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IMO, alternate picking across the strings is one of the most difficult things to master. The hardest thing is picking inside of the strings. For example, if you are picking a 1-2-4 exercise across the strings, starting on the down stroke, the 4 on the E string will pick on the outside of the string. Next on the A string the 1 position will be on the outside of the A string. The opposite of this is when pick strokes occur on the insides of the strings. When picking alternately, you do both. This is why it is so difficult to play alternately across the strings.

Picture it this way, if you are going to alternate pick between the E and the A strings, this way:

picking outside of the string pairs -> E(down) A(up) E(down) A(up)... etc

is way easier than:

picking inside of the string pairs -> E(up) A(down) E(up) A(down)... etc


This is why so many of the shredders double up on the strings. That is:
E-1-2-4-1-2-4 A-1-2-4-1-2-4 D-1-2-4-1-2-4 etc...

This way, the string transitions always occur on the down stroke.

Gambale uses a technique where he sort of sweep picks when transitioning to the next string. He plays 3 notes per string and the picking goes like this:

E - 1(down) - 2(up) - 4(down) ->sweep down to-> A - 1(down) - 2(up) - 4(down)... etc

IMO, the fastest of the fastest is, hands down, Shawn Lane. Shawn has a technique where he picks certain notes of a sequence and the others are hammered on or pulled off. As he said, this way he doesnt have to pick every note, but nobody can tell. The speed at which Shawn could play was mind numbing. Kind of like running your thumb down a comb :scif890:

The best way to improve is to play to a metronome at a pace at which you can play the riff perfectly over and over for say an hour a day. Then every few days, up the tempo. I don't think there are any shortcuts. Just practice.

John Petrucci has an Instructional video where he shows how he learned how to alternate pick across the strings. It was difficult for him at one time too
 

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While I'm on the subject, wouldn't it be weird to go to a poetry reading and when it was over, as people were leaving, they would be commenting "the readings were all so excellent, but did you hear that first guy! He must have read the entire poem in only 30 seconds... maybe faster... he was so good!"... never mind! :dance:
 
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