Help with Techniqual Difficulties

So, have no problem with the main riff. The problem is that I just can’t get that speedy scale run in the end fast enough :frowning: The part I’m struggling the most with is when I’m reached to lowest string and changes direction. Am I doing some obvious wrongs?


Nothing blatant I can see aside from the usual coordination stuff (I struggle with this song too). That fast descending riff is definitely optimized for escaped downstrokes (“upwards slant”), but it looks like that’s what you’re doing here.

It’s just fast as hell, and written and performed by an exceptionally good alternate picker. I’d say maybe try breaking the hands apart, and playing that run (and the other fast triplet parts) legato against a metronome or drum loop slowly and working it up to full tempo to really make sure your fretting hand is nailing the part, because to me it sounds a little like that’s where this is falling apart for you.

It’s, ahem, certainly not an easy song though, so no shame in needing to work at this!


Thank you for the tip, will try! I’ve been thinking about that myself too but never worked on it because I’m been so focused on the tension in my picking hand.

Your picking hand doesn’t sound particularly, um, tense, I guess, listening to this, though if anything - and maybe don’t worry about this so much just yet until you’ve got it flowing cleanly - I feel like Gilbert is a little more forceful in his attack, particularly in the way he accents the riff, and digging in a little more might help give this a little more of a feeling of authority.

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Thanks for posting. This is awesome. You’re probably one of the few players in history to find the main riff easier than the sixes lick. And that’s a compliment!

The main reason people find the riff part challenging is that it has string changes that occur after downstrokes and after upstrokes, and sometimes people use a picking motion that can only do one of those types of string changes. In your case we know from previous clips that you have no problem doing both types of motion. Once again, you appear to be doing it perfectly here. If you get a chance to film this part in slow motion, what you should see is the pick going up in the air on both downstrokes and upstrokes, i.e. to get over the string. There’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing, this would just be because it’s cool to look at!

The fast sixes part also looks pretty good to me. This is technically a simpler lick because every string change happens after a downstroke. This means you can use a simpler motion for that, where only the downstrokes go up in the air. This type of motion, which we call “downstroke escape”, or “DSX”, for short, creates a pickstroke that looks more like a straight line. Because of this simplicity, it’s also very fast, and some of the fastest picking motions we’ve ever filmed are downstroke escape (DSX) motions.

So if anything feels weird to you when you play this section, just keep in mind that the only thing the motion really needs to “do”, aside from going back and forth fast, is that the downstrokes move on a diagonal, and go up in the air. Technically, this only works when the final note on every string is a downstroke, but that’s OK because that’s the way this lick is arranged on the fretboard. In both the descending and ascending directions, the downstroke is the last note on the string.

One thing I will point out is that at 37 seconds, you change the fretting, where you put the first note on the D string. This changes the picking sequence where the last note is no longer a downstroke. As a result, you only play two notes on the A string. And then on the E string, I think you skip one of the notes to synchronize the hands again. So if this part feels weird, it’s not because of the picking motion, it’s just because you changed the fretting.

Again, the key here is just to think about the sixes part being fast and smooth, and always having the downstroke as the last note on the string. If you hear any noise during the string change, it could be that the downstroke is hitting the string instead of going over it. You can check with the camera in slow motion to see if this is what is happening. If so, thinking about the downstrokes and making sure they are moving on a diagonal, up in the air, and a little toward the bridge, might help.

Good work on this!


I believe there’s a single instance where an upstroke escape is required (just below the final “E” note on the D string). However, it is possible to avoid this by playing the E note on the A string, by doing a position shift.

It is interesting that “early Gilbert” played this in position and hence used the isolated escaped upstroke (see around 34secs):

Instead, “more recent Gilbert” opted for the position shift and did the whole lick with escaped downstrokes (around 36s):

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