Neanderthal From SoCal:


I’m a self-taught player (I only took 3 guitar lessons in my life and they only served to confuse me) who started his musical career in a Central California bar band in 1980 at age 15 earning $125/week playing covers. I started playing seriously at 14 and almost all of my work involved playing covers for hire. I have supported myself in music since then, working in several live bands and in the recording studio.

My real catalyst for pursuing the guitar came in 1978 when my Mom was recording an album with her friend’s band (Buck Owens’ Buckaroos) in Bakersfield. Although I was not really into C&W music, I was into guitar playing and this kind of catapulted me into pushing myself to get better as fast as possible and join a band.

Currently, I am working with several SoCal bands. both live and in the studio. So, 100% of my income is generated by working in the music industry,

My playing is very rudimentary. I have always referred to myself as a Neanderthal, because I play in a very uneducated fashion. I’ve been stuck in the pentatonic box for about 40 years now and I feel it is time to break out.

Only recently have I wanted to try and break out of my mold and try and learn some of the faster neo classical things, and I have great admiration for the fluidity of many of YJM’s compositions. But to be honest, I really seem to struggle with getting my hand synchronization and I seem to instinctively revert to tremolo picking, so much work is needed.

Wishing you all the best,

  • Rob


Another really bad habit is my pick holding. Back in the 1980’s I bought one of the very first Ibanez DT-555’s (triple pickup Destroyer) and I began to play with the large, rounded edge of the pick to keep from striking the middle pickup. I constantly revert back to this and have to consciously change my grip repeatedly after 30+ years of doing this.

I’ll tell you that I’ve never been so intimidated in my entire life as I am with trying to learn these YJM style riffs…

Hey Rob, that’s the spirit! Welcome! :metal: Do you have access to Pickslanting Primer? And most importantly, can you shoot a video of your playing?

You might be used to playing by the response that you get from the string as you pluck it with that rounded edge. It has a certain feel to it, different from using the sharp tip. It probably grabs the string a bit less? Unless you’re picking super deep between the strings.

Related to the round edge thing: It sounds like you’ll probably want to start trying a few different pick grips and picking motions, where the goal is to get a solid tremolo picking motion happening on just one note, on one string. No fretting hand yet. That’s the foundation of a smooth fast picking motion, and also a good opportunity to get to understand a bunch of different ways to hit the string with the pick. If you’re used to hitting with the round edge but want to use the sharp tip, you might like the feel of using some edge picking. Or you might end up liking some completely different way to pick than what you’re doing now.

Shooting and posting a video of your tremolo on one note is a great way to get started. I’d also suggest to get to know the different grips, the basic joint motions, the idea of escape motions, and the concept of starting out fast even though it’s sloppy at first!

1 Like


Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your insight. I really struggle with holding the pick the wrong way, because that bad habit is now ingrained. But, it does have a “softer” attack.

I will be posting a tremolo picking update soon.

1 Like


I need to come up with a way to mount my phone like I see Troy doing in some of his videos. However, last night, I went through some old sound files and pulled out a clip of one of my improvised solo licks from a recent recording. It features a tremolo picked phrase and it is performed with me using the wrong “blunt corner” of the pick.

I feel like my right hand speed is OK, maybe at least average, but my big problem is my left hand is so accustomed to slower, blues-based phrases, that it doesn’t follow the right hand.

My biggest issue seems to be hand synchronization. If I can train my left hand to change a finger position after each and every pick strike, I might be able to play one of YJM’s offerings.

Here’s the 8 second sound clip outtake featuring tremolo picking:

Von Herndon Improvised Solo Outtake - 8 Seconds

I’m not sure how to put a BPM on this, but I feel like even with my poorly learned (and now ingrained) blunt-edge picking technique, I’ve at least identified the left hand as my nemesis.

Thank you for your encouragement

1 Like

That’s some great tremolo picking from what I can hear! As long as the motion is escaping, it should be pretty good to go. But only a video will show that ofc.

So your primary focus should likely be on the fretting hand, or rather the synchronization between both hands. Any single-string repeating pattern should serve as a good workout for sync, for example Yngwie’s 12-9-11-12-11-9.

See if you can mentally focus on the first note only and let the rest fall into place. Kinda like 12-x-x-x-x-x, 12-x-x-x-x-x, 12-x-x-x-x-x… Something like 10-15 minutes per session and it should start getting better over something like a week or two, provided you’re staying mostly relaxed and on autopilot, instead of micromanaging the pattern. Personal mileage may vary.

Try to make sure your picking feels smooth and easy to do. Don’t worry if it’s not clean at first. You shouldn’t feel like you need to put effort on every note separately to make it sound good. The idea is to let the chunking happen, so that your mind mostly focuses on the first note of each pattern and the rest will follow.

1 Like

I appreciate that suggestion and I’ll definitely add that to my daily repertoire!!!

I’m currently working on a YJM, descending A minor, single string pattern that I’ve seen Yngwie play many times.

1 Like

I’m so bummed out that I didn’t start this journey sooner. I feel like I’m looking at Mount Everest…

1 Like

Best advice I can give you is to say imprint the entire song, whichever one you work on, at 50% speed at the very least. Solo, and all, you gotta learn to flow relaxed first on some of that YJM material before you can speed it up. He has some amazing awkward flow at times, that can really only be learned by listening, and playing along by ear. Even the best tablature I have ever seen can be wrong. I just attribute it to Yngwie falling back on his perfect pitch to worm his way around the neck during truly improvised phrases, where he tries to be cute embellishing on his lick repetoire.

1 Like

Here’s a shot of my unorthodox pick grip based on 5 years of playing an Ibanez Destroyer with a middle humbucker.

This bad habit is so engrained that I revert back to it repeatedly.