forearms. It's almost like a stress ball. I use them at my desk at work.


I was thinking something like this might help. I'll give it a try too.
Ibanez AF105VB
Ibanez RG2550Z
MIM '92 Fender Strat
Peavey Triumph 60
MXR-108.
and that's it. done buying stuff. probably.
#8
Quote by Kanthras
A tensed up arm is using more energy than needed and restricts blood flow. Not good.


I do have to try and tense-up less as well.
Ibanez AF105VB
Ibanez RG2550Z
MIM '92 Fender Strat
Peavey Triumph 60
MXR-108.
and that's it. done buying stuff. probably.
#9
Tensing up is the main stumbiling block for most people. Bets thing to do would be to play your down strokes slowley with your whole arm, hand and shoulders not tensed up. Doing this enough will retrain your muscle memory and you will play un-tensed as you play quickly. Down side to this is you have to spend the time playing slowley and relaxed. I did this with all my techniques about 3 years ago and am so glad I did.
#10
Quote by evilbiskits
Tensing up is the main stumbiling block for most people. Bets thing to do would be to play your down strokes slowley with your whole arm, hand and shoulders not tensed up. Doing this enough will retrain your muscle memory and you will play un-tensed as you play quickly. Down side to this is you have to spend the time playing slowley and relaxed. I did this with all my techniques about 3 years ago and am so glad I did.


Will try this for sure too. I've got no probs with going back to the drawing-board for a while. I regularly practice with a metronome on slooooooww. Thanks. This has been a really helpful thread.
Ibanez AF105VB
Ibanez RG2550Z
MIM '92 Fender Strat
Peavey Triumph 60
MXR-108.
and that's it. done buying stuff. probably.
#11
Why would you want to downpick all those notes? Alternate picking is faster and it sounds exactly the same. I dont understand why anyone would want to downpick every note.
#12
Quote by ThrashKing
Why would you want to downpick all those notes? Alternate picking is faster and it sounds exactly the same. I dont understand why anyone would want to downpick every note.




Downpicking has a very definite tone, if you can't hear it I suggest you listen more carefully.
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#13
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr


Downpicking has a very definite tone


This is why. Even on single notes the angle you hold your pick, the force you apply to an upstroke vs a downstroke, its not all the same. Well, not for me anyway!

And if you are playing chords, as in my Tornado of Souls example, you are playing some chords downpicked and some up-picked, and that has a really big effect on the sound of the chord.

Plus, I think putting more energy into the picking, as you would have to if you played all downstrokes, gives more energy to the song. Play the Master of Puppets intro as fast as you can downpicked, then play it at the same tempo but alternate picked. Which sounds better?
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Ibanez RG2550Z
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Peavey Triumph 60
MXR-108.
and that's it. done buying stuff. probably.
Last edited by finetune at Jun 22, 2010,
#14
Quote by ThrashKing
Why would you want to downpick all those notes? Alternate picking is faster and it sounds exactly the same. I dont understand why anyone would want to downpick every note.

With a crap amp, a crap guitar, crap ear training, and crap technical ability, yes, this may be true.
Oh yeah.

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#15
Quote by finetune
This is why. Even on single notes the angle you hold your pick, the force you apply to an upstroke vs a downstroke, its not all the same. Well, not for me anyway!

And if you are playing chords, as in my Tornado of Souls example, you are playing some chords downpicked and some up-picked, and that has a really big effect on the sound of the chord.

Plus, I think putting more energy into the picking, as you would have to if you played all downstrokes, gives more energy to the song. Play the Master of Puppets intro as fast as you can downpicked, then play it at the same tempo but alternate picked. Which sounds better?

yeah I did, alternate sounds better to me. And if you start downpicking everything, the youll get used to it and end up having trouble alternate picking.
#16
Quote by hockeyplayer168
With a crap amp, a crap guitar, crap ear training, and crap technical ability, yes, this may be true.

Okay whatever dude. Alternate picking takes way more "technical ability" and allows you to play much faster. Down picking is a beginner technique and I cant see why ( even with great gear) someone would prefer to play downpicking.
#17
way to completely ignore the main point!
it's for tone. and playing 8th notes at 210bpm all downpicking takes a LOT more skill than alternate picking.
Watch videos of master of puppets live in the 80s, james always used downstrokes not to show off but because it sounds BETTER.
leave this argument, you are the only one with your opinion.
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#18
Quote by ThrashKing
yeah I did, alternate sounds better to me. And if you start downpicking everything, the youll get used to it and end up having trouble alternate picking.


Tell Paul Gilbert that... he spent his first few months on a guitar using upstrokes only.

EDIT: ^ What do you mean used to? I just came from the theater broadcast of the Big 4 show and he still downpicks the whole thing... even faster than on the recording.
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one of the best, educated and logical posts I've ever seen on UG in the Pit. Well done good sir.
Last edited by FrustratedRocka at Jun 23, 2010,
#19
Quote by FrustratedRocka
Tell Paul Gilbert that... he spent his first few months on a guitar using upstrokes only.

EDIT: ^ What do you mean used to? I just came from the theater broadcast of the Big 4 show and he still downpicks the whole thing... even faster than on the recording.

wow, your cool.
#20
Quote by ThrashKing
wow, your cool.


Forgive me for not being able to take a flight from america to bulgaria to watch it in person. Point is that as of about 10 hours ago he can still downpick master of puppets.
Quote by dr_shred
FrustratedRocka you are a legend

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The man clearly knows his shit.

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one of the best, educated and logical posts I've ever seen on UG in the Pit. Well done good sir.
#21
Quote by SeeEmilyPlay
Don't forget to stretch your forearms too.
They also make these devices called a "Gripmaster" that is an exercise tool you hold in your hands and helps your hands/wrists/forearms. It's almost like a stress ball. I use them at my desk at work.


I can also vouch for the Gripmaster. The effects it has had on my fretting hand are absolutely mind boggling.
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#22
lol i was joking. hah, I know dude, if I had tickets I would have gone too. I believe you, I just think alternate is easier. Im still kind of a noob, so maybe I dont know shit anyway.
#23
LOL, I am not sure if I could downpick twice in a row nowdays... hmm...

DAMNIT! Economy picking has limited mah playing!
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#24
Quote by ThrashKing
Im still kind of a noob, so maybe I dont know shit anyway.


And that's why you can't hear the difference. Wait until your ears develop enough to be able to hear difference in tone between strokes, then you'll get why just about all the old thrash was all downpicking and also why it's become such a huge thing in metal as a whole.
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#25
Practice alot, it really takes alot of time. I started practicing master of puppets like 2 years ago and it isnt until now that i can finally play it at full speed completely relaxed.

Be very patient.
Last edited by vismbr at Jun 23, 2010,
#26
Quote by vismbr
Practice alot, it really takes alot of time. I started practicing master of puppets like 2 years ago and it isnt until now that i can finally play it at full speed completely relaxed.


all downpicked?
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MIM '92 Fender Strat
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MXR-108.
and that's it. done buying stuff. probably.
#27
Quote by finetune
all downpicked?

Yeah, when i did my "serious" practice for downpicking & galloping i practiced a certain speed for 1 week then increased it with 5-10bpm for the next week(going from 200 to 220 bpm on master took alot longer tho)

Now when i got the speed i use riffs from master, battery, holy wars, misirlou etc on repeat for as long as i can to get better stamina.

video of me playing those : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mOQl2wYkMA & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IQQmCZJ0jA
#28
Quote by vismbr
Yeah, when i did my "serious" practice for downpicking & galloping i practiced a certain speed for 1 week then increased it with 5-10bpm for the next week(going from 200 to 220 bpm on master took alot longer tho)

Now when i got the speed i use riffs from master, battery, holy wars, misirlou etc on repeat for as long as i can to get better stamina.

video of me playing those : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mOQl2wYkMA & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IQQmCZJ0jA


Ibanez AF105VB
Ibanez RG2550Z
MIM '92 Fender Strat
Peavey Triumph 60
MXR-108.
and that's it. done buying stuff. probably.