Black star lick HELP ME

Hey code crackers, wondering if anyone out there could help out with this issue I’m having.
Been a member of the forum for a while now and finally subscribed as a member of cracking the code proper.
Started on the volcano seminar and already having difficulty.
The black star lick - the last 2 notes of this lick, for some reason when trying to put this lick altogether I keep sweeping upward and consequently play the last 2 notes as up, down as opposed to down up.
It seems hardwired. I’m not a sweep picker can barely do it, nor am I particularly accomplished with speed in general but notice sometimes I economy pick lines without any thought as to whether or not I am.
Ideally I want to learn every technique available here and feel quite frustrated that my hand keeps wanting to do this.
Also having trouble just piecing this lick together in terms of timing, I.e I’m probably resting too long at certain points, mainly cause I cant play that damn fast, yet Haha.
Also if anyone could tell me perhaps @Troy how many licks are there available through the seminars or other areas of the site with which to practice, basically how much bang for my buck am I going to get In terms of usuable licks.

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I am also struggling with these types of licks. I have been working on 2WPS for a long time and felt that checking out a lot of the volcano and cascade stuff would help me push to the next level, especially by mastering the single string stuff to my goal tempos.

Major thing I struggle with is

  • My left hand is not as good as it should be and is getting in the way of focusing on the picking smoothness
    -Playing the escapes pull-offs; feels super awkward

Providing that you can play the other bits of the lick and you are settled on the mechanics you are using (fast and smooth) then it seems to me that you need to completely woodshed the last beat or 2 of the lick. I would loop it with legato, to make sure your left hand is happy. Then you can practice it slow in loops to rewire the pick directions. Then you could practice at random tempos to check that it locked in.


Same for me! I noticed that in my “instinctive” playing pulloffs always come after a (heavily accented) downstroke.

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May have spoken too soon, spent a good hour this morning working on the second half of the lick so to speak from the escape hatch, looping that and seems I’ve got it down and wow its surprising how fluid this can feel, has a nice even flow to it.

No idea of the speed I’m playing at, not working on the metronome just yet, trying to get the motions smooth and steady.

Just jumped into the cascade stuff for a quick look feeling more confident that this stuff is achievable :grin:.

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Yeah, don’t worry about the speed, that will come with ease if you focus on the smoothness. That being said, once you feel it is second nature, it would be interesting to see what happens if you ‘floor it’. If you are doing it all right then you should be able to get some good speed relatively easily (so they say !! :wink:)

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Yeah, unfortunately I am in the habit of being 100% legato or 100% picked. Its very limiting both sonically and technically :persevere:. That’s why I’m trying to get some of Volcano and Cascade under my fingers.

Hey, thanks for subscribing and glad you’re seeing some progress here!

Last count I think we’ve got something like 2,000 musical examples on the site. Several hundred across the instructional stuff (Primer and seminars) plus many more in the interviews, quite a range of stuff from simple licks to entire songs, all kinds of techniques and musical styles represented.

From the main page for each seminar or interview, you can scroll down and click to the “Clips” page to view a big list of all the musical examples that go with that thing.

Thanks for signing up! Have you watched the Pickslanting Primer or did you go right to the seminars? In general, we recommend starting with the Primer because that’s where we cover the core mechanics.

Just as an example, if you use a forearm-type approach with a more flexed wrist, as I typically use for “classic dwps” playing styles like Gypsy / Friedman / Yngwie, it’s almost impossible to sweep to a lower string. The pick would dig under the string and you wouldn’t be able to move. Here is what that looks like:

There is pretty much no way you’re sweeping “descending” with this form, unless you change the form to do it. If you’re using a wrist motion with a trigger-style grip, you’re much closer in form to being able to sweep descending:

Nothing wrong with this, but it’s a completely different form with a different feel. It can pay in terms of awareness to know which form you’re using.

@Brendan @Troy, thank you kindly for the replies gentlemen, @Brendan I totally did not notice that these were so comprehensive, very helpful thanks, think I may have ended up on the video only section and thought I dont have an sk1 haha.

@Troy the odd an slightly annoying thing is I’ve managed to play the lick the right way now and instantly feels just right so I have no idea what I was doing before, it seems my pick angle is typically dwps but not very much, not to claim great technique but looks similar to the shallow angle of ej, I believe what was happening was at the last second I was rotating into an uwps sorta motion and catching it that way but this slowed it down and just felt very odd. Indeed I have watched the primer, I believe although my pick slant seems downward mostly that I do something more akin to those bluegrass players whereby I seem to have that bit of bounce and the pick seems to clear the string, away from the body of the guitar in either direction, I’ll make a short video and hope to hear your thoughts.

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not sure if this is the correct way of doing this, correct me @Brendan If I’m wrong please.

Thanks for posting! When you link to YouTube videos, just paste the “” link (not the “” link) on a line by itself, with no other text. You don’t need to actually link it — the forum will embed the video right in your post. I edited your post so the video displays.

You can’t use a USX (“dwps”) motion to play a single note back and forth on two strings like you’re doing in this clip. By definition, a USX motion only goes up in the air when you play an upstroke. In the beginning of the USX motion chapter in the Pickslanting Primer we talk about the path the pick should follow. For those not on subscription, we do have that chapter free on our YT channel:

You can see that the pick makes a straight-line motion down into the strings. When you play a downstroke, it is stuck between two strings and can’t get out. If you try to lift it out, the pick would go up in the air at both ends of the pickstroke, and this would no longer be a USX motion. It would be a double escape motion. We don’t have an abbreviation for that yet. DBX maybe??

Either way, the point is that when you do what you’re doing here, you don’t even have to look at the your hand or the pick, you already know it’s not a single-escape / upstroke escape type motion. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily! As you point out, lots of players know how to make this motion in a very specific way that is fast. But a lot of players don’t, and get stuck in a stringhopping mode where they can’t go faster than about 100bpm-130bpm sixteenth notes. For those players, trying to make a double escape motion is a negative, and many of them have a hard time learning the faster single-escape way.

So when you’re learning a new motion, the best way to test if you’re doing it right is to go faster than the speed you’re using in this clip. If you can go fast, then it’s correct. If you can’t, and you experience a speed limit or arm tension, then something’s off and needs to be fixed. If you just play a single note on a single string, can you go faster than this, at least 160bom sixteenths? What does that look like when you do that? If you have a slow motion mode on your phone with 120fps video, do a clip of that and we’ll take a look.

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Hey there Mr Grady, again many thanks for the reply.
I do hope I’ve gotten the link right for this now, had problems with my browser, YouTube wouldn’t show the video :thinking:.

This is at 160bpm 16ths, I can play a few licks semi competently at this tempo, your poptarts lick for example, I uploaded a video of that a while back not the cleanest at the time though.
Once I get up past 170 even on a single string I have difficulty keeping it even and controlled things start to go haywire.

Hi! Thanks for posting this. In general, try to post at least 15-20 seconds of regular-speed footage in your clips, otherwise it’s hard to tell if the motion is smooth. Slow motion is great for seeing if the notes are accurate, and the details of which joints are moving, but less useful for seeing if the motion looks smooth.

More generally, have you watched the Pickslanting Primer yet and gone through the motion tutorials? If not, please give that a shot. We’re starting to build out the instructions with better detail, to try and eliminate as much of the uncertainty as possible. We’ll never get 100% of the way there, but we at least want to get everyone as close as possible so that minimum experimentation is needed to get the rest of the way.

You have basically two types of motion you can use for this — forearm plus wrist, and wrist by itself. We have the most detailed instructions for wrist by itself, including a nice checklist we put up yesterday. So I recommend trying them both.

In general, you want to be able to do the intended motion fast, even if it’s only for a couple bars, before you lose coordination. That’s the best test for whether you’re doing it right. Give the Primer a shot and let us know how you make out.