Tommo's Circular Fours

@tommo recorded a blazing take on the circular fours pattern for the Instagram account:

He’s a textbook example of how you’d do this with wrist motion — and little elbow. As we’ve seen, these two motions can often work together for downstroke escape / DSX in the pronated setup that Tommo uses, since elbow is DSX in this form and so is wrist deviation. The switching to DBX even at these speeds is really pretty awesome to see.

Tommo is fond of saying he learned this stuff from us but we can’t take any credit for this. We didn’t even know this slick combination of wrist motions even existed a few years ago, let alone how they worked.



Awesome playing Tommo. So cleanly played! Great stuff.


Thanks for the feature @Troy! Maybe I didn’t learn this from you directly, but I am pretty sure I couldn’t do this during the Dark Guitar Ages (i.e. before I discovered Cracking The Code)


Hey Tommo, cool lick. How many notes per string is this or do you have a tab? I think I play similar lines. My question is this; if you reversed the double escape motions and did inside picking, would that be easier or it’s just relative per the player? I play lines like this and often have trouble ending one string on a down stroke and then getting it over the next string for an upstroke. Also, maybe Im confused by the video, but it looks like your thumb is closer to the guitar body which is something I do as well. But if you maintain that “thumb closer to the body” the whole riff, is that still downward pick slanting?

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How did I just see this. Savage @tommo

Going to try and steal what I can XD

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Welcome to the forum!

I guess @tommo is the right person to answer this, but here goes: he’s not “downward pickslanting”, he’s using dowstroke escape (DSX). Most of the time, that is. He’s also using a curved pickstroke to escape on upstrokes when needed (DBX).


Thanks Johannes! Yep that’s exacty it :slight_smile:

Will write the tab here later today!


Thanks Johannes and thanks Tommo. I may video myself for you guys to see when you send the tab. So after reading some of the forum, I now understand what you were doing was a downstroke escape, meaning your downstrokes go up in the air, and your hand is more pronated instead of supinated correct?

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Here it is (the key is approximate)! It’s the classic “circular 4s” pattern: ascend with a straight scale and descend with the “4s” melodic sequence. I am also tabbing the point where I don’t manage to fully escape and hit a muted string (you can see it at the end of the slo mo).

And Yes, I think the setup here is probably pronated. Finally, I do find that if I start with an upstroke it’s much harder for me to play this clean. (I probably haven’t learned the correct movements yet). I hope I’ll be able to fix this in the future - but I noticed that most elite players avoid that picking sequence as well :slight_smile:

What I am attempting:


What I played (one small mistake in the last string change of the sequence - but the string is muted):


Tabbing it out this way makes it look like you have to make a motion that hits the string, but that’s not what you’re doing. You’re making a motion to avoid the string and sometimes that motion isn’t curved enough. The key is that it’s always somewhat curved and not just moving straight across like Batio’s version. I think the swipeless tab is more accurate to what you’re actually doing and more accurate to what you’re attempting.

Thanks Tommo and Troy. I havent fully internalized this lick yet but I get the gist. With licks like these, I often either start on an upstroke and use inside picking to hit the first note of the next string with a downstroke and use a pull off somewhere on the group of 5 to keep things smooth OR I start with a down stroke and use a downward escape (downstroke going in the air) and economy to hit the next string with a downstroke and finish the lick. What does this mean in terms of my picking?

I see what you mean, I edited the above to have two tabs: the attempted one and the one that actually happened!

Try not to overthink this. This phrase is 100% picked so you will be using your picking motion and going fast and hitting all the notes. Period. If you have access to the Pickslanting Primer you can learn more about different joint motions that can accomplish these various string changes.

But if you don’t, that’s ok. Tommo can’t really feel all the different motions he’s making here because he learned them subconsciously. So you can do the same thing. Do you have a picking motion that is fast and fluid on a single string? How is your hand synchronization, is it strong on simple repeating patterns like the Yngwie six note pattern?

Once you have those two things, you just want to try do this maintaining your hand synchronization at high speed. Ignore any wrong notes. Don’t worry about trying to “get over” the strings. If your hand synchronization is perfect and you are using any of the most common “single escape” picking motions that most players use, you will only hit two wrong notes in the entire sequence. And you might not even hear them.

That’s it. Go fast, be smooth, have rock solid hand sync. And let the chips fall where they may. Get that far and only then start worrying about wrong notes, and only then if you can hear any!

Yeah i watched the Primer awhile ago. I think I have a basic idea of what happens with picking which is why I was trying to be specific; so I can exploit my strengths and weaknesses to get both better and figure out how to set up licks that work smoothly for me. Soon enough I will get that video footage so we can dive in deeper.

Diving deeper isn’t really the best way to go with this phrase, at first anyway. Stepping back and being simple is the best way. That’s all Batio does. His approach is very similar to Tommo’s approach since they both use the DSX motion. The difference is that Mike never changes the motion. He swipes the two upstroke string changes. It’s not a mistake, per se, because he does it reliably / repeatably. It’s definitely the simplest possible way to get at this phrase to start with and it will work with wrist motion and elbow motion since those are both common DSX motion choices.

Hey Troy, now that you’ve brought up hand Synchronization I am curious to test this out because sometimes I do feel my hands are a bit off. Is the repeating 6 note Yngwie pattern you mentioned just something like 15 14 12 on the high E twice through and then just ascend or descend whatever scale?

The Yngwie pattern is six notes like 12-9-11-12-11-9, then moving to another string (or another position on the same string) and repeating. I guess any variation will do really but that’s the one that was used as an example in the Primer.

Ahh gotcha yeah I figure it was something like that. But the point of that lick is to show you how well our hand sync holds up when the lick is played on each individual string right?

Yeah, that’s what I’m using it for right now!

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It’s not really about switching strings. It’s just a simple way to keep your hands together no matter what kind of phrase. The idea is to focus on the first finger of the pattern and the first pickstroke and make sure they are locked up, while essentially ignoring the others.