Identify my right hand technique (forearm rotation + elbow?)

Hi there!

I’ve been a silent reader here for a long time so my first post is long overdue :slight_smile:

I’m trying to improve my picking technique at higher speeds. It’s alright for what I need but I try to work on my consistency and especially at higher speeds (here in the video 120bpm 16th triplets, so basically 180bpm 16th notes) I feel like I still haven’t found something to settle on really.

I’d be interested in what you think the techniques are I’m using here. I always thought that I use wrist + forearm rotation (and that’s the way it feels btw) but looking at the video it looks like I’m stiffing up at higher tempos and use more elbow.

All feedback is welcome, cheers!

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Fire and Ice? I would say a wrist forearm combo, predominantly wrist, with some forearm during the larger movements like changing strings. The shot isn’t as close to the picking as would be necessary for some analysis , but from what I can see you use DSX which makes sense for what you’re doing. I don’t see a ton of rotation, it’s mostly planar on the diagonal DSX trajectory.

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I always struggle with complex joint combos in terms of identifying exactly what’s going on. If you are using elbow, obviously that’s got DSX implications BUT you’re playing a really typical USX pattern. So whatever wrist/forearm involvement you have, you’re able to leverage that to make an escape after upstrokes. Seems pretty desirable if you do in fact have a DSX trajectory :slight_smile: That means you can play…anything! Sounds really good too BTW. Anyone can nitpick stuff if you slow if down 50% - 25%. I hear inconsistencies if I slow down MAB, Yngwie and Rusty Cooley to that extent to. At full speed yours sounds awesome and I like the tone you’re getting too.

So I guess I’m no help at all. Great playing though! I find at these speeds I also struggle with consistency. What seems to be helping is just a ton of variety. Playing at that speed, a little above, a little below, making sure I don’t just play the same patterns and get a steady diet of diverse licks. It gets a little better each month.

You mean USX, right? Im escaping on upstrokes, that’s pretty much the only thing I’m certain of. (at least I think so…)

I’ll try to make another video with my phone, so it can be slow-mo as well.

Can you make the elbowey one go faster if you get rid of the bend at the wrist?

For me it looks like elbow based motion when you play fast, and sounds like you are swiping on string changes.

That’s an interesting observation. I think you might be right, now when I look at the video again. Oof, I was super confident it has to be USX with DWPS but yeah it looks a bit like swiping due to the elbow motion I guess?

I need to make a better video when I’m back from work.

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No I did mean DSX, but it also could be no escape. It’s hard to see unless you make a closeup vid, but if you are using your elbow during string changes, elbow motion will likely be DSX or no escape, regardless of pick slanting.

I’d say wrist-forearm blend with USX, your playing looks very similar to my own!

Personally I don’t hear any swiping, I’d be interested to see you play the Gilbert lick from Intense Rock 1 in slow-mo as I think it’s a good one for hearing when you make the swipe :smiley:

With this many contrasting opinions…
@tommo help! What’s really going on here? Or maybe…it doesn’t matter because it sounds great!

Sorry all, bit of a tough week with the small daughter sick and out of daycare, I hope to be back and sort out some of the outstanding Technique Critique threads by the end of the week.

In any case, upon a first look / listen this sounds great! It also looks to me like the elbow joint may be moving at the higher speeds, while forearm rotation gets reduced (or stops altogether?), but this may be in combination with other subtle things so I can’t really tell what escape it is.

…but this may not matter because it seems to work! I’d only change something if @lukasgraesslin feels some kind of discomfort while doing this.


My vote is that it doesn’t matter. If you find you can play most of what you want to, who cares what you are doing to achieve it. Unless it’s resulting in discomfort or injury.

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Thanks all!

It doesn’t feel uncomfortable or anything, it’s just that it doesn’t seem really reliant but maybe that’s just a lack of practice.

I tried to record a slomo video but I’m not sure how useful it is. I had to sit in an unusual position to make the angle and lighting work more or less and the red light syndrom hit hard this time. The playing isn’t as good as in the other video but I think you can see the picking more clearly:

Still looks like DSX to me (you can see your down strokes move away from the guitar body) with predominately wrist and forearm movement. Maybe some rotation, particularly towards the final note.

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I really feel the urge to try to get it into a proper USX movement at faster speeds because at least I think that might be a solution to make it more reliant and consistent. Also at the moment I really can’t do those speeds for long as I tense up quickly and get sloppy. And my current standard hand position would definitely fit better with USX than DSX.
I know I shouldn’t get hung up on stuff like that but to be honest it’s also fun trying that stuff out :slight_smile:

Well try, you never know, you can end up using more than one. I find I use more than one depending on what I’m playing. For Yngwie type stuff like particularly his sequences, I plant my hand on the guitar like he does and use a similar motion, and it really works well for his type of playing. For everything else I use my default. So you may find you do more than one equally well.


I should probably submit another critique to see if I’m actually doing what I think I’m doing. I think I have a USX motion now though. My default was always elbow and it would start to creep in even when I wasn’t trying to do it.

What seemed to help me was focusing on a mechanic that’s difficult to include elbow at all with, and for me that was the pure rotational EVH type. Maybe play around with that?

But I guess the question is, do you really need that? You sound so good! Troy’s recommendation for my own playing was to go all in with the elbow since that’s what my body wanted to do. I was trying to do USX too. So I had a mismatched downward pickslant with the elbow doing all the movement. He said I should try a little more pronation, maybe more of a trigger grip too.

I guess another thing you could try is the Zakk Wylde approach.

That’s elbow and USX, though it’s a mystery how that works :slight_smile: His ultra flexed form likely helps encourage something else, like rotator cuff, to help with the escaped upstrokes.

@joebegly whether you are or are not doing what you think you are, is it really that important at the end of the day? If it works, it works regardless of what it is.

Now if you have some problems with it, then maybe looking at it is good to establish and work on a helper motion to help with the lines that are harder to play with your primary mechanic. I think it’s entirely possible to be able to utilize and be good at many, but it does come with the caveat that it may feel like your learning the instrument all over again, so a lot of people may be dissuaded from taking that route.

For my situation , yes, it’s very important. I don’t want to re-hash my whole critique because it was TL DR, but the gist of it I’m doing something wrong. It’s ‘right’ enough that I could get away with playing 16ths @ 185 bpm, but it felt strained. It should feel easy to play at that speed. What I’m doing now feels easier, but it’s been (incorrectly) ingrained in me to just work really hard until things take care of themselves. Maybe it still doesn’t feel as easy as it should. I don’t know. The way to know is if there is something slightly incorrect about the motion that could be made more efficient. That’s why I need to submit another critique.

OR I could just stop worrying about picking every single note and embark on this thing I’ve been wanting to do for years and never even started. I don’t want to derail this thread though, so I’ll shut up now :slight_smile:

Yeah same for me basically. It’s not something I really really need, I mean it doesn’t restrict me from making music of course :smiley:
I just want to improve it for the sake of it.

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