Exercise to play Spanish Fly

Given this week’s news, I was wondering if anyone had any tips or exercises that they use to play the fast sextuplet part in Spanish Fly; the half picked line that Paul Gilbert uses. Three notes legato on the B string, three notes picked on the E string.

From playing metal, I can play it the opposite way, three notes picked, three notes legato starting with an upstroke. But, I cannot for the life of me, start a fast three note picking run with an upstroke. It’s like my wrist locks up.

Nice! Back when I was a guitar teacher for a living (which is scary to think about since this site made me aware of how much misinformation I probably spread), this is the very pattern I’d do anytime someone said “Hey Mr. Joe, can you play something fast?!?!?” lol That brief moment where the picking stops really queues up the 3 notes that are all picked. The contrast sounds awesome too. It’s fun to play around with palm muting on it too, in various places to gives some variety.


Whenever I see this kind of a playing, it makes me wonder about the many things I’ve read about “economy” - i.e. that fretting fingers have to move only exactly as much as necessary in order to play fast.

Gilbert’s not sloppy, of course. But I don’t see crazy robotic precision with his left hand either. Gives me hope that you can be human and still aspire to making some incredible sounds come out of the guitar.


He may do the hammer on style for the very first 3 notes, then all picked I believe.

Troy had posted some very eye opening slowed down clips and thoughts on sections of “Spanish Fly” that really blew me away. I feel like the CTC team and Troy are probably working on more Eddie related things to come.

You yourself have done a lot of eye opening stuff. I learnt the icecream man solo from you :smiley:

btw, where are the evh troy vids? I don’t think I’ve seen them?

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Scroll through this thread and you’ll see the discussion about the sextuplets on “Spanish Fly” around the 25th or 26th post…Troy blew my mind right to hell. It made me realize that “Spanish Fly” is one hell of a lot more complex than I thought and almost impossible to replicate.


Thank you guys for the follow up! Lots to learn here. For me, I can play sextepluts alternate picked, from doing the Vinnie Moore exercises for years. I guess maybe I should have asked to learn how to do the Paul Gilbert way of half picking (thank you for the video!).

My issue is, I can do a 16th note triplet starting on a down/ending on the upstroke at 140bpm, but I can’t do that starting with an upstroke. Yet, I can play it at speed with I play alternate picking. So, I need to isolate that motion, practice starting with an upstroke and ending on the down. Paul mentions that it’s more about the right hand picking and plays the lick with deaden strings.

Do you mean inside picking vs outside?

So on B: up, hammer, hammer. E: down, up, down. Repeat?

In Terms of inside and outside, if you do three note per string on three strings, like G B E. You will be shifting from outside to inside. So that could help you bring up the inside movement.

It would be the outside version, D H H, U D U

The UDU at tempo, my wrist doesn’t want to do. It wants a running start, which is why alternate picking the lick works, but I can’t do the half picked version.

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Thank you, this is great!

That’s how I played it for decades…but that is definitely not what is going on and Troy schooled me on that. It’s just impossible to play it as Eddie played it, and I usually NEVER say things like that.

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The way I do it which I think is as close to the sound as I know is after the slide into the run:

D H H /string skip/ U D U.

D U D /swipe/ U D U etc…

If that makes sense. The first three are the only time I hear the smoothness of hammer ons.
I know there is variation in the run but I’m not Eddie. So I’m happy just getting through the song lol
So many areas where my pick can get stuck or my hands not pull off clearly enough. And the tapping parts are exhausting.

I’ve tried picking all six notes and I think that is what Eddie was going for, but, as Troy proved, it’s all kinds of “air-balls” in there that give it a really unique sound.

If I were to try to come up with an easily repeatable way to get close to the sound of the record I would probably do it thusly:

B string…D-H-U
E string…U-D-U

Just a thought.

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Are you able to play it at speed? The double up stroke seems akward.

Depending on what pick he used it could help with the variation, a floppy pick that he often used might not have time to fully reset its shape, making the picking sound off? On that video in the other thread he seems to be just raking the pick across the two strings with no thought about pick escape. And relying on his fretting hand to mute. That could be the unsynchronised airball effect?

My original thought was that he picked all six notes while playing lightly and LIGHTLY palm muting for the B string D-U-D notes and picking harder for the U-D-U on the E string. That sort’ve worked, but Troy disabused me of that notion. Lately I’ve been thinking that the way I posted above is a better way to fake what is really going on. Yep, I can play it to speed.

I think he still used the Fender Medium tortoise style celluloid pick that he always used up until the 1984 tour.

There is something I’ve always wanted to ask/post but my add makes it stressful to put things into words, so I’ll just make a quick vid seeing as I’ve got a webcam now.

I think, this is a big part of decoding Eddie as he had some very strong flexible hands. And that range allowed more ability in the way he holds a pick. Yet I’ve never been able to find a scientific definitions for these differences in hand configuration.

Thumb and Middle finger grip* I accidently said pinky.