Technique Critique?

So I finally got someone to film my technique I decided on using Troy’s videos. I believe I’m going with a forearm rotation motion. Its what my arm does naturally during tremolo picking. I’ve included the link below and I’m hoping someone can basically tell me that its pretty much okay. I know for sure I need to spend a few weeks practicing it explicitly every day in order to burn it into my muscle memory so I don’t have to consciously think about it (Right now I can’t do it unless I’m thinking about it intensely).

But before I do all that, I’d like to have some of you guys let me know if its essentially correct. I don’t want to spend a bunch of time burning in a wrong motion. I’m trying to practice it with zero tension in my muscles which is difficult to maintain. But that’s probably because I’ve never put much focus on keeping tension away. I’m used to gripping hard and tensing up. I’m sure that’ll get better the more I work on it.

So, what do you guys think? Is this motion worth dedicating serious time and attention to?

Edit: I should probably say, I know the playing in the video is tremendously sloppy. This motion is still alien to me, there’s plenty of missed strokes, wrong strings hit, that “parking garage spike” thing is also present. I can see my upstrokes getting sort of held back because my angle isn’t quite right. But so long as you guys think its worth working on this motion, I will surely clean it up over the next few months.

I think it looks like an excellent starting point! There are times where you can see the path/motion change slightly but like you said, it’s new. It should smooth out the more comfortable you get. The important thing is that you appear to be able to keep it going for long enough to play musical phrases and it’s not some unwieldy motion that you’re brute forcing.

Unless you are faster with another motion, I don’t see why you shouldn’t move right onto:

  • Playing some melodies with this tremolo that stay on one string
  • Once that’s comfortable plays tremolo melodies that move to different strings.
    • Since you’re USX it should be easy as the string changes will be right on the beat, after an upstroke
  • Play some phrases on one string where there is one fretted note per picked note
  • Play some phrases that change strings after upstrokes

Nice job!

Thank you! I’m really looking forward to starting to use this in all sorts of ways. I definitely feel that I need to further cement this motion into my brain and muscles before attempting too much with it though. I’ve been trying single string chromatic runs and I’ve noticed my hand going back to the hopping motion after a few seconds. That’s something I’m gonna have to work on. I’m guessing it’s just not muscle memory yet.

Currently I’m just focusing on my right hand, doing chromatic runs in one spot, say: 5 6 7 8 over and over again. Boring, but I’m able to stare directly at my right hand and make sure I don’t leave the new motion. Along with a metronome, keeping the motion consistent. Does this sound like a good approach to creating muscle memory? I’m not sure what ALL I could do to create those kinds of bonds.

I’m definitely really anxious to start using it all over, but I surely need to make it a normal motion first. If you have any suggestions for how to help this process I’d appreciate it!

Just one question. Does the pick escapes correctly after the upstrokes? I tried getting used to this type of forearm rotation but in the end my hand always tried to revert to escape after downstrokes so I was more like trapped.

Repetition! Keep working at it and the hit rate will go up.
As for the upstrokes catching, there is a section in the primer which talks about setting the pickslant. Specifically it talks about pressing or wrapping the grip by bending or flexing the thumb which has an affect on the picks slant and if it’s not matched with the trajectory of the motion, one of the strokes may feel a bit sticky.

I use a similar motion to yours except I rest on the bridge so that I have some muting control and I find this gives me a pronounced downward slant and a slightly, and I do mean slightly bent thumb, so the upstrokes are smooth. I don’t over think this, it’s just how I got the motion to work smoothly.

Do you play rock or high gain music? It’s worth trying the version of this motion which rests on the bridge for muting control if so.

I don’t wanna complicate things though. Troy demonstrates using the motion you are doing with no muting control with the right hand and is doing it very cleanly. How that works is explained somewhere in the forearm section of the primer. I think the video was called no muting? No problem. Worth a look if you’ve not seen it yet.

How does it sound with lots of gain? Are you able to control noise?

I don’t wanna complicate things though. Troy demonstrates using the motion you are doing with no muting control with the right hand and is doing it very cleanly. How that works is explained somewhere in the forearm section of the primer. I think the video was called no muting? No problem. Worth a look if you’ve not seen it yet.

Some of this may be more gear specific though. I know if I tried to completely float like that it would be incredibly noisy when playing with lots of gain. If there are a lot of sympathetic string vibrations, and vibration of the tremolo springs, distortion doesn’t cover it up like Troy thinks, it makes it worse in my experience.

If playing rock or metal, or planning to use distortion at all, I’d recommend experimenting with the version that can rest on the strings/bridge to control noise. It’s not so different feeling to the version he is doing. Although maybe it feels awkward at first.

I think anything your not used to feels awkward, which is why most people don’t stick it out long enough to reap the benefits of something new.

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This is a great point, and I’ve been there myself. I think the issue with us is that we have this natural tendency for our elbow to be present in the movement and in most cases, the result is DSX.

Some unscientific reasoning (but it makes sense in my head lol) is that if you have a DSX motion that you’re fighting to get USX, the result very well could be trapped.

All that said, I was pretty certain I saw @DevourTheGalaxy getting enough USX escape to clear strings. I didn’t notice the elbow joint moving and it does appear a textbook wrist/forearm blend. There’s a clear forearm rotation and I also see the wrist doing a subtle flex/ext

The Doug Aldrich approach would probably satisfy this:

There’s also the alternate opinion that you don’t even need to use your picking palm to control noise:

I’ll confess I haven’t gotten this down yet myself. When I notice it failing me though, I can usually narrow down the problem to my fretting hand causing some extra noise (lift off of fretted notes causing pull off ghost notes etc)

Looks totally usable to me! At first sight it looks like a gipsy-style technique (see Joscho Stephan for example). I can see the forearm rotating (at leas a little), and perhaps some assistance from the wrist.

My money therefore is on USX - try licks that exclusively change strings after an upstroke and see how that feels :slight_smile:

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I think some of this is guitar/gear specific. I don’t think it works for everyone. Troy in that clip is using a guitar with a fixed trem, I’m sure that helps. If you use a guitar with a floating trem, I think you are at a bigger disadvantage, also depending on what you play, certain open strings will vibrate in sympathy no matter how good your fretting hand is. And distortion will make it worse/more audible, not less. So best to buy a noise gate if your dead set in doing this. It won’t solve the problem but it will help.

In all honesty, you can do the same type of motion at comparable speeds with a typical bridge mute, so I really don’t see much reason to full on gypsy unless you just like the way it looks. Which is a whole new level of I don’t even know what.

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All great points!

To this though:

From what I’ve noticed in my own playing, the gypsy setup is just a different mechanic than what happens when you lightly palm mute. I can’t articulate what it is, but it feels different. For example, I’m getting pretty decent with the gypsy setup. When I try palm muting, I have issues and can no longer reliably do USX. I’d say that jives with your overall perspective that there’s a lot going on with all these techniques.

All that’s to say, if @DevourTheGalaxy has experienced (what seems like) immediate success with the gypsy form, the rested palm muted version of a USX motion might not necessarily be an option (yet) if it doesn’t feel as comfortable.

But yeah I’d agree it’s not a stretch to say if someone can do one, they should be able to learn the other. That’s why I suggested he try the Doug Aldrich form to see if he can do it and if he gets the added benefit of pretty reliable noise control.

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I do think it’s a case of if you get one form of it down, it’s not as difficult to learn the other. I practice resting on the bridge, but I can do it with the palm off the bridge. Once I got the feeling of how it should… feel, it made the gypsy form easier to get going.
That’s why I didn’t immediately want to say hey you should probably learn to mute, because although the forms vary, they are not too far apart. So basically just go with something that works first and then learn to vary it, if needs be, over time .

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Well when you mute, part of the difference is that you no longer have the ability to exaggerate the forearm rotation. If you learned the gypsyesque technique under that guise or rather that was the aspect of it you exaggerated or focused on to get it down, it’s going to seem strange, because now you no longer have the ability to really emphasize that rotation, it now has to be a little more controlled and not as obvious, which may mean, and no surprise from me, activating different helper muscles and motions to achieve it. It also may start to feel and look a little more like pure wrist translation although it’s not.

Obviously we do know muting, rotation, and USX can co-exist otherwise we wouldn’t have Yngwie, and many others. But now the difference is that we are taking something that was once very visually obvious and adding other aspects that may make some of those tell tale visual queues a little more ambiguous, or hard to initially spot.

I agree with what Joe Begly is suggesting: Use the motion to play music, not non-musical exercises. Now that you know how easy it should feel to go fast, you can use that memory in combination with your ear to judge when you’re doing it right. Does it feel right? Does it sound right? If not, adjust something until it does. This is easier to do with real music that you actually want to play than with non-musical exercises because you know what the music is supposed to sound like and your brain will more easily catch the subtle failures and victories. The little victories give you a shot of dopamine that convinces your brain to try do more of that.

Arbitrary series of notes sound like what they are: arbitrary. They are harder to optimize by feel because they don’t sound like music no matter how perfectly you pick them, so your brain is less likely to do its unconscious dopamine magic. Your brain responds to music differently than it does to arbitrary non-musical sequences.

You don’t need to optimize things you don’t really want to listen to for the same reason people don’t practice typing by typing the alphabet, and people don’t practice video games at all, they just play them and optimize as they go. The skills are not abstract, they are solutions to specific problems that you are actually trying to solve. Muscle memory attaches itself to the specific music you’re playing. Developing muscle memory for something you will never play in a musical context is a form of procrastination.

In other words, if you follow the non-musical exercises route, you will still have to go through the step of learning how to apply these motions to actual music, and it will probably not be much easier at that point. You’re just delaying that part by doing the chromatic practice, not preventing it.

So my suggestion is to practice by playing real music. Pick a simple, loopable lick and repeat it, in the right key, over a backing track. It will feel awkward at first, but your progress will be much faster with this approach than with non-musical exercises, in my experience. Plus it’s way more fun, which means you will be more motivated to continue. Once you have a few licks you can do with your new motion, start improvising with them. Link them together and try variations. Use a variety of backing tracks so that you can reliably grab these licks in a variety of musical contexts. Use backing tracks that sound similar the music you want to play. There’s millions of them on Youtube. Or just put on one of your favorite records and practice over it.

TL/DR: Create muscle memory by playing real music, not chromatic exercises.


Back from work again. Lotta good points made here!

I feel that its likely I will be placing my hand on the bridge for both stability and for muting control. I’d much rather learn all over again to mute properly with this new technique than use a noise gate. I’m already practicing laying my palm on the bridge and I have noticed the way the obvious forearm involvement diminishes. I’m okay with this as long as its still the same motion with the same speed potential available to me. As long as my pick is still traveling in a straight line in and out of the strings, I should probably be alright, yeah?

And Induction makes a sound argument, if I practice this in a clinical way, I’ll get good at these exercises and then simply have to start over again to be able to get comfortable with it in actual music. So I’m gonna start using it in musical context instead. I’ll definitely report back with some updates on how its going! Its been a long time trying to get to a certain level on this instrument, I definitely won’t be slacking off on it.

Thanks for the opinions and advice guys!