Frank Gambale and the Metalocalypse


If all goes well, will be boarding a plane for Los Angeles tomorrow night to meet with a duo of guitar awesomeness: the amazing Frank Gambale, and the amazing Brendon Small of Dethklok / Metalocalypse.

As has been discussed, we have a great older interview with Frank in the wings. We got back in touch him recently about filming an update with our more modern gear. We plan on editing both as an action-packed double feature. The original shots are fine, but it would be cool to grab some with the magnet as well. And of course the phone can run the entire time as opposed to the ten-second bursts of the older tech.

Brendon Small, for that that don’t know, is the creator of the absolutely hilarious and trippy animated series Metalocalypse, recounting the travails of the world-famous fictional metal band Dethklok. The show works as a kind of Spinal Tap for the digital age. And like Spinal Tap, the virtuosity of the musical parody is part of the joke. Here’s a satirical guitar instructional video starring the band’s lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf, both voiced and played by Brendon:

Everything about this is so on point, it’s awesome: the name checking of all the endorsements, the “instruction”, the blazing playing, the accuracy of the hand animations.

Anything you want to know from either of these guys, let us know here!


Brendon plays some killer riffs! :star_struck: I think you should film him playing some “Fast Downstrokes for Thrash Rhythms” (yup, that’s the name of a thread you’ve made)

Edit: here’s a taste of his downstrokes. I’m sure he plays some faster things in Dethklok.


Krank!? I just had a flashback to the Harmony Central amp forum flamefest surrounding them.

Looking forward to see Gambale as he is known to do a lot of sweeping and that’s something I’m trying to develop along with the CTC alternate picking.


Thanks Troy! Gambale is amazeballs.

Do you take suggestions for questions (no prob if not)? I recall Gambale saying in various occasions that he does not understand why some people feel ascending or descending sweeping easier - for him they are the same. Even though I am primary UWPS, I do find descending sweeping harder (timing in particular), and I was wondering whether Frank might have some insigths on that.

By the way, I also agree with your analysis that he is primary UWPS, and he does a lot of “reverse volcano stuff”. Interestingly, he can also do Volcano style DWPS licks perfectly, there are a few of them in his latest sweeping course!

Finally, his old “Chop Builder” video also shows that he can do a lot of stuff beyond sweeping, including pure alternate stuff and 1nps string skipping at medium-fast tempos.

Then there is the mystery of how does he always know where he is with his left hand… but I guess that’s another story.

Apologies, I guess this post is all over the place, but FG is kind of a marvel!


Would LOVE to see some Frank Gambale stuff!


Yes definitely! We’ll be sending an email to subscribers at some point today with a progress update + request for any suggestions for these interviews. Always helpful to get some community input on things you’re interested in hearing us cover. And great question, thanks :slight_smile:


Yes of course that’s what I meant by “anything you want to know from these guys let us know”!

I actually asked him about this in the original interview, I think he just reiterated that he doesn’t find one direction easier or harder. Given the quantity of descending “reverse Volcano” phrases he plays I suspect he actually finds descending easier at some level.

I will talk to him some more about his actual motion mechanics, which despite his influence relatively few people seem to actually use. Similar to Yngwie and the rest, lots of people may play these licks, and now more are playing them with the same string switching mechanics, but relatively few seem to play them using the same motion mechanics. Clearly whatever Frank is doing, it works great.

I’m sure, what phrases are you referring to? Are there examples up somewhere, or you have the course? If there’s a particularly good example of Volcano-style ascending alternate/sweep mix that he already plays, I can ask him to do it so we can get a better look at it.


We will totally talk to him about the rhythm stuff! He’s great at it.


Oh true, I had missed the last line in your opening post :slight_smile:

Yep I did buy the course a couple of years ago, and damn the examples are hard!

In the course he demonstrates the two licks below at Gambalian speeds:

1 Volcano figure repeated on all strings for a 3nps string scale:

E-3-5-7-----7--------- etc. on higher strings

2 The UWPS twin of the Volcano (descending on a 3nps scale):

B-------8-7---8-7-5---- etc. on lower strings

About the sweeping question, based on what you are saying it seems he is unlikely to have changed his view (or lack thereof). So may I exchange my original question with a question on “Breaking the Gambale rules”? I wonder if he is aware at some level of what mechanics / string switching strategy he is using to deal with licks such as the two above, which indeed break the rules. Thanks again for taking the time to do this stuff :slight_smile:


Troy, could you ask Frank why he uses a bass style pick? Does he find the bigger surface more comfortable for holding? Does he find it glides over the strings easier?


Breaking what rules, meaning using alternate picking for certain string changes? I have to re-watch the old interview, I may have gotten into that a little. He wasn’t super aware of the escaped aspect of alternate picking string changes. I got him to play a descending pentatonic line using dwps and pure alternate he said it was most awkward thing - of course he could do it just fine. In his mind the pickslant matches the lick direction, so that’s why he thinks descending dwps pentatonic is “weird”.


Yep sorry, I guess I should clarify also for forummers not familiar with FG. I meant the “Gambale Picking” rules that ensure all string switches are swept: pick an odd number of notes per string to maintaing the direction, or an even number to reverse the direction.


I remember those rules but that’s just regarding direction change while sweeping - he’s really never had any ‘rules’ for alternate. It’s the elephant in the room.

There’s only so far you can go in an interview setting to getting someone to be aware of what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re curious and want to know, which is fun. But when they’ve built a worldview around something, I need to be careful about being the pushy outsider guy who rolls in and “tells it like it is”.


Is that the same as two way pick slanting?


No specific requests here–I consider both players relevant to my interests and I’m looking forward to the material!


Yes of course, Frank is a two-way pickslanter. He knows he does this as well, but to him it’s to facilitate the sweep. I don’t know if he has discussed this in this courses, I haven’t watched the one Tommo bought. The key is that it is critical to his alternate picking ability on lines like what Tommo has posted. The last time I met him he wasn’t really aware of this, but who knows maybe he has done some more experimentation. We’ll find out.


I got the pleasure of being at a clinic Frank Gambale had in Paris last year for his Cort signature acoustic guitar. To the point, he said at one point that people didn’t think sweep/economy picking was possible because of “time”. No, he didn’t say timing or tempo, he said “time”. And obviously I completely forgot to ask him what he meant about it. :sweat_smile: He probably doesn’t remember much about it, but if you stumble upon this topic about the difficulties of sweep/economy picking, it would be much appreciated if you guys could ask him about it.


Frank said that it makes the pick glide on the strings a bit more compared to the sharper teardrop/small teardrop shapes commonly used. Also, since all three sides are the same, you get thrice the mileage too as a bonus. :grin: Except I only remembered that after I got myself some Small Tri Primetone picks so I’ll pretend it’s not linked at all. :yum:


@Troy Could you ask him perhaps if he does play any string skipping lines if he “skip sweeps” them or if he switches to outside string changes and alternate picks them?


I’m interested in the Sweeping Turnaround mechanics.

So far what I’ve been doing is just using the 2WPS Rotation to flip direction after an odd number of notes on a string (1 or 3) if I need to change direction. If I don’t need to change direction then I alternate pick and then sweep the string Change (continue Ascending/Descending; The DDU Pattern). If it’s an even number of strings then I just alternate pick it using Pickslanting and then the string change is easy and I can either ascend or descend.

I’d like to hear Frank’s thoughts/ideas on the turnaround/direction change of sweeping and see if he also does the 2WPS Rotation to change direction after an Odd Number of notes or if he only changes direction after an even number of notes.


Exactly what kind of pick does he use?