#1
The gist of it is in the title. I am 20yo, and I started playing about 7.5 years ago. I maxed out my picking speed in about 6 months to approximately 125-130bpm with 16th notes... and despite constant practice for 7 years... I am still at 125-130bpm.

Note: This is specifically about alternate picking on one string.

I am not exactly looking for practice guides, or technique advice, as I've spent countless days reading posts about alternate picking. The practice time was not useless, as I got much more efficient and comfortable, but I've never figured out how to increase my maximum speed. I can switch strings, cross strings, anchor my finger, not anchor my finger, palm mute etc. all at about 125-130bpm now, but that's where I seem to be permanently stuck. I am not even tensing my arm up whatsoever anymore.

I think my problem may be biological, rather than technique related. I find that the "lateral" movement your hand makes when picking from the wrist is simple unnatural to do. Forgetting about the guitar for a second, I can oscillate my whole arm (elbow joint) at about 200bpm by basically vibrating my arm, and I can move my wrist up and down (palm facing down) by doing the same thing, but moving it side to side? Nope, it just feels like my hand isn't supposed to do that, and I definitely can't vibrate it back and forth.

So I'm just wondering, has anyone else ever had this problem? If so, did you ever find a solution? Or did you just give up on improving?
#2
I just kept finding other songs that required additional practice. You have to be an absolute perfectionist to keep it challenging which is fun. For example: I had trouble with Welcome to Bucketheadland when I first started playing guitar and eventually I had it down perfectly. I would play many things so much easier just from learning that song down pat. So years later, when I found Disposable Heroes by Metallica, I had an ENTIRELY new dilemma on my hands to learn not only a picking pattern but to do it consistently and at the speed it required. Fuck, I even speed it up nowadays. The point is, always search for something to challenge yourself. Never assume you're at your peak. Those are not good thoughts for a musician. Hope I helped you a bit.
#3
This has to be one or more of the following factors

a) excessive motion
b) restricted motion (unlikely, as there shouldn't be much anyway)
c) friction from the pick contact with the string (factors ar height, angle, amount of pick face offered)
d) physical reaction (habit) built from mental attitude to what you are doing (about to do).

If you can, video yourself, in a singlet (so you can see your muscle and tendon movements) and then slow the video down, and critically look out for obvious inefficient movement or tension (look at your muscles, including in your neck and jaw). I strongly suspect you've mentally conditioned yourself so your body starts creating the outcome you expect.

Have you tried playing, sloppily, at say 150 bpm, for short bursts (10 - 30 secs say), over a couple of minutes, and then coming bacvk down to 130 bpm.

What tempo can you achieve just with legato?


Have you checked for minimal motion (fingers, hand, wrist), and zero motion in forearm (when on same string), and no bicep involvement?
Have you checked the strength of grip of pick (should be enough to not drop pick, but not much more)?
Have you checked how much of the tip of pick is involved (as little as possible)
Does the pick shape encourage using the tip?
Is your pick angle constant? (to encounter the least resistance from the string, so the less of the tip face presented to the string, the better. If parallel to string, the most amount of pick area from the tip will be involved. As an analogy, compare the amount of pick hitting the string with the amount of your body hitting water when diving into a pool off the top board. What's better ... a clean dive no splash, or a belly-flop? You don't want that!)
Are you pushing down too hard on adjacent strings to mute them?
Have you tried "micro-monitoring" every one of these things at very slow speeds?


Assuming you're doing all the above correct, then you may have a physical restriction. In that case, have you tried using picking by just moving your thumb and fingers in and out (circular picking)?

Also, bear in mind that long bouts of single string picking on same string are musically rare, so getting good at that, while ignoring changing strings, nd also legato, is not very beneficial.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 24, 2016,