Gilbert and Batio's picking strategies: swiping, string-skipping, legato etc

For both of these guys, this is a huge misconception.

Paul Gilbert’s style is not replicable unless you fully understand that he consciously chooses not pick every note for certain things. Also, Paul plays certain phrases with legato that Michael Angelo Batio plays with swiping - generally massive 3NPS string-skipping licks. Swiping isn’t pure alternate picking in the “strict” sense, since it involves plowing through the string instead of crossing over it. It’s a mixture of economy picking and alternate picking and when you use it you generally sacrifice rhythmic control and dynamics for massive speed potential.

In terms of how I might recommend thinking of things: It’s more like having a bunch of different tools and applying them to lines where you see fit with regard to tone, potential speed, level of ease, etc.

edit: Here is a good example of Batio hitting strings that I’m sure he doesn’t intend to hit, right at the beginning


The great thing about this is that it STILL sounds clean as hell to my ears. I definitely hear the swiping at the beginning but like… man would I not give a SINGLE solitary etc if I had the capacity to play like that, jesus.

1 Like

I have a slightly different experience with swiping: to me rhythm and dynamics feel very controllable - I think because the movements are simplified compared to playing the lines “properly”. The price to pay in my experience is the additional noise, which may be more or less severe depending on muting, gain/compression, possible natural harmonics and a million other variables :slight_smile:

1 Like

Interesting. I just can’t get over how wrong it feels for me. I don’t practice it so that’s likely why I am having the experience I am having.

edit: I should also add your comment about the movement being simplified is mentally helpful. Now that I think about it I’ve always thought it was two movements - once THROUGH the string, and then the upstroke or downstroke to grab the next note.

1 Like

@tommo and @guitarenthusiast I wouldn’t say I’m a master swiper (yet) but I’ve noticed a big boost in my own speed on certain licks since incorporating it. I was never aware it existed pre CtC and I’ve practiced it quite intentionally since becoming aware. It may be that as I learned through submitting a technique critique how trapped my playing tends to be, but when I nail swiping I do not feel it. I’ve got pretty sensitive ears with my classical background combined with a period where I was heavily into audio engineering (recording/mixing/mastering) and I cannot hear swiping when playing with a normal amount of gain. On a clean sound, I can always still hear it, even when the left hand muting is solid. I never use any compression in my signal chain other than what happens naturally with overdrive. Well, unless it’s one of the days where I’m attempting to play Brad Paisley, which normally ends up in disappointment unless it’s a really good day or I’m not playing his more challenging stuff lol! Those days I use a compressor…no swiping though.

@guitarenthusiast your comment about it not being true alternate picking, but economy is very interesting to me. I can’t say I agree or disagree. Technically it’s true, but the way it feels to me is quite different than when I play economy. I think your last edit hits the nail on the head - if you’re thinking of it as 2 movements rather than one it will likely get a different result/experience.

Last comment I’ve noticed in my own playing is that I have an easier time when the swiped note happens before the sounded note. So, if you play the Paul Gilbert lick with USX, that feels easier to me than playing it with DSX. I think it’s because I tend to play it at the 12th fret and the muting naturally deadens what would be the harmonic note. If you play it with DSX the natural order of the fingers falling don’t facilitate this as much.

USX Swipe:

DSX Swipe:

Just in case I never mentioned this before (I think I mention this in every post where swiping comes up lol!), I love swiping!


Yeah I just tried out economy picking which I never use and it does not feel identical to swiping which I also tested a few minutes ago.

If you go to that one chapter in Antigravity Troy says swiping is called what it is because it’s like you’re “stealing” a note (i.e., swiping like a criminal would) but it’s also kind of a sweep. So it should be one fluid idea in the brain. I’ve just gone with Anton’s view because he is HYPER strict about not swiping and I figure if I’m paying the money…

This is pushing the upper limit of what I think most people would consider humanly possible w/r/t 3NPS playing with swiping:

Here’s my applied solution to the 3NPS dim arpeggio, based off Paul Gilbert’s technique:

edit: Added missing pull-offs

If you try to alternate pick the above without swiping you’ll likely cap out at cross-picking speeds I’ve found. Like 140-150. I could never get beyond that plateau doing it that way, so that’s when I switched to the above solution.

@tommo if this is too off-topic for this thread you can always split it off. Thx!


To me it’s pretty much the opposite, swiping feels the same as anything else that I play with my supinated DSX, it’s the same movement with a bigger upstroke to hit 2 strings at once. Doesn’t feel like a mixture of economy picking and alternate picking at all and it’s easier to keep rhythmic consistency compared to using some kind of helper motion.

1 Like

I just tried this on an acoustic because I hate myself? I don’t think it’s possible. At least not for me, I can’t even make the stretch to play it at all, never mind at speed.

The stretching takes some practice, in due time it feels no different than a one-finger-per-fret approach.

Don’t worry so much about the speed, it happens on it’s own. Might be easier on an electric. Acoustic is brutal if you are just starting stretchy licks.

edit: Oh and also Paul plays these sorts of licks at 225 BPM or so lol. This is 35 below that haha. He’s insanely skilled.

Good idea - done :slight_smile:

I was in doubt whether to add this to one of the older swiping discussions, but the topic seems a bit broader so I came up with the above title - feel free to change it! (I think you guys can change it - if not let me know and I can do it for you)

1 Like

Here is one more approach showing how Paul’s anti-swiping lines evolved from the 1980s to 2006, around the time Get Out of My Yard was released.

Should be slightly easier to stomach. It’s very conceptually similar to the sweep arpeggios in Intense Rock where a certain picked note is used only on the first repetition of the pattern to force other mechanics on the second, third, fourth, and so on.