Help with this Lukather lick, anyone?

So I got roped into playing a local charity event - I’m covering the “stunt guitar” portion of a set of Toto tunes.

We’re doing “Falling In Between” which features this lightning fast lick at :45

E ------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B -----------8-7-5----5---------------------------------------------------|
G ------------------7-----7-5-7------5-7-5-----------------------------------|
D ---------------------------------5-7-----------------------------------------|
A ------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D ------------------------------------------------------------------------|

Lukather, IIRC, is an upward pick slanter. I am primarily a downward pick slanter, but I have been working this one over starting with UWPS for the first four or seven notes.

Experienced lick technicians, what could we do with this lick to make it easier on a downward pick slanter? Last night I was fooling with adding an extra F# on the front with a down… Any ideas?

I intend to try and work it out UWPS 100% or close, but getting there in time for the performance, I dunno…

Thanks much for helping me work out this puzzle.

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Not knowing the phrasing/articulation my first thought is “rearrange it so it’s 2 and 4 note groups per string, starting on a downstroke”

I might be wrong but I always looked at Lukather as being a DWPS player whenever he’s doing fast runs. And to me this looks like a typically DWPS setup so I think there is no need to rearrange anything fro you.

First things first, the eighth note in your TAB is misplaced on the G string. It’s supposed to be a 7 on the D string.

As far as I can tell Luke seem to only pick the first of the three initial notes. The other ones are a slide and a pull off. Fourth note looks like a downstroke and from there it’s simply alternate picked ending on an upstroke.

Note that staying in DWPS all the time forces swiping at two places. That would be when moving to the fifth and the eleventh note. Sure he could actually be changing slants in these places instead but my guess is that these are swipes.

That’s my guess as well. His arm and wrist position are very similar to the way I’ve played for years and years. I play lines like this all the time, and the alternate-picked downstroke string changes are done with a double-escape pickstroke that sometimes swipes.

But a picture is worth 1000 words:

As @qwertygitarr is pointing out, he may only be picking the first note on the B string. I’m doing the same thing, but using a bend, just because it’s how I typically handle the “Dorian/Mixolydian B string” part of the box position. Do it however you like - including picking the notes if you want to, so long as you either end on an upstroke, or use a downstroke with legato afterward.

Obviously, I’m also using downward sweeping, which he may not do - in which case you would simply do the downstroke string change the way I’m doing it here, which is…

…interesting! I’ve been playing these kinds of lines for years, and I always assumed I was swiping those string changes. But what’s actually happening is a little more complicated. I’m using a double-escape pickstroke and clearing a good portion of the time, and swiping the rest of the time. However, and this is the key, even during swiping, there is still a double-escape pickstroke happening. You can see that the last pickstroke on that string moves more horizontally than the others. This makes any swiping that does happen much less obvious. The fingers laying on the next higher string is enough to take care of any noise.

We’ve talked about swiping a bunch recently so I will tag @tommo who I know has a special place in his heart for this topic - but this is a very clear real-world example of the best way I think to handle such cases. Try to make the motion that escapes, and it makes the swipes much less audible when they do occur.

Re: Rosanna I threw that in for free! Just because I know it, and have always played it this way. Works out very well with upstroke escapes and downstroke sweeping, but you can do it with pure alternate as per the above.

I haven’t spent a great deal of time looking at Steve’s technique, but I suspect that if we filmed him we would see something similar to what we’re seeing here. Again, just because the lines and the whole setup are so similar.


I think cases of occasional double-escape pickstrokes like this, particularly by highly capable players who don’t notice the fact that they’re doing them, is one of the roots of the flawed guitar-dude wisdom to “just keep practicing” in the hopes of discovering the solutions by accident. “Yeah, but how do you actually play that lick?” “Use a metronome and start slow…” [offstage gunshot]

I used to think it was weird that someone wouldn’t know, but then I found out how much about my own motions I didn’t know. I now think the default is to “not know”. And the easiest way to learn is to not have to know. The best players are just better at not knowing than the rest of us!

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Wow, awesome stuff, thanks gents. Very helpful. Mr. Troy, did you film that just for me?!?!?! <3 THANK YOU.

Reading responses, watching video with guitar in hand. Will see what I can accomplish and touch base again soon.

Much obliged everyone.

Essence of pre-CTC picking frustrations in a nutshell.

Edit: Would be interesting to see a survey or something on whether people like Miner, Wood, Tuttle, Grier are “freaks” of bluegrass, or if the bluegrass repertoire leads to lots of people developing strong double-escaped picking, whether they realize it or not.

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I would play it like this, with a swipe from the fourth to fifth note and then a pull off to keep it DWPS.

Sort of! I don’t know the tune but it’s similar enougn to lines I do play. Good question and thanks for posting. When in doubt, you can always just legato and sweep this - I’m sure it would sound fine. Let us know how you make out.

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uwps to go from B to G then dwps

First thing to note, the last 5 notes are def. dwps
Next, the fist 2 notes are pick, slide up and down, then e-d-e-d-c-g are uwps.
I saw Luke recently in NYC and he is definitely capable of both directions of slant and has a little finger movement he does for string hopping or changing slant direction. He also uses the smallest picks! He is really a masterful technician, and has been since his early 20’s. I’m reading his bio- very entertaining.

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The tab is not correct as to what Steve is playing though. Put the 4th “7” on the D string try that.

Yes that was my thought as well. Assuming the 8th note is corrected to the D string something like this would work for pure DWPS

Good Morning, He is one of my favorite players, he has the ability to still capture feel when using speed…Most guitarists tend to push the beat over fast passages, he actually lays it back…A little suggestion, listen to some inspiring music, now put one your metronome clicking on beats 2 and 4…Just count with the metronome at first, feel it do not over think…You might need to do this 15 min a day, till your comfortable…When your ready start practicing some fast phrases on guitar with it…Thank you, Ronnie

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Ohh, forgot to mention the whole topic, i approach it with strict alternating picking, with a downward pick slant…I just learned, and what help me was to look at it as a blues lick…5 note phrase, 3 note phrase, 5 note phrase…In the 1st phrase I play the 5th note e on the 5 fret b string, instead of 9 fret g string…I also pull off the last d to c in the lick…all depending on the song and feel, but meaning a more legato player, I find ending a fast phrase, especially with an over driven sound and fx professing, with a pull off, hammer on, slur, and of course a bend, tends to make the lick sound smoother…Thank you for this site, I learn a lot a figure I should start giving back…Teaching something makes you further understand it…

Thanks for tagging me on this one :wink: I may be wrong but I have the impression that your trajectory gets less curved as you speed up in the “outside picking” examples like the one around 0:58. Have you ever tried filming a few reps of this chunk and seeing what happens when you alternate between two strings as fast as you can? Do you still see a curved path?

Good question, and a great example for understanding why swiping exists for players with certain grips and setups. The motion does flatten out a little, but it doesn’t flatten out completely. Here’s the bit from :58 that you’re asking about:

Even when it gets going, the portion of the movement “above the string” still escapes, while the portion of the movement below the string moves horizontally, i.e. parallel to the strings. So this is still a curved motion, but the arm is tilted such that the upper half of it is still banging into the strings.

This is actually the difference between an upstroke escape form with swiping, and a double-escape form with no swiping. When you extend the fingers and graze them on the body like this, you don’t have to make room for the fingers under the palm. So the whole arrangement can have a little wrist flexion, which lays the right side of the hand on the strings. This is why we often associate the classic “dwps” style with easy palm muting. The effect of this though is that when you make the double escape motion, it’s tilted, so only the upper half of it clears, and the lower half swipes.

To turn this into a double-escape form you would need to pronate the arm just a little to use the center eminence / watch band anchor, and add in some wrist extension to raise the fingers so they don’t hit the strings. This puts you in Andy Wood’s form. The actual picking motion can be the same, but it will then escape properly in both directions because of the form change.

So… in this lightly flexed / supinated arrangement, this is why swiping exists and why it works. The double escape motion doesn’t really doubly escape but moves horizontally across the higher string so the contact is less. The pickslant promotes sliding even further, the left hand fingers mute the upper strings by laying right on them, and of course, the sound of the ringing note masks the swipe noise.

All that being said, I don’t think this sounds super great, and avoiding swiping entirely would make both notes sound more equally clear. I’m also not playing this optimally — there’s an upstroke swipe in there, which I’d actually just call a mistake. For faster playing this can pass. But actually hitting all the notes without string interference would produce a result where all the notes are clearer and easier to hear.


Yeah, that is what happens with me as well. At high speeds, the curving flattens out… and the outside picking is where it shows up the most, at least for me. It’s a constant battle between economy and curvature.

It’s funny how different set up yield to different experiences. FWIW I don’t have any swiping issue with outside string crossing. Even more so: I have no clue how to swipe if I’m ask to. It’s like the pick jumps automatically on the other side of the far string, whatever the speed I do it.