Alternate picking motion mechanic


Video Contents
0:00 3NPS Shift Scale
1:30 The scale chunk (Pepsi lick)
2:20 Gilbert lick stacked
3:12 The Gilbert lick
4:35 Yngwie 6 note pattern
5:12 Circular Scale chunk

Guitar: Ibanez RGA42FM
Amp: Orange Crush 12W

  • Gain: 5
  • OD: 3
  • Volume: 1

Strings: 11-56

  • Tuning: D Standard

Pick: Dunlop Ultex Standard 1.0 mm

What I need help with
My main question for critique is what motion mechanic am I using for my alternate picking? It feels like I am initiating the movement with my wrist, but yet in every single clip there is motion in the forearm. What is going on here? Could it be some blend of both wrist and elbow? What wrist motion does it look like I’m using? I’ve always thought I am using pure wrist deviation. In actuality, am I doing a dart-thrower or reverse dart-thrower movement with my wrist?

What do you think of my picking tone and attack? Am I still way too aggressive? I think I’m liking these Ultex 1mm picks, but I’m also curious to see if anyone has any specific picks they would recommend me to try.

Additional Notes

The tempo I am playing these licks is 110 bpm, 6 notes to the click. The exception is the circular scale chunk, which I am playing at 132 bpm, 5 notes to the click. I’m so sorry I got of the click in just about every clip. Not cool. This is a quick tempo for the twps stuff, for me, at least. Also, I apologize a lot of the magnet shots don’t have good lighting and it can be hard to see the pick.


Looks like elbow to me! And forearm rotation for the “2WPS motion”.


First thought was Vinnie Moore. Looks like elbow as @Johannes noted, with the driver for 2WPS being the rotational movement. Sounds good to me.


Nice. I could be wrong, but it appears that you anent using too much in the way of wrist motion, maybe a little, but not much, which makes me wonder if you are doing this because you are tensing up your whole arm a tad too much.

Again, I could be wrong… but if your arm feels any tension… I would spend some time exploring doing your mechanic with a ‘looser’ wrist/arm/elbow/etc. You can still get a very nice attack with a loose mechanic… and it helps in countless other ways like consistency and dynamics.


Nice magnet! And sorry for the delay in responding. @Johannes has it right - you’re using elbow motion, and you’re using forearm rotation for the “2wps” motion. There is really no wrist motion here at all. I think you can see in the clips you’ve filmed that the wrist joint really isn’t moving. If it is, it’s so small as to be negligible and I would essentially ignore it. This is an elbow technique.

We don’t see much elbow and you look to be pretty comfortable with it. So overall you’re doing fine. I can offer some feedback on a few things that jump out at me.

Number one, it sounds like you’re really plowing through the strings here, to the extent that it’s affecting the sound and possibly the smoothness of your motion. Lots of things can cause this. I’ve never used Ultex, is it a very stiff material? Because a stiff pick with a “choked up” type grip can cause that stickyness. This type of setup does not allow the pick to move at all so it fights its way forcefully through the string. If you use too much pick on the string, or don’t use enough edge picking, that can also contribute. You don’t necessarily have to go changing any / all of these things deliberately. I would simply say, try to get more smoothness in your attack, however you achieve it.

Two, the “2wps” motion is very pronounced, almost exaggerated, to the extent that it sounds like it’s causing timing inconsistency in your playing. Like, you have this even picking rhythm going which is disrupted by these big rotational movements of your arm. If you watched Antigravity, or the Vinnie Moore “Pepsi” chapter we put on YoUTube, when Vinnie does this, the motions are so gentle you really can’t even see them without slowing the tape down. I’m quite sure he has no conscious awareness of turning his arm. In your case, since you already have a strong handle on this, you can even try to trick yourself by telling yourself to not make the motions at all. If they are already learned, then you will still make them. But they will just be more graceful and not as obvious.

The name of the game here in both cases is smoothness. I wouldn’t worry about speed at all. Your motions look fine and we already know elbow motion is fast. One thing you can do is check out some of @Bill_hall’s posts here. He’s a great elbow player and even though the motion looks like it would be super athletic, he has a nice even touch with it.

Short tip on magnet filming: several of the closeup shots are out of focus. If you don’t specifically lock focus on your picking hand, the camera will grab the background through autofocus and lock on that. That’s why the backgrounds are sharp and your hand is blurry. On the iPhone, you have to touch and hold on the screen where your pick is, and then a second later a yellow box pops up when you are locked. Then you’re good, the camera will not refocus and the color will not drift when you are filming.

Again, good work here. You have a solid foundation in elbow mechanics and just need to dial in some smoothness to make the attack and timing tighten up.


I think Troy makes some great points about your picking! Something that I would add that helped me when playing six string scales is to focus on things in groups of two strings first. Try six notes of the scale on the E and A string first, just looping them and then the D and G string followed by the B and E strings. Play each six note groupings a bunch and then stop and go onto the next group of strings.

Then when you play the full scale just think of it as three groups of a six lick if that makes sense. Every time you start a new six lick on the next group of strings just aim for the downstroke to start the new grouping and you might not even have to worry about changing your pick slant…it will just happen. That is how I learned things…I wasn’t aware of slanting, I just sort of changed my slant slightly without even realizing it by just aiming for the new grouping with a downstroke.

Also, One thing that is really important for smoothness is that your left hand fingers have to move really even and be in sync with the pick. Sometimes I have noticed that when some players left hands are not moving even with the pick…they think it is their pick hand that is not smooth so they tense up and try to pick harder and faster to compensate. When both hands are moving together and in sync it feel more relaxed and the tone is much better.

I think you re one the right track and good luck in getting it down! :slight_smile:


Hi. Thank you all for taking time to watch my video and give me feedback. Much appreciated.

@Johannes, @guitarenthusiast

Thank you for your feedback on the elbow mechanic for the picking motion and the forearm rotation for the pickslanting motion.


I think you make a good point about tensing up too much. I’ll have to give a loose mechanic a shot during my practicing.


Thank you for all your notes on my attack. I think the main thing I will have to work on is digging in less and making less forceful motions.

I love Antigravity! I have watched it all the way through several times. I totally know what you mean about the exaggerated rotational movements. When I switch from UWPS to DWPS I think I am turning so far that it puts more pick on the string and it causes an undesirable heavy accent. Thank you for your tip on ignoring the motions.

It is truly an honor to get feedback on my playing from one of my guitar heros!


Thank you for your tip on focusing on two string groups. I’ll have to give that a try. Also, thank you for the insights about the fretting hand.

Lastly I was wondering if anyone has any picks they would recommend me to try. Picks I have been using lately include: Tortex Standard 0.6 mm - 1.0 mm, Ultex Standard 1.0 mm, Jazz iii xl nylon, Jazz iii xl ultex, V-picks screamer. What am I forgetting? Any other picks I should check out?