Thoughts on Friedman's interview


Right, that could work! But I’m hearing a third string, for example the second one is (or might be):


I can’t comment on that solo specifically but what I can point out is that there are a couple things Marty does that open up the fretboard possibilities as a dwps player for situations like this.

Marty is basically a Gypsy jazz player who does metal, and like the Gypsies, he is good at fast consecutive downstrokes:

Check the tab and watch this in slow motion you’ll see it. Marty is very fast with this, and does this at tempos where most of us might not think to choose consecutive repeated picsktrokes.

The other “escape hatch” he has is downstroke string changes:

I saw this on an old instructional and asked him to play this lick specifically to see how he is able to do this with dwps. The answer is wrist extension. This is basically crosspicking, similar to what Albert Lee does. And their hand positions are similar here.

That solo isn’t super fast and either of these could work well. I’m sure someone has tabbed this out, and if it’s accurate, that will tell you what hand movement Marty is using. I feel like we have a complete picture of Marty’s hand movements for any fretboard pattern we know him to have played.


Ok, so I’m gonna throw a wrench into the fan on this one! First, I agree with @Troy since he has been researchin, studying, interviewing, and doing it…in other words, his experience. Here is the wrench: i.e. when I was a teenager, a girl I went to school with gave me a cheap unicyle. The pedals were missing but it had the crank arms and the bar in which the cheap plastic pedals attached to. I think it was some cheap Sears model or something. I was determined to learn how to ride no matter what. Obviously, with the pedals missing, that would be impossible. Or would it? I had a pair of platform shoes (it was the mid 1970s). Long story short, I would use a broom stick and start next to a car parked on the street. Over and over again, I would start and fall. Then, something happened. I had wore a little groove in the heel where the heel and the sole of the shoes met. The groove provided a place for the crank arm bar to rest as I was attempting to pedal. Eventually, I could start without a car or broom stick for balance.

Moral of the story: Determination gets you everywhere! In theory, or on paper, lower pick height from string to string seems like it would make one faster, but each person must find his own way. Doug Aldrich fans his picking hand fingers; you’d think that this may cause poor string tracking, yet he is quick and accurate at DWPS. If you are in an airplane flying at low altitude, it obviously seems like you are going light speed. However, when flying at the same speed at high altitude, the ground seems to move by much slower, yet you are going the same rate of velocity. Eric Johnson uses very high picking strokes, especially in upstrokes. yet no one will ever deny his prowess. In Marty’s case, he has a very unique approach to picking that works for him. And since he has a lot of success in playing guitar, I’m not gonna question his picking height or velocity or range of motion, or any technique he so chooses to use.


Only chiming in to say that I thought a lot of the things Friedman has to say on creativity and composing were pretty eloquent and beautiful, and were really the words of a creator, composer, improviser, etc, more so than a teacher, author, technician, etc. It’s great to hear that voice. Friedman plays some really impressive technical things but I think it’s important to acknowledge the reason he’s had the career he’s had - as opposed to a Youtube notes-per-second champion (no disrespect!) is because in addition to having great technical prowess, he plays things people actually want to listen to. And, to my ears, his style is nuanced, melodic, and harmonic.

So while the investigation of CTC is often more so on the sports-science side of things, it’s great to bring it back to what a lot of people are really trying to do on the guitar, which is express themselves and play something that has an emotional effect on the listener. I thought it was pretty cool to hear Friedman talk about those things.

It’s not a bad/good thing, just saying I liked the variety.


Actually, I think that at the end of Lisa X’s interview Marty plays a longer major triad with a fingering like this (note the Gilbertian string skip):


A lot of Marty’s solos involve big spreads, pulloffs and string skips, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the technique used for the descending triads in the Symphony solo.


I don’t remember which clip it is, but in one of the series he did for Guitar World a couple of years ago he said something to the effect of “once you learn how to play fast, you soon find out that nobody really wants to listen to you play fast.”


It’s something that people talk about with the youtube/instagram/social media guitar world. We see a 30 second clip or something and it can be super entertaining. Personally I love it, but a whole album? A whole concert? Obviously to each his own. Make no mistake, I’m not saying something simplistic like ‘playing fast is bad’ and I think that MF’s ‘nobody wants to hear you play fast’ comment is an intentional oversimplification to make a point, but it is good to be aware of the purpose of what we’re working on. I think Friedman speaks to that because his whole thing isn’t really about “check out this awesome lick on my youtube channel and visit my tab store” WHICH IS TOTALLY FINE AND COOL but it’s a great reminder about the folks out there who are actually trying to make albums and perform and make music that people want to listen to.

It’s nice to occasionally step back and ask “why.” Sorry to ramble, but instrumental technique is incredibly interesting to me not just because of all the mechanical and creative problems, but also because in the culture of musicians and guitarists there are so many polarizing views about its role. There are some clear psychological reasons why a lot of people would rather work on speed playing scales than sit down with the overwhelming task of trying to create 60 minutes of music that moves and inspires people, and similar reasons why some people that would be excited to do the latter would hate doing the former!


Nita Strauss talked about when they first talked to her about the Alice Cooper gig, and how the first audition video she sent had as much crazy technical stuff as she could cram in. The response was something like “can you do anything else?”, meaning that what she had sent wasn’t the right fit for that gig.

Video (bit about the video package starts at 6:40):


"I don’t remember which clip it is, but in one of the series he did for Guitar World a couple of years ago he said something to the effect of “once you learn how to play fast, you soon find out that nobody really wants to listen to you play fast.”

Just out of curiosity, is that why he’s not in Megadeth anymore? I don’t know what the reasons for him not being in Megadeth anymore are, but I can see how being in a band that billed itself as “the world’s state of the art speed metal band” and having that belief might cause some problems.


I don’t follow Megadeth or Marty closely enough to know what the exact reasons were. Maybe someone else has insights, but I’d just be repeating answers from google. :wink:


Sorry to warm that up.
I’d be interested in a closer look on Roy too.
But not so much on his technique, he designed a (weird looking) pick adressing his technique.
For sure one pick won’t solve anything for all the different players and styles, but now in times of 3D printers the process of designing a pick specificly for one player might be an aspect that’s still overlooked.


The moral of this story is surely “If you want to ride a unicycle without pedals, you need grooves in your shoes”.


Hi @Troy,

I’ve watched the clips again in Transcribe!, and I’ve been focusing on the path the pick travels, as you’ve suggested.

Roy’s setup on the guitar is very atypical, and his forearm does not lie along the guitar. Since he picks at the saddles with a flexed wrist, his forearm is oriented so the bones point more towards his front, with his wrist at the edge of the guitar body. With this forearm and wrist orientation, the forearm rotation produces a camera facing arc.

After reviewing the video, I’m still convinced that the primary driving cycle of his picking technique has a rotational component, though it does seem that there might be some extension/flexion on downstrokes/upstrokes respectively. As he plays faster, the flexion/extension component becomes progressively smaller. At full flight, I can’t see it on video, though it could still be present.

His elbow seems to move only for string tracking.

Incidentally, I can initiate distinct feeling “vibrations” in my wrist and forearm. One which feels like it is purely flexion/extension, one which feels purely rotational and another which feels like a combination of the previous two (interestingly, I can’t do a vibratory movement which feels like deviation). With my usual orientations on a guitar, none of these vibrations produce sufficient power or range of motion to be effective picking movements.

If I try to mimic Roy’s setup, the flexion/extension feeling vibration just scratches along the string very quickly, but does not push through. The others mostly just bounce off the string at the frequency of the vibration, instead of twice the frequency as in alternate picking. Occasionally however, one of these vibrations will push through and the rate doubles very briefly, and I get a Roy-like tremolo speed for just an instant.

I wonder if Roy’s has somehow managed to channel a wrist/forearm “vibration” movement into an effective picking movement, in a similar fashion to how @milehighshred has been able to channel an elbow vibration movement into an effective picking movement.


Thanks for expanding on that… it makes sense.

I had an experience the other day where I really thought I had cracked the code! After 2WPS practice, I fell into a zone that lasted only about 30 seconds, where my motions felt tiny and effortless - inside and outside picking felt exactly the same. I managed play 16ths at 180bpm cleanly articulated. After the 30 seconds it felt like I had lost my super powers and went back to the usual. So what happened? Did I (briefly) ‘access’ a higher muscle switching rate and make smaller pick strokes? Or did I do it with less tension and it just felt easy? It felt incredible, shame it didn’t last that long! Haha!


Do you remember if that 30 secs felt relaxed?
My tip would be that you switched to that ‘spasm’ motion (don’t like that term).
And the timespan is more or less matching the time it takes before it feels unconfortable (if you don’t stress it out). So that would explain why you switched back after 30 sec.

I use that for superfast (in my abilities) tremolo picking. It’s super accurate and can reduce the picking-range to the size of the low strings. Don’t like it though, picking feels like remote controlled and it can’t be done for a long time, cause there’s tension in the system - in fact tension is the source of this thing.

I’m a little jealous - that magic moments are the main rason to play for me :yum:


To be clear (my other post probably was not, in hindsight) I was not playing for the full 30 seconds, but for that time the 3 licks that I was rotating as part of my practice felt super easy. So there was a few tiny breaks in that period. I dont recall any tension at all and my 2WPS pickstrokes felt like butter - I normally find that the UWPS on outside picking to a higher pitched string feels more burdensome to achieve than others - cost me more time and effort than anything else. I’m doubting (and hoping) that it was not the ‘spasm’ type of picking, as it felt like I had more awareness of the strokes I was making, but thank you for suggesting it as it may be the case. So the possibillities are:
-Spasm type picking
-I was in a state of ‘Flow’ hence the feeling of hightened awareness
-I narrowed my pickslanting to a close to neutral so it felt that the picking mechanics were smaller

  • I briefly accessed what a future plateu will be like?
  • I employed more swiping but muted effectively

I suppose that I will have to keep practicing and see if I can replicate it again and maybe record a video for critique.


While we can only guess as to what was happening during that amazing 30 seconds, I believe I can at least narrow down the possibilities by eliminating one option - spastic arm vibration.

Have you seen the Notes Per second Clocking Project which Willjay conducted which was held in such high regard that Guitar World magazine printed it in one of their issues several years ago? If you want the details of it simply read ht ether I made about it which includes the results of the project and quotes from Willjay about the project and what made it a special, meaningful project. Furor purposes here though, I’m gonna focus in on what he had to say about players whom he said used the "spasmic arm vibration"method and how it affected their accuracy.

“Here are some speeds i’ve clocked for people using `Spasmic Arm Vibration” picking :

Odracir (Michael Angelo forum) - 27 - 28 nps (Spasmic arm vibration picking on 1 note)
Shredmikael (John Petrucci forum) - 20 nps (Spasmic arm vibration “tremelo” picking; is 16 years old)
Tiago Della Vega - 18 - 20 nps (picks up to this speed with spasmic arm vibrations, left and right hands never match up, and often fingers more notes than he picks)
Francesco Fareri - 18 nps (…of uncoordinated, inaccurate, arm vibration picking on 1 string)
Rusty Cooley - 16.5 - 17 nps (up to this speed when using the vibrating arm picking method, which loses some accuracy) "


Thanks for the post,

I’m glad that your post is seeking to eliminate the “spasmic arm vibration” type of mechanic. I don’t think it sounds great as the lesser synchronization of the hands make it a bit of a mess. In some situations it might be cool…The top end of my goals as far as speed is concerned for scaler lines is 16ths @ 200 bpm - anything beyond that seems less musically significant to me. Most things sound super quick from 170 bpm onwards and I’m more impressed and excited to hear more complex things at medium-fast tempos than blistering runs

How about you? What are you picking goals?


Oh, that’s a tough question. I have many picking goals! I’ll do this in a numbered format and it’s more or lesson order from top priority to lesser and lesser priorities but not necessarily 100% exact.

  1. Master alternate picking. Alternate picking is the Big Daddy of all picking styles and I want to become just as good as my talent and potential will allow me to become. Regarding speed I’d like to be able to hit sextuplets at 200 on simple licks and sextuplets at 150 or 160 on complex licks.

  2. Continue to come up with interesting, good sounding new arpeggio patterns to use my sweep picking to play. Sweep picking is the opposite of alternate picking in that alternate picking is so damn hard for me to master while sweep picking takes so little work on my part for me to still continue to improve!

  3. Expand my repertoire of alternate picked pentatonic licks, sort of in the vein of Zakk Wylde.

  4. All the while I’m doing this and I’m working on both developing and maintaining my speed, I’d like to continue to get cleaner and for my tone to get better and better and there you have my list! :smile:


Great list

You beast! So by simple do you mean patterns on a single string? Thats going to be the top end of synchronised playing for sure.

It has becone ever so clear to me how 1 dinensional my playing is and how I havent grown musically at all for a long time so, I definitely think your other points are going to have the most fruitfull outcomes long term.

If you dont mind me asking- where are you currently at with your speed goals?