Help me, I just can't do it

Hello,

Someone told me to post in here. I have been practicing trying to do EJ Pentatonic 6’s like every day for several months. I can’t get it faster. I can do tremolo on one note much faster than i can do it when i have to change strings. I don’t know what’s wrong. I have watched every single second of the primer, and the wrist motion deep dive, and went through the check list, tried all sorts of grips and picks. Nothing changes that i cannot keep picking fast if i have to change strings. Or even change notes on one string. So the problem is honestly both hands. It feels impossible. I’ve made zero progress in so many endless hours. I could spend this time in quarantine learning more music and becoming a better player but i am so singularly focused on picking technique that for the past two weeks have basically stopped learning new stuff and all i do is just try to do this for hours and hours every day. like 8 hours of practice a day; 6 of those hours is just trying to pick EJ descending pentatonic 6’s… But i make zero progress. would pay someone a thousand dollars to diagnose the problem ,

See video;

3 Likes

You can try to move your arm for string change and let the wrist to do the picking motion. That is working for me. (Sorry for bad English)

1 Like

I think this is looking pretty good but it sounds like you’re focusing on that one lick too much - I’ve been there. You need more variation on what you’re playing.

I’d first shoot a slow-motion video of your single string fast playing and confirm it escapes on the upstrokes. You might need to widen the motion a bit to see it, which will help with string changes anyway. I think you’re using some elbow/shoulder there in addition to wrist which is great if it escapes. You can use it to help change strings like Extase mentioned.

Then I’d try licks with more notes per strings first, like 6 notes (e.g. 1-3-4-1-3-4, change string, repeat). 2 notes per strings is much harder. 6 notes will also help your synchronization - as you saw in the clip, fretting a single note made you go faster so that might also be limiting you.

Then try out this piece by Tommo that has a few different patterns that use upstroke escape. https://www.soundslice.com/slices/kKqcc/

Have fun and don’t be afraid to change things up, e.g. use more forearm, change degree of supination, stand up and change your strap height lower/higher and see what happens.

4 Likes

Hey man,

Just know you’re not alone! I’ve been trying to do this stuff for years. Some days everything just works, fast string changes are no problem, then the next day it’s completely gone. It’s been on and off like this for years and I’ve never figured it out. I hope you work it out soon bud.

First of all, don’t practice the same thing for 6 hours a day! You’ll end up hurting yourself!

Anyway, I see two or more different motions. You’re using one motion for the tremolo (elbow + wrist?), but the moment you start playing the sixes you switch to a different motion. The tremolo motion seems smooth and efficient, but not the other motion. It looks more bouncy/“stringhoppy”.

What happens if you try to use the tremolo motion for playing the lick?

2 Likes

Hey! I think your tremolo looks pretty good on a single note.

I wouldn’t do the EJ pentatonic sixes or other string switching licks just yet. Try some single string stuff first. How is your left hand sync? How comfortably can you loop, say, the “Yngwie pattern”, e.g. 12-9-11-12-11-9? How does your picking technique react to attempting that? Does your form stay the same or does it start changing a lot? I agree with @Johannes:

When you play with wrist deviation, is it wrist deviation or actually something else? Use a mirror. Look at your pick, wrist, forearm and elbow from different angles. I found out I was doing forearm rotation when I thought it was purely wrist deviation. Nothing wrong with using a blended motion I guess, but at this early stage, it’s bad when you feel you’re doing one thing, but you’re really doing something different.

I also second what @spirogyro mentioned - more notes per string. Just to set your chops up for what’s coming next.

The way I think about this is, practicing to get one thing right = doing a few different exercises/tests/routines/corrections over time. To me, muscles and nerves need repetition and perspective. Not just either, but both. So when your current goal is to get the EJ pentatonic sixes working, you should also work on a few similar, lower-level “side quests”.

It’s about figuring out what it feels like to do the motion correctly, and doing similar but very easy implementations of the same motions really polishes up your chops, so that you can take on your main objective with more experience and perspective.

You got this.

2 Likes

Thanks for the comment. Hand synch and even just left hand speed is equally a problem for me. THe Yngwei chunk you mentioned, i suck at it. THouhg., i can do it smoothly much faster than i can do EJ sixes. So that tells me right hand is a strongest limiting factor, even if there are others. I try to do ej sixes with JUST the left hand and can’t even do it. Feels like my hand physically cannot do the movement. And that’s just left hand, which is the better of the two hands for me.

I will i should work on something like the yngwei chunk until i can do it better and then go back to something that changes strings.

Also, your point about my motion changes when i go from tremolo to EJ 6s. Well, yea, it does. And this is what confounds me so much. How could it not? It’s a completely different movement to hit one string over and over again by essentially vibrating, vs having to change strings. I don’t feel physically like i understand what it would even feel like to use the same movement while changing strings. Makes no sense to me from a motor skills perspective .

I really just suspect that many cannot learn this hard of a technical physical skill after 30. Has anyone on here learned how to do this after 30?

well the tremolo motion is such a short range of motion, it couldn’t possibly be applied to something that changes strings. So i always thought practicing tremolo was pointless for purpose. It’s purpose is that it is how you practice piccking fast rythmically and keeping in rhythm, but how does it actually help you practice a motion? It’s a motion that seemingly can’t be used for anything that involved more than one string…I don’t understand what it would feel like to use a tremolo motion on a string changing lick. I don’t get it… It is physically impossible from where I’m sitting. But i know I’m wrong. I just suck .

The tremolo motion (that feels smooth and not fatiguing) means you have an efficient technique for ‘going fast’ (enter whole other discussion). Not everyone has a good tremolo going…I didn’t for decades.

Next is to make that motion wide enough so that when your pick escapes, you can choose to switch strings without slowing down.

1 Like

Try to slow down (I know it’s counter-intuitive)…go down to 16ths at 140-150 and try to swing your wrist (or any combination of body parts you need to) with wider motions. Then try going for just one string change using 3 note per string phrases. The 2 note per string stuff is more challenging (in my experience) particularly when you are not used to the sensation of changing strings at that speed. I got the three not per string stuff…then when I tried the 2 note per string stuff I felt like I was starting over…just my experience. Keep at it. It both frustrating and rewarding…like anything.

This.

I’d suggest keep working on the Yngwie chunk. Do it both at “fast” and “slow” speeds, whichever tempos those might be for you. Do it with wide motions and small motions. Keep an eye on the mirror.

I’ll just say this: In my opinion, if you jump ahead now and try to get multi-string phrases to work while your hand synchronization is holding you back, it’ll backfire and it’s not going to make any sense.

I’m 32. I don’t have the Yngwie chunk down completely yet, but I’m 100% definitely progressing a bit every day. I think I can most likely can start trying it on multiple strings soon-ish. But it’s not tomorrow, nor the day after it. This is the long game.

Keep it up man, let us know how it goes! You can do it!

1 Like

I am 50 and am nearly at the 110bpm benchmark that Troy plays the EJ sixes exercise. It has been a struggle sometimes (but it is for everyone I think). It has taken over a year of trial and error (and trying about every pick shape and size in existence). I think the secret is not to get too obsessed with it. Practice a lick for a while then play a variety of other things. When you come back then to the lick you will likely have made some gains. Hammering away at the same thing gets very demoralising and frustrating.
I also found that playing in bursts of speed helps with a metronome. 3 times playing one note on the beat then a fast flurry of notes on the fourth beat. This sort of gives you room to pack the notes in.
Also playing with backing tracks a lot helps both to improve synchronisation and using the faster licks in a musical way. I think difficult techniques unlock over time when you are ready (and it’s far more enjoyable).
I hope this makes sense.

3 Likes

I find this helpful too. I tend to do it the way John Petrucci shows it in his video here (timestamped):

2 Likes

I’m past 40, just started doing 16ths up to 180bpm in the last 6 months after being convinced I would never really shred. I’m also now in the best physical shape of my adult life. Age don’t mean a thing.

8 Likes

Thank you for posting @jpsychc! Already lots of good advice in here!

I’ll summarise my understanding at the risk of oversimplifying / repeating what you and the others have said:

You have one motion that is promising (the tremolo), and one that doesn’t work (the one you are using for the pentatonics). I (we) would suggest to focus entirely on the motion that works, at least for the time being. The goal for now is to convince yourself that you can play some cool lines using this motion. [We will come to the EJ 6s later on don’t worry!]

You mention two challenges: right/left hand sync and switching strings. For hand sync, the Yngwie 6s pattern on one string is a good starting point (or any other pattern that you like). Since you have watched the material, make sure you apply the “chunking” principle there - you can try different accents / subdivisions of the beat until you find the most comfortable combination of accents / notes per beat.

Let’s talk about switching strings: we have to first figure out what type of escape path you are making when doing the tremolo. Additionally, the suggestion of making slightly bigger motions is a good one - the basic idea is that picking & string switching will become two aspects of the same movement!
It is likely you are doing a single-escape path, either downstroke escape (DSX) or upstroke escape (USX) - see the pictures in this recent post of mine in another thread

To find out, would you be able to make another video of your tremolo, possibly with a close-up view of the picking hand, the highest framerate your phone can do, and better lighting? Here is a summary of how to best film your playing for analysis:

Once we have this info I and others can suggest some patterns that will fit well your current technique.

Hope this helps - any questions, please let us know :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Thank you! I hope to have some time today or tomorrow and will post the suggested video of my tremolo. It is definitely upstroke escape but the problem is the range of motion is not big enough to allow coming down on another string. And when I extend the range of motion, I can no long so it fast.

Anyway, I will focus on Yngwie’s chunk for now to work on hand sync and when I can , in the next couple days, I will post a better video of my tremolo motion.

Thanks. How could I do 3nps with a one way escape motion? You mean I should add a sweep? I couldn’t do that at 100 let alone 140. My max with changing strings at all is about 105. Adding a sweep wouldn’t even be possible for me at this point. Would take like a year of practice.

Anyway, 140-150 is 50% faster than I am able to pick so that would not be slowing down for me. Even my one note tremolo is only 160 tops. I can’t change notes let alone strings at anything more than 105

I hear you. You have a good, fast tremolo - if it’s 160 - that’s great. It’s steady. Can you do it with wider motions? Forget about slowing down. Try your tremolo with wider motions first (that is…when the pick is in the air you could potentially hit another string). If you can’t swing it wider at 160…then try slowing it to 140 and see if that helps (it’s just trial…something I would do for myself). Once it’s wider, try just switching a string…that is…do 3 notes on one string and a 4th note on another string…then stop. If you made it to the other string - try it again but completing 3 notes on each string (so 6 notes total). It might be sloppy and feel ‘uncontrolled’…its kinda weird…but…you get used to it over time and it gets cleaner…

Also, to clarify: ‘3 notes per string’ can be three of the the same note followed by a different note as the ‘4th note’ on the next string…playing 3 different notes per string is whole other problem that deserves a separate suggestion.

1 Like

I would try holding the guitar differently and maybe put a strap on it. It seems like you’re bouncing the neck around a lot and maybe without being conscious of it, you are putting effort into holding the guitar in position. Without that added job your hands and leg are focused on, they may be able to get in better sync and you get a little more speed too.

…just a thought.

Also are you a Southpaw playing a “righty” guitar? That is a challenge I face and I was stuck where you are for years. I believe had my guitar teacher not told me to “flip the guitar around I have it backwards” on the day of my first lesson and instead said “come back next week with a lefty guitar” I would be a much better guitarist picking wise. I struggled my entire guitar playing life with getting my pick hand in sync with my fretboard hand and I really believe that is the reason. BUT …I will say this site has helped me make tremendous progress. I wish I found it about 20 years ago LOL

Replying here rather than on that other thread about changing strings. A little further upstream @Johannes hit the nail on the head, as he is getting pretty good at doing. Your single string playing motion is efficient. Your multi-string playing is playing motion is stringhopping or at least something less efficient. When you try to play multi-string licks, you’re switching from the motion that works to the motion that doesn’t. You’re doing this deliberately. I know it doesn’t feel that way, but you are.

So that’s great news, because having at least one motion you can do fast and smoothly is a thing some people don’t even get to at first. So you have nothing to worry about yet.

The next step here is to get your fast motion happening on a single string with tight hand synchronization. This is how I started with the Pop Tarts type stuff. I did it using the Yngwie REH tape and the six-note pattern. You can use whatever patterns and shapes you want. You want the first note of each grouping to be your landmark note and you can accent it if need be to really hear it in your mind. The six note pattern is this:

You can try moving it around while keeping the sync:

You can try different patterns and variations on this. Make it fun, make it musical. Put on a song you can play along with and make little one-string solos that have musical melodies with these pattern based licks in between. Pretend you only have one string on your guitar and you need to make the most of it. Half of Yngwie’s most terrifying playing back in the day was on one string and I never knew it.

Getting the hands locked up on a single string over the course of the next few months, is a major enabler. Variety is key here. Feed your attemps with as many cool left hand patterns as you can think of.

Please don’t do this for many hours per day. Just do it for short sittings of 30-45 minutes and note if you are making progress. If you’re not, then more time won’t help, so don’t risk injury and burnout by piling on massive time. Instead figure out what’s not working or report back here so we can help.

Everything is working great so far with your fast motion. Get synchronized playing with that motion and unleash the power!

1 Like