Michael Romeo scale lick lesson offsetting the efficient digit cycle (EDC) across the strings

seems awhile back i had figured out how romeo was playing this one legato lick so fast that always impressed me, and i posted on it under a romeo thread on here. but i thought i would bring it more to light as a way to create licks from this idea of offsetting the efficient digit cycle (EDC), this is what Tom Gilroy had coined it in his thread, click to get more information.

just think of the lick like 124 if descending and 421 when ascending, so play it like this in the beginning to build the speed to it before throwing on the starting two notes so it doesn’t trip you up. this way you can build up some of the finger dexterity before you get hitched up by the mindtrick of confusion like i have for so many years. i use to be in awe of this lick, this one always stumped me into thinkin he was superhuman. i am being true to the idea here of musically ascending on the string, musically descending across the strings, but you can just do straight ascending and descending, it won’t be truly musically ascending or descending, but it will feel like it to your fingers, which i found sounds quite nice. This is just to show an idea fragment by offsetting the EDC so you could use it to create some phrases.

i have notated economy picking in these examples but you can legato it or play it however you wish.


Hi @bradejensen

It has been years since I’d watched that Michael Romeo video. I remember being very impressed when I first saw it.

When I started practicing the EDC-based licks/patterns in Shawn Lane’s Power Licks, I actually surprised myself how fast I was able to play them. I was already fast by most standards, and for reasons I didn’t fully understand at the time, I was significant faster playing those sequences. That speed did not transfer into the rest of my guitar playing, and I wanted to understand why.

After discovering the EDC concept, I’ve been able to begin building vocabulary based on the principles I outlined in my video series. What’s still so incredible to me, is just how transferrable the core cyclic coordinations are. Any new licks or patterns I construct based on EDC principles are easily learned, and can be played extremely quickly.

The reason I continued to study technique after having developed to a high level as a teenager was ultimately because I wanted to be able to compose and play my own vocabulary of fast lines, which reflected my influences but which weren’t a direct quotations.

I finally understand “The Rules of the Game,” so to speak. With the technical developments I’ve made which facilitate playing these lines, namely swybrid picking, dart-thrower USX and hammers (ascending, descending and “from nowhere”), and the key insights I’ve had based on learning anatomy, I feel that I’ve reached a nexus point.

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What exactly do you mean by “offsetting” the EDC?

Any digital cycle can begin on any finger. As the cycle repeats, the only thing that matters is the the cycle direction.

For example, repeating the forward cycle (1 2 4) is equivalent to repeating (2 4 1) or (4 1 2), they’re all the same cycle, there’s just an initial offset. If you track through the cycle, 2 always follows 1, 4 always follows 2 and 1 always follows 4.

However, the forward cycle (1 2 4) is never equivalent to the reverse cycle (4 2 1). In the forward cycle, 2 always follows 1, but in the reverse cycle, 2 always follows 4.

Any two licks/patterns based on the same digital cycle can be transitioned between seamlessly, we just need to practice making the connection, an account for the overlap if there is an offset. It’s also easy to transition between two cycles of the same direction. For example, it’s easy to transition between the two forward cycles (1 2 3) and (1 2 4).

If you want to change cycle direction, you need to allow for a transition or a turnaround between them.

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The offsets really helped me learn how bad my hand sync was when not starting a pattern on the index finger. Also, the EDC’s in general, if played as straight 16ths instead of triplets helped highlight this same deficiency in my playing, as the accents quickly stop falling on the index finger. Each ‘beat’ will begin on the next finger of the cycle, as will each ‘bar’.

This can be valuable in finding any ‘weaknesses’ we have when sustaining over longer passages, since there’s nothing physical that should prevent us from being able to do this.

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Cool I will try this lick tonight with the suggested fingerings in the tab and report back. It would be an interesting experiment to build some new vocabulary with EDC but I fully admit, it’s hard to let go of your old vocabulary once the guitar is in hand.

True. I’ve been trying to build up some vocabulary around EDC’s for a while. The only ‘problem’ I encounter is that there are times where the (former) composer in me takes over and where I hear the line going requires a short break from EDC’s. That’s my next challenge I guess :slight_smile: Weaving in and out of the EDC’s as per what makes sense musically.

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I tend to think this is also a great way to train your ear to break it out of it’s normal habit of perceiving how a lick always sounds by offsetting it from the beat like what i do with these two combination of licks back to back, the diminished tetrachord loop lick, the descended harmonic minor scale, and using the 5 note per beat grouping solkattu syllable ta ka gi na tom which helps to keep your ear on point, but it requires saying the syllable as you play to help, a training wheels of sorts as your body learns to hear and feel the rhythm.

this is why i believe konnakol and italian solfeggio are key elements in comprehending music fully both aurally, and rhythmically together as one.

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Very interesting. Thanks for sharing that!

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If I remember correctly, EDCs are “technically” for playing licks of Shawn Lane speed. If you
Don’t really need to play that fast is there really a point? Like let’s say Gilbert speed is enough and you can probably get away with 134 fingers more often. But then I’d like to ask, if EDCs are optimal fingerings across the board wouldn’t it be better/more efficient to train for EDCs for most licks? Or are they really only necessary for that “next level shawn lane gear of speed”? Lol

Heretic! :wink:

I agree that we often get seduced to pair our musical thinking too closely to what is “idiomatically easy” on our instrument. It can definitely cast a stark spotlight on our current limitations when we step outside that comfort zone. Not that cool music hasn’t been made with some of the well-worn patterns. But I definitely think it’s a big part of why so many people roll their eyes when they talk about shred guitar.

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I think anything that’s ‘easier’ ought to be used whenever we can. I’ve spent my whole damn guitar career (???) working harder than I needed to :rofl:



I guess the other end of the spectrum is the time Stevie Ray Vaughan tried to play BB King’s guitar and immediately broke a string on a step and a half bend at the 12th fret E string. Then he said to BB “Why are your strings SO flimsy???”

That’s fiction, but it could have happened

IIRC - Tom’s development of EDC’s came from his study of Shawn Lane. He was able to take what he learned and create a system that can translate to many other styles of player.

I would love to see an analysis of SRV’s picking and fretting hand tendencies. While not fast in the traditional sense, his lines can be incredibly difficult to play convincingly.

My counter to that (which is not a counter to EDCs at all, I’m just trying to learn more through questions) is instinctively i and I feel like many other players do the 134 thing but that’s because the speeds aren’t at the levels to which 134 might fatigue too easily or not be as efficient as 124. For example take an Aminor run on the low E and A strings. 578 578 across both strings. Naturally I did this with 134 fingers. If I were to experiment with the rules of EDCs, does that mean I just change the fingerings but still hit the same frets 578? Or do I change the vocabulary of the lick and the frets to work better with some sort of 124 cycle? @Tom_Gilroy maybe you can clarify?

Yep, agreed. I remember when I was much younger trying to get the intro solo for Texas Flood down, nuance for nuance with heav(ish) strings. My hands hurt pretty bad :slight_smile:

Some of the rudiments I teach in lessons is based upon this specifically, EDCs as straight 16ths to focus on synchronisation. Everybody reports that their hand synchronisation improves massively after working on those rudiments. Playing them in swing time is also massively helpful for hand synchronisation.

The whole point of sharing my discovery was to equip people with a system which would allow them to build lines that can be played fast, rather than wasting time practicing trying to build speed on lines that just can’t get there. I would love it if other people really explored these ideas and developed their own unique vocabulary based on these principles.


Sure, and I never intended for anybody (myself included) to only play EDC based lines.

I wouldn’t say that EDCs are for playing at Shawn Lane speed any more than upstroke escape picking is for playing Yngwie Malmsteen licks or double-escape picking is for playing one-note per string arpeggios. EDCs are a fundamental organisational principle in Shawn’s fast playing, and they are certainly a key element which facilitate that woobledybloop nonsense fast speed, but you can also use the principles to develop ideas which are easy to play at “normal fast” speeds.

Sure, and I use (3 4) combinations all the time. I just don’t use it in contexts where it isn’t appropriate.

There’s a little more to EDC than just optimal fingerings. You can take any lick and try to optimise fingerings, but you can’t take any lick and make it an EDC based lick.

However, I think the EDC framework provides a reference for what is maximally efficient, and you can definitely take that knowledge and use it to inform your optimisations generally.

Sure, I definitely grew tired of hearing myself play the same shred clichés I played as a teenager. I wanted to hear myself play my own personal vocabulary of fast lines which reflected my influences, but which weren’t direct quotations.

Essentially, the EDC framework is a set of principles which will allow you to develop vocabulary that you know can be played fast beforehand, meaning you aren’t wasting practice time trying to speed up lines that just won’t ever get there.

This was the intent. The principles are foundational to Shawn’s personal vocabulary, but they aren’t limited to that.

You can do that, (1 2 3) is a common combination for this purpose and fits within the bounds of the EDC framework. I’ll very often use (1 2 4) for whole-half patterns too lower in the neck. It’s unusual and might seem strange to some people, but it works.


Any chance you’d want to share these here? Or even a PM? I’d like to give this a shot if you’re willing