Forearm rotation clip on this blog?

I have searched this blog for a clip of any blog poster using forearm rotation and there does not seem to be one. Lots for wrist, none for forearm.

Has anyone posted one and I have missed it?

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I tried a couple of years ago. I thought I was doing it, but looking back it might be just wrist:

EDIT: And this is a silly etude I wrote/practiced around the same time, again thought I was using the forearm but not sure:

I also tried again more recently and have the videos on my google drive (a bit on the sloppy side but better viewing angle):

but I think it was more or less the same movement!


Awesome playing here. This is wrist, but very well done. Notably, this is not the USX form we’ve been teaching in the new wrist motion stuff, but clearly it works. Your version of this uses a more supinated form with some flexion, like Teemu and many other players. The number of ways to do this is one of the big complexities that we’ve had to unravel. Did you ever make a Magnet? It would be interesting to see what the escape angle is on this.

One of the subtleties we’ve tried to address with the recent lessons is the switching between USX and DSX. The hypothesis is that it’s the lower angle, around 10 degrees, that permits this, because it’s flat enough to not require a drastic change in momentum.

As an example, Albert Lee is a pretty supinated player. When you look at his playing up close he appears to have two mechanical modes. His “dwps” mode is basically straight deviation. But because of the supination, this gives him a pretty high escape angle around 30 or 40 degrees. However when he switches into double escape mode, it looks more like 10 degrees in both directions. This is what I think permits the switching, and may explain why players whose escape angle is too high can’t seem to do the double-escape motion without feeling bouncy and tensiony.

Players who aren’t as supinated, like Andy, just make the 10 degree angle all the time and switch as necessary, with a preference for DSX in his case.


One source of confusion is that relatively few players use pure forearm rotation as the source of their picking motion. Eddie Van Halen is one famous example of a player with an all-forearm technique when he wants it, which he most often uses for tremolo:

On the forum, @qwertygitarr has a very nice technique which appears to be all or mostly forearm. However more commonly forearm is mixed with wrist motion, as in these examples:

Each of these examples is a slightly different motion. The first two are USX-only, and the third can handle both types of string changes, and you can see it looks a little different. So again, many ways to do this — the first thing to determine is what you mean by forearm and what line you’re trying to play using it!

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Thank you Troy, too kind :slight_smile:
This was the result of my DPWS studies from back then, but I must say the combination of alternate and sweeps has always been a bit hit and miss.

Yes I did! Actually if you look at the google drive links above, they are done with the magnet. They’re more recent so things may have changed, but I was trying to reproduce my “old dwps attempts” and go as fast as I could. In those I do see a bit of vibration in the forearm but can’t tell if it corresponds to a small rotation or deviation. If it can help the discussion to have them playable on the forum I can put them on youtube later.

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Duh, sorry, forgot to watch those! Also great playing. There’s some forearm there, but it’s not much, and it appears to vary. At different points in the motion the arm seems to almost stop moving altogether, and the pick’s motion path changes slightly. The notes with more forearm have more of the curved motion path to them, whereas the more “wristy” ones are straighter. Like this:

This variation is small enough that it’s not really preventing you from going fast with smoothness. It’s just making this small difference in the path the pick follows. Can you feel slight differences in motion feel as you do this? If so, I think this is why.

Again, I think for most people, “forearm” is really forearm plus wrist, across a spectrum from more arm with less wrist, and less arm with more wrist. And this is a totally great example of that.

Edit: Also, have you tried the straight geometry form in the new Primer updates and checklist? Given your facility with wrist motion this should work for you. And this will set you up for doing DSX / USX and double escape all from the same arm position. If you give that a shot, any feedback on that would be helpful.

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Here is where I confess that I didn’t do much homework recently :sob:

… but I’m going to remedy soon as I am stuck on a couple of licks requiring double escapes :slight_smile:

Anyway soz @NTC, it seems there’s mostly wrist also here! I think my wrist found a way to fool me and convince me it was a forearm-or something like that :smiley:

Thanks, @Troy, for the shout out! I’m not sure my picking is 100% rotation but most of the time, especially on the high strings, it feels exactly like flicking the arm in the air. Here’s what it looks like at the moment. Sorry for bad sound and light.

There is also a thread about this picking motion with a few more videos.

How come you created this thread, @NTC? Are you a rotation style player yourself? I must admit that I think it’s strange that we don’t see more of this motion around. Most people can flick their arm really fast.

A number of responses.

Thanks Tommo for the videos.

I can play a pretty reasonable tremolo using purely wrist motion, which I learnt about two months ago, but I have to start it on a down stroke and I can go at best for about twelve seconds.

Now the complicated bit. I’m pretty sure that when I start a tremolo starting on an up stroke with my wrist motion I go into a less loud and powerful and quick form of forearm rotation.

Now the more complicated bit. In my wrist style I do not put my fingers down, but when I use my proper forearm rotation motion, with my little finger raising my hand up on the guitar body with my third finger leaning on top of it, that’s when I am capable of much increased speeds starting on either up or down strokes. So a Paul Gilbert six notes lick on one string at frets 20, 17, 19, 20, 19, 17 and repeat played with wrist and I can stick two more notes in the pattern in the same amount of time, at 22 and 17 with forearm rotation.

To Troy.

I have messed about with the Van Halen motion and I have found it harder to keep a floating forearm rotation movement consistent than one with my fingers down on the guitar body. Why that should be is a puzzle. On the weekend I could not get forearm strumming with a floating hand going when I was easily playing single notes with my fingers on the body of the guitar, but about twenty minutes later I retried the floating strumming and it was back to being easy. Where did it go?

To qwertygitarr.

I did not find your thread. You are it, the only only forearm rotation video on the blog! I wonder why its so rare at the moment?

I find it much less effort to play the same set of notes with forearm rotation than with wrist picking, do you find the same?

Hi. I play with forearm too (I guess wrist + forearm). I can’t for the life of me get the wrist only motion (the “checklist one”) happening with any kind of smoothness and/or speed. I wish I could because my wish is to be able to play usx and dsx interchangeably and do double escape type of lines and arps. I’m curious about any future instructions about alternating between a more flexed and supinated usx position and dsx, and double escaping from this position. I have watched the longer video about the rotational double escaping motion (many times) but I’m sorry to say I couldn’t get that to happen either. (edit: I think do have a good idea that it’s about going into a temporary dsx position by way of going into a less supinated and less flexed position and escaping with extension + deviation on the downstroke and I might have had some succes with it on one little line I tried it on).

Regrettably my shoulder and upper arm have started to seriously hurt like crazy and I’m taking down time from playing so my explorations are on hold for the moment…

Yes! I first found out about the rotational thing from Troy like 4-5 years ago. Before that I’ve always been a wrist picker with a DSX setup. That felt like a natural setup since it provided good muting and stable anchoring points. And it worked for a lot of great classic licks but the motion itself never really felt effortless. It was always a bit of work and looking at the speed and effortlessness of Gilbert and Yngwie, I knew there must be a better way for me.

In came Troy and explained something I’ve just briefly thought about but never tried for real. The rotational movement feelt much more free and was also a few notches faster for me. And, I must say, Troys own playing in his Yngwie chapter, where he is using a lot of rotation, is his best sounding to date for me.

It would be interesting to see your playing @NTC and see if there are any similarities of differences.

My hand position is totally different to yours, lifted high up in the air with my little finger on the body of the guitar and my picking hand tilted to the right.

What I think is happening with forearm rotation is it allows a smooth transition from wrist to elbow picking and back again which only some rare talents seem to manage without using forearm rotation.

Do you use any rest strokes? Because my motion is best at starting on up strokes, for starting on down strokes I’ve been experimenting with placing the plectrum against the sixth string and then starting the movement rather than starting a little away from the string and then feeling for it.

I need to correct this about starting on a down stroke. I’ve just remembered how I solved it, by nicking Martin Miller’s technique of resting my hand on the other side of the guitar body beyond the sixth string and then charging full pelt into the low E string with my hand still on the guitar body. I’ve just tried it for pentatonic and major scale runs and Miller’s is a brilliant solution.

Wow I’d love to see what that looks like. Any pics or videos?

I used rest strokes a lot when I started with USX but now I don’t focus on that. I focus more on retaining a good rotational motion without to much of interference from other movements in the hand. The pick is supposed to just flutter above the string without me trying to control it to much. Seem counterintuitive but that’s when it works the best for me. If I’m thinking too much and worry about rest stroking, my motion suffers. But this is a few years in and I probably would recommend rest strokes if one is starting off.

I’m not sure I understand what you mean with placing the pick against the sixth string before doing a downstroke. That would mean that what you are using is a DSX motion. Is that the case?

This is Martin Miller putting his hand down on the body of the guitar as he goes to the lower strings.

Because I am an upward slanter I have trouble starting on a down stroke on the low E string, but if I use this Martin Miller arching technique where my little finger in still on the guitar body beyond the high E string and the part of my palm below the thumb is on the guitar body beyond the low E, then I can get the balance to control the down stroke on the low E string, which I come at with a quite a big movement on that first note.

I have never taken a video of my playing, as I’ve got mirror wardrobes so I watch my hand in that. I should think of doing some kind of recording now as I think I’ve got my technique sorted, after extensive experimentation!

That Martin Miller resting of the hand was the final piece in the puzzle, and one of the things that Martin does that I don’t is use a more similar hand position to yours where I would guess that sweeping is done more easily than with my hand position, which is why I’ve had to work on wrist picking. I have kept on mixing one technique up with the other, with my wrist technique being a down slanting and so it works only with a straight thumb, unlike the bent thumb I use for forearm rotation, and I need to stay on the bridge for playing with the wrist (in front of my drop D bridge which puts the low E string out of tune if I lean on it) whereas I’m not much if at all on the bridge with my forearm rotation technique.

Ok, cool! So you use rotation for upward slanting (aka DSX)? That would be super interesting to see. I’ve being asking about this before in an earlier thread as it would be fantastic to be able to use rotation for both USX and DSX. I haven’t seen anybody do it and I haven’t really experimented much with it myself, so it would be really cool to see your version.

I am at the stage where I probably would benefit to record in some way what I’m doing, not least because I expect there are some things I play that will have an extra note here and there. I think I have ascending pentatonic threes at some speed, but then I wonder if there’s an extra note in there, but its too hard to tell without recording what I’m up to. Something I may well get round to in the near future.

But it’s nice to see that you started in exactly the same place as me, by finding a forearm rotation in the air and then somehow sticking it onto a string and then proceed from there.

Having watched you use your middle finger for anchoring, I have tried using the middle finger alongside my third and little fingers for anchoring, and I have found out something that may interest you.

Leaning on my middle finger has solved my starting on a down stroke on the low E string problem. However, I know that you wanted to learn how to start runs on up strokes, and I find that leaning on my little finger on the guitar body with my third finger alongside my little finger but with my middle finger not doing any of the leaning allows me to play runs starting on an up stroke, of course with the plectrum leaning slightly upwards.

You may want to experiment with this?

Cool! I’d love to see a video of that! :slight_smile: For me it’s easier to understand when I can see how that works.

I’m not sure how much help you’d get from seeing my very elbow forearm rotation technique when you’ve got a very wrist forearm rotation technique. But I think that choosing which finger or fingers to anchor onto the guitar body might be similar for both techniques.