Descending pentatonics problem - DWPS


Hey all - I’d like some critique/problem solving on my DWPS with descending pentatonics. For what ever reason I have less facility with descending pentatonics than ascending. I have been working at this on and off for over a year - here’s Troy’s advice to me on a earlier post…Another DWPS post - help!

I recorded a repeating 6 note chunk to demonstrate. I often hit the an open string when transitioning from the B string to the G string. I tried a bunch of experimenting such as using more slant or using more arm rotation - sometimes these strategies help but I haven’t been able to get the chunk consistent to the point where I would confidently play it live.

These examples are actually better than average - probably because I’ve been practicing it all morning. Another weird thing is that when I am playing, I clearly hear the mistakes (i.e. hitting open strings) but when I listen to the recording it is much less audible.

On electric:

On acoustic - sorry for shaky camera - my 6 y. old is still learning her camera skills

Any ideas?



Both phrases are ideal for a downward slant but in the descending phrase, your slant decreases each string to the point where it seems like you’re unnecessarily making them a two-way slant lick. See the way that the pick ends up in upward slant by the time you get to the G string? You didn’t do that in the ascending version. I think the looping nature of getting back to the high E string from the G string will be aided by slanting the pathway downwardly up/out of the G string to provide clear passage back to the E.

You have a cool rotation thing happening in conjunction with your wrist deviation so I’d just try not rotating past the zero/neutral point cause it’s counter productive for these even-numbered phrases.


Honestly, these all look and sound great! I really don’t have anything to add about specifically what you’re doing here, because I can’t really hear or see any difference.

However one things you can try if you want to throw something at this, is changing something you’re doing. It looks like you’re using an angle pad grip. So you can switch to either of the pad-side grips, either far knuckle, like this:

…or closer to the middle knuckle, like this:

The idea here is that if you find that you’re hammering away at the same thing all the time, and getting the same results all the time, then you’re not giving yourself any chance to figure out how to do it differently. And sometimes, doing something obviously different can shuffle that deck for you. This can work so well that you can sometimes immediately do something with the new grip that you couldn’t do with the old one. And eventually, you can take that increased ability back to the old grip, if you like, and then you have two (or more) ways of playing.

In similar fashion you can also change the motion. I can’t see with the long sleeves but it looks like you’re using a wrist / forearm blend. So how about using only the wrist? Any of our conversations with Andy Wood (downstroke escape / uwps) or Mike Stern (upstroke escape / dwps) are good references for what this looks like.

I wouldn’t worry about the pickslant, per se, if by pickslant we just mean the orientation of the pick. In the case of trying a new motion, the idea is to make an escape path, either downstroke or upstroke, depending on which pickstroke you want to start with. And in the wrist family of motions you anchor somewhere near the watch band area of your arm and move only the hand. No arm allowed!

Just some things you can try to mix things up. But again, I think what you’re doing sounds great and I wouldn’t sweat it.


I basically saw the same thing Jakku saw. On the descending one you are basically almost changing it to Uwps…which is sort of backwards for that lick. Instead of keeping your Dwps to clear the string you are losing it and its making u catch that open string


Thanks for all the feedback everyone - lots of good food for thought! I actually think what will demonstrate what is going wrong with my picking is to put up a video of me playing the repeating lick from "Don’t Stop Believing "- a descending 2 note per string lick that I have trouble playing…more to come

Meanwhile, here’s Neal Schon describing how he plays that lick at 46s


First off it sounds good. looking at this example it appears you rotate on your last pickstroke on the low string to go back up which to me means you are more neutral or at least less DWPS. I would think if you are leaning towards the floor meaning more of your forearm underside exposed at the top you wouldn’t have to do this and would perhaps speed it up or make it more constant and repeatable. This would be the same for the ascending version as well.


OK - here it is - clip of me playing the Don’t Stop Believing lick - I’m doing the same thing, hitting the open G string on a descending DWPS lick. I still can’t tell why - maybe I’m pulling off accidentally and causing the open string to sound?

any Ideas?



If you watch his first finger and watch yours as it relates to the g string
He appears to be staying put and kind of fluttering that finger in order to fret and mute.

Not sure if its your answer but worth looking at.


yeah Neal sort of keeps the G string covered the whole time whereas u are totally uncovering it.

I did the lick myself just now and my finger pretty much never comes off the G string


OK - so Neal et al are essentially barring the B and G string and moving the knuckles (kind of like sweeping with a bar?) and some muting involved?


with just the b and G it doesnt even really feel like a “bar” per se

I just rechecked. I wasnt actually barring when I play it. Im relifting the first finger but the edge of the index finger keeps touching the G all the time anwyay

I tried actualy barring and it works fine to. In that case when u bring the ring finger down to fret the g string it damps out the b string etc


In fairness this appears to be a player centric lick.
Meaning its about tech but also heavily a feel thing and he describes it as simple yet people struggle with it tells me its a natural movement for him.

You can see its a very twitchy thing
So yeah I would just focus on keeping that finger more or less in position
And listen and feel more than analyze.


I think these guys are on to something really important. I can’t actually see any real problems in your picking hand. It looks totally smooth and fluid.

The G string sounds seem to come from a variety of reasons and on different strokes, both up and down. And I think with proper muting with the left hand first finger, these occasional touches from the pick wouldn’t really make a problematic sound. I suggest make this muting technique a habit it you’re not already doing it.

Here is Gambale talking about this concept of muting with the first finger.


Cool - thanks everybody - the barre/muting thing feels a bit awkward but I think it will help. I think I’m realizing that my ascending muting is decent but my descending muting isn’t always there.

Now I’m curious how do people play a full descending pentatonic scale?

Am I right that Troy is continually muting the lower string as he descends? (but not more than 1 string)


u r talking about the low E? a lot of dwps guys sort of touch it all the time anyway. In any case I dont think its generally the main offender when it comes to stuff ringing. The G and D are the ones I usually have to worry about

Michael Angelo Batio is the interesting case as far as muting due to the way he holds his hand up off the strings. Weird lol


Wont try to answer for Troy but in my case my left hand does a lot of work muting that descending run

Primarily my first finger again
But at multiple points.
By the time I reach the low e
My palm calluses are touching the high e

My third finger is also muting at times.

Might be easier to think of it as just letting whatever is available on the left hand muffle the string instead of trying to figure out exact points of contact because there are many.

For me as I descend to another string with the finger tip.
The lower portion becomes the mute.

As i progress I just keep doing that


Every one of those pen marks is a spot my finger touches the high e as I descend.

Then we have the other strings to think about. Lol

If I had to map that all out it would be crazy.

Hopefully though that will give you some idea of how much of that first finger is doing


In this picture you can see how I flatten out the pad of the first fingertip.

This also helps muting.

The pic is exaggerated but you see how That finger can come into contact with the string for fretting and muting other strings


lotta personal preference in that…because my first finger never looks like that when playing lead lol. Thats looks very much like SRV style maybe


I start with thumb over the neck and when I hit the last string it shifts to more of a back of the neck position.

I think you are right though.
How you mute will depend on many factors so please don’t let me sway ya one way or the other