A few "requested" licks to show picking motions and whatnot

I hope this helps pinpoint where my problem areas are. I transposed the Metropolis lick on the fly and I hadn’t played the Change Of Seasons thing in like 20 years. I forgot how it ended so I just did the chromatic thingy in one position lol I can probably play them a bit faster but I don’t think it’ll help anything. And plus I’d have to woodshed them for a couple of hours and my fretting hand needs the rest.


I didn’t use a metronome but I think the tempo is consistent within each lick. You can see how everything goes to shit when I do 2nps. Descending is okay. But ascending is just a mess. I can’t even make myself play it fast enough to be truly sloppy. And they’re pretty sloppy as they are here, haha.

Thanks for the video! I will write a more detailed reply later but from what I see here, there is no playing that has the “continuous” upstroke escape you’re going for. This is most evident on the descending pentatonic examples. There are even several places in the non 2nps examples where once the pattern begins to descend, you economy pick in just one place and then all the notes “on the beats” are played with upstrokes instead of downstrokes.

Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with this, but it’s an indication that whether you are aware of it or not, your nervous system prefers changing strings after downstrokes.

Good news is you’re a great player and you have several good options in front of you. Each of them will involve being able to play things EJ plays, one way or another.

Also, just another reminder to run this by the pros and submit a technique critique to Troy or Tommo directly on the site (i.e. not here on the forum). I am pretty confident on my analysis here but I am just a hobbyist. There is no general discouragement from making critique requests here but you have a full membership and should take advantage of that feature.

Great playing and looking forward to seeing what’s next for you as you progress on your quest!


So here’s my more detailed response. I hope you don’t find this nitpicking or insulting because I think you’re an excellent player. When anyone is viewed under a microscope, even the best players, we’re going to notice flaws. If I uploaded a video of my own playing, I’d expect similar criticism. But hopefully these observations help us key in on how to maximize your strengths, which I think is DSX.

Chromatic Exercise comments:

In general, any time you need to escape on an upstroke, your motion changes slightly. You’re either turning your wrist/forearm a little and/or flexing the pick grip (thumb/index) to facilitate the change. If this were a “continuous” USX motion, you wouldn’t need to change anything on the upstrokes since all upstrokes would break free from the plane of the strings. That’s not what’s happening though. Your pickstrokes all actually have a trajectory where they travel away from the body on downstrokes. Your brain is aware it needs to do “something different” to clear the string. This supports my analysis of your primary motion being DSX, not USX. Plenty of great players do this, but I can’t think of any who do this and successfully play EJ licks with the same pick stroke and fingering scheme he does them. The “helper motions” just happen too frequently for 2nps and causes issues with the core motion.

Other things that may cause some issues (unless you’re already acutely aware of this and it’s intentional)

In your first lick, around the 0:09 mark, that’s where I can tell you’ve switched to starting each lick with an ‘upstroke’. This happens because there’s an economy upstroke and it “offsets” things. You can confirm this by noticing that you strongly end the lick on a down beat, but that happens with an upstroke.

On your next rep, the same thing happens again around 0:16. Interestingly, there’s a little “accident” where your pick gets caught on the A string and I think that gets things back on track so you do finish with a downstoke (I think!!!). Biggest thing to call out is in relatively the same place both times you had an “economy” stroke that temporarily flip things so that the beats start on upstrokes. That tells me it’s a “learned” thing that you’re doing consistently.

If this is not intentional, it’s going to give you a fit in terms of hand sync and could in general throw off your tempo. In strict single escape playing, this isn’t usually a problem because the pick moves back and forth in a straight line like a motor and that action itself is actually how we keep time. If it changes haphazardly, our nervous system is likely to get confused.

Scalar lick that starts around 0:22 seconds:

Similar to the chromatic lick, once you start descending you use economy picking. The difference here is that since it doesn’t have an even number of notes per string, the economy picking continues. Again, if this is intentional, all good. I’m assuming your going for strict alternate picking but maybe I shouldn’t assume that :slight_smile:

Second rep through this is similar. I even see economy picking prior to ascending in places.

Pentatonic licks

I know you said you thought ascending was the worse take but the descending one had more issues for me. On the majority of the thinner strings I don’t hear the second note. It’s possibly getting choked by something in the fretting hand but another issue is that the upstrokes aren’t escaping and that’s the real problem. The downstrokes are going away from the body and the upstrokes are getting “stuck”. Interestingly, I think something changes when you get to the “wound” strings. It’s cleaner sounding and I think you may get a few clean escapes. We should possibly come back to this mostly because, if something’s working, we need to do more of that thing.

Scalar lick at 1:04
For me, this had the cleanest string switches. I notice you’re using quite a bit of the “grip motion” (thumb and index moving the pick). It was present in most of your other licks but it seems more integral to the string switches here. I’m not sure what to say about it, because there’s a mixed bag of advice on that technique in general. It’s not hugely covered in the Primer like the wrist is. In some players, it’s a great assistant to their escapes. In other players, it’s more of an idiosyncratic artifact that may or may not do anything. I’ve seen Troy advise people in certain situations to try to park it for a while mainly because it introduces another set of variables and distracts from most people’s issue - which is complete control of their “core” motion. Again, nothing’s wrong with it, in some players. For you it seems to be more of a “garnishment” like it is in most players who use it, but it’s possible that it’s aiding you in what I think were the cleanest switches. My gut reaction when something works is to say “do more of that!!!”

Anyway, again, you’re a great player. If you’re not tired of my advice yet (I totally understand if you are), I’ll tell you where I think maybe we should go from here to get to your EJ goals.


@joebegly’s analysis is spot on. A couple of things I’ll add are:

  • you have a couple of different motions going on here. The earlier examples, where more notes are played per string, look mostly driven by a thumb-index motion, but when you get to the pentatonics, it looks like wrist. You might even be using your wrist mostly just for string-changing in general, hence it becoming more prominent when playing two notes per string. All of these variables likely allow for too much room for error, and generally everything you have here wants to be DSX.

  • you didn’t use the form you showed in the 3AMWristTwist post, where it wasn’t known if it was USX or not. No problem, I’m just mentioning it - maybe it would work great.

  • if you can do the thumb-index thing faster, just as a tremolo (maybe this is what you’re doing in the other video at first, hard to tell with the different angles), then that’s great. If the motion starts turning into something else… what is it turning into? Analyze it, and try to use that same motion when working at speeds like you are here.


Thanks so much for the replies. I uploaded it (minus 20 seconds) to the Eval section as well. And please, tear me apart to build me back up lol Keep the advice coming! Please!!

@joebegly I made it a point not to look at my picking hand so it would do what’s most natural. That seemed like the best way to start. Should I have done it with a focus on USX, at whatever speed I can, in order to evaluate that? Thinking back, perhaps I should have…

In response to your more detailed comments, I’m realizing that a lot of my picking technique is far more inconsistent than I thought. I noticed it especially as I was beginning the descent in the first lick. Almost like I’m adding a tiny stroke in order to get back to what’s most natural. I remember someone saying something similar in the first vid I posted a couple of months back.

I played some of these licks again after doing the vid and noticed that I seem to start with a flat angle, and self-correct as needed as a lick continues. I don’t think I’m supposed to be doing that. It far more noticeable at super fast speeds. These were probably 140? Maybe 150? Not really that fast. That “grip motion” you mention is the one I use(d) the most and was pointed out to me by some players in the early 2k’s. I was breaking 240 in some riffs with my final band. That was basically how I played everything single note back in the day. I don’t remember what motion I used to traveled across the strings, but it was “METAL!!” so there wasn’t a ton of that anyway lol. It’s something I think I should try to do away with though. Almost like there is a shorter life-span for that motion, but I have nothing to base that on.

@Riffdiculous The penta thing with the wrist is the only stuff in this video that was “deliberate”, in that I can’t do 2nps very well with just the thumb-index. But the motion feels good to do.

As for not using the same 3amWristTwist, I didn’t think using my fastest motion for these licks would get me anywhere. It’s also why I used the tone I did so I wouldn’t get all “extra shreddy” hahaha. I tried a couple of different sounds and those shreddy ones made me play different. Same with when I did it with a clean tone. Should I post me doing this licks at my maximum speed? Will that help anything?

Anyways, thanks again guys. I’m thinking I’m going to play these licks again with a metronome and focusing on using only USX to see what that looks like. Maybe I’ll do one strictly DSX to do a comparison.

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Wwweeelllll…yes lol! You asked for help on why your USX wasn’t working so I thought you’d be showing us USX attempts. Just for clarity, what you do most naturally, which is lots of great things, won’t work for EJ patterns. You’re trying to learn a brand new motion that is very different from a motion using similar joints and muscles that you have done MILLIONS of repetitions with. Not an impossible task by any stretch, but still a substantial little project. For the next decent chunk of time (however long it takes you to learn USX without even thinking about it) you are going to want to focus on it pretty intently.

I love the Rick Graham mantra

1 Realizing a problem exists
2 Identifying what the problem is
3 Fix it

That creates a constant feedback loop. Guitar is a fun instrument and it’s easy to just “rep” things over and over without paying attention. I am sure there is a phase for that as I’ve heard countless stories of great player like Andy Wood and EVH who play stuff while watching TV. But that Rick Graham method is something I’m sure most of us need to do more of because it’s so focused and simple.

For you, that’s going to be something like:

Play a fast phrase that should only change strings after upstrokes. Your attempt needs to be having the downstroke bury into the strings and the upstrokes rise above the plane of the strings. If that’s NOT happening…

  1. Make sure you reflect on that and are aware of it
  2. Figure out what is going wrong. Is the motion inconsistent? Are you not focusing on the trajectory enough? Is economy picking happening when you aren’t aware? Are you drifting back to your “old” motion Etc…
  3. Try to correct it by going back to what you did that preceded step 1

That in theory will yield much better results than looping pentatonic scales or Desert Rose phrases and hoping they just “get better”.

Anyway, I think you have some great things to look forward to! Keep us posted on how your platform critique goes too! Seeing someone at your advanced level progress will be very encouraging to other players on here.

Haha, my bad. I was thinking we were trying to nail what already works and then incorporate that into what I’m trying to learn. Oops. Sorry. I’m old now lol

Last thing, should I do, and maybe also film, exaggerated US escapes? Does that help anything or does it introduce bad habits?

Thanks again!!

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It is highly possible I asked for “what’s working well”. I am old too. I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast yesterday…and I have the same thing nearly every day :sweat_smile:

I don’t know if exaggerated motions will do much good. Think, smooth. A smooth motion will be about the same “length” in each direction. In single escape playing, USX in this case, you can’t go any further on the downstroke than a “reststroke” on the higher pitched string. The upstroke should be about the same distance and this will land you above the plane of the strings.

Now accenting, that is a different story. You can and should use those. It helps hand sync and your overall internal clock as well as helping you focus on larger chunks rather than individual notes.