You probably get this a lot around here...but here goes.

Been playing guitar for about 24 years on and off, recently started a VERY fast thrash band (think early Slayer with less of the slower parts, meets Dew Scented), and I've discovered that I can only do a couple of songs before my elbow starts to ache. This seems to be purely down to palm muted, rapid alternate or tremelo picking (palm muted 16th note riffs at around 190-200bpm seem to be the main culprit - prolonged Angel Of Death type riffs).

Now I've had this before - we used to cover Into The Pit by Testament, and after enough practice it pretty much went away (especially if we'd had a good, long warmup), but I wonder if I'm doing any damage in the process?

For the record, I'm not a 'swing the elbow around like an idiot' player - most of the action is coming from my wrist, but during these bits (or any part where I need extreme accuracy for that matter), most of my arm tenses up so that my wrist isn't flailing around randomly across the strings. Keeping control is what it's all about, and I can't do that with a relaxed arm (spent enough years trying to do that :P).

The ache goes away after a minute or so's rest, but we ain't got that much time between songs on stage, so something has to give.

Any reccomendations? Like some kinda physio elbow/wrist warmup techniques or something? Maybe it could be a playing position thing (I have my LP a little higher than average [although not what you would consider 'high'], can't play low-slung for toffee :P)

Don't try and tell me to 'not tense up, you can still get control' - I've spent so many years trying to change my technique to that, and discovered it just does NOT work for me. Maybe for someone else, but not for me. Plus, most of the better metal guitarists I've played with and recorded tense the right arm up during this sort of riff. Most of the crapper ones don't. And you can tell (it sounds like soup).

Sorry to say this, but if you keep tensing up, you're screwed if you want to keep that up. You'll just get injured.
You need to be relaxed in order to play things like that for an extended period of time.... or at least that goes for most people.
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You are picking with your elbow instead of your wrist and you are extremely tense. Get a metronome and slow down until it's really boring and easy. Make sure your picking motion is coming from your wrist and gradually increase the tempo.

I know that's not what you want to hear, but that's the long and the short of it. You need to change your technique. Unless of course you're a masochist and like pain and don't mind having shitty technique. You say your can't change your technique, but I guarantee that you can. It may just take a hell of a long time. It took me 5 years to finally break my habit of anchoring.

And if "most of the better metal guitarists" you've talked to also tense up, they aren't playing properly. A great guitarist with proper technique would have no problem playing really fast tremolo, even as fast as like 250 bpm.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.