John Petrucci - pickslanting?


Excellent analysis, I agree 95% :smiley:
I would add a few comments

  • recently he seems to use the elbow a bit more (but I may be wrong)
  • in a recent YouTube interview with ‘the captain’ he mentioned that when he plays fast live he doesn’t worry too much aboit hitting unwanted strings… however we can not hear them!

…this leads me to think that he has excellent muting technique and he is somehow aware of using swiping (at least occasionally). Based on the clips above, I think this happens in ascending outside changes.

PS: sorry about being a broken record with my swiping obsession hehe


Thanks @tommo
I will watch the video at some point and add your comments to my post!



in a recent YouTube interview with ‘the captain’ he mentioned that when he plays fast live he doesn’t worry too much aboit hitting unwanted strings… however we can not hear them!

I ve just seen the interview with the captain. What I got from it is that, he hits other strings ONLY when trying to play a screaming bending, NOT when he is playing fast. So I have to disagree with you on that. In case the below is not the part you are talking about, please post again. Thanks!

Here it is (forward to 1:34:30 and watch until 1:37:00):



I have updated the post adding the possibility of swiping (hitting unwanted strings) in the end. It remains to be seen with a slow motion camera :slight_smile:


Hehe thanks for giving space to my obsession! But I must agree with you on that interview, he was only referring to screaming bends. Indeed it would be great to put the man himself under the microscope :slight_smile:

I am now practicing the erotomania lick with dwps swiping and it works quite well (except that I need to get used to the primary dwps setup, which is still a bit awkward for me). Perhaps this is not the way JP plays it, but it certainly makes the lick easier for us mortals :smiley: (the speed feels quite insane for full on TWPS acrobatics)


IIRC you’re already a quite fast and tight UWPS guy. Why not just use UWPS swiping? Might be a little trickier on the left hand, but I suspect it’s doable, and would probably be more comfortable for you.


Thanks for the compliment! Indeed I have been mostly uwps so far, but I have discovered that dwps with forearm rotation can in principle allow me more speed and especially relaxation. Also, the primary uwps setup makes ascending scales a bit tricky and hit/miss.

I have not found a fingering for the erotomania lick that does not require at least a few dwps rotations, which can be hard to do at these speeds! But you are right that with some clever reorganisation of the fretting hand it may be possible to go full uwps.
The high symmetry of the JP fingering is hard to resist though :wink:


with chunks of 5 notes per string I find it to be one of the best exercises for TWPS. You could try that as well


Just warming up before the show :stuck_out_tongue:


I haven’t looked at Petrucci’s technique in a long time and was stunned what a huge amount of elbow movement he uses in the high speed stuff. I was aware that it can be done that way, but didn’t realize that’s how he does it.

And in this kind of close-mic’d video, even the unamplified sound of the attack is almost a giveaway of how much elbow he uses, because you can hear how forcefully the pick is powering through the string. You can tell he’s either using little or no “edge picking”, a deep pickstroke, or both. In my experience, a very forceful elbow mechanic is the only way to execute that kind of attack with this sort of sound at high speed. Even big forearm rotation with a deep pickstroke doesn’t seem to produce a sound like this, and everything I’ve seen or tried with wrist-only mechanics seems to require a much shallower or more “edge-picked” pickstroke at high speed than we’re hearing here.

Edit: Looking at the clip again, he does seem to be using a significant amoung of leading edge picking, but the sound at, for example, the 35 second mark makes it clear that he has a lot of pick on the string, and the use of elbow in the motion is pretty unmistakeable.

Note that this doesn’t mean he always uses elbow. In the Anderton’s interview posted above, there is lots of rhythm playing and “less crazy fast” lead playing where he sometimes uses forearm rotation, and sometimes uses wrist movement (and sometimes forearm rotation and wrist movement together). But the Facebook video above clearly shows that there is some stuff where he plays certain fast alternate picked things with what looks to be UWPS or 2WPS driven mainly from elbow flexion/extention.

The older video below shows this as well, with the lick starting at 7m20s. Notice how when he demonstrates slowly, it’s wrist only, but when he goes fast, you can see the telltale reciprocating movement of the forearm that shows his elbow is working:



I have updated my long post about his technique with your views as well. thx for the input.


First clip, can’t see anything. Second clip is very clearly majority wrist movement. Accuracy is way off on these takes though, so I would take anything you see here with a grain of salt. Rock Discipline John was all wrist, and accuracy was high.



only DWPS with swiping is starting to work quite good for me as well for that erotomania particular lick. I use swipe for outside picking from low string to high string.


Hehe that’s funny, I am now trying with TWPS instead as you suggested :smiley:

No matter what method I use I am still finding it difficult to play the 4-string jumps at that speed.


hahaha funny indeed. My goal is to be able to play it with both techniques at some point.

I am faster with swiping because it seems that I have developed it unintentionally while trying to push the metronome higher. TWPS is a new thing to me so it needs more practise.



here it is… a take with only DWPS and swiping (still needs a lot of work)


Great playing! Sounds clean and synchronized.

It’s not immediately clear to me that this is dwps or even swiping. It may very well be, but it’s not obvious from this camera angle. Have you filmed yourself in slow motion on this, and can you see either one happening?

If you have a phone that can do it, and you can point it down the strings in a Magnet-like way, in this lighting condition, that would be super cool to check out. If so, post it up in Technique Critique and we’ll take a look.


No matter what’s happening here in terms of pickslanting, one thing I find interesting looking at this is the angle of your hand. Maybe it’s an illusion from the camera angle, but it seems like most of the time you are achieving a very aggressive “leading edge” attack by keeping the wrist somewhat deviated to the ulna side most of the time (combined with a fairly acute elbow). I can imagine how having a lot of leading edge like this might help swipes feel smoother (if they are in fact happening). This hand angle also may be facilitating your use of “gliding” finger anchoring in the pickguard region of the guitar face, which I think is something we haven’t often seen this type of elbow/wrist mechanic. The closest I think of is Michael Angelo Batio, but he doesn’t keep his hand low to the strings the way you do. Very interesting, and sounds like it’s producing pretty awesome results for you.


Thx for your good words!

I wish the magnet you use for recording was ready for sale. I would definitely buy it and examine my technique up close. I dont have the patience in assembling it myself though :frowning: It would be reasonable if its price was up to 150 dollars.

Regarding my technique, when I play the lick slower at 80% speed I am able to see and feel the DWPS and swiping, I dont know if that’s changing at full speed. I dont have an aggressive DWPS angle (so it’s indeed hard to see), just as little as needed to facilitate changing strings after upstroke. It’s easy for me to change after upstroke but it’s harder after downstroke, that’s why after viewing your material I observed that I am indeed swiping to change strings after downstroke (at least at lower speeds).

I havent noticed it before but you may be right about the aggressive leading edge. I have also noticed that I have more tip of the pick extending out of my thumb and index fingers than my fellow guitar players.

I am mostly touching the strings for anchoring and muting reasons. When DWPS, with the palm at the extension of pinky and when UWPS, with the extension of thumb. The 3 loose fingers touching the pickguard also help me keep stability, even if they are moving up and down.

I pick from the wrist using forearm rotation and use elbow for string tracking.


We’d love to make the Magnet but would only do so if we can get the price down to a reasonable amount - $150 is waaay too expensive.

There’s no need for a Magnet for a basic slow motion shot though. Just put the phone on a tripod and place it close enough to see what’s going on. If you don’t have a tripod, tape it to a chair!

As @Frylock points out, you use an ulnar deviation offset in your wrist, which is similar to what Andy Wood does, and he’s essentially an upward pickslanter for fast scale playing. I also see some forearm movement here and there in what you’re doing, in addition to what looks like pure deviation. You may be doing interesting things you can use to play more / different kinds of lines, if we can get a better look at what’s going on.