What do you think is the cause of Guthrie's stamina problems on Rhode Island Shred?

From 43:04 to 1:03:41 in this video, Anton has a long segment where he claims that Guthrie’s technique does not allow him to play long alternate picking patterns without tiring out and making mistakes. I think he’s right in pointing out that Guthrie is having trouble playing the piece cleanly and gradually makes more mistakes as he goes but the rest of the analysis seems pretty unsatisfactory to me given that he doesn’t exactly lay out the specifics of Guthrie’s actual technique or hand position in much detail.

My intuition is that it is a difficult piece (which Guthrie does not appear to play live very often it should be noted) comprised of many unorthodox/uncomfortable patterns which cause Guthrie to tense his forearm up more than usual leading to stamina issues. I’ve personally had this problem when I first learnt Gilbert’s Technical Difficulties in that I physically could not get through the first section without badly tiring out as I really had to concentrate in order to play the “scratching the dog” riff clean. The stamina issues seemed to become less of a problem as I became more comfortable with the piece. I’m a little doubtful that Guthrie’s technique is such that it does not physically allow him to play something like this without tiring out. I’m curious as to what everyone else thinks about it.

In light of some of the A.O threads on this board I’ll briefly add that this isn’t supposed to be an attack on A.O or anything, I’ve learnt a lot from his videos and think his analysis should be taken seriously.

Okay I’ll bite. I wonder how much of this is just power of suggestion. Had I seen that Guthrie video or segment before ever knowing of AO, I’d say it’s pretty Freaken solid playing lol. But watch an insane player like AO take a very specific part and point out some flaws, then you start to think like that too. Basically, idk lmao. Just a thought that it might just be suggestion


I watched the first two videos first and couldn’t see or hear any problems until I watched Anton’s video which pointed them out :rofl:

When your playing at that level live and only the hyper-analysation of other high level guitarists is needed to notice any “mistakes” I think your technique is fine!

Also, I don’t agree with Anton that the arpeggio he loops to showcase his technique, is more difficult. In my experience it’s a lot easier to loop one hard thing than it is to play an entire song with many different variations of phrases with different escapes

Love Anton’s playing but in this case I would have to respectfully disagree :grin:


I think you may have got swooned by suggestion haha

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Yeah I agree that it is still awesome playing (especially the Tone Merchants clip which is peak Guthrie) but it appears to me in both clips that Guthrie, being as musically aware as he is, kinda falls back to his improvisation in order to give his picking hand a break and keep the piece musical.

That might be the case, it’s hard to say without Guthrie explicitly saying so!

Either way, if it sounds good, it’s good :grin:

Probably because of all that action he has… string action that is, bazinga! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

If only he could sort this out and then he might be able to find some work, such a shame that this prevents him from touring and recording.

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This topic has a reputation on this forum for being somewhat incendiary. I’m somewhat hesitant to comment, so let me preface my answer by saying that I have nothing but respect for Guthrie Govan. I’ve been a fan of his playing since first hearing him when I was a teenager.

I’ve always thought the position Guthrie’s picking hand assumes for his picking licks looked a quite strenuous. His wrist appears to have a very pronounced radial offset, which would indicate some unnecessary tension in the carpi radialis muscles (flexor carpi radialis, extensor carpi radialis longus + brevis). He also has extension at the MCP joints of his fingers, indicating tension in extensor digitorum communis, while also having noticeable flexion at the PIP and DIP joints, indicating tension in flexor digitorum superficialis and profundus respectively. This is a co-contraction of opposing muscle groups. Also, he often extends his pinky finger to make contact with the face of the guitar, indicating tension in extensor digiti minimi.

That’s not a small amount background tension. Every pickstroke Guthrie makes must overcome that background tension, meaning the muscles which drive his picking movements need to work harder than necessary.

Guthrie is mostly a reverse dart-thrower DSX player, but when he plays faster, he often switches to an elbow mechanic. Going from what he has said in interviews and in his Creative Guitar books, this doesn’t seem intentional. It doesn’t seem to be something he is consciously aware of, he’s probably not exactly sure when the transition occurs.

For example, in several interviews he has stated that the fast “circus funk” strumming uses the same picking motion as fast single-string picking but with a flexed wrist to describe a wider arc. However, Guthrie is quite lean, and it’s clearly obvious that the fast strumming mechanic is mostly a rotation plus wrist blend, while the fast single string mechanic recruits brachioradialis and is clearly elbow movement.

The transition from wrist-based DSX to elbow-based DSX isn’t much a problem for single escape lines, aside from some tracking concerns. However, this shifting in mechanics could cause problems in strictly alternate picked mixed-escape lines.

Guthrie isn’t the only player who has done this. Al Di Meola explicitly says on his REH video that picking from the elbow is wrong, but he transitions from a RDT wrist mechanic to elbow when he plays at his fastest speeds. This change in form can be the result of losing haptic connection to the movement.

So those are my thoughts. Unnecessary background tension means Guthrie has to work harder than he really needs to when picking, so he gets tired. When he gets tired, he unconsciously changes form, which causes some innaccuracies.

I totally agree.


Me too, I cringe every time I see this topic. Only because I really enjoy the forum and hate seeing it go downhill (even though that admittedly rarely happens). But what the heck, I’ll comment too. I love everything about Guthrie. I also like Anton a lot and I’d like to think the progress I’ve made in DBX playing recently was in part being inspired by him and trying to mimic aspects of his form. Still, credit where its due, most of my progress happened by following Troy’s guidance on DBX and watching as much Andy Wood material as I could. And his DBX looks pretty similar to Anton’s. Also to be transparent I’m not anywhere near a DBX expert yet. I’m very much at the beginning of that journey, but quite comfortable past that awkward initial stage of trying to find the motion and never having a fear if I may or may not be stringhopping :slight_smile:

Well that’s good, because that was the same thing I thought I saw. The “hockey stick”. I often mix up visual cues so maybe I’m getting better at identifying them.

That was how I always perceived this, in “the video” where this was discussed. “He’s working harder than he needs to” And also…

Again, in “that video” my takeaway was “Guthrie is awesome, easily one of the best ever. EVER!!! Through a lot of dedicated practice, he’s found a way to work through any tension/stamina issues and still make great music. Under close inspection, there is some minor clarity that suffers.” And Anton saying something to the effect of “You (the average aspiring guitar virtuoso) might not be as successful as Guthrie in working around issues like this, so let me show you a less error prone technique”.

My words not his, but that was my perception of it all.

I think the practical thing we can learn from this is that if you’re a wrist player, beware of too much radial offset. Of course neutral is best, but I’d think if you must overshoot it, you’d be better in the ulnar direction as you could at least achieve that through extreme relaxation (i.e. gravity). It takes some amount of effort to go radial though and we have less range of motion on that side to begin with. Even if this doesn’t happen all the time in our playing, beware of it as we track to the bass strings as we may fall into the trap of “reaching” for the low strings by going radial, then we’re in that non optimal position. Anton manages to avoid this by ever so slightly pulling his elbow/shoulder back when tracking to the low strings.


The stamina problems with Guthrie in that portion are caused by his deviated wrist and multi-joint movements. It causes 99% of his fast playing problems. It’s a right hand exclusive problem in this case (his left hand has other multi-movement problems for some of the stuff he plays but it’s irrelevant here). If you attempt to mimic this technique and you’re non-intuitive, it’s going to end up 1000x worse. His RoME gets killed and his stamina is 95/100 of what it should be. And yeah that’s 95/100, not 50/100. That’s how razor thin the margins are at this level of playing.

Speaking from actual experience, my wrist was deviated the opposite direction. It caused me massive problems only some of which you can see in that short clip in the JR portion of Anton’s video, and I was only able to cope by playing hours a day. It doesn’t work, and I’d strongly recommend not finding out the hard way for yourself. There’s always a temptation to absolve yourself of hard work by “settling” with your problems. The part no one tells you is that future you might want to play things one day that will require you to re-do your entire technique from the ground up. The work effectively doubles, and in the worst cases, becomes impossible to confront short of a Herculean effort.


Any chance you have any videos that demonstrate your old technique while playing Vs what you do now or post Anton?

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Try not to confuse “hockey stick” with “too radial”. The hockey stick is wrist extension and a pronated arm position. It only looks like the hand is sticking out to the side. As evidence, I present… every violinist ever. Here’s Yehidu Menuhin doing 190-200bpm for three minutes straight:

And here’s a good shot of Hilary Hahn who goes well over 200 this way:


Again, try not to confuse a player with an Andy-style arm position trying to move their wrist in a radial direction with a pronated player who is extending, comfortably, within the sweet spot of their wrist’s range of motion, as violinists do.

From the videos you have posted I can see you’re trying to make the Andy style arm position work for you but occasionally slipping into the pronated approach with very good results. Have you tried to just let that happen and see where it goes?

Yeah, I have. The motion/speed with that approach feels fine. I’ve run into some ‘preference’ issues with it though. A lot of what I’ve been trying to play (acoustic) needs to let all the strings ring out, so that pronation deadens the bass strings. That’s of course only a problem on certain patterns, but I’d like a motion where I don’t have to worry about that, or switch form just for stuff that has sustained bass string. To be fair, the stuff I posted that you saw was more on the treble strings, and I agree that without “thinking” about it I tend to drift into that Molly form. But the Andy form isn’t any more difficult for me. I just have to more consciously try keep the hand flatter.

I’ve also tried more ‘rock’ stuff where I need some palm muting (Tumeni Notes, some dirty Andy Wood stuff etc) and that also doesn’t work great with that pronated setup. It’s not like I’m against that form or anything, it just doesn’t seem to line up with what I’m interested in playing at the moment.

For example here’s this Carl Miner thing I play sometimes. Even trying to be more Andy/supinated I still choke that low E sometimes.

EDIT: BTW sorry for using the hockey stick term incorrectly. I know you use that a visual reference for some motions. That’s just what the hand looks like to me when it goes too far to the radial side though (i.e. the topic with Guthrie) :slight_smile:

Sorry, one more “not too radial” example, the obvious one. Here’s young Shawn Lane, who was much more picking-focused than the version we all became familiar with later on. The whole six-minute clip is awesome and worth a watch but I’ve cued it up to a spot where the camera zooms in and you can get a good look at his form:

Shawn rarely if ever moves to the ulnar side of the joint. Ordinarily we might think of this as a little problematic. But the clue that it’s not is in the line he’s playing. You can probably hear the pattern — it’s all evens, starting on a downstroke, aka USX motion. From this arm position that would mean this is what we call “dart thrower” motion, which is a similar motion to what we see violinists making. It took us a while to figure out how he was getting USX with this type of arm position and a “hockey-esque” appearance but I’m pretty sure that dart thrower is how it’s done. It’s a fast motion and when done right goes all day long.


Nice playing! As long as you’re taking the hints about the various forms when the motions telegraph to you that they are starting to work. I just don’t want to see you beat your head against a wall.

Thanks, and well noted. I beat my head against the wall all the years before finding you :slight_smile: I do still go on a lot of detours, but it’s because learning different motions and ways to do stuff is actually fun for me. Ex: I almost never practice this, but since I know when things feel right or wrong, I can do the Morse 3 finger grip.

Hmmm maybe I should spend more time with that one. It might actually feel easier than either of the other 2. There’s something about those vertical movements that just ‘works’.

And now that I’ve hijacked a thread I wasn’t even going to comment on…


@Troy i pm’ed @joebegly and let
Him know about your hint to drop the guitar and start playing some hockey or violin. :joy::joy::joy::joy: jk y’all keep shreddin!

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Wow! That may be your best yet. I’d keep that one for sure.

Related to the subject of the thread, keep in mind that judging a technique by the pick grip may be a little like judging a book by its cover. There are players we see in TC who use an index grip but have just as much supination as you have in this clip. So it may be that some players with longer fingers or a longer hand can have a more supinated arm but still reach the strings that way with the index grip.

Why would this matter? Well, if we assume that flex-extend type motions are the “better” ones because they are more efficient, then a more supinated arm position gives you a DSX and a USX version of them. To continue our confusing-for-beginners clock analogy, if you have a supinated arm position than your DSX motion can be something like 1:00 and your USX motion can be something like 2:00 and both of these would be better than deviation from an efficiency perspective.

Ergo, don’t look at index grip as the desirable one, look at a certain forearm rotation as desirable because it aligns the axis more toward flex-extend. Then the grip you choose is just whatever you need to reach the strings.

MAYBE. These are just the discussions we’ve been having.


Crosstraining! It’s the secret.

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