Another picking technique help topic

Hi all,

First post in this part of the forum so be gentle :wink:

Just wanted to get some feedback on my picking technique as it stands right now. I’ve been working through the picking primer and have gone through the antigravity seminar (some brilliant stuff in there!) as well as a fair bit of Troy’s youtube stuff (the Gambale interview in particular is fantastic). I think I’m naturally an upward pickslanter although I seem to be able to pick most things either way equally well (or badly haha) if I concentrate and reverse the pickstroke direction.

Anyway, the following is some video of my tremelo motion and some actual playing across strings. I’m able to tremelo 16ths @ 190-195 bpm pretty much until the cows come home but above that I’m able to keep sync @ 200 bpm for 20 seconds or so and it rapidly goes downhill from there. The video here is tremelo @ 201 bpm:

It looks to me like that’s some elbow and some wrist (I’m all wrist at lower speeds and it goes progressively to elbow as I get faster…). I just tried at 210 and it looks like it’s all elbow at that speed but feels VERY tense in that both hand and shoulder tense up noticeably which can’t be good.

Anyway, next video is the “pop tarts lick” @ 150 bpm which is about the maximum speed I can play it at least a bit clean. It feels like my hands completely lose sync above this speed - mainly due to the left hand not being able to keep up I think.

Is it possible to tell from these angles what’s going on? Is there any signs of the dreaded “string hopping”? Is this relatively efficient do you think?


Tremolo looks great!

If indeed your fastest playing involves elbow, it may be that you are defaulting to a DSX motion at high speeds. Since the Pop tarts lick is all upstroke string changes (when starting on a down), it would instead require a USX motion for the “best” results.

Quick experiment: what if you tried to play the pop tarts lick starting with an Up? Do you feel like that would allow for your faster picking motion (tremolo video) to be used?

Yep that is better (starting with an upstroke - although it feels very odd!) - managed to get a couple of cleanish runs at 166 bpm:

I did try at 170 but my left hand is REALLY struggling to get play this pattern at that pace!

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Looks like the way to go (for now - you can always add new motions later down the line)

Don’t worry if you lose a bit of cleanliness as you speed up: Fast and sloppy is always the first step :slight_smile:

Thanks! Will start working on my left hand in parallel - see if I can get the speed up there a bit. At the moment at that pace it feels like my right hand is cruising and the left is racing.

I’ve found that I’m actually a good bit faster with a slightly more rounded and “slippery” (for want of a better word) pick. I usually use something like an Ernie ball Prodigy or Gravity Razor / Chickenpicks Badazz - ie. Really pointy. Went back to a Petrucci Flow today and I know they are still pointy but they don’t seem to get stuck like those others.

Playing looks good, doesn’t look like string hopping. I’m intrigued as to what the wood finish guitar is? Looks cool!

That guitar is a Strandberg shaped seven string multi scale that I built a few years ago (when it was still officially allowed!). Link to some pics below:

There’s a couple of things I’d change if I built another but the shape is just amazingly comfortable and balances perfectly in classical and just about every other position.


That’s sick! Awesome that you were able to get it custom.

Thought I’d try a different pattern and the Yngwie Sixes one seems to be a bit faster for me with the left hand - was able to play cleanish at 120 bpm (ie. 16ths @ 180 bpm) which is getting a little closer to my max right hand picking speed:

Reckon I could probably push it a little further - maybe 190. I did try at 124 bpm and it was incredibly sloppy but it felt more elbowy (if that’s a word!) at that point whereas it still looks like wrist in the video above.

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Looks good from a visual perspective, only problem is that I only hear the metronome:-)

Haha I did think that - will go through the DAW or a real amp next time.

Incidentally that over speed training - ie. play as fast as possible and slow down slightly to clean up is possibly the best advice I’ve ever had on guitar. It’s odd as I’ve played classical piano for over 40 years and was familiar with the concept - just never applied it to guitar!

U gotta decide what u wanna do coz you’re mixing 2 movements which is not a good thing at all. Its pointless doing both coz coordinating 2 picking movements at the same time is extremely unreliable ur gonna have sync issues no matter what.

  1. if you wanna do elbow then play your licks with elbow all the time. Tho I think elbow is unreliable in general. But if u still wanna do it just care less about accuracy and focus on left hand muting ( Zakk Wylde style)
  2. In the wrist example your forearm is way to tensed so if u wanna do wrist you should adress that. Also the space between your thumb and indes is too big making it flimsy, just pull the thumb little bit closer, really just a little so its more stable. Also id suggest to stop anchoring coz that takes away from the force you put on the string. Also your thumb should cover the pick but shouldn’t go further than its edge coz that makes it flimsy to ( your holding with the soft flesh of the thumb when u do that)

@tommo please correct me if I’m wrong, but blended motions are extremely common, and even explicitly taught on CTC aren’t they?

Again, this doesn’t seem to correspond to what I remember @Troy recommending, which was to use whatever mechanic works for a particular phrase, and to switch mechanics as necessary for whatever different phrases you want to play.

Happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.

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I agree, things like elbow + wrist, forearm + wrist and so on are done by many great players!

Edit: and yes, the forearm + wrist combination in particular it treated both in the primer (there’s a section for it):

and in the “crosspicking with the wrist and forearm” live seminar:

Phew, thank goodness for that. I did have a flick back through the picking primer and saw some references to blended motion etc. and also that my pick grip appears to be the “angle pad grip” as described in chapter 6 of the pick grips section of the picking primer. If it’s good enough for Batio it’s good enough for me I think :wink:

I’m going to experiment with some different grips and things over the next few days and see if I can eliminate some tension - which undoubtedly is there and an issue.

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