Whose technique is your ideal and most want to copy?

For myself, Andy Wood is the gold standard. His playing is so relaxed and fluid, and he’s not locked into one way of picking. It’s like the difference between a 3 speed and CVT auto transmission.

On the flipside, Michael Angelo Batio’s technique is the one I’d least want to emulate. It’s pretty much the opposite of Andy’s: very locked in and built around picking as fast as humanly possible.


I’d like to develop my USX and economy picking, so that I can play those Yngwie lines without having to re-arrange everything.

My “natural” way of doing this is the opposite, my picking technique looks a lot like Andy Wood, but I haven’t really taken advantage of that, so it’s a bit of a waste.

By taking advantage, I mean playing to my strengths and not focusing on the weaknesses of my system.


Totally legit question and discussion, but I just wanted to be boring for a second and tell you what “the data” suggests, after Troy and I have worked (and are still working) with hundreds of different players in technique critique.

The approach of trying to copy other people’s technique does not seem to produce the best results.

What gets people going in the quickest possible way is to figure out what they can already do well (and 99% of the time, we’ll find something they can potentially do well), and capitalise on it.

On that note: @BillHoudini, what you describe is one of the most common scenarios that we encounter: we see a lot of people that could potentially become awesome DSX players, but they end up not doing it because they have decided they want to play in a different way (e.g. like Yngwie).

In that scenario, I’d suggest to spend at least some of your time building an awesome DSX vocabulary, and you can always experiment with the Yngwie stuff as a sort of side project. This way, you’ll make sure that there’s at least one awesome style of playing you can do. If eventually also the Yngwie stuff works out, well you’ll now have 2 awesome syles :slight_smile:


Totally agree with your observations, at least in my case.

The problem most of the time is that the licks/riffs I like require USX to some extend. The motion lately is getting there and I can see why it works with those lines, but when I switch to DSX I’m still on another level.

I wish the problem was just Yngwie haha
Most players I like are USX or Antigravity freaks like Paul Gilbert and to a lesser degree Al Di Meola.

But I agree with establishing a vocabulary based on our strengths, this should be a good starting point and foundation for all the rest.


Boo! Don’t ruin a fun game! In this make believe world we get to steal someone else’s hard work and it doesn’t matter we are good at. It’s like entering a cheat code into a video game. In that case my answer will be the ultimate cheat and I’ll pick…Troy! He does all the techniques.

Back to reality, you’re of course correct @tommo . Data is tough to argue against, plus it aligns with my own experience.

@BillHoudini I can sort of relate to the USX pursuit. For me it’s all about EJ. He is actually the only USX player I am into covering. Sometimes I can get it to respectable levels but it always feels like “work”. Not in a fatigue way, just meaning it never feels automatic. I have to think about it and really concentrate on the technique aspect. When I don’t think while playing, that is when DSX just does it’s thing.


Excellent summary! You put it in words much better than me :slight_smile:

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When playing his stuff are you using wrist-forearm or pure wrist? Occasionally when I put a little time into it I can get my forearm to stop wiggling and do some USX wrist and the EJ stuff feels almost automatic, that shallow escape you get from the wrist deviation makes it feel so good!

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The way I went about learning USX was the forearm rotation (likely some wrist in there too). Back then elbow wanted to take over no matter what I did with my wrist alone so concentrating on rotation was so drastically different that it helped me learn the motion and finally I had something that escaped on the upstroke. That said I can now do a more pure wrist USX thanks to the DBX and mixed escape detour I took last year.


Yngwie himself has said something very similar to this 30 years ago, and funny enough it was in response to a question about Al DiMeola and right hand picking technique. He essentially was commenting on how Al had impeccable picking but that he could never do it that way, so he did what was the best and easiest for him, and recommended that you don’t try to copy this aspect and to just play however you can play and do what ever you need to, to make it work.


Hilarious but I do remember this. The guy who everyone wants to pick like…wants to pick like someone else. I wonder if it comes down to the very human aspect of most people wanting what they don’t have.

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I understand how going with what feels most natural is generally wise advice, but what if what feels most natural is ultimately going to limit your playing?

When I first discovered Andy Wood—which was about five years ago—the way he picked was completely alien to how I was used to picking, which was basically gypsy style. While comfortable, it was limiting.

So I started copying his technique, making allowances for differences in physiology (particularly my long fingers, which affect picking hand placement). While it was uncomfortable at first and my playing was actually worse for a long while, with persistence it did pay off. It now feels natural, and while I’m not yet at Andy’s level, I’m definitely playing faster, cleaner, and more freely than I did before.

When it comes to guitar playing, I always start with the question: How can I do this? I never begin with the statement: I’ll never be able to do that. The way I was originally picking meant there would be things I’d never be able to play, and I refuse to accept that.

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bit of Gilbert for when I want to sound like that, bit of EJ for that flowing almost rubato thing, bit of Benson for jazzy days

The thing is though, would you ever really run out of ideas or licks with a single escape?

I think the real limitation is more of a psychological one. In every picking style there seems to be some limitation. Even mixed escape seemingly doesn’t include continuous upstroke escape phrases, without a change in form.

It’s not about playing this particular lick or that, it’s about feeling as free of limits as possible on the instrument. When playing the guitar, I don’t want to have to think about the mechanics of it all, which is very much a psychological thing. But to get to that point, most of us have to do a whole lot of thinking and working through a lot of difficulties.

For me it’s about the kind of music I enjoy playing most these days: songs from video games. A lot of that music is pretty madcap, written without concern for playability on the guitar or any other instrument. For example, a song I’m working on at the moment is “The Extreme” from the Final Fantasy 8 soundtrack. Faithfully porting that over to the guitar is an ongoing challenge, and it isn’t something I think possible if you’re locked into one way of picking (I’d be happy if someone jumped in here and proved me wrong; I’ve watched several covers on YouTube and I haven’t seen anyone else pull it off without resorting to what I call “cheesing it”).

Firstly, as a proud disciple of all things CtC, I think on an individual level, whatever someone needs to do to get an elite level motion (allowing single escape) is the first order of business. Whatever the goal is, I think that will get most people there more quickly than anything else. The scope of this thread is a little beyond that though. More like maximizing options so we don’t have to live with the implications of single escape.

I tend to agree that if our goal is the fewest “technical” limitations possible, Andy Wood (and by extension Olli Soikkeli and Anton, who both have similar mechanics to Andy) is probably the motion we’d need. After all, Andy Wood can imitate Eric Johnson. There are several things Andy can do that Eric Johnson’s mechanic isn’t capable of though. No slight to EJ, he’s probably my favorite electric guitarist (he and Brad Paisley are on regular rotation for my #1 spot and I’m sure neither care lol)

That road may be one of frustration. But you have my full support because I think what I enjoy the most about guitar is the challenge. There are even cases where embarking on the “impossible” led to some revolutionary techniques. The elephant in the room would be what EVH did with tapping. Marshall Harrison’s swybrid picking is another example. Chris Broderick’s approach to 2 hand tapping may translate better to video game music than anything discussed here actually. Not sure if that falls into this category for you though:

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I used to think like this; the unspoken limits so to speak. It’s ultimately an unrealistic expectation to produce this limitless vocabulary. Believe me I love going down the rabbit hole of practicing licks and stuff. My favorite thing to do is put on a movie and just practice licks or picking for however long. I love the feeling of it. But as someone who plays live somewhat frequently, it takes a while for new licks to make it out into a live show cleanly haha. Don’t focus on a potential limit! Focus on music as a whole and how to fit your guitar playing into that world vs only focusing on guitar technique. Maybe you do this already and I’m just overstepping my boundaries :joy::joy::love_you_gesture:

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re building vocab on what’s most natural, just a comment…for me personally, USX felt very natural and I think I can do some um very “good” “impressive” stuff with it. But I know what I want to play, and even though I’ve gotten very good at refingerings and rearranging things to work, as best as they can, with USX picking, it just simply does not cover a large enough % of what I want to play and what I want to sound like.

I know there are some truly amazing players that are primarily one-way-escape, and they can play a wide variety of very cool things, but it’s just not the way I want to play. Personally, I can enjoy (or not enjoy) toiling with different ways of trying to make “very difficult” things easier, and I just dig that more than coming up with a very limited (relatively speaking!!!) set of lines and sequences to work with my USX buzzsaw thing.

This is said as someone who has definitely spent a lot of time playing a very big variety of stuff with USX only, and I really don’t knock those who have made it work for them.

So I’d phrase it kind of like…if I could get my right hand to do with Andy’s hand can do, then I don’t think I’d have any technical difficulties playing all the stuff I hear in my head/already play, but at the tempos I want.

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In my case, the ultimate technique I’d love to acquire is Steve Lukather’s. His playing is just so professional and fluid. If I had the possibility to just install that technique into my brain, I’d be happy to do so.

Also, as @tommo has pointed out, just trying to imitate a famous guitar player could potentially become a self-imposed blocker and you might be confused and feel like you are just not good enough because, for instance, USX is not working for you so the crazy YJM and EJ licks that Troy shows in the CTC videos (and that probably made you join the community) seem impossible. At least it happended to me.

The good thing is that there is not one single “correct” way of playing and once you get into the technique critiques to obtain valuable feedback and devote some time to unlock yourself from your own assumptions, things start to flow, just not necessarily in the way you initially thought.

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There are so many players I admire: Eric Johnson, Andy Timmons, Paul Gilbert, Yngwie, Al DiMeola, Andy Wood, Julian Lage, Scott Henderson, Guthrie Govan, etc. But trying to “understand and copy” Eric Johnson is what brought me here. I’ve been a huge fan for a long time. That said, I’m just coming back to playing guitar “seriously” after a long layoff (raising kids with my wife was kind of a bigger priority in the last 12-18 years so guitar was relegated to tertiary importance) so I’m not even 100% sure what my “natural” motion is yet. @tommo has been providing valuable feedback and it’s very helpful but I need to remind myself that these things take time.

I don’t know if I could pick just one if I had a gun to my head lol Even a combo-build feels like it would be damn near impossible…

My gods growing up were Satriani, Vai, Petrucci, and as much as I love that stuff still, none of it felt impossible. Even with EJ, who i consider my “Final Boss” after going through “Cascade” a couple of times, I feel like eventually I could do it. That could mean years and years, but still not completely impossible.

There are 2 players off the top of my head who I saw a clip of and said “Nope. Never gonna happen…” And those were Shawn Lane and Buckethead. No amount of practice will overcome finger length lol It’s similar to MAB in no amount of practice will make me be able to double my left with my right.

Guthrie is pretty close in that he can do so many things incredibly well. I feel like Matteo has a chance to be at the top of list some day. I might have to cheat and go along with joebegly and put Troy on that short list. I’ve never heard an original song of his and I haven’t even watched all of the vids on this, but to do all of these things as well as he does is impressive.

I need to get into more Andy Wood though. I’ve only seen his stuff in relation to this site but what I’ve seen is amazing!

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