Am I doing the Zakk Wylde mystery elbow USX?

Not sure where to post it. Today I did some elbow and forearm experimentation and found this weird motion. Looks like forearm+wrist flexion/extension+elbow+rotator cuff to me. Sorry for bad lighting, I wanted to catch it on camera before I couldn’t replicate it.


It looks like you got all those motions going to some degree for sure.
I wouldn’t be absolutely certain as to what Zakk does, but elbow is a part of it and it is USX. So if you got a way of doing it that feels good, use it!

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Zakk as far as I know has his palm much closer to the bridge and uses forarm rotation combined with wrist flexion and extension.

Like the hand on the right here.

What you’re doing is closer to Marty Freidman. Though zakk does use this for his pentatonic shredding. Just more subtle.

This section of his lesson is his main movement. He will bring the wrist out like yours as well, but not as far from all I’ve seen. You can see the wrist flextion/extension well here.


Watch this section
Zakk Wylde - Pentatonic Hardcore I remastered I eng #zakkwylde - YouTube

I’m pretty sure this is where his elbow movement comes from. You can see his hand go from flexing a lot, to stiffining up and incorporating the elbow to keep the whole thing going with more agression. But his palm is still quite close to the bridge, angled like yours, just less. It’s not a massive change. You can see it shift though.

This is also a great video to see him using wrist rotation, and slight flexion.

When he does use the elbow movement I do think it’s exactly what you’re doing. just more compact


Nice work, @adamprzezdziecki . From what I can tell, the motion could be similar but Zakk’s setup is a little different. @WhammyStarScream outlined this in a lot of detail. My more basic explanation is that he’s way more supinated and has less of an air gap. I’ve heard Troy describe Zakk’s approach as if you’re cradling a baby or a football (American football, that is :slight_smile: ) Might be fun to toy around with that a little and keep your overall motion mechanic we saw in your video. What you’re doing looks more ‘Gypsy’. But hey, if it works, it works!


Well spotted! I just saw all the motions and said yeah, looks about right :joy:. Hard to know exactly what he does.
I think Zakk using finger and thumb motion too, but not all the time

I’ve noticed he does this the most when he does ascending economy stuff. Like this:

It’s very much like Yngwie where he has these different picking ‘modes’ depending on what licks he’s playing.


Nice one! Yeah it seems he uses it similar to how Yngwie does and probably developed it by feel

Thats such an awesome bit of playing, thanks for posting never seen it.

Yeah it’s a cool tune. I use the fast sextuplets at the beginning as a warm up all the time (though I like playing it a little further up the neck than he does). I’m trying to get a rotational mechanic so I can have some USX exposure but my elbow wants to take over often. I’m not sure if I’m succeeding in that or not, and I don’t have a great camera on my phone so it’s hard to see the escape:

I guess if the elbow is involved (hopefully it’s not…I’m really attempting to leave it behind) this would be my impersonation of the Wylde mystery elbow USX :slight_smile: Though as stated earlier, he’s way more supinated and flexed than what I’m doing here.

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Nice man :grin:, really fast n clean. Are you anchoring on the bridge? or floating? Inbetween?
I find anchorinng on the bridge and doing forearm rotation and wrist flexion etc To be the fastest and most comfortable. And Zakk just takes that exact movement down the bridge and it becomes elbow due to the inertia being thrown about with no anchor and having to track the strings

I recorded that a while ago so I’m not sure. I know what I’m going for that seems to help encourage rotation is have the nails of all the fingers that aren’t holding the pick just gently graze the body of the guitar. I need to get a decent camera and submit another critique so Tommo can tell me what I’m actually doing lol! I know the first critique I submitted ended up being all elbow. When I play like I am in the clip above it definitely doesn’t feel like that. I have bad sensory perception though.

I’d say you’re doing forearm rotation, elbow and flextion/extension. The nails help gliding a lot, I like anocing with the pinky too. Like Jason Becker. It’s all the rough same movement when doing downward pick slanting

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The finger n thumb motion is to angle the pick for upstrokes. Because he is mostly downward pickslanting, it’s necessary to do that to get a smooth upstroke. Otherwise the pick can get stuck at times. It’s not required on the down stroke as he’s already downward pick slanting the pick. But it can help a lot on the upstroke.

It works out perfectly because if you just hold your hand ridged and only move the thumb and index, this is the movement that happens naturally. The pick is flat on the down stroke, and angled on the upstroke. Marty Freidman does this a lot.
Gypsy jazz guys like Joscho Stephan might too. (tho tbh Idk if Joscho does move his thumb much, he uses fairly rounded picks, that can do this for him) I see him changing the angle but it’s hard to describe, like using the skin/flesh to slightly change the angle. You can see his thumb rotating here Joscho Stephan: Django vs. Yngwie Arpeggios - YouTube But it’s more of a rolling type movement that uses the flesh of the fingers to change angle.
They all use the same basic technique with pull offs to fill out the lack of alternate picking. Tho Gypsy jazz players use a lot of double down strokes because they are not using amps.

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I’ve been practicing forearm and wrist usx lately as for whatever reason, it comes more natural to me than wrist picking. I do wrap the thumb a bit, so things feel smooth, if I don’t, things get sticky. I’m not sure if I alter that as I play, I’d have to film myself to see.

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If you’ve got a small pick, Like this

They are about half the size of a normal pick, and they fit really nice next the the second joint of your thumb. They are smaller on the sides, your skin kind of molds around it and it just feels comfortable. Even though you’ve not much surface to grip onto.

What I like about these picks is most the picking force is on your second joint. Thats a much stronger leverage point than holding it with the tip or middle of the thumb. You can feel what your hand is doing more than most normal picks

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Thanks! I’ve not tried these, I’ll order some and give them a go

Thanks for all the replies, I’ll tool with it a little bit more and post results.