Overwhelmed with Info

Hi Everyone,

I’m wanting to get back into playing the electric guitar (have played for 18 years) and want to finally get my speed up to snuff but have never been able to get anywhere close to my goals (Paul Gilbert, Yngwie, Olaf Lenk, etc)). I watched several of the Troy Grady videos on YT 5 or so years ago but was never able to successfully apply anything to increase my average speed and now realize that there are so many ways to play correctly that I’m just not sure how to move forward without causing more damage. I’m hoping that some of you here will be able to take a look at the video linked at the bottom and let me know what you think the best way for me to proceed would be considering that I would like to stick with straight alternate picking.

The video has three sets of two clips. The two clips are the same thing played from two different angles. The first set is some tremolo picking I developed this specifically for Forever Is A Long Time because I couldn’t really play the intro the way I would normally pick. I haven’t spent the time to try to apply it to other licks because I don’t feel like I have good dexterity with this style but I don’t have the problems explained in the following paragraphs with this style so maybe it’s the way to go?

The second set is tremolo picking with the way I pick most things but for some reason, I can’t apply speed the you see in this clip to any actual sequences of notes (even on the same string like Forever Is A Long Time). My brain just doesn’t work with that picking style at that speed for some reason.

The third set is just a random lick from Seventh Sign that I included so you could see how I actually pick most often in case the tremolo picking is actually more different than I think. It’s worth noting that when I pick like this, my right hand gets fatigued quickly and I struggle to maintain my grip on my pick.

I appreciate any feedback and if I left out anything important, please let me know.


Great takes!

Set #1
This is fast! It’s clearly an elbow mechanic, but the wrist angle/hand position looks like a downward pick slant. I’ve been there myself - we are fighting nature with this setup :slight_smile: This seriously looks almost identical to my own critique I submitted. I’d try pronating your forearm some and getting either a neutral or slightly upward pickslant. This will give you more of a natural DSX (which is all the elbow is capable of), and will make any riffs you play that switch after downstrokes work very effortlessly. This is what was recommended to me. Once I implemented, no joke, my max picking speed went from like 16ths at 190-ish to 16ths north of 220 on good days. For general DSX and elbow motion guidance, check this out if you haven’t already:

Set #2
Interesting! This appears to be circle picking? Troy steers clear of that term in most cases because what most people call “circle picking” is what happens when the picking motion is driven by flexing/extending the thumb joint (think Yngwie Malmsteem or Joe Stump when they do economy picking). Despite the misnomer, this usually doesn’t create a circular motion. However, in the wide shot that starts around 0:27, it totally looks like you’re drawing a circle to me. I confess I do not know enough about this movement to recommend anything positive or negative. The movement is so tiny it is hard to see if there’s an upwards or downwards escape, which is really what we’re after. That may be why you say you can’t apply this to actual note sequences. If the pick isn’t clearing the strings naturally, you’ll either get stuck or be forced to hop over them. We’d need to see an actual attempt with this picking against string changes to fully diagnose. Now, we know string hopping is off the table, BUT getting stuck can actually be usable if you know how to utilize it. Check this out:

Set #3
This looks like good DSX to me! Clean string changes after downstrokes. It definitely looks like it could be used to shred some Paul Gilbert style stuff. I wonder why the fatigue/pick grip problem occurs? Perhaps you’re trying to use it on licks/riffs that don’t conform to it naturally? The example you showed here works out to naturally change strings after downstrokes. How long/fast can you play this example for the problem set in?

You’ve got an excellent start because you’ve shown us 3 different pick motion mechanics that are all fast and can be used to shred if the ‘rules’ are used. Nice work, and looking forward to what this site will do to your already good playing abilities.


I was about to write something similar :slight_smile:

Having 3 “picking modes” is a great starting point! You don’t really have to choose one to do everything - You can just check what works best for each lick/riff and go with that!

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What do you mean “causing more damage”? These motions all look good. As others have said, learn to use them to play the music you want.

If you’re talking about the first motion in the first video, he’s not fighting nature, his pickstroke looks smooth and consistent. Nothing wrong with that approach, I would leave it.

In your case there was something weird going on where the motion was changing, like you were trying to do one motion but the arm wanted to do another. That’s why we said, ok, if the arm wants to do DSX let’s encourage it by changing the form to one that DSX players use, and see if the motion smooths out. It did, so that tells us that was a good way to go. But if you don’t see the muscle confusion, then I wouldn’t recomment changing anything.

Yep that’s what I was talking about. Thanks for correcting me if I was steering him wrong. Can you expand on this for my own learning? I am missing something. I realize slant is not as important as pick path, but to me that first motion looks trapped. If I tremolo like this (elbow mechanic, with a downward pick slant) I am pretty sure my motion is trapped too. The movement feels smooth, but I couldn’t cleanly change strings this way. If I gradually pronate while tremolo-ing, so that my pick slant approaches neutral (or even slight upward slant) I see the pick path gradually go more in the air and escape the strings on downstrokes.

I’ve looked at “set 1” using te 0.25 spped YouTube feature and also double checked with Troy, and it appears this is actually a solid upstroke escape motion!

True the elbow is moving, but some other joints must be getting involved to make this happen

Every time I feel like I’m starting to understand all this stuff, the more confused I get lol!

I do see, in the beginning, after noting your USX comment, the USX. Then from 0:05 onward we get that “C” curve like the other recent critique of @Hartaj703. At least, that is what I see!

Either way, elbow mechanic with constant USX seems weird to me. I get people can throw in a helper movement every several notes to get a USX, like Vinnie Moore in the Pepsi Lick. But for every upstroke note in a tremolo to have that happen…at that point can we even call it a helper motion? Isn’t it primary once it’s always happening?

But we’ve heard before…“Don’t overthink things”…so that’s probably where I’ve gone wrong to begin with lol. If it’s looks good and sounds good, it is good.

EDIT: and apologies I am certainly not trying to cause confusion. But if I’m confused, chances are someone else on here could be too. Granted, I am on the dense side of things haha

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Wow, you guys are awesome! It’s nice to know that Set 1 looks good. My big problem with Set 1 is that I don’t want to be pinned down to one kind of escape motion. I don’t think I’d be very good at playing everything with that limitation. I’d really like to be able to have some kind of a dual pick slanting (or maybe just neutral?) going on so that I can go from one string to the next without worrying so much about whether I happen to be on the upstroke or downstroke.

With that said, the more I try to analyze this mechanic which I’ve never really tried to use outside of tremolo picking, the more I realize that it’s probably the route I should be taking. I don’t get fatigued so soon and even without much practice I’m able to sort of play other things, they’re just messy because I’m not palm muting well which I think is just a lack of practice with this technique.

That brings me my question about this idea. If I pronate my forearm, I do get the neutral ish pick slanting which I think has the benefits that I’m looking for but that completely raises my palm off of the strings below my pick. Is there something obvious I’m missing here or do you really have to be so clean and careful with your left hand that palm muting becomes obsolete?

For Set #2, I’m not sure I’ve actually applied this anywhere. I thought it was what I was using for Set #3 but when I tremolo this way I don’t get fatigued like I do in Set #3 so unless someone says that’s definitely the route I should focus on, I’m going to table Set #2 for a bit lol.

That’s what I was always striving for but the fatigue and speed were always an issue. Never sure why. It always worked out when I incorporated tapping in the middle to break up the picking but I’ve tried several different licks and even focused on what should be good for this style (based on what I saw in the YT videos from Troy) but I never could get it fast enough without fatiguing in 10 seconds or less.

What I mean by this is Set #1 for example, that style is very new to me and without the right guidance I could see myself trying to use it for straight alternate picking but always failing because I’m not using the right escape motions or something. I’m afraid I’d get some new method ingrained in my brain which would make it that much harder to learn the correct escape sequences and such.

Sidenote… this forum is great! obviously it’s amazing to have other guitar folks to talk to (I’ve never really had that before) but the way the forum works is great. I’ve joined other forums for random things and always felt like the format was dated by 20 years. The format of this forum is very intuitive and clear.

You should always question me because sometimes I don’t watch so closely and I might be wrong. I’m watching it again, when he gets going around five or six seconds or so that looks pretty obviously like a USX path to me. I don’t see any variation there.

When I see uncoordinated randomized variation in a motion that tells me something isn’t quite settled or learned. When I see smooth consistent motion along a consistent path, that looks good to me. It may not always be the path you want or the path you think it shoudl be, but if it’s smooth it’s usable for something.

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Makes sense, and watching again I see the USX. Maybe I just wanted to see the “C” curve or something? This is interesting to me though because it reminds me of what I was attempting to do prior to you recommending I go all in with Brendon Small’s mechanic. My motions were definitely not consistent like what we’re seeing here. Just makes me wonder what it is about this setup that ‘works’ for USX. If I could tap into that, I may have a way of doing USX that feels close to ‘home’ for me. Currently, while I’m still working on the DSX elbow stuff, I have a little back-burner project where I’m working on USX via a rotational mechanic. I’m sure variety is good so I won’t scrap any of that stuff. Do you have an explanation on how @SomeDudeOnline is getting USX with such a prominent elbow mechanic?

Thanks again for stepping in!

As per Troy and Tommo’s response, please ignore my suggestion :slight_smile: I was wrong, this is USX. I’d take this movement and try playing things change after upstrokes. Any riffs/licks with even numbers of notes per string, starting with a downstroke should do the trick.

I’ve seen this concern on here pretty often. How ‘limited’ does Yngwie’s playing sound to you? Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin too…Eric Johnson…Joe Pass…the list goes on and on. From what I’ve seen on here, all those dudes have a single escape strategy. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for plenty of us :slight_smile:

Maybe “limitation” isn’t the correct word because they’re obviously not limited in what they play but is that not just because what they play is structured for their style? Maybe I’ve been misunderstanding the Troy Grady videos I have seen but I was under the impression that using purely a Yngwie or the like technique, that you can’t really do straight alternate picking. If that’s correct, then their technique would be a limitation for me. Their techniques require some sort of Economy picking where you have to do two downstrokes in a row on occasion if the lick is odd number of notes right? That’s the part I know that I’ll struggle with.

I’ve tried using this style for certain things and I have to spend a lot of time playing the riff slowly so that I can analyze it and figure out what string to start on and when to do two downstrokes. spending hours analyzing every single thing that I play so that I can play it with their technique just doesn’t seem plausible to me. It would take months to play through a solo at slow speeds before I could start ramping it up.

Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill or maybe I’m just not smart enough in the way that I need to be but it just seems a lot easier to find a way that allows me to do alternate picking… unless that really isn’t an option for the technique from Set #1. If it isn’t, and I want to try to focus on Set# 3, should I post some more videos to be analyzed so we can try to figure out what is causing me to get fatigued and how I can tweak that to be a dual pick slanting technique of some kind?

Yeah I think I see what you mean. There was this concept of “2 way pickslanting” that has since been extremely clarified…almost to the point of deprecation (aside from players who actually use it such as Framk Gambale). It was presented as this umbrella term for anything that doesn’t conform to keeping a single escape the entire time. More research indicated it wasn’t really what most players were doing. The slant was not constantly changing. There were a host of factors (swiping, helper motions) that enable string changes regardless of direction.

I guess it’s a bit of a loaded topic. If you wanted to play an Yngwie solo, note for note, you’d either need to use his escape strategy, or find work arounds. We’ve seen examples of Andy James and Jeff Loomis doing Yngwie covers where they tweak things so they can use ‘their’ technique. Interestingly, I think in both those cases I cited, they used DSX entirely. Pure DSX would have the reverse ‘limitation’ of pure USX.

So set #1 is USX as Troy and Tommo indicated. I’ve clearly been wrong before, but I thought your set #3 was DSX. Unless I’m wrong and it’s somehow DBX, you’d pretty much be in the same boat you’re in with set #1, but the reverse, since this motion is great for changing strings after a downstroke. Limitation, right? I guess what I’m getting at is that even if we figure out what’s fatiguing about it, it won’t be the silver bullet you’re after to allow you change strings cleanly on downstrokes or upstrokes, whichever is thrown at you.

We’ve talked about this a lot on here actually. It almost always comes down to most players having a vocabulary they are extremely comfortable with. I’d hate to say more of the high profile players use a single escape than those who have a double escape. I do not know which is more common…it’s just that when I rattle off the first 5 or 6 shredders that come to mind, most are single escape players lol! They seemingly play whatever they want but if you break down what’s happening, subconscious or not, it’s very calculated and consistent when it comes to how they change strings.

On a sort of related note, are you familiar with ‘swiping’ at all? I’d never heard of it before here. It is a way that a lot of people seemingly get around outside string changes that don’t conform to their default escape.

I think I did see one of his YT videos where he talked about it but forgot what it was so I had to look it up just now. With this elbow technique (the more I play with it the more it transitions from mostly elbow to half elbow half wrist) I think maybe I can incorporate swiping and be okay with that. I think I had considered it way back when I first heard about it but it didn’t change much for me at the time with the Set #3 technique (finger and thumb?).

I do feel like I have some more direction and potential now with this elbow/wrist technique so I think maybe I’ll focus on that and try to add in (or I guess accept) the swiping for a while and see how that goes. I guess my question now is, roughly how long would you expect it to take to see a change when almost completely switching styles like this? I don’t really have much of a gauge for that because when I first started playing, I hit my higher speeds pretty quick and didn’t feel that I had to work at it too hard. I will definitely need to work at this and don’t know if I should be thinking days, weeks, or months.

I wouldn’t worry about elbow USX somehow being easy for you just because you already do something else with your elbow. As best I can tell there isn’t much overlap there. No players we have interviewed appear to do both. For example, I can do the USX version, which we think probably includes some kind of rotator cuff action. It’s probably similar to what Zakk Wylde and Tommy Emmanuel do:

By contrast great elbow players like Bill Hall, who can do the version that you do, just use wrist or wrist-forearm when they play USX licks. You’ll see that in the upcoming Bill Hall interview. He can do both but it’s not the same motion.

Cool, thanks for the insight. I’d read the thread before that you linked with the reference to Zakk Wylde. That was a fun one.

Looking forward to seeing Bill Hall under a magnet!

I think all the motions you have shown have “potential”, probably for different uses / styles of playing (indeed you came up with them for different applications, as you discuss in your opening post). So I think the point of view that one motion is “superior” is limiting. Just use them all in different musical situations, always going for what feels best.

And apologies if I misunderstood what you were saying! :slight_smile:

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We’ve heard about many amazing players that have the same story about their speed happening quickly. I hope I am not mis-quoting but I recall the great Shawn Lane saying something about his playing at age 30-ish not being faster than what he could do in his mid teens. Cleaner, of course, but the speed came quick. Someone on here posted a video of Yngwie and the youtube description indicated he would have been around 18 at the time. It was just disgustingly awesome playing! So the speed element shouldn’t take long, and you’ve already got it! So the clean up phase…

I don’t know how long it will take you. I joined the site in either January or February. I haven’t been applying the material correctly just because I’m an extremely un-intuitive individual with bad sensory perception. Even when I think something feels ‘right’ or ‘better’, reality is that I’m still working harder than I need to. I was ‘all in’ with music from the time I was 12 years old (nearly 38 now) and I majored in music in college. I did the failed attempt at being in professional hard rock band for around 7 years before hanging it up and changing careers. I’ve put in the hours (the wrong type of hours though, as I’ve learned from this site). I will say this, I feel way more control now than I ever have in my playing. I’m also hitting speeds I never did back in my 20’s when I was playing way more than I do now. So it is certainly working even though I have quite a ways to go before I’ll say I’m satisfied. And honestly if it worked in a week or 2 I probably wouldn’t even play anymore lol! I think part of me enjoys the struggle and the small personal victories along the way.

I’d imagine everyone has a slightly different story on how long these concepts take to cement and become rote so we can get back to the important stuff - expression. I fully understand you wanting to know what to expect. That’s been a life lesson for me in general in many areas. When our expectations aren’t legitimate the outcome is always more disappointing. Like, if I expected this platform to turn me into a monster player in 2 years, but it happened in 1 year, I’d be stoked. If, for some reason, I expected it to only take a couple months and it actually took a year I’d probably be disappointed along the way because it wasn’t what I was expecting. The good news for both of us (and EVERYBODY on here willing to put in the work and apply the concepts correctly) is that it will happen.


Thank you all very much!

I really appreciate all of the input and look forward to talking with you more in future posts. Using the elbow/wrist mechanic for the faster stuff has already allowed me to make good progress and for the first time in my life I feel like it’s my left hand that’s hindering my speed (my left pinky to be precise). I think once I whip my left hand back into shape I’ll be back posting progress and asking more specific questions.

Nice! Best of luck. There’s a really cool thread on here about left hand speed. I’d highly recommend this:

Also, something I’m more aware of as my picking is increasing in speed is how out of sync (not only slower) my left hand is on certain patterns when the speed increases. So there’s a certain set of drills that help with that…but even better is to just play some Yngwie licks that directly address hand sync haha!

That’s been posted on here quite a few times but it’s such a good way to work on hand sync, plus it’s sounds cool.