Looking for good USX exercises

Hey guys I’m new here and just starting to get used to focusing on my picking motion

I’m a USX and was wondering if you guys have some good repetitive exercises to share, I used to be a ferocious pick hopper and now that I’ve trained it out of myself i now realises that most of my exercises aren’t very applicable to USX

My prefered genre is fusion and jazz so extra points for those but all is welcome

thanks for taking the time guys!

edit: Thanks for the responses guys, im suprised how friendly this community is

To be honest any lick that consists of even number of notes on each string is gonna be a good USX exercise. It all depends on what you want to do musically. Two note per string pentatonic stuff are textbook USX stuff. But if you want to break free of pentatonics, you can easily just refinger the notes to be that of a four note arpeggio. If you are willing to do some sweep picking then Eric Johnson phrases are really good USX stuff.

When it comes to three notes per string, playing six notes on each string gives you a lot of speed and can be moved around from string to string. There are plenty of these ideas around. Sorry for not providing any tabs but I’m sure you can find some exercises, just make sure they are even notes per string and start on a downstroke.

I’ve been on the USX train since Christmas. My go-to’s are the Yngwie 6 note pattern (moving it around from string to string and up and down the neck), the Johnson ‘atom’ and then simple 6 note per string runs ascending and descending.

Nothing too musical but it’s getting the blood pumping sufficiently.

Honestly you can do and use just about anything and any phrase so long as you utilize hammer-ons, pulloffs and even sweeps to strategically to facilitate the upward escape. Really the whole point to recognizing your primary escape is to use that knowledge to incorporate whatever you have to in order make any phrase playable.

Try this lick


Here, we’ll take it one step further to UNLEASH THE USX FURY! and take that cyclical lick above but add the raised 7th.

Lick: (ending didn’t come out well and I’m still using my phone, but hey it works for this)


Add in that raised 7th degree (if we are considering A minor) cycle it a few times and end on that leading tone, and bam and you have some donut hating fury right there.

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Nice ! That’s my kind of lick. I find more and more the Yngwie “down sweep USX” method is becoming second nature to me. Still can’t do the descending 4s very well but that’s a left hand problem.

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One idea that comes to mind is to combine small 7th arpeggios on 2 adjacent strings (e.g. the classic maj7 shape) with chromatics. Of course, whatever pattern you come up with has to satisfy the USX string-switching rules.

Then, randomly change keys to make it fusion :wink:


yeah I’ve noticed how natural two notes per string feels now

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Altered scale to morph whatever lick. Instant jazz fusion.


You have to treat the slides like position shifts and not audible slides, so there’s almost no pressure on the string when you do the downward slide/shifts. The shift and the next fretted note have to happen almost simultaneously, which is what makes it tricky. Timing is everything in those types of 4’s licks.

I play it the 4s like this, with that pull-off on the 2nd 4 being the problem for my left hand to articulate.

But someone, maybe @bradejensen, a while ago posted a version with position shifts which means you can just repeat the same sequence of 8 in each position and not worry about that tricky pull off or slide on the 2nd 4.

I find it easier to execute the shift at the string change on the 2nd 4 of every 8 if you see what I mean.

Now I know I can do USX quite well, and the “down up pull-off” things works well for me i am making up licks and re-arranging licks to encompass it.

Also the PG lick that I struggle with I can do now with a strategically placed hammer and PO to give me more time to change direction for the string change. I know yeh im cheating a bit but sounds good to me. I’ve been trying swiping again as well with some success when I concentrate really hard on it. All goes out the window when I let loose though.

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I think this was what I came up with back then. This little solo etude was the final piece I finished during this phase of my musical journey.

I forgot about this, and boy does this really help speed it up as well as retain very detailed clarity. Haha, thanks for reminding me about this going to play it tonight.

If anyone needs fingerings let me know, but you just have to shift at certain points for it to work out real nice.

omg guys you can do this once in the mixed minor box area and shift into the next box, and it puts you in this position that the Gypsy Jazz players use. Basically the upper portion of the mixed minor box shifted into the phrygian box, and you can run up upper mixed minor box startings on the e 9th fret on the g string, the e d# e to ascended run, and end on the 12 e on the high e string. sick! they use this box for phrygian style stuff.

i see it might be time to write a new solo etude update! :smiley:

Yes that was it, very cool. I must of changed the 4s to continue going down the strings instead of going back up if you see what I mean.

I also find that sequence useful if I’m trying to adjust to improvising in a different key, to get used to the position shifts. I only ever really learned to solo in 2 keys, E minor/G major and A minor/ C major. It turned out that most of the songs I wanted to play used those 2 keys, especially Vai stuff luckily :wink:

The problem is that they are so bedded in that I find it hard to play anything else now. I obviously spent too much time on them when I was young. My master plan to learn every key all over the fretboard never came to fruition.

I think this is just the problem of the longer fretted fretboard style instrument. It is heavily relative fingerings compared to piano that is more absolute fingerings. In some ways its awesome, but in others it can hinder. Mainly I believe it to be the ear, well for me anyways. Wish I would’ve been raised on the piano, but that is just not how it worked out.

When you say mixed minor do you mean the pentatonic minor with additional 2nd and major 3rd ?

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I just use the Joe Stump terminology its like mixing natural minor and harmonic minor adding in the note on the upper phrygian tetrachord going from phrygian to phrygian dominant (harmonic tetrachord). And that last note inside that upper tetrachord I believe is used in the altered scale from the melodic minor scale.

This is what I was trying to explain further up. How you can volcano from this upper area after doing that cute little easier picked 4s tech. This is kinda an altered volcano you can do the whole thing this one just feels more right or sounds better this way.

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This was the box shape i was talking about, i am unable to sorta colorcode things for the tonic, dominant, and tritone. But this would be the box shape for Key of E minor.