Forearm Rotation

I just wanted to let anyone struggling with a picking motion that I managed to get forearm rotation working and it is doing a great job! If you are having doubts about any of your movements definitely try rotation.


I’m also liking it increasingly, it feels more relaxed than the elbow + wrist thing I was usually doing when picking fast. It took me a while to make the rotation work in a comfortable way, though. It got better after doing a lot of double-picking exercises with frequent string changes (2 or 4 notes on a string).

On the other hand, when I do forearm rotation I can almost exclusively do DWPS. What about your experience learning the movement, @Sguitar?


Same here. I was doing okay with wrist deviation but reading the Speed Strategies book helped me realise that since I was using supination and pronation to get pickslants anyway, I may as well follow them to their logical conclusion and use the active pronation/supination for pick motion at the same time.


For me, the hardest part was conceptually understanding how to execute the rotation. I watched hours of Troy, Chris Brooks, Yngwie, and Gypsy players like Joscho before it clicked in my head. Then I had to do a lot of practice of only thinking about the movement. When not playing, I use a pick on the right edge of my desk to practice the feeling while holding a pick but still having my arm straight out. One day, it just finally started working as a tremolo mechanic. After that, I knew how to get it working for other patterns. I am still working on smooth string tracking. Also, I am having more trouble with my left hand. It feels glued up when I try to get any faster.


It has taken me a year or so of trying to understand how to do forearm rotation it but has been the answer to my problems for the most part. I’m able to play quicker & with much less tension than when I was playing with deviation & string hopping. Funny, I never imagined people played this way, it’s a whole different plane of movement to what I was trying to do previously.


If any of you guys would be willing to post a video of this technique I’m sure there would be a lot of happy people here :grin:


Glad you asked :grinning:
I’m trying to write an etude to show how the movement works for me (you know, to avoid posting the usual boring up and down scales). I hope I’ll be able to record a dencent take this weekend. If not I can post some practice of boring scales :slight_smile:

EDIT: For starters here’s some “boring” Yngwie 6s practice (no metronome). I think I’m mostly using forearm rotation to do these DWPS runs. I still find ascending a bit harder, because picking and string tracking “pull” in opposite directions, but it is getting better.
Sorry if the videos aren’t very good quality!

Edit 2: I posted the DWPS etude here, I think I used mostly forearm rotation


I would think this has a lot more to do with the stringhopping than it does the deviation. You can check out the Stern interview for an example what a very relaxed deviation movement looks like. Mike probably has the softest touch of any of the players we’ve interviewed, though he still digs in for accents when he wants them.

To be clear, relatively few players, myself included, actually do a pure EVH-tremolo-style forearm rotational movement as their primary picking movemnet. In fact off the top of my head I really can’t think of anyone who plays this way, not even the Gypsy players. It’s almost always some kind of mixture of deviation / flexion-extension and rotation.

It could be that if you find rotation to be weird, you’re trying to do the rigid-wrist EVH version of this. Instead, maybe “try” to do deviation, but allow the forearm to move a little. Or at the very least try not to stop it from doing so.

And film yourself when you do this, so can really see what movements are actually happening. Sometimes what you see on the camera will surprise you. You can look directly down at your arm while playing and think you are doing or not doing something, and then when you watch the tape, you’ll think, how did I miss that I was doing that?

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Not really following - a pronated deviation movement doesn’t by itself require stringhopping for any particular reason. Not saying you weren’t doing that, just that supination is not required to make the wrist go back and forth quickly and smoothly. Are you referring to string changes, or just while picking on a single string?