#1
so i've been playing for about a year now. i just downpicked everything all the time. i didnt think it was a big deal that i couldnt alternate pick. that is until i tried to learn this song-

http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/b/black_dahlia_murder/deathmask_divine_tab.htm

i can downpick it all but its just not fast enough and it kills my shoulder muscle. how do i alternate pick when skipping from the 6th string to 4th? i can do it if i slow it wayyy down, but if i try to speed it up a little bit i just cant coordinate it at all. so frustrating

what's like the best way to learn how to do this?
#2
Play it slowly. It's much better to practice a lick accurately than quickly. Speed in guitar playing is a function of accuracy and muscle memory, so if you get used to it at slower speeds, you'll be able to play it at faster speeds.
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#3
get a metronome. then play it slow and speed it up as you go until you catch up... I didn't think a metronome would help until I got one...
#4
should i start with an up-pick then down on 6th, then down on 4th, then up on 6th, then down on 4th and so on?
#5
and is there a special way i should hold the pick in this? i usually hold it tight with thumb and 2 fingers. on the side of the pick facing up the left edge hits and on the side facing down the right edge hits the string.
#6
In his "Rock Discipline" DVD, John Petrucci really stresses being able to start with either up-pick or down-pick for pretty much any lick you play. I'd say try both, master the one that's easier for you, and then maybe learn it starting in the other direction. I didn't read the tab, but this is a general answer for your question on how it's done: just make sure you DON'T pick in the same direction twice in a row.

I started using alternate picking about 2 months ago, moving from economy picking. I know what you mean about it being difficult. Breaking the habit just comes with time. Start out slow and you'll get the hang of it.
#7
I'm trying to learn proper alternate picking, too, and I cannot stress enough the importance of never playing faster than you can pick cleanly and consistently. If you pick faster than you can pick cleanly and consistently you will teach yourself to play in a haphazard, kind of hit-and-miss way. I've been concentrating on accuracy in alternate picking and only slightly pushing myself to go faster and then reducing the metronome speed back to where I can play perfectly...I've been doing this for a little over a month and I've found that this approach--at least for me--has yielded the best results. Each day, my hands and fingers feel a little more capable and have a little more command over the fretboard. When you can play the parts where, previously, you had been stretching yourself, as cleanly as where you can play perfectly, its time to increase the metronome speed. I've been increasing it each time by about 5bpm.