Pentatonic String Hop

I am string hopping on this C# minor pentatonic lick. I tried it using a sweep between the B and E strings. That sounded and felt more sloppy. Is it possible to play this lick smoothly at 120 BPM?

I’ve heard some guys who are speed gurus who are jerky and stiff. I want to be not like that at all. Speed is only one aspect. I want to play with ease and precision and control.

Try up, pull off, up, down, up, down. That way, the ups on either side of the pull off are heading in the same direction rather than the first downstroke pushing you away from where the action is happening.

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U, pull, U, D, U, D works in isolation. It’s hard to stop and start. When I try to go to that from other licks, it crashes.

I feel your pain here as I have always struggled with this at times - the only solution that I found was to do a lot of work on my upstrokes and practice maximum reps with that lick starting on the upstroke. Once you back the back of it it will help all those other licks from crashing in the same way.

It may have felt sloppy (again, I struggle with 2string sweeps) , but it did sound a lot smoother to my ear and faster- if you have the patience to persist, I reckon you could get that pretty slick and >120bpm.
The original picking requires you to do a escaped downstroke to get back to the E string - if you are not making the escape, but still playing the lick, you could be stringhopping and you will soon hit a wall speedwise.

Well done though for playing the lick at relatively the same speed with both picking pattern.

Short story, both of these attempts sound essentially perfect to me. The attempt at 20 seconds, the alternate one, and the one around 40 seconds — again, both sound great. I would move forward to incorporating these into longer musical phrases while keeping an occasional eye on how smooth they sound and feel, and let nature take its course from there. The long tail of these types of things is smoothness and consistency.

Again, small request, please don’t narrate your videos, at least if you want feedback from me / us. It just makes it harder to scan the video to find them. If you’ve got two playing examples, play 'em, back to back with a small pause, and comment in the post. That much easier for me to quote and hit reply.

Thanks and nice work on these.


No doubt, when you’re trying to learn a motion you don’t yet know how to do, you’re going to make more than a few attempts to try and get it. But I don’t like to think about this process as repetitions, like at the gym. I think this sends the wrong message, because the simple act of repeating something isn’t what makes it better.

Instead, maybe think of this like Tony Hawk trying to land the 900. He probably did that hundreds or maybe thousands of times before he got it correct even once. But it wasn’t just repetition, because if it’s wrong on rep one it’s going to be wrong on rep 1000. He was probably making small tweaks and trying again, searching for the way to make the trick work. That’s really what is going on with learning picking technique, and probably to some extent with most physical skills you attempt to acquire.

If this is what you were getting at, no worries, and apologies for nit picking! But I think the way we describe this matters because the un-acquainted reader I’m pretty sure hears reps and thinks, do it “correctly” in large quantities. And that is fundamentally not what’s really happening.

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Yes it is what I was going for -poor choice of words on my part (sorry) and fully take your point.
I think I was coming at it from the point of it being sloppy rather than demanding (which as you say takes tweaking and exploring).

That being said, I have had a few times where I have changed the starting pick direction of a very familiar lick and I can play well, but it still felt awkward - like it was more mentally awkward than pyhsically- is this because I am trying to develop a new chunk whilst under the influence of the original well worn chunk?

No need to apologize - you are the Don!:sunglasses:

Thanks for watching. I practiced it that way, with the upstroke on the B string. I practiced it two session last night, for about 20 min each, then a few hours today over four sessions. I was able to get it back up to the string hopping speed, about 100 BPM. I need 120 BPM under control (good string grip, no noise, good timing, articulation, and flow, not janky or jerky).

81 BPM

89 BPM

99 BPM

It’s a six note lick that sounds cool in 16ths, too.

I recorded my backing track, down from 120, to 100 BPM. Solo falls apart at that lick.

Then I played that picking pattern through ALL of the chords, using a pentatonic scale for each chord but playing 16th notes, not sixes. Since it’s a six note pattern, the phrase finishes in the middle of the beat, so with the picking accent on the top note, it sounds really cool like this.

The 8 bar progression is:

G#- (2x)    B- (2x)    
C#- (2x)    D    G  A

I got really into the accents sounds. But then realized I’m bouncing the RH some. If I can somehow still manage to use my ears while associating that with my right hand not bouncing.

I’ll try and get a clip out tomorrow. It sounds really cool. The problem… is the bouncing. Even when I am not changing strings, I tend to bounce on every notes.

Thats a really cool solo, where is it from?

That’s the end part of the main solo section to Carnival. I wrote it. But I can’t play it. It’s at 120 BPM and I’m trying to play sixes.

I can get the lick up to 91 BPM; 75% speed. Any faster and it falls apart. When I try and play the preceding C#- pentatonic lick, it falls apart.

Playing the downbeat on a downstroke, in the preceding lick, to playing the downbeat on an upstroke — this lick — trips me up.

How will I get this lick up to speed at 120 BPM?

My entire guitar shakes when I play these lines. I’m using way too much muscular energy and sometimes I even feel it in my jaw. How can I be more efficient and relaxed when playing this sort of thing? It hurts and exhausts me! I want it to groove and flow, not sound like a robot or machine.

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Awesome, I like it

Story of my life !!! Lol!

Its really hard to relax in response to someone saying “relax”, but judging by the above statement, you really need to make some progress on it, because it is stressing you out, which makes you more tense and pissed off, then you go at your guitar with a vengence - and the whole cycle repeats. This also a fast tempo which doesn’t help!

This is an issue for me… always has been. In empathise…

So, lets look logically about it. As per Troy’s comments your form looks and sounds good - its the smoothness that you need to keep striving for (with your tension being the enemy here, possibly). Regarding speed of the right hand - can you tremolo pick on a single string at around 120bpm in 6s? (16th note triplets)- It can be in small bursts.
If you can then we can move onto the left (which is going to have to be a longer term piece of exploratory work:
The hard part about developing the left hand in my opinion is that it gets tired (especially with heavy pull-off use) and injury prone quite quickly. I don’t think this is something that you can develop overnight…
The following suggestions are meant to be done with the aim of just using just enough tension and force to get a good note out - it is fine to have the odd ghost note -it shows that you are right on the cusp of making the note. Only speed up if you are relaxed and slow back down if tension occurs:

1 - tie a rag/sock around the bottom of the neck to mute all strings and focus on doing the lick with all hammers with no pocking- don’t aim for making a decent note just the the percussive sound/feel of your fingers hitting the strings in time and grooving. This basically gets your fingers to move at the speed you need without any real tension.
2- start to add a little more pressure to get the sound to start coming out - you can add pull-offs if you want, but hammers will likely come more quickly.
3- add the picking and experiment. picking the notes that could be pull-offs can help the fretting hand stay light and endure longer than pull-offs.

The above idea is just some of the ways that I tey and dissect what I’m doing. It would be great if others chime in with their ideas -
I just tried the lick myself and can’t get it to 120bpm, so I’m gonna have to work on it too!

You could also totally change the execution to use tapping and sweeping!!

I can tremolo pick at 120, but not under control and with errors. You can really hear the errors when you slow it down to 50% speed.

Here’s a figure at 108. IT’s not just right hand, but a chunk of six notes, or rather three notes, double picked. This is rhythmically challenging.

Control is very important for me. I want to synch the left hand and right hand to get the desired note duration (short or long), and articulations like palm mute, depth, and edge pick to get more chirp, thumb pinch harmonic. If I pick with just the tippy tip and palm mute, it’s very tight and light. This is nice, but is not the only way.

This discussion has sparked my curiosity so I sat down to have a quick crack at it. I could do it at 120bpm but it took a bit of concentration. The thing that was tripping me up at higher speeds is the pull off though I was eventually able to push it up to about 144bpm. Do you specifically want a pull off on the second note or is it there to try and get around the pick being trapped if you strictly alternate picked the sequence? I say that because I can easily alternate pick the sequence at 120bpm and can push it up to 160+bpm.

With the pull off in there what I end up doing is D, pull off, D, U, D, U. Basically I’m moving the pick like I was alternate picking the whole thing accept I “air-pick” the upstroke where the pull off is to get it in position to downpick the first note on the B string. At 144bpm things break down and I’m pretty sure I start to switch into full alternate pick mode.

I tried the U, pull, U, D, U, D sequence and failed miserably. I also tried U, pull, D, U, D, D and that was nearly as bad.

I really like feel of the 6 notes over 16th feel and I found myself experimenting with some patterns and ideas with ascending and descending sequences and even some string skipping and 3 string cross picked versions. I found this one a fun extension as the last bar turns the pattern round slightly to start on the lower string

I like the aggressive sound of a hard pick attack on the first note followed by a pull off.

I’m gonna have a go with that.

I might also try D, pull, D, U, H, U. I love the coordination challenge but in the end, I’ve got to make it sound good and right now, with the picking pattern I’ve got, it’s not up to speed and smooth

I haven’t had a chance to check the videos out- I’ll have to do that after work, but …

I totally get this, but sometimes in an attempt to control every facet from the outset, we often over control and put ourselves in chains (often physically). This could be the cause of you uber-tension, where you are so determined to do everything perfect at all times l, you are putting an enormous amount of pressure on what you are doing. In my opinion, CTC gives us a blueprint of options, but we have to explore and get out of our own way. Also, what we feel is not the same as what comes out of the guitar - we too often judge the feeling and not the sound - liked hiw your clips above sounded!

I gave it a little go last night and got near 120, but what I found was that I could play it once, but repeating it was much more difficult… so I must be doing something a little odd!!!

Awesome! Got an clips??

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Love the Tony Hawk Reference.

Your form looks good. Assuming you don’t want to add in pull-offs & hammer-ons, have you tried the pattern without the fretting? Basically just doing this?


Sometimes that is a great way to really get a good idea of where things may break down.