Andy Wood Odd Note Groupings. Impossible to get faster!

This is the beast in question. I don’t know how to get it faster. I ‘think’ it’s alternate pick escapes but for the life of me, I can’t get my speed up. To date i’ve spent 3.5 hours on just this one lick. Any ideas as to what i’m doing wrong or what I can do better? All help very very much appreciated. Thanking you all in advance, Andrew.

This is me doing it as ‘fast’ as I can…

And this is the slow motion version…

After attending three of Andy’s Woodshed Guitar Experience weekends, I’m convinced that Andy is actually a space alien with a bionic arm.

Seriously, it looks like you are doing a bit of stringhopping on the D string skips. This lick obviously requires a true double-excape (DBX) technique which is just plain difficult. If you haven’t, review the latest Primer videos on Reverse Dart Thrower.


I thought this was common knowledge about Andy? :slight_smile:

You could play it with a mixed escape too. (And I think this might be how Andy is doing it more on that at the bottom). You could have a DSX motion primarily and on the 2nd and 10th notes do something to force a USX pick stroke:

You could try encouraging this with a pretty neutral pickslant, but attempting to rest stroke in a USX or DSX trajectory, something like this, where the notes are highlighted:

That might actually be a better way to at least “think about it” because as @Riffdiculous mentioned in your other technique critique (@doclearnstorock), you’re definitely aware of just when you need the different pick escape direction but you’re a little late getting to it. The rest strokes I indicated get you ready for it on the note before it’s needed.

I could be wrong but I think that’s what Troy will sometimes do in these patterns that require a mixed escape:

I could be misrepresenting him somewhat in terms of if he’s planning just when these rest strokes happen…but they definitely are happening, in both directions.

And that gentle/subtle change in slant is I think what Andy is doing too, if you watch around 5:55 in the video of the OP, when he really gets going.

His hand has that sort of gentle rocking motion (slightly pronotes/supinates).

To me that looks different from his more intentional DBX where his hand/wrist remain more neutral and don’t “turn” as much. Aside from the rotation he gets to help with the inside string changes on bigger skips, his hand almost looks like it’s just moving back and forth.

And that’s been my experience with this type of wrist based DBX. When it’s done correctly, it doesn’t even feel like we’re making a curved motion because it’s so subtle of an arc. It just “happens”.

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I agree that Andy uses some subtle two-way pickslanting for the fast stuff.

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Thank you @jllewi. I think I feel the stringhop myself so it’s obviously there. But I think that’s my big current weakness. With upward escapes and 2nps patterns, the bounce is even more pronounced (no video as yet), and that movement is super super slow and inefficient for me. So, I think I need to address that issue first and foremost, and then as everyone has said here and on my other video, the rest should get better…

Amazingly thorough analysis again @joebegly Thank you. :pray: :pray: :pray: I think as you said in your other critique, if I can potentially prepare the hand earlier, that will at least improve the mechanics, smoothness and efficiency of at least one of the major current sticking points. I’ve got a lot to work on!!! Will try and update and post some videos to follow up!!!

@jllewi @joebegly As an aside, last night, I tried this a different way. I started the lick on an upstroke, and chunked it. So with a downward escape the whole way, the first 5 notes is ‘easy’. And then I tried to add one note in, and then the next, and then the next. The rest of the lick played at half speed without too much thinking. This has seemingly gotten me a slightly better result. I have yet to be able to do one whole round of it, but this is the other way i’ve approached it. I’m not sure if this is what other people do or is recommended but I was trying to trick myself into finding a way…

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Some food for thought…

  • This particular pattern can be played using only DSX with a dash of economy picking: up down up down up repeated, with the last up a sweep into the initial up. This is for sure the fastest way to play it while picking every note.

  • It’s probably a good idea to minimize the USX challenges for now, and alternate picking this pattern contains pretty much all of them. haha Getting solid with something like a looping six, 3 notes on one string, 3 notes on an adjacent string, rinse and repeat, might be better to work on first.


Speaking solely for myself, switching the picking patterns on these licks did help me isolate the skips that were barriers, but it didn’t help me fix them. I had to try out some more drastic mechanic changes to get better.

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If you really just want to play it for the sake of playing the lick, me personally, I would try adding economy picking at some point for this particular lick. For me, it’s easier to do economy picking when going up the strings rather than the other way around, but for you it might be the opposite. In any case, this lick, the way I see, it would require a mixture of economy and alternate picking, it would require to start the lick with an upstroke and it would require some sort of DSX motion for the alternate picking string switching, regardless if you choose to do that one single economy picking string change ascending or descending the strings.

Hi everyone!!! It’s been just over a year since I first posted. I haven’t done a huge amount of picking-specific practice but have been playing A LOT. Mostly trying to improve my improvisation. I wanted to thank you all again for your time and insightful comments and update you with a video, as promised, to show you all what everything looks like. This is a year on. Not much progress I don’t think but i’d be interested to hear all your comments on what would be the best stuff to work on. I’m pleased i’ve managed to find a way to do a downward pick slant tremolo. I think it’s helping with everything else. All comments, as always, very gratefully received and appreciated. Many thanks in advance. Best wishes, Andrew.

YouTube video has times stamps for ease

  1. Upward Pick Slant Tremolo (Natural)
  2. Downward Pick Slant Tremolo (Learnt)
  3. Upward Pick Slant Tremolo (Natural)
  4. Downward Pick Slant Tremolo (Learnt)
  5. Paul Gilbert lick
  6. 3nps lick (Alternating Pick Slant)
  7. Andy Wood Lick
  8. 2nps Lick (Only Downward Pick Slant)
  9. 3nps then 6nps (Upward Pick Slant - AKA the thing I can play the best…)

For me your DWPS tremolo examples look more like a DBX tremolo, I could be wrong here but it kinda looks like that, it also seems like your slant of the pick might change slightly, maybe more neutral or ever so slightly downward??? Not sure.

Could it be that the issue in the TWPS licks is that you are thinking in terms of changing set ups? so when you have a lick that requires DBX either as an auxiliary escape motion or in it’s entirety, you are thinking about going from a tremolo DSX set up then switching to a USX set up and then back and forth and so on, so maybe you can do the motions more efficient since it’s all very brief and there’s just no time to try to change the slant of the pick and your anchor set up or whatever, so could be a good idea to establish a neutral slant of the pick that allows to switch between DSX and DBX/USX seemlessly.

Also in the 2nps lick I think you could do it much faster and easier starting it on an upstroke, so basically reversing it and turning it from a purely USX lick to a purely DSX one, like what Andy James does in his 2nps string playing quite a bit.

It seems to me that you have discovered a way of doing both DBX and DSX, your primary and faster motion being DSX so you can use the DBX as a secondary motion to play TWPS licks. Seems to me that this is the direction that you are headed to, here’s an example from Troy of what I’m talking here, seems you are starting to get that:

And of course you could also continue to develop your DBX motion to be faster and maybe be able to play more of a single string alternate picking licks., and just have more tools that way, that’s what I’m kinda working on myself just getting better at DBX, Kiko Loureiruo inspired me to do so.

I’m not sure either. I’m not hugely familiar with the double escape / DBX motion. I definitely didn’t think I was doing that at least consciously. I’ll have to go back and watch a few videos to see what’s what there.

For me, for 3nps / TWPS lines, I am consciously thinking about changing the slant of the pick and therefore the escape. So starting on a down stroke I do 2 notes DWPS and on the third adjust to an UWPS to change the string. And then rinse and repeat. There isn’t much more thought going on than that. It feels ok as a motion. Something that I definitely don’t muscle through. And it could get faster.

This is genius. I just tried it. Never thought about it before. It feels so much more natural and faster. My problem is, i’d love to do those Eric Johnson cascading pentatonics licks and add them into my playing. And i’m not sure I can, starting with an upstroke. i’m trying to seriously improve my DWPS so I can also do these DWPS economy runs that he does (like the 5s pattern) with the down down sweep.

Assuming this is the case, I am desperate to find a way to improve. I really really hate where my alternate picking is at. And I want it to be so much better. To summarise:

  1. I am definitely a natural UWPS and only realised this after Troy, Cracking and this forum opened my eyes to it.

  2. I am trying to find a way to improve my DWPS (the unnatural movement for me), so that I can hopefully get to a stage where I can TWPS and then have all the tools in the box to arguably play anything but importantly so I can also integrate DWPS economy picking to specifically play EJ licks and improve my 2nps playing without having to resort to always starting on an upstroke.

  3. I’m definitely not afraid of practice or hardwork. I’ve been trying pretty hard for a while. But i’m not sure i’m practicing the RIGHT way in order to achieve the goals I want. Any further advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you again for your time, critique and comments!!!

So i’ve tried what I consider to be drastic mechanic changes to try and achieve just this. My real problem is UWPS feels so natural and I know with more practice can be improved. My DWPS feels very forced and unnatural. As i’ve said elsewhere, i’m absolutely not afraid of practice or hard work. I’m just trying to make sure I practice in the right way and channel the hard work appropriately to get to where i’d like to get to. Any specific advice you have on this would be much appreciated.

Hi, it was more that this seems like an ultimate exercise in alternate picking. If I can play this, I should be able to play most things. So it’s like a benchmark as to how i’m progressing and perhaps more importantly, how fluid and smooth i’m playing. It feels like the UWPS portion is smoother and the DWPS forced. I’m trying to get the DWPS smoothed out…

I just tried this. It absolutely works. Thank you!!! Starting with an upstroke using only with a sweep at the end. It will definitely get me playing this faster, faster.

Is this with regards to alternate picking in general or trying to improve with regards to string changes or both? Are you saying I should stick on one string and get the mechanics and synchronisation better before dealing with string changes. This is regardless of a DSX or USX approach?

I’m not sure that I understand your notation, so please forgive the following question. I assume that the pick starts free. After note one, it is trapped? After note two, it is free? So how is the 6th note possible, given that the pick is trapped, and an upstroke would hit the wrong string?

One way to think about this is that I can put a letter “t” or “f” (trapped or free) between any two adjacent notes and that should reveal if you’re USX or DSX (and more).

Thanks for explaining, I’m sure that there is something that I am missing!

We were discussing with @Scottulus the other day how do to Eric Johnson cascading fives for DSX there’s different aternatives like using 3nps, occasional legato: You could also try this:

For descending or ascending pentatonic 6s groupings, there’s no problem, you just start it with an upstroke instead of a downstroke since it’s even numbered grouping all around

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Will take a look!!! Thank you.

I’ve already found two different ways to do descending 5s…

There’s the Frank Gambale up up sweep style or the USX down down sweep style.

I’m not sure which is better for me yet. But i’ll report back soon!!!

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In regards to all this:

I think it would be a good idea to get something like the Metronic Rock DSX seminar here on Cracking the Code by Tommo. It will teach you ways of getting the most out of you primary DSX motion that you already have and you’ll be surprised by how much you can do just with that, which is always a good place to fall back to when needed. So I think that’s a good idea.

Then there’s 2 things I believe you could do to improve your TWPS, the first is the speed burst method explained here:

I would focus on little bursts of speed, what you have to realize is that what you are trying to achieve is primary motion + secondary motion in those exercises, the secondary motion is only to achieve DBX string changes, so you aren’t switching your forearm position or anything to achieve this trying to change the slant, you are just making a different motion from a position that allows to get both motions, you have to find a position that allows to switch between DSX and DBX motion without changinganchorng or forearm position, I think watching the wrist motion tutorials on Primer will give you a good idea on how to achieve a neutral position for this, personally I just use the pinky pad anchor like Paul Gilbert or Andy Wood, I think there was a video on this topic aswell but can’t remember it right now.

Little burst exercises could be something like the Paul Gilbert exercise for example, but done let’s say 3 to 5 times as fast as you can relatively clean, and starting to get sloppy, just out of your comfort zone, rest a few seconds (this allows the muscles to rest and not get fatigued so quickly) and then do it again, see if your body naturally adjust and finds a mechanic that works for this, you can also take out little chunks of full sequences or scalar playing to work on speed bursts:

So a longer sequence could be something like this, nomally I would start this with an upstroke to make it a DSX sequence, but for chunks and stuff like that, I start it on a downstroke to get my secondary motion going:
asecnding sixes

And then the little chunk you get out of it to work on speed bursts could be something like this, this one really helped me with my secondary motion (starting with a downstroke) by just thinking of getting to the next string quickly without any pauses or weird things happening, just make it go there:
ascending sixes chunk

MAB has some good short exercises on his Speed Kills videos specially the original one, that could be used to get ideas on how to do little bursts exercises, also Rusty Cooley basic training has a lot of short exercises so it’s a great one. You may want to try speed burst first and see if your secondary DBX motion gets faster. But what I have found is that speed bursts are only good for improving your maximal speed and learning new mechanics or improving your mechanics at a realistic speed, but doesn’t neccesarily mean you will get it to be consistent with those mechanics, which leads me to the second thing which I think you should work on, it is working on longer sequences to build stamina, and you will do it kinda fast but not nearly as fast as the speed burst because first of all you want to do them clean and second of all you don’t want to get injured playing as fast as you can without rest, but you don’t want to do this slow either (unless you are using it as a warm up or to warm up, then you want to start slowly and maybe up to medium speed) because again your mechanincs slow won’t neccesarily translate to faster stuff, so just start at a moderate-medium speed from the get go (if you are already warmed up) that you can sustain comfortably and stayed relatively relaxed, and then you can go slower or faster depending how you are feeling. Some good exercises for this are the Vinnie Moore picking routine on his first instructional video or similar, like this one:

The original Vinnie Moore routine also involves alternate picking arpeggios and arpeggio sequences which I’ve been working on for DBX really good stuff, here’s an example:

Also, i think the examples on this next one might give you some good ideas on how to mix and match differnent sequences like the Paul Gilber exercise, and make it into more extensive patterns and also some chromatic exercises aswell, just remember if you have even numbered groupings like 2nps or 4nps, I just think it’s a good idea to start them on an upstroke for now, to make them DSX friendly:

pd: I also rarely use a metronome, I just either play as fast a possible with speed bursts or find a dynamic moderate speed for the longer exercises (which is the main thing I’m doing at the moment since I wanna improve my consistency and DBX stuff) that sometimes might be faster or slower, and then I can try them even faster once I’m feeling good. But you can see if the metronome works for you, Vinnie Moore I dont think talked about using a metronome in his routine, I know Rusty Cooley used a timer not a metronome. I personally think the metronome is good for working on rhyhtm and accents but not guitar technique in my personal opinion

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