Okay... But what do i DO?

I’ve gone through the video catalogue. I’ve identified my natural motions, forearm rotation with DWPS at high speeds, and I’m trying desperately to slow my tremolo picking down so I can learn to control it. But what do I do now? HOW do I do that?

Do I just sit here and tremolo pick for a few weeks until it becomes my new default picking technique? It seems like that really won’t do much to teach me to control the motions at all speeds. Won’t it just make permanent all the sloppy inaccurate picking mistakes in my wildly uncontrolled tremolo picking?

This site is really cool, and has lots of great info. But it seems like a broken up documentary on VH1 rather than really teaching me how to do anything with it. Is there not a hands on section anywhere here where I’m taught how to practice this? How to apply it? Its like a large collection of videos telling me what not to do, but none really saying what TO do.

What do I do now?


What now? Well now comes the actual hard part and work. Where you apply that picking hand technique you settled on and work on two hand synchronization. You can start with single string phrases and then move on to multiple strings. Chances are you will need to speed down now to lock in with both hands and then gradually speed up. This can take a while to develop, so don’t get discouraged, but that’s the next step.

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I don’t mean to sound lazy at all here, but I still don’t really get HOW to do this. I have zero experience in picking practice. I never focused on it. I always paid attention to my left hand and I just kinda let my right do whatever it wanted. Are there specific exercises I can focus on to begin? It still feels like I’m feeling around in the dark…

I spent 15 years trying to get over my 120 bpm speed limit and no matter how long I grinded that metronome I never broke the limit. I was always groping in the dark. How do I not do that all over again?

Let me phrase it this way…

For 15 years I grinded the metronome as I said. Probably hundred of exercises. Slow and perfect. But after all this time I’m still just not fast. So my real question is, how does me simply slanting my pick 30 degrees suddenly change ALL of that? Genuinely curious about this, but also really confused and even frustrated. Its been a loooooong road with nearly zero return. How does slanting my pick this minute amount suddenly allow me to gain all that speed I never had?

Do you have a goal in mind? A riff you’d like to be able to play?

Small changes in angles can have a huge impact on technique. It’s one of the most brain-numbing things, but attention to the smallest details will make or break your playing (my opinion).

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I’d like to be able to think a phrase, and play it. I can already do that so long as it doesn’t get too fast. I can hum something aloud and play it in real time on the guitar. I can change keys and never miss a beat, I know all my key signatures, I mean, I pretty much get everything. Except for speed. I can play anything I try to play, I just have to slow some parts down. I play a lot of Vai songs, and I know pretty much every note to most of the songs I wanted to learn. I can play most everything IN those songs. Except for the fast runs. I always get tripped up. Practicing slowly has no bearing. I’ve been practicing these songs slowly for years. The fast run in For The Love Of God for example. You guys have a thread here on that particular run. I’ve figured it out by ear and I’m pretty sure I know just what he’s doing. I’ve been practicing that for years too. Its just… I can only play it at 50% speed…

Maybe an even better way to rephrase my original question would be… How do I actually go about learning to replace my picking technique with the one I’ve settled on from Cracking The Code? How do i keep it fluid and feeling effortless when I slow it down? What would most guys say Step One would be for my new practice routine?

That’s a great long term goal, but you need some short term goals first.

Sounds like a good candidate for a run to get clean. I would separate the riff into small chunks that you can get fast (even though they’re sloppy), and with time, clean them up. Then, string together all the chunks to make the full line.

I would suggest just play what you normally would, but use the new technique.

In my opinion that just takes time to get comfortable with it. You’ll get a trem motion going great, but then things like slowing it down, starting up without a “ramp up”, changing strings… All of those things will just be a matter of you getting comfortable with all the new facets of your technique.

This depends on the person I think, but small success on short-term goals would keep you motivated in the long term. In my example above with the Vai riff, each chunk would be a short term goal, and the full line would be something you can set your sights on with a longer timeframe in mind.

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See I think this is what I was missing… The point is to get COMPLETELY comfortable with this new technique before attempting anything else? Because it does still feel totally alien to me. I have severe ADD so sometimes that makes me a little dumb lol.

Maybe for the next week I’ll set aside a couple hours a day to practice this technique slowly to a metronome so I can perform it reliably. Then I’ll start working on applying it to riffs. I was just running through the pentatonic scale with it, and I kept switching between my “new” technique and string hopping by accident. That’s what was confusing me.

I need to learn this motion just like I learned string hopping. I need to make it my new normal. That should probably be my step one. Then I can relearn all this material I’ve learned throughout my musical career. Does that sound like a reasonable thing?

I’d just hate to be choosing the wrong path yet again, I feel like I did not use the last 15 years properly. So I definitely want to make sure I don’t waste any more time.

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It’ll definitely feel weird, and the only way to make it more “routine” is just to apply it to as much material as you can in your playing.

Not a bad idea, just make sure whatever you’re doing slowly is the same as the fast technique.

I think pentatonic 2 notes per string is actually harder to do in general compared to 3 notes per string. I would recommend something that doesn’t change strings much, and if they do, it’s after 3 notes or more. Here’s some patterns that I’ve recommended:

I wouldn’t think that you wasted your previous years. I’m sure you learned a ton, it just didn’t happen to be about picking. I’ve personally experimented with different techniques that ended up going nowhere, or I just never use. I wouldn’t say I wasted time since it’s all just experimentation; if anything, it let me know what I liked and didn’t like, so I knew what to keep and invest more time into.


Thank you for the video clip and the advice. I think I get what I’m supposed to do now. As soon as I get someone to hold a camera for me, I’m gonna make a video of the technique I’m using just to make sure it looks okay to everyone. I’ll try to to include different angles to hopefully make it plainer to see.

Anyways, thanks so much guys! I really appreciate it!


For what its worth my advice on the For The Love Of God run:
chunk it, work on each chunk separately then put it all together.

By the way I have been trying to play that run for 30 years and still can’t play it right, I had to change it slightly to accommodate my poor picking on the lower strings and the middle bit where it speeds up on the D string is a killer.

You should always bear in mind that playing something note for note is not always possible or useful. Sure it’s a great challenge to try, but at the end of the day you should focus on your playing style and strengths.

I love Vai and I try to play all his stuff but sometimes it’s just not possible and my playing style may be influenced by him, if i even have a ‘style’ anymore, but I know I’ll never truly be as good as him so have to compromise sometimes.

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I haven’t heard Grady really talk about Vai too too much. Is he more of a 2 way pick slanter?

2 way pick slanting isn’t really a term used here anymore.
You can escape after both upstrokes and downstrokes and how you do that depends on how you pick, what joints are used etc etc. You can, for example, escape both ways with wrist picking whilst keeping your arm in the same lightly supinated position. If you do this, it’s likely your dsx will have very little if any slant at all and your usx, from that position may only have a very small degree of downward pickslant, just enough to escape.

So the older description of two way pickslanting can be misleading.

I don’t know a lot about Vai though… I always thought of him more as a tapping, legato and interesting sort of phrasing ideas guy

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I saw some of the older videos, and I also think the way Troy kind of went about describing the action kind of proved not to be all that practical, and it took too much thought and pre planning, instead of just being an innate thing that just happens when it needs to. It’s fine when your playing at 120, and you have time to think about when you are going to make that shift, but not when those tempos go up and the timing of everything is critical, that’s when that right hand needs to be on auto pilot.

I believe that Vai can play DBX (double escape) yes, but with emphasis on USX as many of his fast descending licks can be played with USX.

Ascending he does always seem to start on a downstroke on a new string, I think, he’s not using Yngwie style downstroke sweeps or anything but he may actually be swiping and be doing a crafty upstroke when it looks like it’s a downstroke.

Full disclosure I only own Passion and Warfare. Loved it but never wanted to hear more and I don’t know why. He’s a guitar god if there ever was one and a great composer too. My take on him after hearing that album was that he did quite a bit of picking, and of course legato/tapping/tasty phrasing. But he’s definitely a monster picker too.

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Ok, firstly, I’m shocked @joebegly :slight_smile:

And you need to at least get Alien Love Secrets and The Ultra Zone, those are my favourites alongside Passion And Warfare. I’m not a huge fan of the Fire Garden or Sex And Religion, but of course I have them and there’s some great moments, just not as many as the others.

My goal is to pick as well and fast as Vai, and I hope that is achievable because he is a great picker, or was, but he’s not as fast as Yngwie or JP I think, and even some people on here are faster than Vai I would say, like @Pepepicks66 for example.

The problem is like you say, he has so many other highly developed skills and tricks at his disposal, that I find myself trying to develop and master it all, which is hard when there’s only so many hours in the day. and only so much my hands can take until I have to stop.


So vai was never really known for his picking ability or high speeds. That wasn’t ever really his thing or priority. He was and still is more focused on making an impression with what he plays, and It’s another reminder maybe that fast doesn’t equal impressive.

Passion and warfare did have more fast picked lines than probably anything else he did though, but they are often placed in places where they offer a very specific function within the piece.

For sure, what I am beginning to understand, and this may be an obvious thing to say, but Vai’s left hand is way more developed and complex than his picking. Even for those fast runs in Passion and Warfare, the picking is actually achievable but it’s the movement, patterns and and sync of the left hand that is the key to making them work.
I am maybe noticing this now more because my picking is improving and my left hand is slowing down.

Just look at the Knappsack tune he played earlier this year when his right hand was in a sling, that says it all I think.

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Yeah, and here I am a wanna-be a shredder lol! Like you, I am interested in lots of stuff. I’ve thrown myself “all in” to to the whole virtuoso rock thing, music recording/mixing, classical guitar, classical/orchestral composition and arranging and other stuff. The result? I’m ‘ok’ at lots and great at…well, nothing. My recording collections tend to reflect similar trends where I’ll just own one album by someone simply because I got distracted by some other artist and never took the time to go back. But I digress lol