John Petrucci - pickslanting?


Hi everyone,

I am Ionas from Cyprus… new member of cracking the code and I must say that I find it amazing so far :blush:

I’ve searched for “John Petrucci” on the site and forum but I haven’t found anything about him, so I was wondering whether he uses pickslanting or not. I find his technique outstanding - very fast, clean and precise. By looking through his instructional videos he has never mentioned of pickslanting or anything that suggests that he is using it. A lot of his alternate picking exercises are very difficult to play using pickslanting (don’t have the pattern for it) but he is able to perform them quite fast.

Is it possible that he achieved such a speed without pickslanting? Is there a secret in his technique that might be helpful for the rest of us? What are your thoughts on this.

P.S. @Troy could you invite him for a masters in mechanics interview??? :stuck_out_tongue:


Being a huge Morse fan, he no doubt uses some cross-picking (Glass Prison arpeggios). If you watch the Metropolis Pt. 1 scalar solo from the Luna Park DVD/BD, he appears to be using very subtle 2wps there. Playing that with stringhopping is probably impossible (I believe it’s around 14 notes per second?), so that’s the only possibility in my opinion. He does what a lot of the greats do, but in a wild manner he manages to contain thanks to extreme discipline.

Someone who has delved deep into his technique will reply I’m sure, but let me tell you what I know from watching him for 15+ years without extreme zoom or slow-motion analysis: What he does, he does the hard way. He’s a great player and Rock Discipline is a great DVD, but he is the last player you want to model your mechanical technique on. I’m not only talking about anchoring (something he criticized a few years ago but said he’s in too deep to stop using now). He expends a tremendous amount of energy with his playing. There’s a very tight margin of error when using your elbow like he does. He’s a rear-engined sports car on a rainy road. On some nights it works great, and on some nights he can be rather sloppy. To pull it off requires immense focus and you can tell by watching his face.

I kind of doubt he’d be open to doing CTC, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what we would gain from watching his interview beyond satisfying our curiosity and seeing a really nice guy have an interesting conversation with Troy. Petrucci took a path of high resistance and made it work thanks to tremendous dedication. In the age of YouTube and CTC, people with computers (or smartphones) need not take the same arduous journey.


I have been wondering about this for a while. I found this video, where we get a good angle on his picking hand (around 2:28). That movement seems to be very efficient, so I’d say he’s doing crosspicking using a downward pickslant. When he speeds up, you can see the movement change into typical DWPS technique. I know that he can also do really fast scales, so there’s probably TWPS going on as well, but I don’t have actual evidence of that.

EDIT: Now that I’m watching it again, I’m not sure if the fast playing really uses a downward angle.


In this video ( 5.45 ) it makes you think that he clearly uses DWPS

But on the other hand if you look at the patterns and sequences he plays, like for example the ending section in this dying soul, a lot of that requires UWPS

EDIT: Here’s the example

Of course it requires TWPS, but it’s mainly UWPS


At 3:08 it seems that he is doing crosspicking - either he plays a downstroke or upstroke the pick escapes the strings. But this is when he is playing slow. When he is playing fast at 3:28 we cant know for sure. The technique seems to change slightly.


In the video he is showing that when holding the pick, the angle is for DWPS indeed, but when you see a lot of the fast phrases he is playing like the one you ve mentioned, you can clearly see that they are not patterns that work for DWPS or UWPS.


for glass prison arpeggios it seems to me that he is using mostly downstroke sweeps as you can see at 2:05

for metropolis pt1 scalar thing at Luna park (6:17) it seems that he is changing the pick angle using the fingers but I cant say if its TWPS or not :confused:

I dont know if the only possibility is using TWPS that’s why I am posting here and trying to find out if there is another technique we might be missing.

I understand what you are saying… that he is way more stressed than other players, that some nights his technique doesnt work that well during lives and that he took the hard way with a lot of pain (no internet back then) and that it worked out due to hard dedication. But he came to a point where I believe he is way more flexible regarding passage lines. He is less restricted than other players that play the same patterns over and over again in their solos thus I believe it would definitely be a really good case to study.

I am posting an old video where he is playing 5 notes per string (fives at 160 bpm - from erotomania). This can’t be played using only DWPS or only UWPS. Do you think he is using TWPS here or something else?

here is the tab for this:

I am seeing a slight change to the pick from string to string using thumb shifts so i would speculate that he is propably using TWPS but I am really new to pickslanting so I would like the opinion of more experienced players.



The Glass prison arpeggios were originally alternate picked, he probably doesn’t always do that live though. In the Metropolis clip it looks like some kind of crosspicking to me? Not sure what exactly is going on. It’s hard to say what he’s doing in the third clip because of the video quality, but it looks like there are some subtle movements that could change the pickslant.


On the first vid with matt heefy hes seems to be doing what Albert lee does which is lift away on the down stroke and go back in on the upstroke. Which is DWPS but has the wrist lift on the end of the downstroke. If you have access to the albert lee vid check it out cause to me it does not apeear that I see forearem rotation. I see Elbow at his faster speeds, but if you timed it right the wrist lift on the down stroke would get you over the next string.


These questions are best answered with cameras! We reached out to his management at least once - he and Steve share at least some of the same people. Someone in the email chain stopped responding, who knows why. Once we get the new studio set up we’ll reach out again. He’s done many technical conversation interviews over the years so hopefully he’d be interested in ours.

Re: the “doing it the hard way” theory, I don’t buy this at all. What we see in his technique looks like pretty straightforward wrist movement. It’s crosspicking and slower speeds, in the Albert Lee style – good catch @Judmeister and @Sorc. And when he goes faster we can’t really tell because we don’t have the camera angle. The elbow technique - not even worth mentioning. I would not shed a year if it went away forever. The “Rock Discipline” era was the high water mark for effortless accuracy, and that was all wrist.


The passage you have tabbed out here can be played entirely with DWPS and swiping (if I’m not missing anything), which is absolutely how I’d do it.


the thumb bump may only be pick correction on the edge side too since he seems to be doing a clockwise wrist motion and not really changing the slanting fron DW to UW


Do you mean deviation or rotation when you say this? I’ve never been able to get even single-string licks past 8-10nps with deviation without introducing at least a bit of elbow.


Who do you think you are, Troy Grady? Oh wait… :stuck_out_tongue:

I concede he looks relaxed during Rock Discipline. This isn’t how he looks from Metropolis 2000 and later DVDs. His fist balls up tight when he goes into hypermode and there’s a lot of elbow action going on there. Are his bearish muscles biasing me? I guess it’s possible but I doubt it. But for now I will defer to you with the utmost faith that you will become so famous and influential in time that JP will have no choice but to expose his technique to the world through Masters in Mechanics. Maybe you can even get him to take his shirt off so we can see if he’s all arms or the full Kane Roberts. I’m actually more curious about that…

I was going to link you to the sped-up Gigantour version of TGP which he alternate-picked, but it’s unfortunately not available on YouTube at the moment. It’s quite harrowing to watch as he appears to be on the verge of going off the tracks at any moment, yet he keeps it together in impressive fashion. I was at the show in question and am still not sure if Portnoy kicked up the tempo just for fun or if that was the plan all along. It was funny seeing that at an event Megadeth was headlining since Megadeth during their golden era was known for playing all their songs faster live. Let me say this: Petrucci is usually relaxed. No one has the endurance to play through TGP’s rhythm parts (up-tempo at that) if they don’t play relaxed.



Who do you think you are, Troy Grady? Oh wait…


about the TGP arpeggios… they are super hard to play with alternate picking in the first place anyway, so maybe that’s the reason he changed it to sweep maybe. The way I see it they can only be played with crosspicking technique


how do you do that by hitting all the notes with only DWPS (no hammer ons/pull offs)??? it seems impossible to me.


@ionas.iona Swiping! :smiley: The way I think of it is this: any lick that’s entirely outside picking can be 1WPS and swiped. I think this is the source of the “outside picking is easy, inside picking is hard” idea that guitarists have (for me it was the opposite: 2WPS came easily to me when I was first learning, but I never figured out swiping).


The whole ‘inside picking is hard’ idea always seems weird to me… for me inside picking is much easier. Rather than feeling like my pick is ‘trapped’ between strings it feels almost like I’m using the string as a trampoline to bounce my pick off towards the next string… which I know makes no sense as my pick goes through the string first :slight_smile: but for some reason it feels way more natural to lead into the next string with the pick heading in the same direction (down pick for higher string, up pick for lower (thicker!) string) rather than trying to get the pick over the string and then switching direction to actually pick it.

Or maybe I’m just weird I don’t know…


I find inside picking easier than outside picking, as well. Count me as a weirdo :slight_smile:

sorry but i still dont get it so please take a min to clarify this for me.

5 notes per string:
1-2-3-4-5 notes on D string, then 1-2-3-4-5 notes on G string, then 1-2-3-4-5 notes back on D string.
How do you do it with sweep and only DWPS?

1(D)-2(U)-3(D)-4(U)-5(D) D string (sweep to next string)
1(D)-2(U)-3(D)-4(U)-5(D) G string… then how do you move back to the D string? With DWPS your pick is trapped betweeen G and B string.
D: downstroke
U: Upstroke


Instead of sweeping, you pick through the muted G and then start that on an upstroke. Should be doable with only DWPS. :slight_smile:

Edit to clarify: if you have the Pickslanting Primer, there should be a video on swiping there. This is different from sweeping.


if I understood correctly, you are suggesting using DWPS to change string after a downstroke without sweeping.
But the main principle that I got from Primer about DWPS is that we change strings only after an upstroke (or sweep if it’s a downstroke), so I am not sure if the thing you are proposing works for 16ths at 200bpm.