Advice for further speed and accuracy

Hi y’all!
I’ve been really digging this site and the extraordinary material available regarding picking technique.
Need help to develop more general speed as I tend to get tensed up in shoulders and neck after practicing hard on technique. I will attach 4 different very short videos where I play some technical stuff from this site - the cascades of 5, Ardeshirs sixes and I will also post a video of my fastest tremolo on one string. I can feel that my pick motion switches rather naturally if I play DPS, instead of my normal more 0 degree kind of picking. When DPS I use 3 fingers on the pick to try to get that angle right, instead of 2 which I play anything else with. That just happens to feel natural to me.

So first here is my tremolo:

Here is some Ardeshirs sixes:

Cascades of 5:

I find it difficult to reach that high tempo where you can’t hear the 5 note pattern, but maybe it just needs time. Any tips and critique is much appreciated!

Here im trying to play first some lines with 0 degree kind of pick, and mixing in some cascades of 5 where I try to tilt the pick:

Distortion is of course really nice on some of this, but I just wanted to show you guys clean what is happening.
Any tips, advices and critique are much appreciated! Hope the video angle is okay, I know it’s not perfectly easy to see exactly what happens. I uploaded to YouTube so it should be possible to play in slower tempos as well.

Best Wishes / Mathias Bøttern


Good trem picking and sixes clips, but it sounds like maybe you’re getting the timing / rhythmic groupings of 5s a bit off? I hear the descending pattern starting on a downbeat I think, and sounding more like 4s. Also have a few noticeable swipes in there.

Are you aiming to do 5s with pure alternate picking or economy pick EJ-style?

Hi! Thanks for posting. Sorry for the continued confusion about pickslanting and what it means / does.

When you’re working on motions, the slant of the pick is not what you should be looking at, only the type of joint motion you are creating. Changing your grip doesn’t do anything to change the way the pick is moving.

The motion you are making in your Ardeshir sixes clip is a type of picking motion where downstrokes go up in the air. We call this “DSX” motion, which you can read about here:

In your case, you are using Al Di Meola style wrist motion to create this DSX motion path. In the Di Meola approach, the arm is placed somewhat flat and the wrist moves along a diagonal. Although this motion moves along an angled path, there is usually no (or very little) appearance of pickslant thanks to the arm position and grip that is used. We teach this motion here:

If you haven’t watched the “Testing Your Motions” section yet, I recommend doing this. It will cover some of these basic motions and it provides some good closeup shots of what they look like.

To play Eric Johnson type patterns, you need a different type of picking motion, where upstrokes go up in the air. We call this “USX” motion:

Because this is a different type of picking motion, many “famous” players who can do Ardeshir / Paul Gilbert sixes cannot play Eric Johnson fives. And vice versa. Lots of players who can do Eric Johnson or George Benson licks cannot play Ardeshir sixes.

To test this, just play a single note on a single string fast and film it. Is it DSX or USX? If it is DSX / Al Di Meola, the EJ pattern will not work. You will need to learn a different fast alternate picking motion, on a single note, where upstrokes go up in the air.

Really the best way to approach any challenge in picking technique is to go fast on a single note while filming the motion and seeing what kind of escape it creates. Again, I would start with the “Testing Your Motions” section and move forward with whatever type of picking motion is working best for you right now. If that’s the Di Meola motion, then DSX lines are the best fit for that.

Hi @Troy
Thank you so much for taking your time with a detailed response. It’s my mistake focusing on the slant, and what I really want to hear your tips on, is the difference between switching from DSX (which I think is most normal for me, the 2 o’ clock kind of wrist motion you mention) and then USX.
Because I would really like to be able to use and switch between both techniques. I’m not a shred metal player, but I want to play a lot of different styles. I’m coming from a jazz background, but I wanna be able to play those burning EJ penta lines too! You say “many “famous” players who can do Ardeshir / Paul Gilbert sixes cannot play Eric Johnson fives”. Would you suggest me to choose one? because I really wanna work on both and be able to switch. I filmed more accurately and close up to the pick on these videos. So here is a Ardeshir style lick, with DSX.

And here I’m giving my best shot at USX which I find quite difficult to get smooth and tight!:

And last a close up on a single note fast on one string:

Again thank you so much for taking your time and, and hope to hear from you.
/ Mathias

Hi @Pepepicks66
Thank you for taking your time and I agree with you. I’m having a bit of trouble with getting the timing on that down-down pick stroke on the 5 note pattern tight. I’m aiming to do the 5’s EJ style. Im trying to play the 5 note pattern both as sixtuplets and straight 16’s when I practice, but hard to get tight either way.
In my respond to Troy I attached more short close-up videos. , and if you get anything more out of those, please feel free to give more critique on my picking technique. The main thing is that it’s hard for me to switch between DSX and USX and I wanna be able to use both, in different contexts.

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Thanks for filming these! I’m not saying don’t work on the EJ lick. I’m saying that in order to play the EJ lick you must first have a fast USX motion on a single note. If you film yourself playing fast on a single note, and it is not USX, then the EJ lick is off the table until you have a fast USX motion.

Based on your fast single note example, that is DSX. It is the Di Meola wrist motion plus a little elbow motion. But mostly wrist.

The ability to play fast on a single note is not simple. Most expert players can only do this with one joint motion. At least, as far as we ever see them do it. Eddie Van Halen is interesting because he had at least three fast motions: wrist, forearm, and elbow. His wrist and forearm techniques were USX and his elbow technique I would assume is DSX, just because elbow is usually DSX. But we don’t have enough good video of it.

Again, it is fine if you want to try to learn other motions over time. But as far as building usable musical vocabulary right now, I would look at DSX alternate picking lines. You can incorporate legato and upstroke sweeping and have tons of musical variety:

As another example, Frank Gambale sweeps in both directions, but when he combines sweeping and alternate picking in the upstroke direction, he does this primarily on descending lines using upstroke sweeping. I think this is because Frank’s fast alterante picking motion is DSX. I haven’t seen him do fast USX, and that may be why he does not play Benson or EJ type lines like the fives pattern. And yet, Frank is one of the most inventive players around. I don’t think anyone ever accused him of lacking musical ideas.

Use the techniques you have and don’t get stuck waiting on other ones you don’t have.

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