Interview Suggestion - Uli Jon Roth


Saw Uli yesterday at G3 with Satch and Petrucci. An while of course petrucci is the faster and more precise picker, his right hand technique appeared to be so unique that I would even buy the interview. He is just so relaxed.

Plus I think he is a really nice guy and would probably have fun in doing it.



Thanks Thomas :slight_smile: Yeah definitely on our radar. We reached out a while back and didn’t get a reply, but you never know maybe we can make something happen down the line!


Yeah Uli is my guy. What a monster of a player. He’s on tour in North America every year it seems and he’s just an interesting character and shred guitar really does owe a lot to him, I think


I don’t know about that. “Sails of Charon” sounds perfectly clean to me. I haven’t watched tons of Uli but the clips I’ve seen here and there have all been right on in terms of technique. His motions sound pretty baked in and reliable. Which is what we all want.

As Brendan says, we’ve reached out, no response. But you never know.


Is Sails of Charon pure picking or a mixture of picking and legato?

I remember when I first heard it and being completely amazed by how clean and precise it was. The fact that someone was playing those lines in the 70s amazed me even more.


Why did you choose to quote his statement that way instead f just quoting as it was which is: '…petrucci is the faster and more precise picker…"?

So you went on to say

You’re right; it does sound clean but the point Tom was making was regarding speed and accuracy and certainly Sails Of Charon doesn’t compare in speed to any of the fastest things Petrucci plays. If Uli Jon Roth tried to play something at the tempo of one of Petrucci’s faster solos would it then still sound “perfectly clean” to you? Possibly but I doubt it.


Because people throw around terms like “more accurate” or “more precise” and I think it’s important to be clear about what these terms mean. Accurate just means low error rate. That’s all. It’s not related to speed. Whatever speed you’re playing you are either accurate or you are not. Uli sounds pretty accurate to me most of the clips I’ve heard.

I get what you’re saying, and I’m sure Tom probably just meant John is known for playing fast shreddy type things. But I’m just making sure we’re all clear on what we’re actually talking about. Because one thing I’ve noticed, even here on our forums, is that there is a wide range of what different listeners will hear as accurate.

Uli’s motion is a crosspicking type motion and he can do arpeggio type lines with that other players cannot, at tempos other players cannot, because they don’t have a similar motion. So for the movement it is and the lines he plays, yes, it’s pretty fast.

John had strong crosspicking chops around the Rock Discipline era but I haven’t really seen them since. I’m sure he’s still got those wrist chops in there somewhere and it would be cool if he busted those out a little more. If we can sit down with him I’d love to see if we can get some of those movements on tape.

Uli is more like a metal Albert Lee or something. Apples / oranges. Both great players.


I have a question for you Troy. I have been thinking that being clean and being accurate or precise are very closely related They’re not identical because clean is a sound whereas accurate and precise describe things we do that contribute to having a clean sound - the main contributors in fact. Proper left and right hand muting also facilitates cleanliness so those two muting techniques plus accuracy result in a clean sound. Would you agree?

Accurate just means low error rate? I’d say a rate of errors or rate of just about anything is more related to consistency. The more consistent we are with playing accurately or playing precisely, the less errors we make. So accuracy is certainly related to a low error rate but I wouldn’t say it means a low error rate. For example, I could say I played an Yngwie solo accurately and to me that means both cleanly and I played he right notes. Can I play that solo 20 times in a row accurately? That’s where consistency comes in which is related to error rate.


Seems to be both


I think Uli has the most relaxed picking hand I have ever seen. Also, something that is underrated is his sense of dynamics when playing.



Seems I started some controversy :wink:
By “precise” I meant small movements compared to the swinging motions that Uli uses. The intention of my statement was to make clear, while petrucci might be the “more advanced” alternate picker, Ulis picking technique is just way more different, while petrucci i at least in my opinion “mainstream”, although of course one-in-a-million-level.

It’s always a pleasure to see Uli with his two sidekick-guitar-players playing 3-voiced arpeggio stuff with them really fighting to keep up with the maestro while he is grinning, making that 50%-of-what-I-can-do-impression :joy:

Anyway, I found this clip on youtube:

It features some headstock clipped gopro material. Maybe you could contact them and try to get the uncut gopro-material, troy?



He’s like the coolest guy ever. Man. He’s got quite a few picking hand tricks up his sleeve. His anchored setup looks pretty similar to what Gary Moore was doing in the jazz crosspicking clip that was shared way back. But then he’s got a gypsy setup too. What a badass.


I hadn’t actually payed much attention to Uli until Sails of Charon made a passing appearance in a Cracking The Code episode.

One thing that strikes me listening to current interviews with Uli is how he gets his tone. For him, it’s not dialing in a particular setting and sticking to it, it’s about knowing what he wants to hear and tweaking settings as he goes to get the sound he wants in a particular venue. He has active tone circuitry on his guitar, and he’s not afraid to adjust the settings on the fly. Granted the sound someone in the audience hears won’t be exactly what he hears on stage, but the point is that for him, the proof of the pudding really is in the tasting. There are probably other pros who are the same way, but I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else talk about it the way Uli does.


If you’re interested, there’s a passage here where John shows how he practices 1NPS alternate picking while learning scalar shapes. The angle isn’t the CtC angle unfortunately, so I don’t know how useful (if at all) it will be to you.

The tab is here, under “Positional Scale Navigation” paragraph.


I would not say that John’s mechanics are more “advanced” than Uli. The swinging movement is crosspicking, which is actually rarer in rock/metal, so if anything you can think of that as “advanced” if you like. I wouldn’t though. I would just say it is less common. And again, both John and Uli have crosspicking techniques. In fact, it appears that John’s crosspicking technique is still in fine form! Take a look:

Great find! I didn’t see this go up. What you are seeing here, almost all the moderate speed and medium fast examples, is John’s wrist crosspicking technique. It’s unclear to me what happens when he speeds up, if / how the technique changes. But at these speeds, it is clear what’s going on, even from this angle.

Specifically, if you watched any of the live broadcasts this week, John’s motion is basically the same technique Andy Wood uses on mando, which we took apart a little. This is why we look at all these different players and instruments. You can like bluegrass or not, but I’ll sit down with anyone who is an ace to see if there’s something we can learn. And we can apply that knowledge to any style of music we want.

Again, John/Uli, both great players, and both fairly unusual technique-wise for their genre.


When I first started paying attention to my picking, I was inspired by Uli Jon Roth. I learned a section of Sails of Charon, and grokked his picking technique for that particular section. It’s a combination crosspicking/legato triplet thing. Downstroke-slur-upstroke. He can switch strings on downstrokes or upstrokes, but the middle of each triplet needs to stay on the same string. There’s a lesson example of Uli himself doing this on YouTube. It’s a very relaxing, musical way to play.

Inspiration came from seeing him play live, about a year ago. I was close enough to stage that I was mostly hearing his amp directly, and it’s one of the most glorious tones I’ve ever heard. He was constantly working the controls on his Sky guitar - both volume and the gain on the preamp (which has tremendous gain). So his tone was evolving instinctively with the improvisation. It was really something special, one of the finest guitar performances I have ever experienced, with some of the best tones I’ve ever heard.


Totally jealous. I only got into Uli relatively recently, and haven’t had the chance to catch him live yet. In the meantime, at least we’re in an era where I can get a taste from camera-phone videos.


Wow the playing on sails of charon is awesome, I hadn’t heard it before! And this was as early as 1977, I wonder why this solo did not become more inluential in rock/shred guitar history!


It is a little weird. I always thought it was just because he was European and he left the band before the Scorpions hit really big in the States, but you’re European so there goes that theory.

We put “Sails” in the animated series, the “Rise of the Viking” episode, but if you weren’t watching closely you might have missed it. Again, Uli flies under the radar.


He doesn’t get the adulation he deserves. I saw him last year at this little metalhead bar in the suburbs. There were maybe 75 people in the audience. There should be a hundred times that many, basking in the glow of his playing. One of the count-on-one-hand best live guitarists I’ve ever seen! And his band… mostly young guys, thanking their lucky stars they get to tour with a master and listen to him every night. You could see them sometimes look over at him, just as stunned as we were.