What do we know about the astonishing chops of Stephen Taranto?


Hi everyone. If you haven’t heard of him, I’d like to bring to your attention this young player Stephen Taranto. I believe he play(s)(ed) in a band called the Helix Nebula

Here is a clip from his instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BrfiaY7H3Cl/

Now, his chops are just completely ridiculous. As far as I can tell he is on “both sides of the strings” in the 2 way pickstroke escape sense, and at ludicrous speeds. He is also nailing his sweep picking, and occasionally seems to economise his picking.
So as far as I can tell he is mixing it all together, but then also writing and performing insanely sophisticated passages with his chops.

I was hoping to start a little conversation about his picking technique and what we might learn from it.

Here is his instagram profile where he posts his videos, for your consumption: https://www.instagram.com/stephentaranto/

Specific things I’ve noticed:

I’m not a huge CTG analysis guru so I’ll leave this alien in your capable hands :stuck_out_tongue:


Dweezil Zappa, Rick Graham and Jeff Loomis are following him on Insta!! :open_mouth: This guy is good.



My best bet here is uwps + swiping. The high note is heavily accented, which would help further to hide the muted string noise. I know swiping has a mixed reputation so don’t get me wrong, I still think the playing is mind blowing! I just think this is what may be happening mechanically - or at least this is what I would probably use to play these phrases :slight_smile:


I know swiping has a mixed reputation so don’t get me wrong, I still think the playing is mind blowing!

I personally have no problem with swiping (if that is what he is doing). We’re musicians not robots :stuck_out_tongue:
To be clear, I suppose you’re saying that the high note (the accented one) is followed by a scrape to perform the next downstroke on the lowest string used in the phrase? (and, conversely, the string skip which preceeds the high note escapes via a downstroke with the UWPs?)


Yeah that’s exactly my guess! The “scrape” would blend in with the accent and perhaps even reinforce it, a bit like the rake is used in blues soloing.


I did check quickly that string skip lick … isn’t that mostly a series of PG lick with the string skip i.e. d-u-d (skip) -u- ? I don’t understand the ‘need’ of swipe here… It really is strange to me because that lick, even if I want to swipe it, I just can’t. Now I can’t play that as fast as he plays it (like 16th triplets in the 130ish, my guess), but it’s just because I reach my max speed before that, and for me there’s no reason to swipe (or rake) the strings.


Interesting :slight_smile: for me it’s the opposite: in the 130ish tempos, my picking trajectory gets too flat to avoid the swipe. But as I said I think this is just my guess. I think I can hear some of the swipes especially in the slowed-down version that he plays in the second half - but perhaps I’m ust hearing what I want to hear :smiley:


It really is strange to me because that lick, even if I want to swipe it, I just can’t.

I know what you mean. But to me it seems unlikely that you could somehow double escape that lick at this speed (not saying it’s impossible, but the string swiping thought seems quite plausible in retrospect)

A lot of guitar movements are actually really hard if they’re not your thing. E.g, I’ve been trying for months to implement basic forearm rotated DWPs. I’m appalling slow at it, but my main style of wrist deviation is fairly quick: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZu18SnHRfR/


Damn bro you’re good!


I’m not sure about that. Actually I don’t really know what the motion is when I do the PG lick, whether it is really double-escape or something else. I know it HAS to be double-escape to avoid swiping but it might be a little different than a typical crosspicking arc. Tbh I don’t know … Now note that I can’t play that stuff faster than around 16th triplets 120bpm. I rarely play that fast no matter what. I can push it around that without the timing falls apart at string crossing. But again: on single string I can’t play really faster than that, so it’s kind of a non issue for me.

In a nutshell it might be simply that I don’t play fast enough for that swipe to happen and/or the timing goes wrong. To be clear I have nothing against swiping, and for sure I would prefer that to bad timing. But strangely I can’t fathom how to swipe that stuff even if I wanted to.


You pretty much captured my whole approach to swiping in this sentence. I could have avoided my 200 posts on the subject and written that instead :joy:

Just to put some pressure on myself I’ll try to magnet-film a similar string-skipping sequence in the next few days to demonstrate my approach. Not sure I can hit 130bpm and stay clean but I’ll try.

PPS: actually the most comfy way for me to play these “spread gilberts” is probably to hybrid pick the high note. It doesn’t feel so good to me when the strings are adjacent, because things get a bit too crowded in the right hand, but with a 3+ strings range it feels good.


Some nice angles of Stephen’s picking hand here -