Should I Stay or Should I go

Hi guys, I just joined the other day after seeing Troys great technique breakdown videos.
I don’t have any experience really in alt picking so I thought I’d start to post a video or two a week and ask you guys if you think I should advance to a higher speed on the metronome or maybe even move back.
I am staring at 16 notes per bar @ 55 bpm on a spider exercise so when I say I don’t have any experience i really mean it.
Positive feedback is welcome and please comment at the end of your advice if you think I should “Go = move up in tempo” or “Stay = Hold tempo and fix” or even move Down.
I’m just trying to coordinate the pick slanting and hand position so I feel even more awkward at the moment. I didn’t include a slow motion video as I know some of you have day jobs lol. But here goes anyway… can a mortal really learn to play like the greats.

Hey, welcome! Looks good and relaxed. You could push this quite a bit faster. General consensus around here is that to really get the movement that you’ll be using at a high speed going, you’ll need to start at a brisk tempo. I don’t know what that exact number is (and maybe it’s different from player to player), but I see suggestions on here often that people start around 16ths at 140 - 160 bmp. That probably sounds unrealistic since you’re at less than half that speed right now, but…

  • Usually it’s recommended to just start with a tremolo on one string, that way you can concentrate on the right hand alone. No need to worry about if you can get that left hand in sync, because first we need to work on picking speed using the proper escape path
  • The conventional wisdom of starting slow and working up to a fast speed break downs quickly in this realm because at slow speeds you can actually use EXTREMELY inefficient movements and get away with it. At those brisk tempos mentioned earlier, it’s pretty hard to use an inefficient movement.
  • There’s a smoothness of motion that occurs at the faster speeds that is pretty hard to do in slow motion. Think of a sprinter…how could they slow their technique down? Jogging? It would actually be a different technique than they use when running fast.

One huge thing I should point out is you’ll need to decide on an escape path for your pickstrokes. What you posted, to me, looks like during the string changes that the pick ‘hops’ over the strings. An easy starting point for a lot of players it to use a downward slant and have your downstrokes come to rest on the string below it, then (in the same exact direction/path) your upstrokes will be above the plane of the string. That way when it’s time to change strings, you’ll be in a good position. There are of course other options (different escape paths) to achieve this. What I’d mentioned works well for a lot of players and is relatively easy to do.

So in summary - GO! :slight_smile:

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Great response by @joebegly. I’d just add that, after trying the single-string-tremolo, you could start working on more musical phrases / licks / songs straight away!

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Wow thank you for your advice, I tried out the tremolo picking and it turned out the picking escape technique I was using or trying to use fell apart pretty quickly. I don’t know how I’d have managed to speed that up using poor technique.

Your advice was really spot on, I’m going to take your advice now and isolate the right hand technique with tremolo and rest strokes as you mentioned and then try build on it over the coming weeks.


Usually round here it is common sense to not try to apply a certain motion type for single string tremolo but to just tremolo fast and relaxed and see what motion can be found. So try different motions, elbow, forearm rotation, “wrist” (really being several possible motions) for a while.
If you can find a motion that is fast and feels smooth, follow that path and apply it to more musical lines. At first neglect some dead notes or misses, it will come over time.

If you can tremolo fast using your elbow, go for some DSX phrases as this is the way that motion works.
If you find your USX (DWPS) motion I imagine to see in your video most of the time to be capable of doing tremolo in the >140 bpm range, got for phrases that fit in that system (yngwie or most blues/rock stuff).

BTW, you don’t have to tremolo for prolonged periods of time, start with 5-10 pickstrokes and make sure the movement is smooth and not tensed up.

Good luck, Thomas

This is really good advice! Thanks @Tom0711

One caveat though @FN211349: make sure if you just ‘go for it’ that you ensure whatever motion you use is escaping. It is quite possible to do a tremolo and have it trapped in both directions. I used to do it all the time haha :slight_smile: That’s why I initially suggested what I did - a downward slant with the downstrokes burried an upstrokes escaping will put you on a good path…as would the complete inverse of that. You could have all your upstrokes burry on the string above them with your downstrokes going up to escape the plain of the string. As I said, you’ve got options :slight_smile:

Go faster, with a tremolo on one string, make sure your tremolo movement escapes either up or down. Whatever it is, THAT’S your motion that you’ll be able to blaze with.

Next step:
That’s when you pick some phrases to compliment that escape strategy and involve your left hand.

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