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I have an Ibanez GIO electric guitar and I'm trying to improve my picking technique to play 16th and 32nd notes(alternate picking). I've been playing guitar for 2.5 years.

Whenever I try to play something fast, my forearm seizes up within a few minutes, and once, after a particularly lengthy playing session, the region opposite my palm was throbbing, so much so that touching it was excruciating. I don't want to damage my body, and I feel that perhaps I'm tensing my arms too much. I also want to be able to play fast downstrokes (something like Master of Puppets) but it ends up hurting me even more. Any suggestions?

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Some suggestions from my personal experience:

Make sure you spend enough time doing warm-up exercises. I found that if I try to play too fast too soon, it will hurt either immediately or after practice.

You should also make sure you are relaxed when you are playing. Too much tension will increase fatigue and prevent you from playing faster.

Finally, try different playing positions, both standing and sitting, to see if your picking arm position is a factor. Too much sitting affects my shoulder with a larger guitar such as an acoustic, but this also affects the forearm. Here's a great article on the topic: http://www.rockguitartraining.com.au/casual-and-classical-sitting-positions.html.

Hope this helps!

  • I agree with this - relaxation is key. Try to learn how to do all the motions of both hands (fretting and picking) with the absolute minimum effort possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible (of course this is an endless battle, haha). Other than that I think the only way around fatigue like you've experienced is lots and lots of practice. There's a reason there aren't very many guitarists who play fast all the time ;) – Darren Ringer Mar 5 '15 at 18:16
  • I'm starting to use the classical sitting position now and find it to be much more comfortable. – aoporto Mar 7 '15 at 23:18
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Slow down. Picking that fast requires extreme accuracy, so concentrate on getting your playing comfortable at slower speeds. Use a metronome and gradually speed up. The way you are describing your physical pain you should relax and take it easy. Everyone had to put in long hours to achieve fast speeds.

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