Some songs that I really like feature double palm-muted notes (usually open strings or low pitch frets) between lead notes. Those are played by one guitar.

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Good examples would be: Parkway Drive - Vice Grip -

Technical Difficulties by Racer X -
I guess you got the idea.

Now, the alternate palm-muted picks obviously happen on another string (usually low E or A), so that means I have to move up to do that. It's fast too, so it requires upside-down (alternate) picking. However, I'm very much struggling.

Are there any good tips on how to achieve it properly?


2 Answers 2


I daresay the easiest way to get this kind of thing up to speed is to stick to consequent alternating picking. Of course it needs practise, but... that's sometimes inevitable when you want to go fast...

Another approach that's in principle more economical would be raking technique (or do guitarists call this sweeping?) – you play two notes on adjacent strings in a single movement, but still as two distinct notes. It's not easy to get the timing of both notes right, as well as the dynamic level (in particular if the accent is rather on the second note of a stroke), but with such a technique you're able to play fast with very little mechanical effort.

Alternative vs. raked picking

In either case, there's no way around practising!


Concerning the tabs and the second video example, note that Paul Gilbert spent his whole life perfecting his picking technique, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that playing his stuff is very challenging, especially for the picking hand. For that riff to sound good you definitely need to use alternate picking (as he does), not raking/sweeping. The latter technique can be useful for other things, such as playing arpeggios or fast linear scale runs.

I believe that there's no other way to learn it than the hard way: practice slowly, cleanly, and with a metronome. If possible, play amplified and with the appropriate distortion sound as often as you can, because otherwise you won't learn to achieve the right sound (e.g. when palm muting) and you won't be able to hear any noises caused by other strings etc. It will take a lot of dedication and time. If you have the feeling that you do not progress, have an experienced teacher look at your technique. This can save you a lot of practice time!

One important thing is to experiment with the angle of your pick. Paul Gilbert holds his pick at an angle of almost 45 degrees to the strings. In this way you will feel less resistance when crossing a string. Another thing to try is pick-slanting, i.e. turning the pick around an axis which is parallel to the strings. Troy Grady has a great youtube channel, mainly dedicated to picking technique. I'm sure his videos will help you a lot.

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