Impossible Lick (4 years of failing)

Hello! My name is Seth. I’ve just joined the this group and I’m beyond excited. I’ve been trying to play this lick for years. I can’t master it and it’s more than frustrating. Here’s the link to it:

The lick comes at 2:11 - It’s 3 notes per string and is only played on the high E and B string. It starts on Fret 20 and descends. (I’m not the best at describing it over text so I’ve left the link.) I have literally been trying to play this lick for years and I have come so far that giving up is just not an option. If anybody knows what specific videos I should watch to play this lick that would be great. I have also put a link of me playing it here if anybody had some feedback and could see things I am doing wrong:

Feel free to roast me if needed haha. Anyways, I’m so glad I found this and I hope to shred with you guys soon!!


Hi Seth, looking at your attempt I’d suggest considering how low you are holding the instrument. Check classical guitarists for posture suggestions?

Upon further review of the artist that you are trying to emulate here, he keeps his guitar very low, but during the passage in question, he buttresses the guitar against his right thigh and curls his body to approximate the shape that allows him to execute the moves.

Low strung guitars have likely contributed to folks making advances on the instrument not obvious to folks using a more traditional posture, but in this case, it doesn’t look like it’s helping you. Muscles have to be allowed to work properly, you know?

Four years of playing a carol would drive me insane. May you achieve mastery in time for the holiday season. :slight_smile:


Welcome Seth, thanks for sharing! I edited your post sos the videos display directly embedded here. For future reference you can just paste a YouTube link on its own line (blank lines before/after) and it should do that automatically.

Hard to see exactly what’s going on in the video here; we have some tips for filming your playing here that may be helpful:

First things first, have you gone through the Pickslanting Primer? We recommend everyone start there and watch through the whole thing! Learning about double escape motions, and the “two way pickslanting” material, will probably come in handy for this sort of lick. If you’re still having trouble definitely feel free to post an update with some slow-mo / down-the-strings angle video that may help to give us a better look at what you’re doing.


Only thing I’ll add watching that video is that when this guy starts ascending back up later in the lick, there are a couple pretty off-sounding notes I’m hearing in there, so if you’ve struggled with it, don’t worry, this guy clearly has too!


Thanks so much for your reply! I’ll focus on my playing position and learn some posture suggestions so I can best play this lick. Time to get to practicing!!

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Hi Brendan. Thanks for editing to post and making it a little more clean. I’ll be sure to post a better video today in slow mo with a better angle so that we can get a cleaner view of what exactly is going on. I’ve been practicing pick slanting for about a year now (when there’s three notes per string and then switching strings) but I think there might be an even deeper issue that’s going on. I’ll be sure to post a better video asap.

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I have no idea how you are trying to approach this lick (DWPS, 2WPS, etc.). I could try to study your tape and infer what you are trying to do, but I would recommend this: (a) put up the TAB, (b) describe your approach (up/down/swipe, etc. on a per-note basis) and confirm that it is “optimal” (readers here are quite good at that), and THEN see ( c) how your current performance compares to your ideal. I think (b) is particularly important, as if you are attempting the music in a difficult way it will be painful.

Note that @Brendan’s advice is what will make it possible for you to both do and communicate (b).

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This seems to be similar, starting at around 2:11. Looking at this it seems that the simplest way to approach it would be DWPS. For example, the E has 4 notes. Then, the B has 3, but that sweeps to the E. The E only has 3, but you might make one of them a pull-off, etc., and go back to above the B… this is what I mean by (b), above. So the first notes in the run might be D U D U D U D D U (pull off)… it would make a lot more sense if I annotated the music, but this is mainly to give you an idea about what I mean regarding (b). Good luck, I suspect you came to the right place to nail this piece.

I would practice three note per string descending licks in one position (see the Vinnie Moore instructional video on Youtube, lots and lots on this). Start with 8 7 5 on the high E, then 8 6 5 on the B string. Play that over and over and over. You will most likely find that if you turn your wrist one way or the other (changing your pick slant), it will flow easier for your natural style. I used to run the Vinnie Moore exercises (minor scale, three notes per string on the top two strings, up and down the neck) daily and after a week or so, you can feel the difference in speed and precision.


All I know is the terms from here, e.g., 2WPS, DWPS (now renamed UX), etc., and I am sadly not familiar with any of the material that you cite. Are you saying that you play this lick with 2WPS? That will absolutely work but I note that this lick is extremely well suited for a simpler technique, DWPS. But this is what I mean about (b), the most fundamental statement of how you view the problem. Cool, so be it, 2WPS.