John Petrucci - pickslanting?


I guess I am prepared to spend more on the magnet that most people :smiley: because as I see it you buy it only once in your life time and it can really help you make your study on technique more efficient by identifying your issues.

I will make that video with exercises using DWPS and UWPS at some point and post it.


Man that is very impressive, but can you play Smoke on the Water? :smiley:

On my side I only have a practice video I made in August, I think I kind of played the whole thing with brute force… it’s full of mistakes of various nature so apologies in advance :sweat_smile:

I’m still working on it and these days I can’t play that fast for some reason. Actually I accept advice on effective ways to practice this lick (e.g. how do people divide it in chunks for practice, how to balance speed VS accuracy practice etc.)

EDIT: since Google Drive doesn’t work I ended up using youtube unlisted videos as suggested. I’m only including one video now as I re-watched the second one and cringed! hehehe


@tommo i can’t see your videos my friend.


Sorry I’m not sure why Google Drive video embeds aren’t working, haven’t tried before! You might try YouTube videos (unlisted) as I know those work correctly. But can look into this too, would be nice if these worked too!


Hmmm seems embeds from Google Drive may just not be supported on Discourse (only thing I found on the topic on their “meta” forum here).

I think unlisted YouTube video is the best bet for embedding. I believe any other video hosting sites like Vimeo should work as well.


@Brendan, @aliendough, thanks for letting me know, perhaps the gods of the internet were trying to tell me that I shouldn’t share this stuff :smiley: There’s some pretty epic failed pinch harmonics, wrong notes & lack of vibrato in there… But I’m here to learn I guess :sunglasses:



Man that is very impressive, but can you play Smoke on the Water?

…dude wait to see the solo below, that’s the real shit. Have you ever heard about Lil Wayne??? I am not sure whether he is using DWPS or UWPS cause the camera angle is not very good, but it is quite impressive. Anchoring below the guitar! No need for string tracking! Picking without moving forearm or wrist at all… Maybe this is a new technique that Cracking the Code haven’t heard about yet. It would be nice to bring him in for a masters in mechanics interview :stuck_out_tongue: hahahaha

also check out this:




That solo is consisted of a lot of different kind of licks. And you must be proficient at each one of them to be able to play it cleanly. Create your own exercices from it, categorise them into groups (e.g. DWPS, TWPS, Swipe) and mix them with similar material from cracking the code. I would recommend doing some systematic and consistent practise on those and revisit the solo after 2-4 months and I bet you will see great improvement.

For example, from the lick I played you can create an exercise where you play only the first 10 notes in repetition (D-G strings). Then try them on thinner strings (B-E), then on thicker strings (E-A). On E-A strings you can also try to palm mute the notes, for me this seems to be a different exercise. After that create a longer exercise, again only on D and G string with 5 notes per string and try to shift to lower positions every 40 notes. Shift to actual positions used by the lick. You can try that exercise starting with downstroke and then trying with upstroke. Then find similar two string exercises from cracking the code e.g. with 3 notes per string. See what works better for you (swipe or TWPS) and focus more on that. Spend less time at speeds you are comfortable and more time on speeds you are uncomfortable. I pass speeds that I am comfortable with less pausing between the takes. If you can’t play the whole lick in higher speeds, try to push the envelope and play 20 notes and pause or 40 notes and pause. In the mean time you can keep watching Troy’s videos. They contain a lot of “secrets” that helped me make my study more efficient.

Hope this helps.


It’s great to hear that Cracking the Code team reached out to John… it’s a shame that it didn’t result in sitting down together but there’s always hope for the future. It’ll be a great day if it ever happens as he really is one of the masters at this, and pretty much alternate picks everything and can play insanely fast.

I haven’t had the time yet to fully absorb all the replies but it seems you guys already have a really good grip on it, and this topic is a good resource in terms of terms of being an alternate to learn a lot from.

Other guys where it’d be great to have on… would be Eric Johnson… pretty much all of the guys mentioned during any of the videos it’d be great… but Petrucci is probably that one guy where personally… I’d be hoping for the most.

An underrated picker, someone different to have on would actually be James Hetfield and he isn’t even a lead player. On the surface of it, it seems obsurd but in terms of downpicking rhythms he is probably the biggest pioneer and master of it. The Master of Puppets and Justice era… there’s a lot of complex stuff going on there… there is a lot of nuances… and the tabs and tab books are always wrong. It wouldn’t need to be a 6 hour seminar but it’d be great to see an interview one day.


I think I have found evidence that JP tends to lock into DWPS (or “escaped upstrokes”) for some of his fastest playing. This suggests to me that he will occasionally play ascending outside changes using swiping. Let’s focus on this very famous passage from the erotomania last solo:


And now let’s watch this youtube performance using the 1/4 speed option (this is young JP at the peak of his powers):

upon close inspection of the string skipping passage (noticeable even just by ear), you’ll see that he actually plays:


There is a missing note on the D string and a double struck note on the B string! Is this a mistake? I wouldn’t say so, it sounds very clean and almost identical to the intended lick, however JP unconsciously rearranged the passage so that it becomes playable with strict DWPS (old terminology :wink: ).

What about the first string change? There I am not sure but I would bet on DWPS swiping if we take the second string change as an indication of his overall right hand strategy.

Also, note that the same thing happens in the subsequent string-skipping passage.

What do you all think? Hope I’m not being too blasphemous - just to clarify, I love JP’s playing :slight_smile:


Edit: I’m a dummy and I didn’t read clearly. You’re listening for missing notes and doubled-up notes and that is one good piece of evidence, for sure. But it doesn’t really tell us specifically what motions John is using, or whether he uses swiping, or whether this has anything to do with “pickslanting”, per se.

Andy Wood uses a mildly supinated arm setup, which we used to think of as a “downward pickslanting” style setup. But here’s a great example of why that thinking is incorrect in common usage:

This phrase is similar to the one John in playing where it’s outside string changes, three notes per string, and Andy is going back and forth between two strings. So he is using downstroke string changes and upstroke string changes and he is making them cleanly for the most part. How is he doing it?

He is changing his wrist motion. The downstroke string change is one wrist motion, and the upstroke string change is another one. He is doing this without (for the most part) making significant changes to his arm setup.

Interestingly, in re-watching this now in slow-motion, I’m noticing that Andy throws in some hammers on the upper pairs of strings to enable the downstroke string changes. It’s like an upside-down Yngwie. So he is biasing toward downstroke escape, which is his preferred motion for fast playing - the “2 O’Clock” motion, which we all know about now!

So in your clip it is possible that John is making an upstroke escape motion on certain strings and that’s why he doubles up certain notes or leaves out other notes in favor of legato - same as Andy is doing. But it doesn’t really tell us anything about swiping because he could also be doing what Andy does and using a different wrist motion for those string changes.

I think the real practical question here is that if you want to play this kind of line, what do you do. And I think it involves choosing an arm position, learning to make both kinds of string changes from that centralized arm position. And I think there is probably a way to do this that doesn’t involve micromanaging the motions you make on each pickstroke because I think we can see at least in Andy’s case that they are so subtle and transient that you probably can’t even really feel them anyway.


I think I am guilty of using the old terminology in a confusing way - and I also did a few logical jumps (or more kindly I threw some educated guesses) in my above reasoning! I’ll repeat the argument avoiding the pickslant term (especially for those who are confused by it) - I’ll be trying to be more clear on what the evidence is and what instead are my inventions :slight_smile:

I really only meant to talk about the path of the pick in JP’s fast picking. In the video, I counted many occasions in which JP rearranges a 5-notes-per-string lick across two strings into something like 4 picked notes on a string + 6 picked notes on the next, using omissions, repeated notes, perhaps some legato. It is really obvious if one uses the 0.25 speed function and listens closely.

So the main hypthesis I’m making is that JP tends to default to an escaped upstroke pick path (perhaps that’s his comfort zone?), when it comes to uber-fast picking. The way the licks are rearranged -with many avoided downstroke-changes - also makes me suspect that the downstrokes are trapped.

The swiping only comes in if we assume that JP locks into this picking path for the whole solo shown above - in the occasions in which he plays the 5-notes-per-string figures, there would be no other way to do an “ascening outside” transfer, if the downstrokes are trapped.

But I can’t be sure this is actually happening, and he may fully clear all string changes. In fact there is this mysterious “flicking of the thumb” the he does on occasion, could it be a trick that he uses to clear that downstroke on occasion? (any good paper should end with an open question :smiley: ).

@troy I’m not ignoring the paragraph about Andy Wood, I agree with everything there! The post is already getting long :smiley:

EDIT: and of course it is true that we now now many valid ways to play this lick. But I am still very curious to try and figure out how each of the greats actually does it.


I completely understand! And I think your evidence for “upstroke escape” preference is sound. I’m just saying that just because he seems to be doing things to bias toward upstroke escape doesn’t mean he isn’t also doing a proper downstroke escape for certain string changes. Why would he do that? Because people are idiosyncratic.

The best evidence for swiping is hearing it or seeing it. If we have neither, then we really can’t say one way or another.

But again, I think this is good evidence, and only a camera up close would know better!