Advice on practice strategy for picking motion development


Currently I’m working on an elbow motion as it is the first motion I’ve discovered that allows me to pick fast. But the downsides are that I seem to be unable to change pick slant, limiting me on 3 note per string run across the strings.

My solution to this is to split my practice time between this elbow motion that allows me to pick fast in certain scenarios and try to develop a two way pick slanting motion.

The issue is that I can’t decide between a 10:30-3 and a 9-2:30 motion. Also, to prevent string hopping (which has always been the habit I’m trying to break) I play slow enough to ingrain the motion since whenever I get fast the dreaded string hops come back.

My questions are,
a) Is it a bad idea to practice two motions at once?
b) Are there cons and pros to the two types of motions (10:30-3 and 9-2:30) or is either fine?
c) Should i not try to play slow and just play as fast as I can in hopes of eventually eliminating the string hopping? Even when I try to play this motion as fast as I can I’m probably only hitting 100-120bpm. I’m assuming speed with come as I develop the neural control?

Thank you all so much for your help and advice!

Couple things. We’ve stopped using the term “pickslanting” to describe picking motions, because it’s confusing. Changing the “slant” of the pick doesn’t change the picking motion, you have to do that yourself by changing the way the motion goes.

As you’ve pointed out, the elbow joint cannot do this. It can only make one type of motion. However, great elbow players like Vinnie Moore usually introduce a different joint motion, like forearm rotation, to handle upstroke string changes. We now call this “Primary and Secondary Motion”, and it’s described right here:

However, keep in mind that great elbow players do this subconsciously, creating very smooth almost invisible motion. So a lot of times when players “try” to do this, they end up overdoing it and things feel and sound awkward.

So I would recommend not worrying about any of this at first, and just making sure your elbow motion is as smooth as it can be. You can start with phrases that don’t have upstroke string changes, and see if you can get them sounding really good on all strings. When John McLaughlin plays fast, I would say that more 80 percent of his fast playing has no upstroke string changes at all. He just plays other phrases.

Even when it comes to 3nps scale playing, players like Michael Angelo Batio frequently just ignore the upstrokes and play through the surrounding strings, i.e. “swiping”. When the motion is smooth and perfectly synchronized, one tiny bit of noise every six notes, you’d be surprised how little you’ll even hear it.

TLDR don’t worry about trying to do primary and secondary stuff rigth now. Get your elbow motion fast and smooth first.


I’m in a very dark place at the moment.

I had to stop playing the guitar for the last 10 years because I was forced to study (was in college at the time) and my band at the time led me to a serious nervous breakdown which put me on a downward spiral as far as my mental health goes and I basically abandoned a dream I had been pursuing for 12-13 years up to that point. We had a record deal offer (US label) , I did the songs, we had an amazing singer (who was first grade asshole as a person) etc.

Then Covid hit and out of boredom I started fiddling with my guitar again. SImple stuff, chords, easy stuff… but old habits kicked in and I found myself practicing. This was back in February 2020. First I got my vibrato back, then my legato skills. Then it came to picking of course.

I started doing it pretty much the way I did it 10 years ago (as best as I could remember) and was getting good results in terms of sync, string crossing… but I hit a speed limit (maybe 32th notes at 100 bpm) at which point that old familiar unplesant and this time unbearable tension kicked in - veins on my right hand would pop out, cramps would kick in and everything would fall apart. Still I persisted. I know all there is to know about practicing - even before the internet days (my country got adsl internet around 2007).

I always wondered how could players such as Gilbert, Malmsteen, Di Meola - do picking so effortlessly. Even at the top of my game (11 years ago) despite being able to play 32nd notes at 150bpm, I wasn’t able -at that time- to do the Gilbert/Di meola lick.

All of this would be irrelevant, except for the fact that a very good singer relocated to my town and wanted to start a band -around the Covid lockdown time.

We scheduled the recording of an album for the summer of 2021, and I thought “Ok, there’s plenty of time to get your chops right by then”.

But I was not getting anywhere, despite the fact that I started practicing 4-5 hours a day. It took me at least half an hour just to warm up.

Then I stumbled upon this forum and saw @qwertygitarr videos (those 4-5 videos he shared on the forum) and it was like a revelation. In my humble opinion he has the best mechanic I have ever seen. So I completely copied his mechanic, hand position, forearm rotation (which was counterintuitive for me), everything except maybe the amount of pick sticking out (I really have to have a bit longer surface to pick, I tried to hold it exactly like him but was very uncomfortable).

Suddenly, I could do Paul Gilbert lick, without almost any effort. And I was able to translate that mechanic for my ascending linear 3nps runs. The descening ones kinda give me a bit of hard time (especially the treble E and B strings) . Also, I have hard time syncing my hands when playing “Yngwie”'s fourths (on one string) and “Yngwie”'s (it’s really Uli Roth’s lick from song “Earthquake” at the very end) double triplets.
Tremolo picking is just fine, I tend to tense a bit on D string.

So I have been waging war on the fronts - 1) I am practicing ingraining this mechanic 2) I am practicing actual sequences and solos for my songs

When I practice home, it usually sounds fine (I’m not chasing speed at the moment, I am focused on being and stayin absolutely relaxed) … but when I go to a rehearsal with my band, my right hand just freezes …no matter what I do, it just freezes, I tried getting drunk, taking sedatives … but the fucking thing just won’t repeat what I do at home (and at those “speeds”).

I don’t know what to do. It’s as if I am ashamed or something. I tried reaching out to qwertyguitarr to see if he uses the same pick as I do (I now use 1.5 Flow oxblood) but I used to use 1.14mm delrin Dunlop, pink one- which was fine with my previous mechanic - which I suppose was a mixture of an elbow and wrist deviation (forward-backward movement) akin to Impellitteri on Stand in Line.

I feel uneasy opening this to a group of strangers, but I don’t know who else to talk to. No one else would understand. Not even my shrink.

I feel the unbearable mental pressure and because of the circumstances I have found myself in…you see, okay, I’ll be completely honest - this is the last chance for me to do something with my music. In reality, I am not a guitar player. I stopped perceiving myself as such 11 years ago - and it helped me mentally. But the world has changed. I’m jobless, unmarried, my social value is zero despite the fact that I have an MA degree, can fight decently and I’m not the ugliest one on the planet.

If I could just somehow do this album the way I envisioned it to be, maybe it would rectify some wrongs from the past and help me with my future.

The genre I compose is hair metal / Aor but I always thought it would have been so much better if someone (me? you? someone else?) could put a bit of shred element into it (sans harmonic minor scale).

I’ll probably regret writing this, but having in mind the things I lost… this is nothing.

If anybody is in touch with qwertygitarr send him my deepest thanks for those 4-5 videos he put here.


Hey man! Wow!!! Thanks for your kind words and thanks for sharing you story! I’m sorry to hear you are in a bad place at the moment. I must have missed you reaching out to me earlier. If you want to discuss anything, send me a message.

I think some things you describe are things many of us can relate to. First of all, I’m very honored that you have used my videos for inspiration. But I need to say that it’s easy to think that someone displaying good playing in a video, have everything sorted out technique wise. In reality, I actually have the exact same problems as you describe when it comes to playing live or in rehearsal. Sometimes things just work and sometimes it feels like nothing is ever gonna work.

I can’t speak for you, but for me it has to do with three things. First is the stress of performing and being judged. If not by others, but by myself. Now I all of a sudden “have” to play perfectly.
Number two is that I expect myself to perform things at rehearsal that I honesty can’t pull off perfectly at home at first take. For some reason I forget that it takes a lot of practice reps befor I can do it perfectly at home. Why should I be able to do it live at the spot?
Thirdly, the sound can be really different. Different amps, sounds and volumes makes a huge difference in how things feel to play and you seldom have the same situation playing at home as playing with the band.

Hope you can find a way to get out of your dark place. We are many that share your experiences.

Playing standing up is way harder for me also and this leads to me being able to play stuff sitting at home that I can never pull off at practice or live. I feel your pain!

By the sounds of it, your technique is not the problem - you are playing stuff that you weren’t able to do in the past. And your goal tempos/past tempos are amazing.

The problem appeard to be the immense amount of pressure that your situation puts you in and also the even bigger pressure you seem to be putting on yourself. I suggest you cut yourself some slack and re-read your post as if someone else wrote it - think of what positive and honest advice you would give. What are the facts and what are your fears. Here are a few things that jumped out at me (please keep in mind, I’m no professional here and apologies if it comes across as brutal):

It won’t change your past - you will have to make peace with it regardless of doing this album. Also, this album is unlikely to cure covid, give you steady income. Not saying it would be amazing to do (and you should definitely pursue it), but its not gonna fix everything.

Music is for life … not for Christmas! This is basically not true. Most of my favourite guitar players are 50 +! And unless your fan base is going to be 15 year old girls, you can enjoy your guitar for the rest of your life.

You are anticipating that this singer is the only way to succeed is with this guy? In this digital age, you do not even need to be in the same country to record an album with someone. I believe John Petrucci recorded his latest album remotely with the bassist and sound mixer/producer - sounded great to me! Also, he obviously like your playing if he wants to start a band.

I think there are some threads on this forum about stagefright/nerves that might be of use - they might help. Have you spent mich time socially with the singer and other bandmates - if not maybe them being relative strangers may be adding to the pressure, especially when the last singer was a total D-bag (no offense to singers, but I find many have this trait). Maybe talk to them and share your worries - they probably don’t think theres a problem otherwise they would have told you. If they are dicks about it then you probably don’t want to be in a toxic band anyhow.

I really hope that you take the above as it was intended and get things sorted. Why not post a technique critique video on here? There are plenty of folks that are great at analysing picking technique and would be glad to do so - it might help bring your confidence up. Lately I have been trying to post more of my picking progress… I don’t like doing it, but it helps.

Thank you @PickingApprentice PickingApprentice for you advice and kind words, but the picture is much bigger and it took me a couple of years to put it into a novel which was published I think on Barnes and Noble as e-book (not in English, though)

I’ll try and answer the sentences you highlited in boxes and in that order, just to clarify.
When I said it would change the wrongs from the past I meant that my fiancee which broke up with me - did so because of my guitar pursuit. She is teacher in music theory now. Would have been a whole lotta easier for me if she had been someone like Tallee Savage.

The last chance for music. I am older than 30 younger than 40. And in all honesty, after all these decades of pain and suffering - I’ve come to hate music. Which is why during my 11 year hiatus I only listened to Lo-fi, bop jazz (Shearing, Mehldau, trumpet and sax players, nothing with guitar), and country/pop (which I really still like cause it’s related to what I do/did in a way).

Remote singer - 1) don’t have the money 2) this guy has 890 hz colour , natural 2nd tenor, wide vibrato (when he sings Journey, if you closed your eyes your could almost imagine Perry from his best days) 3) Goran Edman agreed to sing a bonus song

I’m mentally ill - precisely because of the previous band and the shit I was going thru with ex-fiancee, college, parents…everything. This new singer is okay as he can be (many people here are trying to get their hands on him but it seems he chose to work with me on this project because of my songs (or their quality, whatever) but he is kind of aloof, seems like every other person in this town is his preferred guest for coffee time than his bandmates.

I would post a video of me playing but I simply can’t. I don’t like when film me at rehearsals (we record them so we can se what went wrong and why).
I could go the “usual” way for hair metal (legato, tapping, dive bombs) but that’s not what I want… but I guess, sometimes what you want ain’t what you need (to quote my favorite composer/singer).

Just imagine if Gilbert from Racer X days played in Guiffria, or in Europe, or Icon or FM (UK)…that to me is THE END. PERIOD. That’s what I originally wanted.

As I had maybe already said, if there were any other way for me to get married - I’d do it. For God’s sakes, I entered the ring to prove my masculinity, and overcome my fears and in that situation the danger is REAL (me, once a scrawny guitar player kid - think Gilbert from Intese rock 2). Now I am tough to beat physically.

I don’t wanna get famous, be a guitar hero, etc. I just wanna make a product, try to get it published thru Gain/Ginger Vine management/ Mascot/Frontiers/ Lions Pride Music/ Silver Lining Music, etc. Play a gig or two, and afterwards trick some girl to marry me. (I am not kidding.)

stay safe, try to be happy, and don’t perceive yourself as guitar player 'cause that is a road to perdition.

all the best (from my heart to you)


I honestly don’t know where to go from that… no offence, but none of it makes any sense. To unpack this would also totally derail the thread and also I don’t have anything further to add. You take care and hopefully I’ll hear some of your music and playing.

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There are a lot of codes in this post that I don’t think even this site will ever crack, but could you explain this to me please? I guess audio examples would be the best, my knowledge of singing terminology is zero (except that everyone online loves to go on about “belting” all the time).

  1. Klaus Meine - around 1000-1100 hz (hurts your ears, unpleasant), when he sings low, however - it give an impression that he sings high

  2. Joey Tempest - spectrum analyzer went haywire when I tried to analyze the core fqs in his timbre - but my gues is that he’s around 800 hz (pleasant), appears natural (when he sings low it sounds low, when he sings high it sounds high but pleasant)

  3. Jeff Scott Soto - his color is probably around 500-600 hz or something (lower part of middle midrange) - even when he sings his ass off as highest as he can - it still appears “low” until you yourself actually try to sing those notes.

  4. Goran Edman - around 900 hz but due to his technique and mixing he makes it sound beautiful

  5. Steve Perry around 900 hz - The Voice, nothnig more to add.

There’s a simple test - my bass player and I figured out over a decade ago, by accident.

We played one of the songs off of FInal COuntdown or was it Out of this world… and then we used REALTEK HD audio manager which comes with Windows and there you have the option to raise or lower pitch up to 4 semitones up or down (major 3rd that is). And we did that with Tempest. His timbre stays the SAME. When you raise the pitch he sounds like a NATURAL SOPRANO WOMAN. When you lower it, he sounds like a natural black guy who sings gospel stuff.

Now try that with Klaus, or with Soto, or with 70% of the singers (raising their pitch) - and they will instantly sound like babies crying.

The best case scenario is that they will sound like 12 year old boys - which means their timbre is holding out to some extent (e.g Mark Free, Joe Lynn Turner, Steve Perry).