How the hell do you tremolo pick like EVH and Yngwie Malmsteen?

Both guitarists seem to use the weird circular rotating wrist motion but I can’ somehow grasp it. No matter what video I watch it still seems like my arm can’t do it. It almost feels foreign and impossible to properly hit strings while rotating your wrist. Any suggestions?

This is the basic concept from what I’ve learned, the accuracy with it just comes from practice and training of the muscles n nervous system.

That kink in the wrist will translate all forarm rotation into an up n down picking motion. Idk if there is another way to do it, if there is I love to see I was obsessed with eddies tremolo for over two years, such a cool movement :grin:

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Troy has a video if you’ve not seen it.

I think where many get caught up with rotation is sort of the visual to physical differential. The way it looks versus what physically goes into utilizing it for this purpose. Rotation can be achieved by both broad and slower movements, or by faster twitchier gyrations and both can look very similar from an outside visual perspective. I would say it one of the trickier motions to grasp because of this. Unfortunately the way it’s described often - like turning a door knob - while visually correct, leads many to adopt the slower broad version of rotation because that reference would be the motion you would use to actually turn a door knob, which really isn’t very fast.

Hold your hand out, and turn it like you are twisting a door knob as fast as you can. Chances are it won’t be that fast. Now hold out your hand make that same door knob like twist, but shake it at the same time. This time you will see a faster more spastic movement, but with a bit of that doorknob rotation mixed in.

Eddy’s is a bit more broad, so he’s likely using a combination that favors the more broader door knob motion as the primary one, but chances are there’s more mixed in there.

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Have you gone through this guide?

It was very helpful to me. However it was a motion I was already doing , just in a slightly awkward way and needed a bit of tweaking.

It can be difficult to describe because it’s a compound motion using wrist deviation/flexion/extension and forearm and can feel and look different at different speeds. Even the forearm element can be almost invisible at fast tempos.

One way to try get the motion would be the flexed form. In this form, you can’t really pick with just the wrist.

I’d suggest going through the tutorial in the primer though. There are good setup guides for the different forms of it. (Resting on the bridge, the flexed form and also the Van Halen mostly forearm setup)

i think i get what you mean. It feels awkward tho

It felt akward for me for awhile too, Soon got a grip of it though, I don’t think I can do the evh one anywhere close as controlled as he did. But it works. Helps train your arm for a lot of gypsy jazz style playing too. I think it’s worth practicing.

Edit: one thing I forgot to mention is “Ulnar deviation”. So you want to have your hand flexed and Ulnar deviated. That is what Eddie did I believe. Yngwie does the same as far as I’m aware just with less Ulnar deviation. The different pick grip is probably why.


I think rotational movements are tough because it’s not one we do a lot in everyday life, at least not at guitar playing speeds. @Fossegrim pointed out the doorknob thing sort of falls apart. I think part of the reason is because even though the joints involved are similar, what we need for the motion on guitar is so much faster that it’s just…different.

I’ve actually been working on it a good bit, but it took a long time before I could do the movement and not have it turn into something else. I don’t know if you’ve ever played bass (I’ve dabbled) but for me there was a similarity to their ‘slap’ technique and what a rotational mechanic is.

@qwertygitarr probably has the most beautiful rotational mechanic I’ve ever seen. He talks about it in this thread.

He mentions a movement like shaking out a match. Maybe some of that helps?

Good luck!

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this takes quite a bit to even get going if you are older. i would say delve into some gypsy jazz, and learn the rest stroke technique with proper wrist movements. then start learning some of the gypsy stuff that utilizes this sort of wrist slinging mechanic. then eventually you will have to get it working in the space of one single string.

even then the technique sort of differs, but this can maybe get your body accustomed to moving the wrist in this sort of fashion. when you start to get decent at some gypsy stuff is when you can start trying it, at first you will want to use the same amount of tension, but the trick is to try to relax even more if that means angling the wrist deeper inward so be it. everybody has different genetics as to the steepness of the inward cocking of the wrist. yngwie seemed to have mastered it, but he plays all day probably so if you do that then ya it would be quite easy.

the closest thing i can think of that will help to describe the way the wrist is suppose to move is when you do those 3 or 4 note chords really fast, the gypsy jazz players do this stuff quite a bit. watch stochelo rosenberg when he does this sort of thing it is so beautiful. use a dunlop big stubby 3.0 cause this forces you to learn to relax everything as well as utilize the tippy tip of the pick and learn control finesse. but like i said above even this right here is just a bit different than tremolo on one string it is even more relaxed than this probably because it has to do with going as fast as possible, and on one string in such a small space.

i think for myself probably doing it on a classical guitar first might have helped developed some control since the strings are a bit thicker than electric strings so you have a bit of wiggle room for error, and more space to sort of try to go crazy at first. you know like when you are ready to throw your guitar out the window. you will want to try elbow, and that is like the first step, but you will realize there is another way. it just takes time, patience, and finding the right slow flow to feel how to do it. too slow and it just wont work, to fast and you risk tension creeping in if you don’t know the proper motions.

but not going to lie i am still not great at it, its not like i can go boom tremolo picking instantly, no there is like this wind up period and i have to sort of figure out a way into it, flow maybe, without sounding sloppy.

do you know that feeling you get when you eat something really hot or like burn yourself? and you start shaking your hands violently. this is what it amounts to, but being able to control it, which is the hardest part.

I recently started using middle finger a lot more, and the deviation from a straight wrist is defiantly how you do it. Though Eddie did more Ulnar deviation than flexion.

Anything that puts a kink in your wrist will change forarm rotation into up n down picking. This been on my mind and want to be correct. Focus on “Ulnar deviation” and that is how Ed did it. With a touch of flexion.

You can really see it here. The wrist is Ulnar deviated very clearly. As long as it’s got that kink it will work.

Everyday I try to tremolo it almost feels that the reason I am unable to sort of control it better, getting in and out of it is because I didn’t learn it when I was younger. I can haphazardly get it going eventually, sometimes I can do it super impressive one day, and the next it takes me some adjustment to do it. The earlier in the day I can do it easier, the later in the day is when it gets a bit tricky. All of this I am speaking of is the pure wrist motion, using no elbow, completely relaxed loosey-goosey tickly blood flow, floppy muscle feeling. The turning gypsy wrist angled wrist motion, not the back and forth one. I have to really move the wrist to get a big stubby 3.0 through the string though, and it feels like it has to be the tip and at a certain angle. I try not to look sometimes cause I feel like I will lose it if I try to think about it. :smiley:

And its not like I can go all day long or forever, once I get it going its good for about 15-20 second. But if I try to go again, no way, it just isn’t going to be near as articulate, and it might not even happen. I have been working on this well over a year now, about a year and a half. So it takes time to develop this, or it can so don’t give up. This is all one speed, I dont dare try to control how fast or slow. It is as fast as my body can gyrate my wrist, no more no less. If I had to adjust speed or possibly even dynamics, cause it can be quite tricky to dynamically adjust volume for this one sometimes i can but it is not easy, I would utilize another motion to tremolo.

I think I would consider this like one of those just go for it motions. Don’t psych yourself out, the motion you are doing is the correct one. It just takes time for the body to figure out how to align things right to get it to sound. Like learning how to play hacky sack might be a way the body is trying to figure it out. You just fail over and over, but dont think I am not doing it right. If you can take one of those really thin dunlop picks the paper thin ones, angle the wrist and do the really fast chord thing that most beginners can do, this is the motion, but you gotta just keep trying. Don’t over analyze to much, just try to do it everyday. And then forget it and move on to learning something else. Trying to do it on one string, is why it is so tricky.

When I was practicing it, I used to do it out of habit everywhere, not in front of people cus just doing that tremmlo move out of nowhere in the air would look very weird. But it definitely takes time to get the hand used to it. Once the muscles adapt it just works fine, takes ages like you say tho.

You can even see Ed himself having a bit of an awkward time keeping it smooth.

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I do this ALL the time, because I was really interested in getting a rotational mechanic going. Super helpful if this motion doesn’t come naturally. I guess some people can just do this motion, others (myself) need to learn it.


You know thinking about it maybe the only reason I sort of was able to develop it at 37 years of age was because I could do the dunlop thin pick thing when I was in my teens. Some guy from a church was playing that full open E chord, and sliding up the same fingering to the other places at the fretboard doing that pretty chord progression. And I copied his technique cause he showed me, but going from this super huge motion into one string has been quite the challenge.

I can do a fast forearm and wrist tremolo, it’s actually the only way I know how to play fast. I could never get wrist only to work.
But I can’t do it suspended in the air like this, well, I can do the motion, but without a depth reference I’m all over the place haha.

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You can do it then I almost broke my guitar thinking i never could but i perservered. I wanted to be able to cover the intro to hot on your heels. I kept the thought in my mind, Yngwie isnt some robot it has to be possible. So everyday I play the tremolo at least once just for fun.

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Also, if you want to supercharge forearm and wrist, add in the elbow! I do this when playing above 200bpm. Although I didn’t consciously add it in, but noticed that I need it at my fastest speeds. I don’t spend a lot of time playing at those sorts of speeds though

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Just want you to know to just laugh, cause i know how frustrating it can be. I have thrown my guitar, plenty of times, alittle more than lightly only to be disappointed in myself for letting rage get the best of me. So this is the level of frustration it can give you, but just say in your mind i will get it eventually, and keep grinding. Never give up.

I thought I was the only one, I broke my guitar last year in a rage fit :joy: It cost me a couple of hundred euro to get the neck fixed :man_facepalming::joy:

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