Pepsi Lick - Working Up To Speed

Hello again,

So a couple of days ago I posted on the forum about the descending six pattern.

The people that replied pointed me to the Vinnie Moore Pepsi lick, so I’ve been practicing that for the past two or so days.

As I promised, I managed to record a video of me playing the lick mostly-clean sounding at 140 BPM 8th note triplets:

Now, in the CTC youtube video on Vinnie Moore’s Pepsi lick technique, Troy mentions a rotation of the wrist on the last upstroke on the B string. I recorded myself doing the pattern over muted strings, in slow motion to look for this rotation:

I guess my question here is: am I going about this lick the right way?

I hear all the time on this forum that you really shouldn’t start playing licks slow; and that it’s better to play as fast as comfortable at first, and then clean things up later. I’m not sure if my motions on this lick are correct, and I worry that starting slow at 140 BPM may cement any possible bad habits.

For anybody there (like Troy) that can play this monster up to speed: what was your process for reaching Vinnie’s scorching 260-something BPM? Am I developing correct technique? Thanks!

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hey @jasper426 - great to see you continuing with this lick!

I’ll let others better qualified here comment on the technique and advise you with that.

All I can say is I really like the fact that you execute the lick so cleanly.

Really looking forward to others input into this thread as you have inspired me to look much more closely at this lick as well. Would love to hear from people who have brought this one up to speed and how they approached it.

Nice work.


Thanks man! I was a little messy here and there in the recording, but oh well. I’m definitely more concerned about possibly developing bad habits, and like you said, I really wanna hear from people that got this thing down. 265 BPM 8th note triplets are insane!

I think the question is: using the motion in the video, can you play anything at 260 bpm (8th note triplets)? If not, you need to find another motion! That’s the whole reason for “starting with speed” – to find a right hand motion that is fast and smooth.

The whole thing is summed up very well in this post: What is speed building to me


After a couple of minutes of sitting down, I can do 16th note triplets at 130 bpm (aka 8th note trip. at 260) continuously on one string fairly easily. I get tripped up at times, but the motion doesn’t feel awkward or labored.

When it comes down to picking 3 notes on the high E and then switching immediately to the B, I can’t keep steady like I can at lower speed amounts. Is this possibly a problem of muscle memory not being up-to-task, rather than a critical issue in my picking style? Or maybe it’s an error in my technique of switching to the lower strings.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion. And that topic has some great stuff about practicing for speed

Hey @jasper426, thanks for posting, and thanks @Interestedoz and @Johannes for the useful comments and links :+1:

There is nothing obviously “wrong” here - but as @Johannes points out, you need to try this pattern a bit faster to really see what works and what doesn’t. If you are playing 3 notes per beat, something around 180-200bpm should be enough to make the lick unplayable with inefficient (stringhoppy) motions. So give it a shot and let us know how that goes, we’ll be happy to take a look :slight_smile:


Thanks for the reply. I’ll get another video out in the next couple of days after experimenting with higher bpms. These are all really good suggestions!

So after sitting at the metronome for a bit, I was able to get my picking hand up to 185 BPM eighth note triplets:

Now, this is where things get a little weird. Sometimes, I’m able to cleanly execute the motion without getting “hung up” on the strings for multiple groups of sixes repeatedly. However, I’ve noticed that at higher bpms I get tripped up a lot more often. On top of that, the strings rang out a lot more when I did the pepsi lick at 185 bpm.

My thinking is that this may just go away with more practice, but could it be a sign that my picking technique is inefficient? Thanks a ton

This is a good sign! The hope is that these cases will become the norm with time. I will discuss your video further with Troy, but in the meantime you could try to solidify your movements by adding variety (different phrases, different accenting and different tempos, using similar string changes).

Try also a few reps much faster than this, and see what happens! Two useful references:

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Good work! It looks like your motion is a CtC-correct double escape motion to me. You should be able to use this motion to play all sorts of licks in a while.

BUT it would be great to se a video of when you just tremolo as fast as possible on a single note just to see it you are using the same motion. Reason is I’m working on the same lick and have found I need to use single escape motions to get it up to speed. This might be true for you as well, or maybe not. Only a video will tell.

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Thanks man, I’ll make a vid trem picking as fast as possible soon enough. Glad to hear that I’m using double escape correctly :slight_smile:

Thanks for the tips. Always helps to switch things up and attempt weird phrases/groupings.

And I’ll def check out that Troy video. I’ve also seen the Shawn Lane one so many times, love his playing too

I’ll check back in soon! Keep you posted

So I got around to making a video of just straight tremolo picking. I started at 150 BPM 16th notes, which are the equivalent to 200 BPM eighth note triplets:

After I recorded that video, I felt like I could go… even further… beyond… at 175 BPM 16th notes (which equals 233 BPM eighth note triplets):

What I’ve learned was that I felt like I could go for hours at 150 BPM… but 175 burned me out quicker. Also, I noticed my arm moving with my wrist more than it did at lower BPMs. Is this movement something to take notice of, or does it go away as my wrist muscles get used to the speed? I’ve never really dabbled in 16th notes in excess of 140ish BPM.

Yes wrist players often find there is some elbow when they speed up. Andy Wood talks about this in our first interview with him. You can do wrist only, you can do elbow-wrist, and you can elbow only. Whatever works, I wouldn’t worry about it unless there is a problem.

A few videos back with the two-string sixes thing, I notice that you’re not really playing along with the click at various points, and by the end, after the slow motion bit, you’re no longer picking three notes on the top string. You’re just doing a downstroke, followed by an upstroke that may or may not be picking a note, I can’t tell. You can see this if you put the YT player itself into slow motion.

This may not be true for everyone, but I really don’t like metronomes for learning an unfamiliar motion. I find it super distracting. What you’re trying to do is recognize, by feel, that you are making the intended motions. And you don’t know yet what that feels like because you’ve never done it. Or you’ve never done it consistently. This is how moments like the end of that clip happen. Presumably, if you could tell you were doing that, you wouldn’t do it. Same here. I’d always choose to play correctly if I could!

So if trying to meet an external tangential requirement, like listening to and matching a specific tempo, distracts from trying to really feel the motions, then I’d rather set that aside for a moment. Also, keep in mind that the speeds I may choose to play at are determined by the results, not the other way around. So if I think, ok, let’s slow down gradually until it feels and sounds cleaner, or let’s go faster until it feels or sounds sloppy, I don’t even know what those tempos would even be before I try. Again, take this with a grain of salt, this is just my approach.

Just to be clear, I think being synchronized and even at whatever tempo you choose is super helpful, even if you don’t know numerically what that tempo is. Imagining your motions as a chunk, with a specific pickstroke at the beginning, can help lock the hands. You can choose a different pickstroke as the landmark. You can even start the phrase on those other notes to make sure they’re not going missing or dropping out. That could be a useful approach for the sixes issue, for example.

Even for something like tremolo, I find that I do those in chunks anyway, where the first note is actually a little louder or bigger than the others. This helps me go fast. If I just think “downstroke” [ignore middle notes ] “downstroke” [ignore middle notes ], etc. I feel like it’s easier to hear that and to know if I’m really going any faster, or just playing alongside (but not with) an external click source. Meaning, a tremolo just sounds like a blur of sound. Giving the landmark a little accent helps me differentiate. Brendon Small talks about this in our latest interview as well, and shows the accents, even for tremolo playing.

Just some thoughts. Again, take this with a grain of salt because we haven’t tested the metronome stuff in any kind of formal way to find out who is really being helped by it, and what they are doing to be helped by it. I don’t think it’s a given that what I’m doing is the best approach, nor do I think it’s a given that a metronome is some kind of mandatory thing. Everything bears testing, if we can.


I think I get what you’re saying: that it may be helpful to feel the correct motion before practicing (possibly incorrect motions) to a metronome.

I think what may be happening is that my left hand is “thinking” faster than my right, not being used to the picking motion. When I slowed the 185 BPM video down, you were 100% correct: on the high e string triplet, I ended up picking once (maybe twice) and hammering down on the remaining notes. However, you can see that on the 140 BPM video I pick pretty much every note. That’s kinda given, considering most shred licks are easier slower lol.

I’m definitely going to try and chunk this lick out like you suggested. I’ve had good success chunking for other picking patterns ALONG with using a metronome, and it might be just what I need to get this motion down.

I’ll try for a bit using chunking without a metronome, and if I think it’ll help I’ll switch back and forth between the two. Thanks to this lick I’ve already noticed some good improvement in my overall mechanics, but there’s always room to grow.

Anyway, I really appreciate the advice man. Keep those killer YT vids cranking \m/


Hey guys! This is another addition to a long line of posts concerning Vinnie Moore’s “Pepsi Lick” along with the descending six pattern.

Recently, I’ve been trying to improve my overall mechanics by taking a look at the Pepsi Lick:

One of the most interesting problems I had with this is premature exit. As Troy pointed out, there are times in my playing where I only pick twice then switch strings — or only once, if that — and then hammer on the notes, hiding the issue. I discovered this when I recorded a slowed video directly of my picking:

So after hearing some great advice from a number of comments, I really tried to feel out the motion instead of drilling in practice that doesn’t feel right. I think I’m really on to the “right” motion that doesn’t get caught on the strings, or switches too early:

After studying Troy’s picking on the Vinnie Moore vid, I noted that it looked almost like a paintbrush: just smooth, angled strokes that don’t get caught on the strings. Currently I’m practicing relaxation, and trying to mime this paintbrush-like motion, instead of metronome timing. Also, I’m looking more into getting an upward pickslant on the high E string, and a downward pickslant on the B string.

In your experiences with similar problems of “exiting too early” or even missing/getting caught on the strings, how did you guys solve it? Was it a matter of rushing an unlearned/uncomfortable motion instead of slow practice, or did it come after altering technique? Thanks!

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I find to solve this you first have to
(a) identify where you are going wrong
(b) really focus on that part during the lick to fix it

seems simple but that is what I find works!

So if you are exiting early - the note to concentrate on is the last note in the sequence (more than the others) and making sure it gets played


Thanks for the advice man, I’ve actually been doing just that! I tried to focus on hitting the last 3 notes on the B string, no matter what, even if it was sloppy. After adjusting my pick slant a little more upwards, I’ve definitely been making good progress on the mechanic, and keeping the playing nice and clean. The “slo-mo” feature on iPhones are a godsend lmao

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