Downward Pickslanting elbow - how does it work?


I’m not really referring to the accuracy aspect - Zakk always goes for it and if he bangs around so be it. It’s the mark of a great player that they they can somehow control the bucking bronco to the point where it sounds good and you don’t know how they’re doing it. And I do generally think he sounds good.

I’m just referring to the motion path itself. I’m not sure how the elbow can execute both a uwps motion path and a dwps motion path, since as far as I know, it only has one axis of operation.

Well here’s a quick test. If this isn’t elbow flexion and extension then what the hell is it??

Zakk wylde two notes per string soloing
Tommo's ascending troubles, feedback welcome!

Ok…I think I see something here.
Look ahead to about the 25 second mark.
You lay your hand across the bridge and just before you start the next six note pattern, I see you slightly tip into dwps. (Supination) Once you are locked into that position, your upstrokes in fact WILL escape using the elbow mechanic.


That is precisely the point. To the best of my knowledge the elbow only moves in one plane and it is not affected by how your forearm is rotated. The appearance of the pick being “slanted” doesn’t matter either. “DWPS” isn’t an orientation it’s a motion. Try it in the air with no guitar and see if you can make the arm trace an escaped upstroke path. When I don’t have a guitar in my hands I can’t do it without shoulder rotation / rotator cuff movement.


I think this statement is the key.
I just tried the motion in the air as you suggested. And I agree…the shoulder/rotator cuff seems to sort of draw inward or retract.
The elbow indeed only has one plane of travel but add in the shoulder movement, which is very minute, probably imperceptible motion considering how much body movement is in play and this might be pretty close to what Zakk is doing(?)


So you’re saying you think rotator cuff motion is part of the picking motion here? That would be pretty weird but who knows. My spider sense tells me to look for a simpler explanation.


Well, I’m just brainstorming really. Without a better view I can’t really tell.
If you’re asking me to guess, I’d say he is just blowing full steam ahead without regard for what the pick hits and through years of refining his particular technique has learned to mute the unwanted noise and swipe right through whatever is in the way!! Lol


Just spitballing, but external rotation of the humerus could be playing a role here (rotating externally on upstrokes, and internally on downstrokes). You may be squeezing your forearm against the edge of the guitar body to help secure a fulcrum for the humerus rotation to be levering against, then the humerus rotation component can account for the difference in “height” over the guitar body between the top of the upstroke and the bottom of the downstroke. There could be a small amount of radius/ulna rotation happening as well.

The external/internal humerus rotation can be pretty fast within a limited range of motion, and in a typical playing position, the external rotation has essentially the same effect on pick path as wrist extension would. The actual muscle contributions might vary a bit depending on how pronated or supinated your forearm is, but through 180 degrees of comfortable pronation/supination configurations, you can always do fast humerus rotation. A fast compound “elbow flextension plus humerus rotation” sounds plausible.


You may not use rotator cuff for primary picking but it is used to get you in a position where your elbow can be used for primary picking for upward or downward picking


I really believe it’s a shoulder movement!! Elbow is moving the pick back and forth and the shouder is rotating the enite arm upwards and the pick out of the strings on the upstrokes. Makes perfect sense to me actually



I’ve always thought it was fairly obvious that since the elbow is a hinge, any change in trajectory had to come from some combination of moving the scapula around and movement of the humerus in the shoulder joint. I think the rotation of the humerus is very obvious in many players anyway. What’s exercised me (in both senses) since I do fair bit of elbow, is whether moving all that machinery around is practical for the purposes of high speed TWPS. I mean…‘down up rotate’ for example - rotate here entails shifting your whole upper arm assembly about. Not easy at high bpm, surely? Not to mention long term damage? It needs to be very minimal and accurate I’d have thought because of the mass and changes of direction…inertia!

Can Vinnie still do what he did in that old video? Would be great to see that on Troycam.


Hi @Troy, thanks for the concise explanation! Have you tried something like the Volcano pattern with this mechanic? I wounder if it’s possible to mix smoothly alternate + sweeps with the elbow.


The shoulder is probably the joint with the most unconcious movements in the body, so my guess is shoulder too.
It might be relatively easy to check that, if it’s shoulder there should be a rotation in the upper arm.

@Troy: can you post another clip where your mighty biceps is visible?


Hmm, I think we all agree, that the elbow can just produce a movement in one plane, or more precisely one arc. But what keeps this plane from being tilted in relation to the string plane? Nothing I guess.

What I mean is, DWPS or maybe even UWPS is not impossible using just elbow movement, it just needs the correct posture. TWPS would involve rotating the guitar around the neck axis :wink:

split this topic #15

3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Zakk wylde two notes per string soloing


Vinnie is a uwps player so he shouldn’t need any shoulder movement for two-way pickslanting. He can get his uwps pickstroke with pronated elbow, and he can get his fully escaped pickstroke with forearm + pronated elbow.

In other words, forearm still works when you’re using elbow - i.e. you can still get an escaped upstroke by turning your arm. The mystery here is only if we assume I’m not actually doing that in this clip. But who knows - I might be!


We’ll try some more test shots when we get a moment, to try and determine what is actually moving.


I’m not with you. In the Pepsi Lick, the “rotate” of the “up-down-rotate” on the B string escapes the B string, but it doesn’t provide a downward trajectory for the downstroke back to the E string. Maintaining the same elbow position even after the forearm rotates to a less pronated orientation surely will still result in missing the E string?


If you’re referring to string tracking, sure. But that’s not really a “2wps” issue specifically. In fact that would come into play even in a uwps phrase where you have to relocate the picking motion from string to string. And there is indeed often an upper arm or shoulder component to that. But it’s not a thing that’s happening on every picked note, which is I thought what you were asking about.


I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying with the Pepsi lick.
In uwps, after the 3 notes on the high age you would hit the B string with an upstroke first, followed by down, rotate. That last rotate puts you perfectly in line for the downstroke back to the high E.
So only one rotational movement per 6 notes in uwps.