Descending sixes pattern


I’ve been a MiM subscriber for ages and just been quietly working away on my technique. Thought i should post a vid and get some feedback on it, i think/thought the motion i was using was a blend of wrist and forearm. It certainly feels that way but looking at the video it might just be forearm rotation. Any thoughts?

the clip is of a descending run in the song Still Hurts by Marco Sfogli starts @ 2:07 in the song if anyone wants to see it in context. As far as i know its around 84bpm 16th note triplets, i’ve been at this for months and just cant get it that fast ( at best 78bpm) which leads me to believe it something in my technique.

So to the point of the post - does anyone have any thoughts, comments or suggestions about my technique and what i could work on ?



how is your tremolo speed on one string? or have you worked on any one string stuff like the Yngwie 6 note pattern? thats a good one for sort of seeing where your top speed potential is.

that descending 2note per string pattern u r doing is pretty freaking hard IMO. My 2nps stuff lagged WAY behind my 3nps stuff for a good while. Even though I have brought up my 2nps stuff decently, its still WAY easier to rip thru 3nps stuff

Hey JonJon, apologies for the late reply I’m in a different time zone from most folks here I’d imagine (uk)
Tremolo speed seems fine although I’ve never properly measured it. I’ve worked on the 6 note pattern and can play the pop tarts lick at about 140 bpm. I feel I could get that faster if I spent more time on it though.

I’ll upload a couple more videos later of tremolo picking, the yngvie 6 pattern and the pop tarts one. That should give people more to critique.

Thanks for posting, and thanks for sticking with our stuff.

I’d say that’s correct.

When done correctly, 2nps sextuplet patterns feel pretty similar to doing the same motion on a single string with an accent on every sixth note. Similar feeling of smoothness, ease, and speed. If the motion doesn’t feel easy on a single string, with an accent on every sixth note, at the speed you’re going for, then it’s not going to work across the strings either and maybe some change in your form could help.

Specfically, when I do these kinds of lines with a USX motion, I almost always switch into a more Gypsy- or Teemu-style form that involves a little more supination and wrist flexion, and has fingers grazing the body. Here’s what that looks like:

If I do this motion on a single string, it feels very similar to what it feels like across the strings. I don’t suddenly become slower just because I’m changing strings. If anything, the fretting becomes the bottleneck because the index finger gets reused so often. That’s the speed limit for these kinds of phrases, for me anyway.

So using that as the hint, if you will, how is your smoothness on a single string? If you just do a simple sextuplet pattern (Yngwie six-note pattern, Di Meola repeating threes, etc.) with a nice accent on the first note of each six-note group, can you get it going smoothly at the speed you’re looking for? Maybe give that a shot with fingers extended and see what that looks like. Film it if you can and we’ll take a look.

Starting on a downstroke or an upstroke? As I recall, your main picking motion is DSX wrist. Maybe try doing these types of lines starting on an upstroke. That’s what McLaughlin and Andy James do, and they blaze on these kinds of patterns.

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Id say there are TWO big limitations for some people. yeah, fast fretting 2nps across the strings continuously is a big issue. But there is also fast continuous picking WHiLE also string tracking across the strings. To me thats huge and its simply a whole separate skill.

One can be massively good at sort of “static” patterns such as yngwie 6 note and even PG lick…and yet lag way behind on EJ type pent stuff just due to them not having mastered the separate skill of fast picking WHILE string tracking.

You ever see a major league pitcher try to throw to first and he throws it up into the stands? Obviously dude can throw the ball…but throwing strikes is one skill and throwing to first is a whole different thing.

So id say the right hand OR left hand could be a bottleneck on fast 2nps stuff

Yes totally, moving across the strings is not the same as playing on a single string. However, what I’m saying as someone who can do both is that there is a feeling of sameness to it. And if someone can’t do these two things equally comfortably, they might not realize what the end result is supposed to feel like.

In fact, even though we see this question come up a bunch, the truth is I don’t actually recall any time even way back in college when I was learning this stuff that “2nps” felt any different that patterns with more notes per string. I got the Eric stuff “for free” as soon as I got the Yngwie stuff. With a semester or two of just tooling around in my dorm room and noodling on them, on and off, in an unstructured fashion. Tracking is a thing I didn’t think about and I only even came up with the term maybe five years ago when we started making instructional stuff. Also keep in mind that a lot of these patterns involve basically no arm tracking at all. Like if you just do a two-string version of of any of these things, like a major seven arpeggio on two strings, or any kind of two-string scale pattern that bounces back and forth. They all feel pretty much the same.

So what I’m suggesting is that there may be a reason for this. There could be a form component to this that makes things easier if players use more of a Gypsy/Teemu arm position with grazing fingers. If you can do this well on a single string, it may be somewhat easier to make the string changes “disappear”. This is just a guess. But when you look at great 2nps players, like Teemu, Joscho, Doug Aldrich, Zakk Wylde, Marty Friedman, they all use various versions of this approach when doing USX 2nps.

In your case, again, if your primary picking motion is more of a deviation thing, and especially if it’s DSX, you may unlock some smoothness by switching up the picking and starting on an upstroke.

yes, but thats all for YOU. You are relating YOUR experience. (and yes, it may extrapolate out to the typical gypsy style player) That doesnt mean that your experiences will be universal for all players. true?

thats why, as you say “we see this question come up a bunch”. yeah, it might have all come at the same time for YOU but obviously a ton of others struggle with the differences between single string stuff and more tracking intense stuff. We cant just tell them “dude, it shouldnt feel any different!” lol

I learned modes like my first month of playing. So I never struggled with them at all. Obviously a lot of people cant understand modes. I can tell em “huh? its easy!” but will it help? lol

btw, yeah I can do 2nps stuff way better “starting on an upstroke” but I never actually start on an upstroke because it simply feels too weird. Instead I do stuff like this:

G--------------7–5 etc

thats sort of a ghetto way to “start on an upstroke”

That being said I still work on “regular” 2nps stuff like this:

its funny because I was doing one of the licks out of the EJ seminar and i was doing pretty good on it and then I was like “wait, something weird with this”. Its where you bend the string and then hit the one note on the high E string and then go into the desc 2nps stuff

It took me a minute to realize you were hitting the top note with an UPstroke. of course I was doing it with a downstroke to fit my more dsx style…which I didnt even realize was becoming my preference at that time

I di quite a bit more than relate my own experience. I provided some hard evidence of a number of elite players who all play these lines as part of their core vocabulary and use a similar form. I’m suggesting a concrete, non-personal technical reason why some people might find these lines easier than others.

This question of why some people have a hard time playing these lines I think may also be related to the question of why some people find ascending 2nps and 4nps lines harder than descending ones. @tommo has mentioned this, for example. Players that use a more Aldrich-style form also end up with what I think is a higher escape angle on average. Marty’s is very high, like 60 degrees at times, in our interview with him. Joscho and the Gypsies are in the 30-40 degree range. Coming almost straight down on the strings like this requires relatively little change in your “aim” to hit even a wider range of strings. When I’m playing in this form, I can easily move across four string distances without really feeling like I’m moving.

I could be wrong! But that’s what we do around here — suggest problems and try to figure out practical solutions for them. If any other folks want to try this suggestion and report back, that’s how we learn. But please don’t suggest that I just pontificate about what’s easy for me without trying to understand the root of how technique works, because that’s pretty obviously not true.

if we are keeping it 100%, you do come slightly close to pontificating on the practice methods lol. (not trying to argue or derail the thread though)

No doubt! I have my blind spots, for damn sure. And I would like to be reminded of them, politely, if we can. I do this for a living, but I’m still human. Although the more YouTube comments I moderate, the more parts of me are getting replaced with cold, unfeeling cybernetic parts over time.

Everything I’ve written here, even the practice stuff, is based on some mix of what interviewees have told us, including researchers who work in these areas, and what has produced results right here on the forum. Any of the points I’ve made, I can back up. I may overstate things for sure. And I also may be wrong. But the whole phenomenon of “guy says a thing because that’s what he does, regardless of whether it’s true” is the entire reason that Cracking the Code exists.

I think one of the best things Troy did was that he, from the very beginning, was totally open about this whole thing being based on science, and that what we know today may be updated or proven wrong tomorrow. So what Troy teaches today is based on all the evidence that is at hand at the moment.

well I think I have mentioned it before, but due to fanboyism you dont even HAVE to overstate stuff per se. X amount of people here are in such awe of you that THEY suspend all critical thinking and balance when Troy speaks. if you overstate something 5% and then they add 30% more to that then stuff gets out of whack.

2 things that come to mind are the “fast vs slow” practice and “Troy says the size of the motions dont matter”. No need to delve into the depths of those conundrums suffice to say that many many top players give directly opposite advice.

It gets somewhat ironic with a guy like Joe Stump who is a HUGE metronome guy and also recommends quite a bit of slow and medium practice. So we want to admire and dissect his technique but then say that the way he developed it is wrong? Thats where I think there is some blind spot going on. if one is working around a blind spot, then that same blind spot affects how they see research and which books they quote etc.

It all comes down to this question. Is this supposed to be an echo chamber where only Troy does critical thinking? (Im not suggesting it IS an echo chamber, but there is some pretty good fanboysim happening lol) or is it supposed to be more of a truth seeking community where we ALL apply critical thinking. The second type of community would be about 10x as strong

I mean, im not going to be the one to tell Rick Graham that he is an idiot for suggesting people start slow and work things up to speed lol. I just take in that advice and let it mix in with the “practice fast right away” advice and let it all gel until it gets clearer

My impression that is that just about everyone here is ready to tell me to my face I’m wrong. Because that’s what our entire product is about, using evidence and trying to figure things out. If this is what fanboyism feels like, it’s the least compliant fanboyism I’ve ever seen.

As a counterexample, you mention Rick Graham. I don’t know him but I hear he’s a wonderful guy. Anyway, my impression is that his word is accepted as authority way more than mine is. This impression comes simply from all the posts on this forum that use “Rick said it” as evidence of a thing being correct. I also get that impression about lots of people who are super good at guitar and very well known, whether it’s Steve Vai or whomever. They say something, it’s probably true. Two or more of them say the same thing, it’s indisputable.

I can’t account for that, but I do know it keeps us on our toes, searching for the things that work and being absolutely sure they do. And updating our knowledge when we were wrong, as I have done many times. Because I can’t out-famous the famous people or out-play the naturals. But we can provide what relatively few others do, which is a huge and growing body of hard evidence about the way things really work. Some of which a good portion of the world still doesn’t even know exists.

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For me it’s a tracking issue I believe. The most accurate statement is that I find repeated inside changes more difficult. For a pentatonic, I would prefer ascending with dsx and descending with usx.

I also have a physics-ish based guess as to why repeated “inside” string changes may have a slight dynamical disadvantage: the momentum of the pickstroke fights against the tracking. But probably this can be fully compensated at any reasonable speed, hence some people (e.g. Troy) don’t have/feel the issue.

Maybe :slight_smile:

besides me being a spur in your heel (as you’ve pointed out before) who questions anything you say??? lol

I told you before, you should be paying me to keep you honest!!

Hmm… I’m not sure you’ve really understood the idea of practise fast and why and when to do it. I think there are a LOT of evidence on this forum that slow and controlled practise doesn’t help when finding new motions. But this doesn’t mean that slow practise is useless. I for one, would say that the fretting hand benefits more from slow practise, especially when doing tricky stuff. But this comes down to that the fretting hand seldom has a problem speeding up, whereas the right hand does movements that is far less “natural” (just to use a word that Troy hates). :slight_smile:

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Possibly. The more vertical the picking motion, the closer it gets to 90 degrees from the tracking motion. So you don’t get the adding of the velocities when your pickstroke vector lines up with the tracking vector and you go slamming into the string. Is that what you mean?

Another issue is what I call the “foul shot problem”. But this affects accuracy, not motion. Meaning, you’re trying to hit the target string but the string you just played is in between. If you visualize that from the pick’s point of view, it’s like trying to hit a tiny slice of a target with a bullet. Instead, if you use a Gypsy approach, your pick is basically above the strings looking down. It’s similar to when basketball players shoot foul shots with a curve, so the ball comes down at the hoop. This is what Tuck Andress was talking about in his oft-quoted picking essay that we were talking about the other day. The idea here is that this would cause you to miss the target string or swipe a wrong string.

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Lots of people / everyone? Like @tommo’s assertion that there is something different about the inside picking versions of these phrases despite me saying for years now that I didn’t think so. He’s not giving me a hard time about it, but he’s hardly bowing to my Vader-like will on this issue either. And lo and behold, I’ve come around on it.

These threads won’t always be obvious to a casual observer as any kind of disagreement. But just look at the number of threads I put up where nobody responds for a day or two. I’m clearly not on the cover of Tiger Beat, even on my own web site.

this is when i wish I had basic photoshop skills