Alternate picking - relaxing wrist of picking hand


my good guitar friend some time ago noticed that when I am about to play some very fast phrases using alternative picking like for example Raining Blood my wrist gets really tight which of course holds down my speed.

Now when he noticed that, I am also able to see moment when wrist gets cramped. The issue is that I do not know how to relax it. Currently it is completely random for me. Most often I can see it’s relaxed after practice of alternate day 1, 2, 3 and 4 but it is no always the case.

So guys what are your methods for relaxing the picking hand?

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Stop and decrease speed. My idea is that if I can’t play it relaxed, then my hands are just not there yet strength wise.



so after let’s say decreasing stop, I assume I should take phrase that is problematic for me and just practice this one slowed down part with metronome. I’m just checking if my thought process is correct here. :smiley:

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Yep, absolutely! The thing with these faster riffs is - at least what I found in my own playing - if you can’t play it to the metronome slow, you can’t really play it, since you don’t have control over it. You just let it fly and since it’s fast, it sounds like it’s kinda OK. But when you slow it down, it turns out that you don’t even know what’s going on, your hand is just on autopilot. :smiley: Slow it down to where you can play it in a fully controlled way precisely and keep pushing yourself a bit every session, like 5 or 10 BPMs faster. Just make sure it’s precise. Eventually you’ll build up enough muscle strengh to play it up to speed and the precision will make all the difference in the world.

Slowing down and admitting not being good enough is a tough pill to swallow, especially if you’ve been playing for many years like myself, but totally worth it!


You should also pay close attention to your picking technique. If your technique isn’t fluid and efficient, you will never be able to be relaxed at high speed.

Take some time to experiment with picking motions and pick slanting and pick grip until you find a position and motion that you are able to move very fast while being relaxed (not playing anything yet, just exercises - fast downpicking and alternate on one string). Once you find the motion, practice it over and over until it becomes your picking motion.

The one thing I found was that when I get the motion correct, I don’t need any endurance or muscle strength. I can pick all day at super high speeds because I am extremely loose and relaxed. Now, the hard part is accuracy and hand sync…still struggling there but slowly improving.

I recommend the youtube videos by Troy Grady…it helped me and is helping me immensely. He will give you a head start at the correct motions that everyone can do that are fast and don’t require super human coordination!

Troy Grady Youtube Channel


For me, it’s also a mental thing wherein you need to say to yourself that you need to relax or when you feel you’re tensing up you’ll tell yourself to calm down and relax.

Another cue that your tensing up is stiffening of your lips or nape. The above advices from @nexion218 and @michael_s were good.

Another way, to practice relax picking or gallops for raining blood is not to think of it at all. You can do it by looking at something else or reading anything while doing it just to separate your mind from it. I guess too much focus also leads to stiffening of the arm.

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first of all thank you guys for all advices. I can feel professional approach here. :slightly_smiling_face: I would like to share that I’m trying slowing down since couple of days now and it is already giving effects. I am first slowing down to practise a fast phrase and than after like 5 or 10 mins I am speeding up. This already is giving me improvement.

So advice about slowing down is really massive and I will remember it! :smile:

Regarding channel from Troy Grady I heard about it already via Ben Eller’s channel but I never had time to check it in details.Also at Troy’s channel there is a lot of videos so @michael_s if this is not a problem maybe you could point me video that I should watch first?


This is a good place to start:

Enjoy being fast and relaxed!

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Also try this one. Kinda long video, but excellently produced and it was a huge fooking lightbulb moment for me. By the way @kiko explains this very concept and advises to work on it in the alternate picking workout:

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This is my problem. I’ve seen all the Troy Grady stuff, and it totally makes sense. I still have problems implementing it. Working on the 3 note per string exercise on the G and D strings (D, C, B then A, G, F#) is really revealing my problem. So, I’m trying to “upward pick slant”, but so much of my thumb rubs the strings, it doesn’t seem right. And switching between upward and downward slanting on 3 NPS scales is confusing, too.

I’m at the point where my pick is about perpendicular to the guitar (no up or down slant.) It’s comfortable to a point, but at higher speeds, I tend to “clip” an unwanted string during a string change.

How extreme should the pick slanting be? I imagine it can’t be much if you’re supposed to change directions every 3rd note. I’ve tried watching Kiko to see if I can detect any of this sorcery, but he just seems to wiggle his wrist a bit and magic happens.

Yep, that’s the trick: economy of motion. If you watch Troy’s video with Michael Angelo, he points out that the slanting movement is so subtle that its barely visible. Make it so that it’s just enough to clear the strings. If it’s not precise enough , then slow it down till the movement is perfect. Kiko preaches this for a reason! :wink:

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I guess, to me, it just doesn’t FEEL economical. I’ll start really slow and precise for a few hours and see how it starts to feel. Going to make this the fundamental portion of my practice, but going to spend a lot more time on it outside of my 1 hour.