Hello everyone!

(Disclaimer: this is strictly about alternate picking!)

So, cutting straight to the chase, I have a HARD time playing two notes per string licks / scale runs if I start with a downstroke. No problem at all if I start with an upstroke.
If I play a chromatic run, I can do it OK~ish starting with a downstroke, but a lot faster and easier if I start with an upstroke.

Those are the most noticeable (in particular two notes per string). Other than that seems to vary a lot depending on the patterns.

I've been trying to figure out and fix that for quite a while, with no avail. I eventually stumbled upon troy grady's videos on youtube, and heard him talking about downward pick slanting. I discovered that it seems like I just naturally use an upward pick slanting (or at least I think I do!), which makes moving between strings easy after a downstroke, but hard after an upstroke (which makes it so extremely noticeable on two note per string runs, since it forces you to constantly move between strings, and always with either an upstroke or downstroke depending on what kind of pickstroke you started with).

I figured out this is also what makes the "paul gilbert lick" so hard for me to play; regardless if I start it with an upstroke or a downstroke, since there's a single note on a different string, I'll always have to switch strings in an unconfortable way.

I really really really want to fix this. I tried "reversing" the angle of my pick slanting to see if I could switch between downward and upward pick slanting depending on what kind of run I'd play (or maybe even switching multiple times in the same run, for example alternate picking arpeggios?), but it kinda just doesn't work. Not sure why, but I can't make downward pick slanting work for me at all. It just won't click lol. It feels like I'm completely forcing my hand in a wrong way, and after a little while it starts to feel really bad so I just stop.

Any tips, advices, lessons, etc? This is such a hinderance on my playing and I'm starting to get desperate

sorry for the long post and for any english errors (not my native language!)

thanks in advance!
Well of course you're going to feel uncomfortable about changing your way of picking because it's a habit to you now. Just keep practicing doing down strokes first until your picking hand has memorized the movements. Also about the slanting of the pick a lot of people do it in different angles it depends what's more comfortable with you so maybe you should experiment more with that. I tend to angle my pick at a 30 degree angle when picking it slices through the strings like butter..
How long have you been playing? Sounds to me like you're a relatively new player and you're trying to play something that's above your level at a speed that's above that which you're capable. What I would recommend is the following:

Let's focus on the licks you're having a difficulty. Slow them down - way down. We're not even going to play along with a recording - if that's what you're doing. As a side note, there are some programs out there that will allow you to slow songs down or speed them up. Best Practice is one that comes to mind. Let's get back on track... Slow the licks way down and intently focus on increasing your picking accuracy. Try doing a chromatic run and slow it down. Use a downstroke to start and let's see if we can't improve it. As you begin to notice improvement, gradually start increasing the tempo. Keep doing that until you're at the speed you want. Again, let's focus on accuracy - we want to hear each and every note and the pick attack should be consistent. If you hear anything wrong, go back, slow down and try again. With time, you will improve.
no no, I'm not a beginner :P I'm not super super technical and advanced, I certainly have a lot of room for improvement, but I'd say I'm a bit of an advanced player

I'm quite used to slowing things down by a lot and gradually speeding up to learn how to do it, and I've changed the way I pick quite a few times, but this whole slanting thing is something that I guess was always there and I just can't seem to change it. I know that when you try a different way of picking it feels weird at first, but it's as if I try a downward pick slanting my hand just doesn't work
Quote by OldSchoolIsCool
I know that when you try a different way of picking it feels weird at first, but it's as if I try a downward pick slanting my hand just doesn't work

You know why it doesn't work? It doesn't work because your hand isn't used to that movement; so you have to program your hand to do that movement. It's called "muscle memory". Your hands or fingers memorize every movement you make you're so used to your casual way of picking because you've programmed your hand to make those movements. Now you have to reprogram your hands to make the movement you want.

When I first started to work on hybrid picking the movements felt unnatural because I've never done them before, but after a while of constantly doing drills, and playing arpeggios, and licks with hybrid picking it felt natural because I drilled the muscle memory in my hand. Think about it when you first picked up the guitar did anything really feel natural?

In other words repetition is key not even just repetition, but correct repetition is valuable.
Last edited by Black_devils at Mar 14, 2015,
Guitar is all about working on your weaknesses. What I found helps a lot for building consistency between upstrokes and downstrokes is to just take it slow, and try to play various riffs starting first with a down, and then playing them again starting with an up. For example, this is a little exercise I learn from John Petrucci's Rock Discipline that really helped my string skipping alternate picking:

   d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u  - First time through
   u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d  - Second time through

It goes through a progression that doesn't really sense, but it's still an effective exercise. A, C, E, C#, G, B, F#.

And then you can move on to playing each note twice before moving on to the next. Then three times, four times, five times, etc.

You can find the entire DVD on youtube here, but the exercise I'm referencing is from 17:07 to 24:16.
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.
Forgive me, I'm no expert, but isn't this all about travel distance?

If you start with a downstroke, and play 2 notes per string, then you are finishing on an upstroke and above the string you are picking. If you start with an upstroke, you'll finish with a downstroke and below the string you are picking.

Thus, if the next string is below the string you are playing (e.g. A string to D string) then you are having to move further when starting with a downstroke.

I found this was the case for me too, but I haven't played with a pick in ages now, and was only learning - by no means an expert. I can't tell you how to fix it, but I assume this is why you find it slower.
Last edited by gweddle.nz at Mar 17, 2015,