New hybrid-picked tremolo etude - Tommo's entry for the Mercuriall and Paul Santo contest

Hey All,

This is my first ever entry in an online music contest! The challenge was to write a 40-second soundtrack to the picture shown at the end of the video. I took the opportunity to write another tremolo etude to demonstrate my hybrid approach to the classical tremolo:

EDIT: re-uploaded with correct audio-video syncing.

EDIT2: and here are some tabs :slight_smile:

The picking pattern is

Down, mid finger pluck, Down, Up.

It is important to maintain a “DWPS/escaped upstrokes” setup throughout.

I did many takes and then had a crazy idea: what if I could find two takes that went well together for stereo double tracking? This was very unlikely since I recorded the tune without a metronome, but after a lot of auditioning I found three takes that I think work pretty well: to my ears, the slight phase issues are not too disturbing and add a sort of eerie atmosphere. But of course your experience may differ :slight_smile:

Hope you like it and will be back soon with a post on the signal chain (everything is done with amp sims and VSTs) - I had to do quite a lot work to get a tone in the ballpark of a classical guitar!

Edit: this is a short tutorial I made a while ago about the technique:


Hey, that’s awesome - really, really great example of a piece where the technique serves the music and not the other way around, and your dynamic control here is pretty impressive!


Thanks a lot Drew! I did get quite a bit of help from a compressor and an EQ :wink:

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Maybe so, but even the way you’re maintaining a fairly gentle tremolo picking while bringing out melodic lines with a bit more force, is very tasteful, and that’s definitely not just a compressor or EQ!

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Hey, sorry for the delayed response! Replying here to avoid diverting the other thread. If I remember correctly I had the middle finger nail fairly short for this one, but a tiny bit of the nail would probably still contact the string at the end of the pluck. I tried using longer nails as well but found that they would get continuously chipped by the unwound strings - super annoying!

There’s a few “cheats” that go into this tone, as you can see from the discussion above :wink:

One element is that I plucked the strings pretty hard with my middle finger, but a lot of the final effect is also due to the double tracking and the signal chain. In particular I was using very dark amp + cab settings, with a compressor in front, and I also had a pretty aggressive low-pass filter in the final EQ to try and kill the “plink plink” effect of steel strings.

I just realised I forgot to post the signal chain by the way! If it is of interest I can try and dig that up.

Hey @tommo thanks! I’m very much a purist when it comes to the classical stuff, so no need to go hunting for the signal chain as I’ll be doing this pretty raw if I give it a go :grin: I’m thinking whether I try this hybrid or not, the approach having “p” (or “pick”) involved with every other note could allow me to focus more on my “a” finger. So, p a p a is what I may try, rather p m p m – I suspect my issue with classical tremolo is that I was not preparing the “a” finger early enough. I could play the pieces, but it always felt difficult. I’m learning if something feels difficult, it is because I am making it difficult haha. As in, not using the best/most efficient technique. I can’t wait till I get my magnet to see what I’m actually doing on a classical tremolo.

Anyway, I’m getting off track. Thanks again for sharing. Your playing sounds great and even got the attention of a classical snob (i.e. me) so excellent work :slight_smile:

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I had/have the same issue! A very good classical player then gave me this advice: “look, the accent is on the a, not on the p!”. This seemed to help, at least psychologically.

Yeah agreed. That focus shift is probably helpful.

I had 2 very good classical teachers. The one was very ‘technique’ oriented the other was more expression and musicality. I learned the tremolo with the latter and I wish the it had been with the technique guy :slight_smile: The advice I got was of course to just play it slowly and work my way up haha. So much wasted time.

I think the amazing Pepe Romero has it solved, at least the issue with identifying not getting ‘a’ ready quick enough. His tremolo sounds amazing, of course, as does everything he plays

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TOMMO! You sly devil, that’s fantastic and sounds amazing.

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@tommo well done sir! This must be tougher on electric.

It’s not exactly the same thin that I’m doing but I’ve been using hybrid for arpegiated sequences like in malmsteen’s ecllipse. Late deployment had to be tackled with anticipation, the setup meant I had to keep the stance ready to deploy like a cat about to pounce :blush:


Ended up beefing up this song a little, and pushed the tremolo a bit faster. Hope you’ll like it!


I have no clue what is happening, but it’s beautiful! :slightly_smiling_face:


1:25 to the end is so awesome, great job man. I’m really liking these tones you’re getting lately, clean and otherwise

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Down - Pluck - Down - Up :slight_smile:

I do the “pluck” with the middle finger, but the ring can work as well!

Thank you :smiley: you can always count on Minor-major7 harmony to make things weird!

…and thanks again :slight_smile: I struggled for years to craft decent clean tones with amp simulators, and spent hundreds (or more realistically 1000+) on different plugins. Ironically, I ended up getting this tone almost exclusively with the free plugins included with Reaper DAW.

This is the basic signal chain - although in the end I swapped the delay with ReVerb (also free). The only non-free plugin is Ozone 9 Elements which I used on the master bus to fatten things up:

First EQ: remove a bit of bass and low mids from the DI
Ampsim: do the ampsim :slight_smile:
Second EQ: hi-lo cut (I think 80-ish Hz and 5-ish kHz) and a couple more low-mids and mids cuts
Chorus and reverb: for chorus and reverb!


Whoa, this is a beautifully haunting piece of music, really love the atmosphere. Great work! Will you be doing more in this style?

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Sounds really beautiful! And the technique itself is very impressive. As far as i know, even for classical guitar tremolo is not the easiest thing. I wonder, how far you will go with it. Look forward to hearing more!

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Thank you for listening :slight_smile: I usually come back to this style every few months, to get some rest from the more standard “shreddy” practice. I’m always looking for interesting chord progressions and melodies to be played like this - so hopefully I’ll be making more!

For now, we put the tabs to one on my old pieces (intro section) on the platform. With more proper filming gear - hope you’ll like it:

Than you @I_VI_ii_V ! I may try to do a I-VI-ii-V with it and see what comes out :smiley:

PS: we also did an instagram post on this, with some slomo on the picking hand - maybe some of you will find this interesting!

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, and sign up for Masters in Mechanics :rofl:


Loving these pieces man great job! Can really feel the tension at times, then the resolve, over some of the chords. I could listen to stuff like this all day, just guitar, no other instruments needed haha.

I’m going to make an attempt at learning it. It will be a challenge and a half to get the dynamics sounding right!

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Looking forward to your version. Remember to choose a tone that is forgiving enough for this style - compressors allowed :wink: don’t fight a uphill battle. :slight_smile:

…and I just tabbed the other one, if you are interested:


Thanks for the tip! I gave it a go on acoustic first… it did not go well :sweat_smile: I’ll take your advice and use a bit of compression on the electric for my next attempt. I think it’s going to be a loooong while before hearing my version! :joy:
But this is great stuff and thanks for the tabs! I’m looking forward to getting into this technique, I’ve always loved the fingerstyle tremolo but have been reluctant to get into learning classical fingerstyle. I’ve got enough plectrum problems to deal with first! Having said that, If i could nail what you are doing here with the pick, I’d be pretty damn happy with that!