#1
i figured someone here would know.

i was watching a guthrie govan lesson on alternate picking, and he along with many people perfer to use their wrist when doing fast alternate picking.

problem with me is, when i go slow, i can use my wrist perfectly fine. as soon as i start getting any type of excellerated speed, i start using my elbow, i can feel my arm tense up, and i can't do it for for more then 10-15 seconds.

guthrie says you should be able to do it for a very long time without getting tired, if you use your wrist.

how can i train myself to not use my elbow when getting to greater speeds? it seems like it is an automatic reaction my body makes. seems to me like it would be tough to train yourself not to.

ya know it's funny, because i have attempted the speed picking thing before.

i would do what people like paul gilbert, etc said. slow the licks down a use a metronome. i did just that and would increase the speed as i got comfortable, but would never be able to reach a very fast speed like they could.

i never knew why, and would always just say it's probably because some people can just play fast, and others cannot.

after watching that guthrie govan alternate picking lesson today, the first thing he mentioned was "take 1 note, start alternate picking slow, and then increase the speed"

like i said, i decided to try this and came to the revolutionary discovery as to why i could never achieve those great speeds. because i would tense up and use my elbow and high speeds, i just could not realize it earlier.

now that i know this, i went back and looked at paul gilberts right hand, and sure enough he's using his wrist 100% of the time, you do not see his elbow move, and no tension can be seen.

guthrie govan has a similar technique.
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Last edited by rich2k4 at Feb 12, 2008,
#2
i had a similar issue and i fixed it by doing one simple thing: palm muting. palm muting doesn't allow for ANY elbow movement because if you move your elbow, you will stop palm muting. so take a note, palm mute it, and then start building up speed and slowly but surely, it should work
#3
well, your aware of your problem, so my advice woudl be to keep trying to use your wrist, and everytime you use your elbow, stop and try again. the solution here is learning muscle control, so im sure this is obscenley repetitive of everytign youve ever heard, but keep practicing it. keep starting at slower speeds, keep it slow, to buikld up extra stamina in your wrist muscles, and after youve done this for a few days or what you feel comfortable, try to pick fast, and jsut be concious of the msucles your using, and try really hard to isolate the movement of your wrist. everytime you use your elbow, the second you feel your whole arm tense up, stop. start over. and when your trying. its learning msucle control, and its all in your mind. ( meaning learning the ability to maek your wrist do that) thats how i owudl attack this problem. i hope this makes sense, and if you want anything explained better ill be happy to.
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#4
another thought, when trying to use your wrist, keep your arm pressed against the body of your guitar, becaswe that mkaes it very difficult to move your arm, making it easier to use only your wrist
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#5
i had this problem too. It will go away. Your still using your elbow because your wrist is not fast enough. After alot of time and practice eventually your wrist will become faster at picking, even more so than your elbow, so when that happens you'll probably stop doing it.
#6
Quote by stellardude531
another thought, when trying to use your wrist, keep your arm pressed against the body of your guitar, becaswe that mkaes it very difficult to move your arm, making it easier to use only your wrist


One problem with this:

If you're pressing your arm against the body of your guitar, you will still be causing tension.

The best way to get good at playing without moving your elbow would be to play slowly and deliberately, paying constant attention to your technique, all the while watching out for any tension that may build up.
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#7
^ indeed, you gotta go slowly and work up to it. if you start using your elbow then slow down. honestly i wish i could give more help than this but its been so long since i elbowed anything like that. i think personally before i even started going fast i had been playing from the wrist. which is basically what i recommend, play entirely from the wrist (unless you're strumming or doing something that physically requires elbow movement, like a slight movement for string skipping and such)
#8
I can't help you much as I think elbow and wrist are important to use (the closest
I can came to describing the speed is a whiplike motion only at a very small scale),
but I'd say its pretty near impossible to tell exactly what someone is doing by
watching a video. Elbow motion isn't very apparent.

I have a Jimy Bruno picking DVD (who advocates elbow BTW), and if he didn't
explicitly say up front he was using his elbow you'd think he was using his wrist.
#9
I had the same problem as you, then in one night I suddenly managed to use my wrist and get faster than I had with my arm.

The way I did it was:
Put the guitar down and find a flat surface.
Then get your guitar pick and hold it as if you were about to play.
I then put the point of my pick onto the surface and started drawing circles quickly (similarly to how you'd draw circles with a pencil but whilst holding the pick correctly!).

I did that whilst I was doing other things, like reading or watching TV and when I went back to my guitar I could just do it.
I don't know if that'll work for you, but it did for me.

P.S. I'm not weird, I was attempting to learn circular picking (with just the finger and thumb) and then wound up using my wrist slightly to help draw the circles.
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#10
Quote by Manjinken
i had this problem too. It will go away. Your still using your elbow because your wrist is not fast enough. After alot of time and practice eventually your wrist will become faster at picking, even more so than your elbow, so when that happens you'll probably stop doing it.



JUST FOLLOW MY ABOVE ADVICE, it takes time to learn stuff like that, i imagine you have a life and cant practice constantly and your wrist doesnt build strength in one day so just wait for it. You may start wrist picking in one day, but your speed wont be shredding with your wrist in one day.


in addition a little exercise I used to do is carrying a pick with me or even on my PC desk when im reading or bored, take your pick in your fingers, and brace your wrist on the EDGE(the edge facing you) of a surface in front of you. place your palm/wrist on the edge, and make like a strumming up and down motion bending ONLY your wrist. and begin picking up and down the edge corner of the surface(sharp edge surfaces help) almost as if you were picking a thick unmovable string. you can do this most anywhere.
#11
i think the thing is recognizing tension in your wrist and eliminating it to make yourself more comfortable with playing by your wrist. i wouldn't be terribly surprised if you had a death grip on the pick (which isn't necessary at all) or if you were tensing your muscles up in your wrist (which you don't want at ALL) think of it like this, a simple exercise.

simply take your hand and hold it up perfectly relaxed. you should notice theres no tension in it at all

slowly move it in a picking motion making sure no muscles become tense.

then start to work your way up until you can move it quickly without tensing any muscles

another excellent action is writing (well at least for all you rightys :P) writing and picking aren't very different in that you should have no tension when writing with a pen/pencil and writing very very small will get your hand/wrist coordination used to making tiny tiny movement without tension, just a suggestion.
ideally this should allow for much quicker and easier picking motion.
#12
Quote by z4twenny
another excellent action is writing (well at least for all you rightys :P) writing and picking aren't very different in that you should have no tension when writing with a pen/pencil and writing very very small will get your hand/wrist coordination used to making tiny tiny movement without tension, just a suggestion.
ideally this should allow for much quicker and easier picking motion.


Aw crap...

Whenever I write anything by hand (which will start happening a lot more often now... classes started yesterday for me X_X) my wrist always gets all tense and sore. Plus, my handwriting is very very very messy.

Now, would those be bad signs?
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#13
Quote by seedmole
Aw crap...

Whenever I write anything by hand (which will start happening a lot more often now... classes started yesterday for me X_X) my wrist always gets all tense and sore. Plus, my handwriting is very very very messy.

Now, would those be bad signs?

Depends on how soon your hand begins to cramp up and when. During exams my hand cramps up a lot but I put that down to having to write continually and in a hurried manner.
When not under any pressure though I can write as long as needed.

As for the messiness - no that's not a problem, I have very small, very messy handwriting and I have no problem picking from my wrist.
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DR strings
Planet Waves Cables
#14
^ maybe a death grip on your pencil/pen? :P i don't know what to say other than that. personally i used to have the same problem but once i got used to not tensing my wrists it became second nature in both hands and now i can write for about 30 minutes straight before my hand starts getting tired (not my wrist)
#15
i decided to take the advice of someone else at another forum, basically because he knew exactly what i was talking about and what i was trying to accomplish.

i'll post it in case others want it too.

I took the Paul Gilbert approach probably b/c he was one of the best pickers I got to meet in person who was also willing to explain the action he uses. It's very loose. He likened it to turning a key in a keyhole/slot, very loose and relaxed -- almost all action from the wrist and no anchoring of any kind (something Howard Roberts used to preach too).

No one can avoid using their elbow a little bit, if only to act as a stylus/pivot arm for moving the gyrating wrist over the strings. But over-involvement of the elbow, to me, is a recipe for elbow problems.

Not to mention the entire lower arm is a much bigger, heavier thing to move than your hand on a pivoting wrist, so using your elbow a lot has a problem with the laws of physics too (if speed is your goal).

Gilbert has that one exercise that he always says to do, it's comprised of 8 notes played on 2 adjacent strings, starting with an up-stroke and just cycling that over and over "until it sounds like a popsicle stick in the spokes of your bicycle". Guthrie Govan (who I agree is influenced in picking style by Gilbert) has also given this same exact exercise in GT articles (and I think in one his technique books)

If you haven't done that rudimentary thing without trying to force the speed by tensing up, then you really haven't learned what they're teaching regarding picking.
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"Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible."
#16
That's some pretty good advice.
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