When I started playing again and bought a new rig last fall I made a commitment to learn and utilize alternate picking.

After working a few simple exercises into my practice routine I actually kind of forgot about it.

This past week I've been learning the solo to Paranoid (thanks Tab Pro) and picked it up pretty easily, though it took a lot of practice time. Yesterday I ripped it off really well and realized when I finished that I was alternate picking it. I guess I had just worked it into my style that I was doing it without thinking about it and it took me a while to realize it.

It was just weird about how it came to me though. If you asked me when I started alternate picking, I honestly could not answer that.

Anyone have similar experiences with any technique? Where you just quit thinking about it and then later realize that you have it.

Also, I think this is a good example of how focused practicing helps.
Ibanez SR1200E
I think one of the most common mistakes people make is "practicing" something, but not actually using it.

Alternate picking is a good example of this, there seems to be some weird misunderstanding that alternate picking automatically equates to playing at high speed. So players spend ages grinding on exercises trying to alternate pick faster and faster, but then they go back to downpicking when they actually play save for those fast bits they've got a rat in their ass about. Alternate picking just means picking up and down, regardless of speed, and if you're not in the habit of using it all the time, at all speeds, it's never going to come naturally to you.

Exercises are all well and good, but as you've discovered you're only going to get the hang of something if you actually use it.
Actually called Mark!

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