Strategic Legato Alternate Picking

Hey everyone, like a lot of you I spent many pandemic months working through the material on this site. It answered so many questions that I’ve had for more than twenty years. Huge thanks to Troy and everyone here! One thing that was baffling me was how hard it is to play lines with a mix of even and odd numbers of notes per string (like major scales). I came up with a slightly different take on how to play scales and it has been working for me. I wanted to share it with you all and I’d be curious what you think. I made a short video describing my approach.


Thanks for sharing an interesting lesson!

One small correction: your downstrokes will get stuck in between the strings if you use an upstroke escape motion (or a fully trapped motion)

There are however picking motions that are totally able to change strings cleanly after downstrokes: downstroke escape and double escape motions. Going to bed now but will elaborate tomorrow!

1 Like

Longer answer and sorry, I forgot to welcome you to the forum @Walker :slight_smile:

I finally had a chance to watch the whole lesson. In short:

  1. Nice idea and great playing :+1: It’s cool to see you get something out of the CTC lessons
  2. some of the explanations Re: alternate picking and picking angles are a bit imprecise.

About point 2, I think it may be useful to clarify a couple of things. I will also link our most recent “pickopedia” pages where pretty much everything we know about picking is explained.

My main comment is that your lesson assumes that the player is only comfortable with upstroke escape motion (hence the need to avoid downstroke string changes). If that premise is true, and the player wants to avoid downstroke sweeping, then your lesson is perfect for them

However, you may come across a player who is kind of the polar opposite: someone who is only comfortable with downstroke escape motion, in which case the downstroke string change will be the “effortless” one. For them, pretty much all the rules you are outlining are flipped upside down.

As a perfect example in this direction, you may want to check our @adamprzezdziecki 's awesome lesson on downstroke-escape pentatonics (link below).

In reality the situation is even more complicated because players tend to develop all sorts of different motions for different types of playing. Some do fully double-escaped pickstrokes all the time, others are primarily DSX but occasionally throw in an auxiliary motion for the upstroke change, and so on and so forth. Hope that the pickopedia below helps to give you a more balanced overview of all the options.


Nice playing :slightly_smiling_face: I’m one of the guys with the polar opposite picking technique. Also, I always find it funny for some reason when I see jazz players with a metronome set to 320 bpm, my brain starts to think about other genres where this tempo would imply playing 16th notes on each quarter note, but jazz guys play 8th notes.


Hi Tommo, Thanks so much for such detailed response!. I had a masters in mechanics subscription for a few months last year. In that time I ravenously devoured almost all the material on the site. I was delighted to learn about all the different picking motions that you have documented so well. I found some of those motions you mentioned above were pretty difficult to incorporate in to my playing. Players who are really good DSX / two way pick slanting even economy picking seem to be pretty rare.

During on of Troy’s Yngwie lessons he talked about using a legato every once in a while to work your way out of a picking jam. That made me think, if a legato will solve the problem some of the time, then why not ALL OF THE TIME? Once I started to mess around with that idea i realized if you only use the minimum possible number of legatos then they are barely noticeable. Anyways, so I think of this STRATEGIC LEGATO ALTERNATE PICKING idea as an easy work around for those of us who don’t have any luck with DSX, two way pick slanting, or economy picking. I didn’t mention the other picking motions in my video because I wanted avoid re-teaching all of the material on this site. I just mentioned the parts that were relevant to the the idea of S.L.A.P. Thanks again to you and your team for all your hard work! Cheers -Noah


This strategy is also viable for DSX players and I’m using it as well all the time, when I want to avoid swiping after upstroke changes. Same principle, just using legato if the string change would fall on an upstroke.

1 Like

Now that you made me think about it, that’s precisely how I did for some string changes here, had forgotten about it :slight_smile:

EDIT: in my case I wanted to avoid the upstroke ascending change specifically.

1 Like

Hi Gabriel, I was thinking the same thing! I don’t see why it shouldn’t work just like you said only in reverse, good point! Regarding you question about why do jazz players think in eighth notes, I think it is similar to how in a rock song you usually like to think of the snare as being on the 2 and 4 beats. The same is true in jazz except its usually the high hats clicking on beats 2 and 4. In the 1940’s those tempos got pushed higher and higher with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. The fastest jazz tunes exist between somewhere between 300-400 bpm, (400 being the absolute ludicrous limit) Many of Charlie Parkers landmark recordings are around the 320 mark which is why I chose that tempo for the video. In my own practice i’ve been getting up to the 350 or so. I stopped counting now because the music that I want to play doesn’t go any faster than that :wink:


Makes sense, hopefully one day I’ll get more familiar with this style, I think I was vaccinated against music theory when I was born :sweat_smile: But I love listening to jazz.

1 Like

I’m using a pull off instead of all the upstroke string changes to play the Erotomania solo based on your recommendation. More precisely, I don’t care if I pick that upstroke or not. Sometimes I may accidentally hit that, but for me it’s more important to avoid getting tense and to arrive to the next string on time. It’s still a though solo to pull off.

1 Like