Paul Gilbert doing gypsy type USX tremolo

I thought PG fans may find this interesting, at the end Paul changes his form to flexed and does a rotational tremolo. Some guys can do just anything. He’s a big EVH fan, maybe that’s where he picked it from.


That’s cool but it doesn’t really look rotational to me. The arm is very still and the speed is not at VH level tremolo. Sorry to sound like an ass. :slight_smile:

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That’s not especially fast tremolo - I think any of us could do that with relative ease.

He does change his forearm alignment pretty saignificantly for the tremolo section, though, to what looks like an USX motion, which I don’t see any reason at all why he would HAVE to, which makes me wonder if it’s simply habit. And if so, that kind of dovetails with something I’ve been wondering lately.

Does anyone else here who primarily uses a DSX mechanic struggle with tremolo playing?

Along a single string isn’t very problematic, but changing strings… if you’re playing in 4-pickstrokes-per-note and starting with a downstroke, that means every time you go from one note to the next it’s on an upstroke, which is fine on a single string but is a non-starter for a DSX player. 3 strokes per note, then you’re alternating between ups and downs which mean half your changes are going to be on an upstroke, which again is a non-starter.

It seems tremolo playing, in a rigid in-time format, is something that’s way easier as an USX player than as a DSX player (which my understanding is Paul primarily is), and without knowing why it’s something I’ve certainly always struggled with. I’m just wondering if my experience is unique here.

He’s sort of hitting two notes here, so I’d say it’s more like strumming

You are right. Still, it looks like USX to me, deviation axis is blocked due to flexion, you can’t do that with pure wrist from such setup, can you?

It is rotation just not as visually obvious as evh’s. Paul uses kind of a shallow rotation in general with most of his regular picking as well.

I’m guessing that your right in that it is force of habit with him being someone who obviously grew up influenced by evh, and trying to copy what he heard with out the benefit of even a VHS player. The other theory is that he’s trying to move to a motion that gives him a wider range so he can hit two strings at once. Knowing what he’s capable of with his normal picking technique, he wouldn’t have to do this for a single string tremolo line certainly, but the one thing about his normal fast picking it is that it is optimized somewhat for smaller movements. He even goes on and on about that.

I guess it could be to get a more strummy thing going too, but it’s certainly a motion he doesn’t NEED to do, to play this line - this isn’t even very fast for him - so whatever the reason is, I do suspect it’s important that there IS a change occuring in his motion here.

I’m also curious if other DSX players have trouble with tremolo picking across more than one string with their motion, or if it’s just me. It’s something I’ve really never been able to do well, but I don’t know if that’s the cart before the horse or the horse before the cart - because I can’t do it well I never really play tremolo lines, so it’s certainly possible I’m just bad at it because I never do it, as well. :laughing:

EDIT - also, I’m not sure I’d take Paul at face valuer on his picking technique being optimized for smaller motions. You look at something like his signature two string picking drill, and I’m not sure I’d call this an especially “small” movement:

I think this may be just another example of another really, really accomplished picker not fully understanding why they’re able to do what they are, technically speaking, and just falling back on one of the conventional wisdom explanations - “small movements = fast movements.”

When I was experimenting with wrist motion, the first and easiest for me was dsx, in a pronated form.
When I went to practice stuff I had written with it, specifically tremolo style playing with string changes, I ran into a problem. I’d need to start on an upstroke, or all the string changes would need an awkward secondary motion. Probably more awkward as I was pronated. Starting on an upstroke felt so wrong to me. This stuff was originally written when I was using forearm and wrist usx, which at the time I had no idea it was forearm and wrist, or usx.
So yeah, I could see some potential “issues” here.
Brendon Smalls does some tremolo in his interview and he is a dsx player. It’s worth a look

I don’t think it’s something most people try to do in all honesty. It’s one of those things that really has such a limited use, it’s not really something too many really try to work into their repertoire. The whole idea of two string tremolo really implies no escape, so both USX and DSX are both irrelevant by virtue of what they are. So in order to do two string tremolo, you would really have to use no escape. On the other point of view both USX and DSX motions are relevant if you are treating both strings as a single target, in that perspective, you just widen your trajectory and make the escape motion after you hit both strings.

I would actually differ and call those pretty small movements. As he increases speed, you can see them getting more and more concentrated. On top of that, the other part of how Paul plays, and what isn’t as visually obvious is some of the smaller movements he actually is employing and making in order to get that picking hand to work like it does. Visually you get distracted by how it looks - his wrist is just shaking and gyrating all over the place, making you think he is using just a pure broad wrist translation, but it’s not. If you ever try to use pure wrist translation it’s not that fast, it’s more useful as a broad movement like string changes. In Paul’s case, It’s a combination of shallow rotation, and some finger thumb movement, which makes his whole hand look like it’s gyrating, and when he really speeds up he is engaging more muscles in his upper forearm in a kind of flexing “squeezing” fashion. He is using a lax wrist that is not carrying much tension giving that visual appearance that it’s moving fast, when it’s really some of the other muscles and joints around it in other words I think his wrist is just along for the ride most of the time. He’s also not hitting the strings as hard as it sounds like he is either. It’s the way he’s IS hitting them that is giving that tonal impression. You can see in some other videos that his movements are super controlled.

In other words I think there’s a lot more going on in most picking techniques than simple broad joint movement (wrist, forearm rotation, elbow etc…) and some of it can be very visually deceptive as well.

I think so too. I went through like 1000 versions of forearm rotation USX, some of them were painful and exhausting to do, some kind of worked for medium tempos but were nowhere as smooth and fast as they should be and the last one I’ve found feels almost ok (string changes are not smooth 100% of the time but I’m slowly getting there). When it comes to visual aspect, they basically look the same.

@adamprzezdziecki thats part of why I have been making such a big stink lately on this forum about re-examining the way some of this is presented, (boy have I hit some resistance on that!) and maybe there should be a little more effort put into explaining which muscles get activated to achieve some of these movements effectively. That’s the biggest hole I see in the CTC method. It assumes that everyone is moving in the same way to make certain movements happen, and the visual queues of these movements can be very misleading. Sometimes that visual queue just isn’t there when analyzing how one of our favorite players does something, and there are some very subtle or not so subtle things going on beneath the surface.

Like you I have spent a lot of time examining and then re-examining what works best and sounds best for what I want to do, often in front of a mirror, and I’m finding that the visual queues are not exactly all that reliable.