I’m…back after being bogged down by work and life.
Recently I made a personal challenge to learn a Dream Theater song to build up my dexterity and overcome my fear of learning long songs (I have a tendency to forget parts here and there even with hours of practice), and it’s been really fun as a process, and managed to surprise myself too.
Just need to have some critique over the 3rd solo of the song:
My main beef is that the string skips at the first 2 chunks are honestly just disorientating my picking hand. I find that after I reach down to pick the notes on the B string and go back up, my hands are ‘‘lost’’ and need that few more miliseconds to recover to continue picking the other stuff. It’s great that I got some decent speed in there but it’s not fluid like how Petrucci plays it (then again I can’t compare with Guitar Jesus) and I just don’t know how to make it smoother.
Ive seen other covers where picking wise its a combination of wrist and arm, and I’m pretty much doing the same thing too.
So yeah, would like to know what I can improve on.
Thanks for posting! Looping in @tommo on this one — he actually posted last year about working on this exact same thing, may be able to share a helpful perspective:
Actually looks like there’s a lot on Petrucci in that topic, I don’t recall if it addresses the specific things you’re working on, but pretty extensive discussion on Petrucci & pickslanting so you may want to read the whole thing if you haven’t yet!
Hey @zhang, for what it’s worth this is already a great performance! Your picking is very fast and your pinch harmonics/vibrato sound great!
Disclaimer: I think you can play this solo better than me. But I think I can still try to give you some feedback, because I have in mind what an “ideal” performance of this solo would sound like. So, looking at the thing from outside:
This is just if you want to be very exact with the solo. There is an additional bass note before each descending 6s sequence at around 0:22-onwards. Have a look at David Escobar’s transcription on youtube to see what I mean.
Yes, there seem to me some slight timing/clarity issues when you play the various skip 5s at the end. Particularly the high notes are sometimes a bit rushed and not fully articulated. I’m not sure what the cause is, but if you can Identify it, you’ll probably be able to fix it pretty soon. For example, are you able to play this lick at a slightly lower speed (still fast), but with perfect timing and articulation? Do you have a way to film your right hand in slow motion to check what’s going on at the difficult transition points?
Finally, I know you won’t like this, but adding a single pulloff at the end of each 10-note sequence makes the whole thing waaaay easier to play uber fast!
That being said, I’d stress again that you recorded a very good performance of a very hard solo!
EDIT: After watching many videos of JP himself playing the 5s lick, I have the impression that he uses the “DWPS + swiping” approach - but then again, I may see what I want to see! If you have a look at the long JP thread that @Brendan linked, the discussion on swiping is quite extensive.
Thank you so much! I’m about to record the full performance of this song very soon so I honestly appreciate the feedback and encouragement.
I began learning the full song a month ago and began learning the 3rd solo at the 3rd week on August (I think?), and began slowly working on the picking speed once I got the pattern down. I practice this solo 10 times a day on average, slow and fast, metronoming the s**t outta this guy.
Can say that the effort really pays off, and at the beginning of this month results were slowly starting to sink in. I can honestly say that at this point I’m excited and not afraid of trying out longer Dream Theater stuff in the near future
Sooooo…some questions xD
Okay, everything which I play is based on what I learnt from the Learn to Play Dream Theater DVD by Lick Library. Followed everything Andy James told me to play. Took a listen to Escobar’s version and played along. I know the two versions are different but uh…which note am I missing actually? Maybe its prolly because im not articulating the bass notes well. Lol. Figures.
It prolly is an anticipation or confidence issue, because a day ago I recorded a near perfect take of the solo on my phone, and the notes played on the B string were very well articulated and pre meditated.
Of course that all came crashing down at the second string skipping chunk, where I just ferrari’d through because I was afraid I would run out of time to play the other chunks. This is like if you were to throw a ball at me, but I’m so afraid that I wont catch it in time, so I make extra speed or movement to prevent that but I end up having the ball hit me or I miss it instead, that kinda thing.
So if I got this single one down out of the hundreds of times that I tried, then I guess I did something right in the process. I think? But yeah, defs gonna have to analyze my picking hand for this. I’ve gotta solve other things too before I record this, like that time signature changing part before the 3rd solo hahahaha.
Took a brief look at the thread. Honestly helpful information! And frankly I’m at a disadvantage of learning DT/Petrucci stuff due to the fact that I’m a UWPSlanter and his solo’s mostly involve an even number of notes to do DWPS. I feel like I’m caught in a web coughdtpuncough in the 3rd solo at some point too, since I’m freed when I do downstrokes and trapped when doing upstrokes. But I dunno I just plowed on through how I usually do it and convinced myself that I can make the leap try after try.
As far as swiping goes, I guess it’s safe to say that in the end it can only be achieved repetition after repetition. I think.
John uses wrist motion, from a slightly supinated arm position. Your arm position looks pretty much the same to me. So I’m not really seeing the “disadvantage” here.
With the arm position you have, you can choose to make a picking motion where only the downstroke escapes. That would be your “upward pickslanting” motion, or what we sometimes call a “2:00” wrist motion. This is what it looks like you are doing around the 20 second mark.
It’s also similar to what Andy James is doing in the thread about him today, which you can find here:
This is a good example of why I think we will eventually we’ll stop using the term “pickslanting” to describe motions. I think it’s probably clearer for most people to look at the motions they are making and understand exactly what they are doing, instead of worrying that they have “too much slant” or something, which is frankly never the way it worked. I know we’re responsible for this confusion so again I apologize - we’re learning to be clearer as we go here.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the agreed terminology (in this period of transition ) is that UWPS includes all picking movements where the upstroke is trapped, while the downstroke escapes the plane of the strings. The “2pm wrist motion” is only one of many options to achieve this result!
Tommo has it right. We will probably stop saying “uwps” when we mean “picking motion where the downstroke escapes” because when we mean the motion, it’s much clearer to talk about the motion itself.
However I think we will still use the term uwps to describe the pick having a slanted appearance, which is what the term really was supposed to be in the first place. We just didn’t realize that the two were different things at first. We sort of did, but then we sort of didn’t. When you use a picking motion that is diagonal, where one of the pickstrokes escapes and the other is trapped, then you also have to alter the grip a little to make sure the pick is angled the same amount.
However, the reverse is not true. As an example, if you look at Frank Gambale sweeping, you can see very clearly that you can have a slanted grip even when the picking motion is not angled and never leaves the strings. The two things are separate.
You guys are acing it! It looks pretty unplayable to me, like it did the first time I heard it a few years ago. Being an UPWS player doesn’t really help, I’m still trying to find ways to work around stuff like that.
Well I’m an UWPSlanter to too but i think that never really detered me from trying and challenging myself.
Thing is with learning any craft, it’s just like gaming. When you progress on through a given timeline, you unlock certain tiers and skills. Hard and fast solos are like the boss levels. You die but you take the time try and figure it out, then respawn to try again. Till this day I’m still amazed at the progress I’ve made through trial and error.
I know what you mean, my favourite players are DWPS, so I’m always trying to play what they play, but in my own way. Finding new picking strategies and thinking behind the note choices and the fingerings it’s something very refreshing to me.
Before CTC I was just trying to play the songs note for note, but that wasn’t the case most of time. Like you said, it’s like a neverending video game.
@BillHoudini, @zhang, if you are primary UWPS-ers I seriously suggest to try the erotomania fives lick (or mega-lick!) with an escape pulloff every 10th note: for example the first 10 notes read
D U D ... D
This allows for pure UWPS execution and you only pay the price of occasional repeated downstrokes - but with a pulloff in between that gives you time to reset. The speed/timing benefits are enormous. With this solo it’s easy to have small timing irregularities, particularly when the string skips are involved. This feels like blasphemy but even in some JP live performances of this solo I believe I can hear an occasional longer gap after some of the 10-notes chunks. The pulloff “cheat” allows to even things out quite a lot.
That being said, I am still practicing the solo all-picked and when it clicks it does sound badass, but the “cheat” UWPS version feels soo much easier!
EDIT: even more blasphemy sorry - I think that Andy James (a great UWPS player) may use an occasional (or perhaps even systematic?) cheeky pulloff in his (great) cover of this solo - notice the right hand that seems to lift after most of the 10-note chunks, which may indicate the repeated downstroke with pulloff in between. I am not 100% sure but there you go!
EDIT 2: and here is a fully UWPS, fully efficient version with 2 non-picked notes - can be brought to infinite speed in principle (but the hammer may be difficult to articulate well)
U D U D U D U D
I just recorded the best take of the full song out of 20-30 takes yesterday. 2 cameras. One being my Sony mirrorless to capture the full view and the other being my Samsung phone to capture my picking hand.
The SD card in my mirrorless JUST had to corrupt as I was about to import to my PC for editing. FML
Okay, here’s a very weird thing with me and DT songs
Due to their complex and unpredictable nature in terms of composition combined with already taxing technicality, I find that playing stuff like Erotomania is like walking a tight rope. The moment I stop to record another segment, I lose my balance and start from square one.
With that being said, I actually did method two previously, but found myself stuck at the first solo for nearly a full day because for some reason I wasn’t able to get it down! The timing was weird, the picking was kind weird and it just messed with me.
So I decided to record everything in one shot. I told myself, okay, gonna do the whole song, then do another take for the clean part right?
It worked. I’m not sure how I managed to pull it off but it worked when I did it in one shot. I drilled all solos like crazy before that, and it paid off. All that just went down the toilet with the corrupt SD card.
Gonna lay this off till this weekend to record again lmao.
Yes, he uses a pull off. I asked Andy in the AJ academy group and he said that as a rule of thumb he would played D U D Ho Ho U D U D Po. And if pushing for picking he would do it picking all notes starting with a downstroke except for the last one Po.
This part of the solo has been in my practice routine exercise for years. Still working on it.
It’s a hard solo innit - do you usually try to pick all the notes or use the AJ pull-off strategy?
Thanks for confirming my suspicion! It is sort of a relief to know that even a player of his caliber prefers to adopt this strategy. And it does sound terrific the way he does it!
In fact, this reinforces my impression that there aren’t many players who can nail the eroto-fives lick by picking all the notes and keeping it clean and fully in time.Two exceptions are of course the early Petrucci and David Escobar.