A Technical Difficulties Solo

I finally got to see Paul Gilbert live yesterday. Wow! I had to make this video because of how much the performance inspired me. This is my own improvised solo for the Racer X song, Technical Difficulties. I think I got the backing track from the Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar DVD.



is that an RG3ex? I have a charcoal one

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Hi @JonJon
Thank you for watching my video! The guitar is an Iron Label RGA.


It is truly an amazing guitar. It really feels unlike anything I have ever played before. Everything from the pickups to the recessed bridge to the maple board is phenomenal. Have you seen the new axion labels that Ibanez put out this year? I don’t own one but they look awesome.


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ahh, ok

i was trying to see if it had a tone control but I couldnt tell.

pretty similar body style to the RG3ex

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For sure, definitely those guitars look like a similar body style. There is actually not a tone nob on this guitar, but there is a coil tap switch! I don’t think I used it in this video but there are some really cool tones you can get with it. I like using the coil tap when I put the pick up selector on the middle position. It gives like this really poppy, almost airy, kind of sound.

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Awesome solo! congrats! Also, that’s such a killer tone. Did you use software or actual gear?

Nice work on this. Just an observation, but based on what I’m seeing around the :45 mark, have you ever tried any wrist motion? Because that’s the form for it, right there. And it looks good. This is the form you seem to jump into for more complicated lines where you need both escape types, and you do actually appear to be doing both escapes with no, or very little, change in your arm position. It could be worth trying out this form for your faster playing as well. I’d start with the two motions individually because that’s the simplest route. If you can get them happening from the same (or similar) arm position, then you can also switch between them.

Just something to tool around with for a few minutes here and there, in a low-priority way, if it occurs to you.

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Hi. Thank you for watching my video! For this video I went directly into my Focusrite Scarlett interface. I used Amplitube 4 as a VST in Reaper to get my tone. I used the Lead Solo preset that comes with Amplitube. Unbelievable, right?

Thank you for watching my video! Yes, I have definitely tried wrist motion, and still use it currently in my playing, as you pointed out. For my practice sessions, I run through all my licks I am working on with a wrist mechanic first. I make sure to stay as relaxed as possible, play with a light attack, and with relatively small motions. After I finish the first set of running through all the licks, I then proceed to use my elbow mechanic, while engaging my brachioradialis, bicep, and tricep. I focus on trying to emulate the attack, motion size, and tone of the wrist mechanic with my elbow mechanic. One note is that some of my alternate picking licks aren’t as fully developed with the elbow mechanic, so when I am practicing, I am working on fewer licks with the elbow mechanic, than with the wrist. But for the most part, I work on the same licks with my elbow that I work on with my wrist, in regards to the 3NPS speedy stuff.

Interestingly enough, in the spot in the video where you noticed my wrist mechanic, I am not picking everything, but instead, I am blending picking with hammers and pulls. This lick may even be possible without using both escapes but I find it more comfortable to use 2wps. This was a lick Paul himself showed me on his online school, where not everything in the lick is picked.

To nerd out a little bit on the harmonic context, the way Paul showed me is to use the lick over an em9 chord. Of course, this progression, similar to the progression in Comfortably Numb, is in em (I think Comfortably Numb is in Bm). Now, you’ll notice I don’t actually play the lick over the em chord. I played it over the tail end of the progression, starting on the C chord, and walking down the scale until it finally resolves back to the tonic. Sometimes I like to do stuff like this because it has more tension and it feels more assertive. In other parts of the video, I was highlighting chord tones, moving with the progression, as the chords passed along. This sounds less dissonant, and almost more “tasteful” to me.

This is what I’m getting at — you’re not using “2wps”. At least not in the way we have explained it so far. You have what appears to be a centralized arm position and grip, and you’re just changing the wrist motion from DSX to USX and back again to get the different escapes, with no apparent change to your technique otherwise. What you’re doing looks roughly similar to what Clint Strong does:

I understand you may not really need to do this, because you’re using legato and the line may not require it. But I’m noticing that you are doing it, and I’m just pointing out that it’s what great players like Clint do. And Clint is one of those guys who can aternate pick “anything”, as some people like to think of it.

How would you pick a jazz line with a mixture of different numbers of notes per string using the elbow technique. Roll the arm back and forth continuously? Maybe try your wrist version of this on a line like that and see what it looks like.

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Wow! I had no idea I was doing this in my playing. Actually I have even talked myself out of seriously practicing lines that require this type of picking. I just thought that because crosspicking is so rare, I wouldn’t ever be able to do it. I really enjoy hearing those kind of lines though. It is a treat to watch the interviews with players such as Steve Morse, Molly Tuttle, Martin Miller, and Andy Wood.

I don’t really know where to begin for tooling around with this technique. Maybe just try alternate picking CAGED scales? All the scalar licks I practice are 3-note-per-string patterns. Where as the arpeggiated stuff is stock sweeps, or string skips with a blend of picking and legato.

That’s the thing, I don’t think it’s rare. I think it’s what almost everyone does who uses any wrist motion in their technique. We just never explained it very clearly, because we didn’t know what was going on. The fact that some people introduce a little forearm motion when they do this only made matters more confusing. We thought the forearm motion “was” the technique.

Instead, we now think that the switching of the wrist motions is the technique, and that forearm involvement only happens under certain scenarios where the arm position isn’t ideal. As you can see right here in your own playing, when the arm position works for both motions, then it doesn’t need to move, or move very much at all. In fact, the grip and “pickslant” may not even need to change either. So I’m not sure that the term “two-way pickslanting” really describes this accurately, nor the term “crosspicking” since this really doesn’t have anything to do with playing arpeggios specifically. It’s just what happens when you switch from one core wrist motion to the other core wrist motion. Here’s what that looks like up close:

The foundations of this are outlined in the new wrist motion chapters we have put up recently. So if you want to give this a shot, I recommend watching those and trying to replicate what I’m doing as closely as you can. Just for the learning opportunity. You can always go back to what you’re currently doing, if it’s different than what I’m suggesting. The goal is to get the USX and DSX motions happening from the same arm position with the same pick grip. We step through several arm position and pick grip pairings as we do this. They all have to match.

Once you try the pairings, I would suggest choosing one and simply trying it on a wide variety of musical phrases to see if any of feels smooth. Jazz type lines are great because they follow no particular pattern of numbers of notes per string, and they sound good at medium-fast speeds like 140-160 beats per minute. So you’re not really trying to “gun” it on them like a shred lick, you’re trying to get smoothness happening at these tempos that are just beyond what you can really manage consciously. I wouldn’t focus specifically on 1nps arpeggio type lines for this, but you can try throwing them into the mix because I think variety is how this is learned, over time.

We’ll be adding more chapters to the wrist motion section over time with more specific thoughts on establishing this centralized position and doing the motion switching. But the short story is, since you already appear to be doing it, just noticing it and not overthinking it might be the best approach. You can’t employ what you don’t notice, and for a lot of us, simply knowing when we’re doing something right, and knowing to do more of it, that’s the big insight.