New Benson Technique Video

Found this awesome video detailing some Benson licks and technique. I have a question though… at around the 2:30 mark, he plays an inside descending string change with the Benson downward slant without switching pickslants and without swiping. How is this possible?! And isn’t this something that would not work with his system?


To see how it is possible, just watch what he does. His system isn’t optimal for executing that lick but there’s a difference between a system being less than optimal for executing a certain lick and a system with which executing that lick is impossible.

Playing that lick with that system is certainly possible as is made evident by the video. Is it just as easy to play that lick with that system as it would be with a more appropriate system? No; it’s harder but still possible. Wrist extension makes it possible.


By the way, George Benson did something that few jazz guitarists famous for possessing great technique have done and that is both making music appealing to his hardcore jazz fans but also making pop music that appealed to the general populace. It allowed him to be a virtuoso and also enjoy a great standard of living which is something many virtuoso guitarists have not succeeded in doing. Here’s an example:

Eddie Van Halen did it. He wasn’t afraid of being called a “sell-out”, something many hard rock and heavy metal guitarists fear. He was so unconcerned with being called a sell-out that he even played a solo on a Michael Jackson song, despite the fact that most hard rock and heavy metal fans have either distaste or outright disgust for Michael Jackson.

Metallica were accused for being sellouts after releasing the Black album. I liked their response which went something like this: Yeah, we’ve sold out. We sell out every arena we play!

George Benson achieved something that even some of the most talented jazz guitarists including John McLaughlin and Al Dimieola either couldn’t or wouldn’t do and that is to become a household name even among people who barely listen to jazz. Granted not all of benson’s music is pure jazz, but neither is the music of DiMeola or McLaughlin, hence the term “jazz fusion” which is a fusion of jazz and rock.

Only if they’ve got tin ears.


I was just a little taken back because according to the tireless breakdown of dwps that Troy made and started out with, as well as the mentioning that George is a full time dwps (occasional upsweeps), and how this sort of string change should not be possible without crosspicking or uwps which George does not do, I was wondering why a lesson on Benson would not only include a lick that he apparently wouldn’t play, but also that it’s even possible to make that string change with that pick grip and downward slant. It is not a fast lick per se, but it is fast enough to not be able to be done really with stringhopping.

It’s just annoying to my OCD brain because I am aware of dwps, I am aware of the rules and tricks to maintain it, I am aware of the many players who use it, however I keep finding exceptions in a lot of licks from these players that, according to the rules of dwps “should not be able to be done.” And this makes me less confident that my playing which consists primarily of dwps at the moment, is sufficient to do what I want.

It would probably be more beneficial to regard those as suggestions for what technique is usually the easiest way to play certain licks rather than rules that state: To play these licks you must use this technique.

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Yes sometimes. But other times it’s moreso a player creating licks around what they can do and avoiding what they can’t. For example Andy Wood finds the easiest way to play the EJ 5’s licks to be with pure alternate picking.
Meanwhile, if you were to have EJ or Yngwie for that matter in a room and ask them to play a 3nps descending scale alternate picked neither would be able to do it due to their dwps.

And so for me, someone who naturally plays in a dwps style and who finds EJ and Yngwie licks very natural and effortless, those guys gave me hope that I could go far just using dwps and not have to worry about mastering every picking style. So when I see these little exceptions to the rules, it makes me a bit discouraged because it shows me that dwps alone is clearly not sufficient enough, even for these high level players, to rely on 100% of the time as I previously thought.

I wouldn’t put money on that. :wink:


You think that either of them could pick a descending 3nps scale at a speed that could not be done with string hopping and without switching to 2wps?

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Well, I just said I wouldn’t bet against it. Pretty sure that EJ is competent with his cross picking, and both have enough facility with alternate picking as part of their technique that a 3nps descending scale pattern wouldn’t be much of a challenge for either. Don’t think top speed was specified. :slight_smile:

Yeah I meant like at a speed where stringhopping would not be possible. We see him in the fine art of guitar episode try to do the reverse of what he normally does and it is clearly stringhopping but he makes a good go of it for sure. Also for example Shawn lane in one of his instructional videos says he cannot play one of his licks starting with an upsotroke because it falls apart. We know now that is because he is a dwps.

Because swiping, general guitar skill, and because both use hammers/pull-offs to “escape” the limitation.

There is nothing wrong per se with what @Troy labeled as “stringhopping.” It just tends to be slower. Though the cross-pickers have shown us that it can be highly refined, and sometimes essential.

If we’re talking about “DWPS,” the escapes are part of the equation. In saying that I wouldn’t bet, I was assuming the restriction to strict alternate picking, which I have most of four decades of playing’s experience with.

It’s just not all that black and white in my experience. Tools to overcome obstacles, but I don’t assume to know what the guys in question are also able to do or not do. @Acecrusher already pointed to an alternate approach that may or may not be conscious, in the playing of the guy instructing in Benson.

If there is anything “wrong” with stringhopping, it’s injury. You can very quickly build up RSI-levels of tension in your arm trying to go fast with “bounce technique” type lines, especially on sustained acoustic guitar type arpeggio parts. These days, I just don’t consider any kind of stringhopping playing or repeated-pickstroke playing worth the risk of injury.


I managed to not injure myself over that time, so I’m going to call myself an experienced slow cross-picking “aficionado.” :wink:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you probably came at it with an already angled pick where stringhopping would be more extreme? I knew there were things holding me back, but I don’t recall any direct experience of running into strings the way you sometimes describe, other than the lack of consistency and accuracy which you also describe.

All that said, it’s your term, so important point well taken. Thanks for the clarification!

I’m not sure that the visible orientation of the pick has anything to do with it. Most of the players we see on here with hard-core “bounce technique” type movements aren’t really pickslanters, and have mostly uwps-type arm setups.

What’s dangerous is the fact that you’re using some of the same muscles on every pickstroke. The ones that are getting reused get strained really quickly, especially over the course of the hours-long “I’m going to learn this if it kills me” type of practice that many of us mistakenly did. I have for the most part dodged these bullets, but I’ve had enough scares to be wary of its power…

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Amen to that. Thanks again Troy.

I see what you mean by not assuming what one could or couldn’t do. I get that, and sometimes it’s hard to fight the natural tendencies to put things into nicely packaged categories. Obviously there are DWPS methods for doing this for example the pull-offs as an escape hatch and swiping (although for a DWPS swiping does not occur on inside string changes according to Troy only outside ones). What I meant was complete strict and pure alternate picking a 3nps descending scale at say 160-200bpm which is considered pretty fast, and fast enough to not be able to be done with stringhopping as far as I’m aware. Someone like EJ or Yngwie would not play this type of line using that strict, alternate picking every note 2wps style because it does not work with their string switching system. This is at least what Troy’s entire initial CtC series was about and how these players crafted lines around what they could play and avoided what they could not. I know from the Shawn Lane video that he definitely couldn’t because he said so. And the “Fine Art of Guitar” episode where Troy breaks down EJ trying to figure out 2wps on camera you can see him stumbling. Yngwie I am not so sure about but I feel like if he could do it he would, and lines like the Black Star lick would be completely alternate picked instead of using the down, up, pull-off method.

The whole reason I posted this thread and the video was because it was intriguing how he was able to pull that off when breaking down Benson and using his picking methods. I know for a fact the YouTube channel creator knows about CtC and even has a lesson on it where he mentions Troy. Ace was right in that it must have been a crosspicked change there, but I wonder, even though this is a GB instructional type video, if GB himself would play that line that way. These are the guitar-nerd questions that keep me up at night and sometimes I just enjoy these discussions lol.


Hey guys! I saw in another site a guy saying that there is a guy named Peter Farrell who really knows the right technique and secrets of George Benson, I look his videos in Youtube and it look to be the one authorized by George Benson to teach the GB style the right way, just like Benson does,
it really impressed me…

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This is an old thread but I’m fairly certain Benson uses Albert lee style cross picking based on transcribing and watching videos of him play. He does a lot of larger interval jumps and one note per string lines (blusey fourth stuff) which is hard to do cleanly with string hopping).