Help a stuck YJM fan out


Hello guys, my name is Bill and I’m from Greece. I’m a huge fan of Troy’s work and most of the guitarists he analysed through the years, so I decided to find the courage to upload a video of me playing at my top speed so you guys can help me improve.

First of all questions, what exactly I’m doing? Can you describe my technique in CTC terms?
Second, is it viable? Should I change anything, if so, what exactly?
Last but not least, I feel really stuck in terms of speed and fluidity, why is that happening? Should I practice differently?

For the past year I’ve been trying to correct things I learned wrong, like fretting thumb placement, pick angle, pick grip, etc, everything with a metronome. What should I change in that?

PS: If you need more samples of my playing, or the video isn’t like it should, please let me know so I can provide more or better footage. Sorry for my awful pajamas! :rofl:


Sorry for the double posting, I tried to record some lick with more string changes, so I can help you help me! :grin:


I think you have a good foundation. Troy could probably give you some pointers on your picking.

Out of curiosity, how is your legato technique? I noticed some gaps when you were moving up and down the frettboard. One thing I try to do is master something using legato before I attempt to pick it. I know I’m getting way off-topic here… but many of Rick Graham techniques for fretting helped me quite a bit.


Thank you for your time! The truth is I had a serious accident in my left hand pinky when I was a kid (comminuted fractures in every bone of the finger, needed laser surgery to get straight again). After that accident I started putting my thumb over the fretboard to support the other fingers, so legato always seemed really difficult to me.

Now that I’m trying to place my thumb correctly, I’ll start practicing legato more seriously than before.


I hear ya. I shattered my left pinky into multiple pieces playing bball. After the surgery, I did all sorts of therapy to try and ‘straighten it’… but it was just too scarred. So now I can’t straighten it, it’s always curved. I thought my guitar playing days were over.

I don’t know about using the thumb to support the other fingers. But for whatever reason, I kinda went the opposite direction. I switched to a more traditional ‘knuckles parallel to the frettboard’ position. But I also moved my thumb further back and knuckles below the frettboard, after watching Rick suggest this. For whatever reason, it really released the tension. I also had to play around with different guitar positions to find the ‘sweet spot’.

a lot of my gripping now actually comes from upper palm (the part opposite the knuckles) pushing up against the back of the neck. I still use the thumb… but not as much.

But I don’t know if this is ideal for your situation, and I know that this type of grip is tougher for smaller hands, because it becomes too difficult to reach the low ‘E’ with the knuckles below the frett-board.


I recently saw Graham’s suggestions about this and I could really benefit from it. I’ll need a lot of patience though because whenever I try it I feel like a complete beginner.

The really bad thing about it is that after Yngwie, I really love Kotzen’s playing and with my technique it’s really unaproachable.

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Hey @BillHoudini welcome to the forum!

Couple suggestions to start. Have you checked out our “Getting Started” section on the site? Definitely recommend a look, lots of good material on motion mechanics as well as tips for posting video for feedback:

I guess a question for you would be what do you think your technique looks like currently, and are there specific things you’re struggling with or want to do but can’t yet? In general there’s such a range of possible techniques that can all be “viable”, so really depends a lot on your musical and technical goals. What I see here looks pretty good though a better angle and slow-mo would help to see more clearly.

We have lots of discussions about speed and practice here on the forum, another thing I’d suggest is to start by searching and reading through existing topics here and seeing if you find any of them helpful. The search on the forum works quite well and you may find some of your questions addressed already, but if not feel free to post further questions!

When it comes to practice tips this video (excerpt from one of our technique workshops) has some good tips as well if you haven’t seen it yet:


Thank you for your time Brendan! I’ve binged watched most of the material on YouTube, it really helped me understand that there’s more to technique than “play slow and speed will come”.

By viable I mean that before posting here I was afraid that something in my technique doesn’t let me go higher in terms of speed and fluidity. I knew about the wrong left thumb placement and I’m already trying to correct that, so I wanted some feedback on my right hand.

After watching the videos and reading a few threads and articles here, I think that I use DWPS, but still I’m not quite sure. My technical goal is to play what makes me happy, from Yngwie and Buckethead to Richie Kotzen and Kiko Loureiro, which means being a proficient guitar player.


Some things you could look into - are you escaping the strings on a upstroke or a downstroke?
How do you hold your picking hand on the guitar? How does Yngwie do it?

Since you are a YJM fan, did you check out the “Volcano” seminar? There is everything from hand positioning, chunks to practice and built speed and synchronization.

Perhaps you could try to build speed on “the yngwie chunck” on a single position first. Then try and move it around, still one just one string. Then move it across the strings.

If you haven’t used this yet, you could check out free for a week to see if it is something for you.


Since I started, every teacher I had was very strict about alternate picking, but didn’t really focused on the motions. It was the usual approach of “If you learn alt.picking, eventually speed will come”. It worked for many people I know, but not for me so far.

I’ll try to upload a slow motion video so you can see my movement clearly, but I always try to play even number of notes in every string so I can always start on a downstroke. In case I have to start a string on an upstroke my technique collapses.

For example on the intro of “I am a Viking”, there is this pattern where I have to play single upstrokes in order to continue descending it and I really can’t speed it over 70% of the original speed. I’ll record this as well, along with a close up of my picking hand on regular Yngwie lines, so you can see what I might be doing wrong. I thought the second vid I uploaded could show if I use DWPS or not.

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One idea that comes to mind is if you consider your pinky a weakness, you might want to incorporate some finger tapping into your playing. Using the first 3 fingers along with a right hand finger for tapping could help you play a greater variety of legato licks.

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Fortunately my finger made a complete recovery back then, it just doesn’t have the strength and flexibility it should, at least for guitar playing. I’ll start working on it, because most things I want to play require all fingers in order to be clean and reliable.


Came back with a better video angle, couldn’t slow it down unfortunately. I’m only using the right hand in order to see how fast I could get. Is it a bit clearer in those videos what I’m doing in terms of picking mechanics?


That looks like your using your elbow to generate the alternating motion. Which is fine at that speed.

However… it’s best to think of the elbow as a ‘helper’ or a ‘turbo boost’ for speeding up your existing mechanic.

One thing I tell guitarists is to ensure that they can play patterns across strings at a moderate speed before using the ‘turbo boost’. So try and play your ‘even note’ patterns at 140-150 bpm… then try and mix in the elbow. It’s a great warmup routine as well.


The problem is that I don’t know what kind of picking technique I use when I’m changing strings. I don’t know if it’s DWPS, UWPS or TWPS. I’m binge watching stuff I’m finding interesting with the hope to understand those mechanics better and find out on my own, but so far no luck, probably because I’m doing all sorts of different things depending on the patters, but I’m doing them 100% subconsciously.


Just a different way of looking at it, but I’m pretty sure guys like Yngwie, Paul Gilbert and Michael Angelo Batio didn’t know what kind of picking technique they were using when changing strings either and it worked out alright for them didn’t it! They didn;t know, and frankly didn’t care if what they were doing was DWPS, UWPS, or TWPS. Now I know you do want to know, that’s why you;re here, I guess, and that’s fine. But the real ultimate goal is to be able to play well and not knowing exactly how they were doing what they were doing worked out just fine for those guys, so it could work out just fine for you too in the event that after trying, for some reason you still can’t figure out exactly how you do what you do. If you ended up sounding as good as any of them, you really wouldn’t care whether you were doing it with DWPS, UWPS, or TWPS wold you?


That’s right! If something works why fix it or wonder about it? The thing is that something doesn’t work quite well in my playing when increasing speed in most patterns. I’m not saying that I’m practicing 12 hours a day and still can’t do things I want, but I practice a fair amount of time every day, from 2 to 4 hours and I haven’t made the progress I wanted.

Still, I didn’t expect to nail down every YJM and Buckethead material with ease, but I expected to at least be able to approach them and not sound like I’m struggling even in medium speed. I’m at the exact same phase @Troy was before realizing that Yngwie uses DWPS. Unsynced at times and frustrated.


My best advice, Bill, is too keep practicing a lot, keep using this forum as a resource, and above all, be patient.


Of course, there is no other way than being patient. I’ll probably invest my time in theory for the next few days because I’m having RGT exams in a few months and I’ll come back to heavy technique practicing after 3-4 days. Whenever I do that things click a bit better.


Just based on your first video… it looks like a solid DWPS wrist deviation technique. I am not 100% sure… but that’s what it looks like. And that’s a great technique… and I would continue to focus and improve on that.

As you progress… continue to ‘tinker’ with high speed runs. So try doing bursts of speed runs… maybe just string together a couple seconds of alternate picking at 200 bpm. That will let your muscles ‘feel’ what its like at high speeds… so that you will be more accustom to it, and your mechanics will almost self-learn how to be more efficient at those speeds.

It takes a bit of time… but you’ll get there.