I've noticed while galloping that my right shoulder all the way to the bicep, it included, tenses up. I can alternate pick and sweep (even though I cant sweep properly) relaxed, without too much tension, but when I try galloping and even strict downpicking (Thrash Metal and so on), I can FEEL my whole arm tensing up so much that I am almost flexing... I assume this is not correct technique, but my questions is: Is there a different, lets say "acceptable" level of tension in one's arm while using different techniques? Or must it always be completely relaxed, no matter what and how you're playing?

Also I'd ask on how to improve those, but I think I know the answer. Slow it down, practice correctly until you can speed up without mistakes, yada yada. That or what I need is a new amp.
Last edited by Celestus at Apr 5, 2013,
i think you're right to a tiny degree, there has to be some tension in your arm or else you won't even be able to play. and high energy stuff like heavy palm muting and fast downpicking riffs naturally cannot be as relaxing to play as alternate picking or even tremolo picking lead lines. but the key is to isolate tension points. all your bicep needs to do is keep your hand in the correct position over the strings. all your wrist needs to do is provide the flicking motion to move the pick. all your thumb/finger needs to do is hold the pick firmly enough. everything else can technically go.
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All you've gotta do is try alternate picking, as you have no problems with that, and miss out one of 4 notes. You're clearly trying to play differently when galloping, treating it as a different form of strumming, where it's just the sound of alternate picking with a missing note.

Hope that makes sense aha
Don't confuse tensing up with muscle fatigue. When practicing fast galloping you will feel your muscles starting to contract and it will feel like you are flexing. The more you play, the longer you will be able to go without this happening. You have to condition your muscles.
Can it be that I am simply too slow for some riffs? Obviously downpicking is kinda just alternate picking without playing the upstrokes, so it's gonna be much slower than my alternate picking speed. Riffs like the (in)famous Master of Puppets and such really tire me down in a few seconds, I can sort of play them at their speed, but I feel like I shouldn't. The one thing I need to find out is whether it's a speed or relaxation problem, because I'd go about fixing them differently... Galloping feels ALOT like downpicking, except in bursts of DUDs, so I guess they shouldn't be that different to improve. <-- just my ideas and observations, might be wrong.
What you need to focus on is the wrist action-rather that all the movement in your picking is coming from the wrist, rather than the arm or even the shoulder. It's a common mistake when people are starting to gallop, but trying to improve on it will ultimately make you more efficient at all guitar techniques. Start slow, and focus on keeping your arm relaxed while keeping a steady motion in the wrist. Might seem alien at first, but you'll be the Seabiscuit of guitar gallops in no time!
That's what I thought, and it actually is not alien at all, had to remove tension in other areas, too. And I was surprised at how simple it was to get on the right track, I simply relaxed and could gallop very simple riffs without tension already. Now that I am sure that this is the right way, I can improve, thanks alot as always, guys. : )
I'd like to chip in and say you can actually pick extremely hard without being too tense - the trick is to teach yourself to relax immediately after each pickstroke. (this applies to the left hand too, you want to relax fingers the minute they aren't fretting. ^^ )