Jazz guitar strumming / tremolo

I had a question about the clips in the Olli Soikelli and Joscho Stephan interviews showing their strumming, especially tremolo techniques. I can’t figure out how their sound is so smooth and not a raspy mess when the pick looks like it’s almost 45 degrees to the strings. Unless it’s some kind of optical illusion. Any insights much appreciated.

45 degrees is the best angle to slide across the strings. It’s the angle you want to aim for. It’s literally the best angle you can do to flow or slide across the strings. Why do you have a issue with it?

If you play slow you’ll get a grinding raspy sound.

It’s probably the pick you’re using, can you make a video?

I’m replying only now to that mid-July post. It is now early September. I still haven’t succeeded at performing the tremolo à la Josho/Olli - but is doesn’t matter, because those attempts set me on the path of succeeding at the one-note, single-string tremolo. One day after about an hour of attempting the chord tremolo I began zoning out, and after a while realized I was doing a passable tremolo on one string, with a floating wrist.

I worked from there. I’m doing a forearm/wrist motion inspired by the Aldrich and Stephan videos, and of course Troy’s insights in the technical reference and other sections. I plan to post a video when I have time, with a proper description of how I got there - which could be helpful to others. As I’m writing I’m actually surprised at how little time it actually took me once I decided to put in the work in earnest - three weeks with daily sessions of between 20 minutes and 2 hours. Plenty of frustrating “almost there, but not quite” moments during this time. It’s fine as long as you don’t run out of ideas of things to try or approach differently. There was a moment yesterday when I knew “this is it”. Today I checked that It’s working with several different picks: Fender Heavy, Dunlop Jazz III XL Ultex, Dunlop Jazz III regular, Dunlop Primetone 1 mm 351 shape, Dunlop “small triangle” Primetone 1.3 mm (my favorite pick up to now, but it doesn’t seem to work as well as the others now). That’s quite fascinating in itself.

I guess this is a good time to express how grateful I am to Troy, and team for their work, which I will venture to say is a work of genius. Troy I never knew this was possible before you came along !


The way I do it, is 45 degrees or less on wrist and 45 on pick. This might help you?, tho we all have different bodies so perhaps not? In my experience it’s roughly 45 degrees in pick orientation and a little bit less on wrist flex.

Tho Joscho Stephan looks like he does almost 90 degree wrist flex in his example, through that is probably from the camera angle. So it might be different for everyone. All I know is this works for me. If it doesn’t work for you please say as it expands my understanding of this technique. For me it works well. Just flex your wrist and go for it with wrist rotation, and like I said, his pick seems to be quite rounded, that helps a load.

It’s also using Ulnar deviation. Posted about it here if you’re interested.

Oh I’ve put the strumming on the backburner temporarily as I have somewhat limited time on the guitar and taking advantage of a good run on single-string to try and make it second nature before I move on to something else. But I’ll get back to the strumming as soon as practicable. My issue was a garage spike issue on the upstroke but that should resolve itself now, I noticed in slow motion Joscho clearly gives a slant to the pick so it goes over the spike if that makes sense.

Wow thanks for taking the time to do that video. The 45° degree angle also was something that put me off initially, but that’s what both Joscho and Olli are doing. You clearly have it together. I mean, in manouche jazz, the rhythm guitarist has to be able to strum fast for long periods without breaking a sweat. I was sitting up front at an Angelo Debarre concert once in a small room and watching the rhythm guy half the time - and never could figure out what he was doing at the time. Strumming like that for the duration of a 45-60 minute set all composed and without ever breaking a sweat. Especially at the time I would walk away from such shows thinking I’d witnessed something supernatural and never be able to play gutar.

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