Why I think "start with speed" doesn't cut it

Changing strings is the hard part imo. Ascending or descending fours (in one position) includes a lot of string switching and is hard to do neatly. “In theory you should just be applying the same motion you’d use on a single string?” I had the impression that the whole beginning of “Crack The Code” was the problem of switching strings efficiently, not playing fast tremolo on one string.

Depends how you pick it! Completely alternate picked it can be challenging but arranged for single escapes it becomes pretty easy, I can burn fours when played how Troy arranged the escapes in the original Volcano seminar

I guess that’s right but the two are intrinsically linked. Whenever someone needs advice on their technique the first thing everyone asks for is a video of them playing as fast as they can on one string. That way we can see if the motion works and how the pick escapes the strings, once you can recall that high speed motion on command you can apply it across all strings to phrases that fit within your natural USX or DSX motion :smiley:

I typically practice at half speed and full speed, back and forth. 8th-notes and 16th-notes at bpm 160 etc. I focus on tone a lot and play clean or with moderate gain. If I’m sloppy at the fast tempo, I try to relax until it’s OK, or break it down to smaller pieces. If I mess up a scale going from the 3rd to the 2nd string, I just practice that bit, not the whole scale.

How long is really required? In classical and flamenco tremolo, you cycle through a series of hand maneuvers and then repeat; with a plectrum pick, it’s simply down and up. 6 notes? Better make it 12 that is 6 cycles of down and up, better throw an extra 2 or 3 cycles in there cause you got to rev it up sometimes. :sweat_smile: 18 notes?

If you track using the arm, either from the elbow or combination of elbow, upper arm, shoulder etc, it can add some difficulties, as that isn’t often part of the picking motion. Unless you use elbow, or some Zak Wylde all joints picking!

Classical/flamenco tremolo has its own problems to solve and is a much more compound activity than plectrum tremolo. I don’t think it has anything to do with this discussion. BUT soon I will make a thread about itvand I will probably link this thread as “start with speed” is involved :wink:

I can comment on how long of a plectrum tremolo Troy is probably looking for though. He likes videos to be less than a minute, so that is a clue.

I think practically speaking you need one that you can sustain for the length of time as phrases you would like to play. So I would say if you can sustain it for about 4 measures, that is good. I would be suspicious of a tremolo that is fast but could ONLY be performed for a measure or less. Some degree of endurance of the speed is required to prove the motion is efficient and non-tiring. Remember though, that is just to prove the motion works. Flooring smaller chunks when you are already confident with it is a valid way to practice too (as long as it’s helping). Which leads me say…

It’s important to remember the broader concept here, which is to find what works so you can learn from it or even exploit it. If @Jacklr identified an issue with himself being able to sort of “cheat” with shorter segments and he needed longer durations to make sure his motion was legit, than that’s what he should do. His progress speaks for itself since he documented it. If @Staffan_William-Olss found success with shorter phrases and had good results, that’s also great. Same with OP that says starting fast is no good for him and he made progress other ways. It should all feel easy though. Troy often says “if it’s not easy, it’s wrong”

For doing a tremolo phrase sure.

I personally love this type of practice, great way to get used to the feel at different speeds! For me 160bpm 16th notes is more challenging with pentatonic scales because of the jumping back and forth but for 3NPS phrases I could happily play at that pace with my old inefficient motion

It’s hard to say :thinking: Enough notes in a row so that you can’t fake it and have to force yourself to experiment with new motions caused by the randomness that happens when attempting to do something you can’t currently do

Definitely true as well, once you have a working motion this seems to be less of an issue and something that naturally happens over time but it does takes a little more work then a single string lick

Completely agree here, this is a great takeaway :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


That would be pretty quick actually, I would get quite annoyed by playing a super long tremolo phrase. Plus a single string line phrase/fragment doesn’t share the exact same picking traits that I do when I tremolo. Wouldn’t both be of importance, and not just one specifically?

I think it depends…

I would say the motion/picking traits when I play on a single string are one and the same, regardless of it’s a tremolo or a multiple note single string phrase

Nowadays, Yngwie uses what looks like a purely rotational forearm mechanic for tremolo playing and his standard wrist+forearm blend for multiple note single string phrases

He demonstrates it at the time-linked spot here:

I don’t recall ever seeing him use the pure forearm rotation back in the Steeler/Alcatrazz/Early Solo Stuff era, it seems to be something a bit more recent, though I might be wrong. I also feel I have seen him use pure rotation for multiple note single string phrases in recent clips but maybe that doesn’t feel as natural to him so he doesn’t use it all the time?

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I think it depends if you are flowing good with the tremolo motion, have good coordination in the moment, and can run with it for a single string phrase great. But this isn’t going to happen very often.

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I think we’ve talked about this before (maybe privately) but is there a reason you feel this way? One of the biggest things I’ve learned from Troy is that our fast picking should be the same motion we (can) use for a tremolo. The clarification needed, in my mind, is people think of “tremolo effect”, that thing almost every 80’s shredder did in a solo when they were out of ideas (i.e. relatively unmeasured and sloppy/crazy sounding), as opposed to “playing fast, even notes” in time with the music (i.e. usually 16ths, 6’s or 32nds depending on the tempo). The latter is what Troy wants us to find. Forget about “your fastest possible motion” for a second, and think of your go-to gypsy style picking. Can you sustain that, for a couple of measures, around 16ths @ 180-ish bpm??? That’s really what we’re talking about when discussing tremolo in the CtC context.

When I decided I wanted a USX motion, I found that without much work, I could do this with a rotational movement even going a little above 16ths @ 200bpm. No, I couldn’t sustain this for 30 seconds, but for my purposes I don’t care about that (i.e. personal, not at all discrediting @Jacklr approach since it obviously worked well for him). I could tell this was a drastically different motion from the elbow motion that I could easily floor to 230bpm+, and I could feel the difference easily. Now, of course there is a problem that happens when trying to introduce the fretting hand to this newly discovered speed/motion. I’d notice right away that when trying to fret notes, my rotational motion changed. I could see flexation happening and I also could feel my elbow start to engage. That’s a very separate problem to solve than finding a fast motion though. We always talk about hand sync, but we also need hand independence to make this whole thing work, just like it’s hard to brush your teeth while you comb your hair. I made progress by doing “tremolo melodies” on one string. So, intentionally measured 16ths at a high speed, only changing fretting hand fingers every beat or 2 beats. That allowed me to make my fretting hand ‘move’ while still keeping this newly learned motion on target. The next step was to change strings, so I started doing that, still with a tremolo melody so the fretting hand could be fairly easy while being able to focus on the new picking motion. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t difficult at all. even if I’d skip strings. When you do a single escape motion properly, string changes shouldn’t feel like anything happened.

The final step is to get to 1 picked note per changing fretted note…That’s where I think the smaller fragments are helpful, so long as we’re making sure we aren’t reverting to the old motion. It helps us internalize the chunks at a higher speed. It’s been suggested that this speed begins at the point where you can’t ‘sing along’. The brain/nervous system processes these things differently at the high tempo compared to the low tempo. It’s very similar, in my mind, to speed reading where you have to train yourself to not hear every word you’re reading in your head, as if you were speaking them. Rather, you’re looking at larger groups of words and you trust your brain to process these chunks.

That’s why whether you start with speed or not, at some point you’ve got to devote some time to playing at high tempos. The way the hands and brain function on the lower speeds is just different. I got ‘ok’ results with the dogmatic approach of playing with a metronome and creeping up little by little, but it wasn’t until I started putting Troy’s principles to work that I started making noticeable progress. And it’s still a work in progress :slight_smile: I feel like in ways I’m a beginner again where I’m trying to wrestle these different coordinations I’ve learned and make them rote. But the moments I have on a regular basis where I really hit high speeds and it feels good and locked in are like nothing I’ve experienced in my pre CtC days. And I wasn’t ‘slow’ then. I could do 16ths around 170 -180, but it felt like a lot of work. Now those speeds feel fine.

Sorry for the rant, I got suddenly passionate about the topic lol! @bradejensen I’m only saying this because I’ve heard you say many times that you feel like you’ve reached your limit and even 12 notes per second seems unsustainable. I really think you’ve got it in you, it might take doing something differently than what you’ve been doing though, and maybe that tremolo motion is the key to it all.

Problem is I don’t see it happening, I share the same feelings @qwertygitarr has about his tremolo. It is one speed, and it can change day to day. His seems much more coordinated than mine, but alas this kind of tremolo picking is drastically different than how I would speed through a single string phrase. Going from say thumb index, or chunked tremolo kind of wrist picking bits on a single string phrase to straight loosey goosey tremolo high twitchy finisher however you want to describe that is very difficult to shift in and out of that into something else like when Yngwie does it. But I also pointed out in that thread of @qwertygitarr that even Yngwie tries to rev it up, and ditches it I suspect because he just couldnt coordinate it well enough (watch the third slowtube link video) you see him kind of gear it up for like 2 to 3 cycles and stop. That is very hard to get in and out of clean inside of a solo kind of aspect.

Fair enough. Is that because you don’t like the idea (i.e. have an ideological problem with it), or have you actually given it a fair chance and concluded it doesn’t work for you?

But his is always on fire! Maybe some days he can only get it up to 200 (lol!!!) His “problem” is different. I do see what you mean though because he’s mentioned it’s hard to slow it down. I’ve had similar experiences. Ex: some days 190 feels locked in, if I try to do something at like 150, the motion changes. It’s sort of elastic at the higher speeds. I still think with purposeful practice one could address this. You mentioned Yngwie revs it up. Yes. I’ve had a little success addressing the slower speeds by playing with a metronome and programming it to gradually slow down. That helps smooth the transition, and also helps me zero in on which speeds it’s having the issues.

How is different? It’s not as ‘flexed’ as gypsy, but the same joints/muscles are used roughly.

Been doing it for over a year now, and the coordination doesn’t want to go any deeper into my hands. And yes it is very difficult to just slow it down just enough to try to manipulate it to its fullest so I can comprehend it completely. I think it could also be that I don’t audiate at faster tempos, when I transcribe it is more around 50-75% speed listening to the phrase before I start replaying it back in my mind to try to notate an engineered path for my techniques.

A free tremolo has no bounds to the rhythmic properties of the beat of the song. When you play a phrase, or fragments with elements of this type of tremolo motion, as you see yngwie or any neoclassical player they kind of anchor somewhere cesario middle finger, yngwie pinky heel supinated usx plant, you are forced to a beat so you have to fire it up dead on which it won’t be completely free any more.

i might could fake it like how dorado schmitt and amati schmitt seem to do. cesario kind of does it as well with the thumb index i think ive caught him tremoloing like this quite well faking it.

Fair enough. Our opinions are likely to not align so I’ll stop lol! Well, I’ll almost stop…The last thing I’ll say is:

I don’t think that matters. We don’t need a free unmeasured tremolo for CtC purposes. @qwertygitarr’s motion is not free and unmeasured. If he were to play a tremolo on one note at the the same speed as his blazing synced stuff, it would look no different. That’s the whole point of the tremolo motion.

It looks that way to my eyes. Surprising how he got 312321 so coordinated with it as well. It has to be because he modified his body to slip his arm into the pocket so he could get the wrist closer to the guitar which was why i asked him if i could see it. :sweat_smile:

i will watch it again to see if i can spot how he slips into fragments from it.

lol yes!! That’s his secrect sauce haha!

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