Has anyone heard of this? According to Tuck Andreas in his
picking article it is the best type of motion and can be sped up
to 20 notes per second without excess tension, while your hand
will start tensing at 10 and 12-13 nps using translation and
Tuck uses George Benson as his model for pick hand technique
but since I play with distortion it probably wouldn't be the best
plan to base my technique around his. However, I have also
noticed that Shawn Lane and John McLaughlin also seem to be
using an oscillating motion and I have been trying to imitate
Lane's pick hand.
Basically I'm just wondering what peoples' thoughts are on this. I
can sort of see the potential with this type of technique but I'm
somewhat skeptical of Tuck's article as many fast pickers (John
Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, and Tony MacAlpine, for example)
definitely don't seem to be using any oscillation.
that guy can play really fast, but the only notes I remember are the two or three ones that he held. The rest was really just impressive, not musical to my ears. After a certain speed of playing, it's pretty much just noise to me, not something I'd really want to listen to.
You may think that, but you have to wish that you could play like
that. Regardless, I'm not expecting that I'll ever be able to play
close to that speed but I still think that it makes sense to model
my picking technique around the fastest picker ever.
By the way, his music is not like that at all. He is very melodic
and much more concerned with composition than just showing
off his chops.
First, how do you define "oscillation"? I have seen both Petrucci
and Lane play and there isn't a whole lot of difference in there
techniques. Same with McLaughlin and Gilbert. They use
relatively stable forearms and a lot of wrist motion. They tend to
have their wrists resting on, or very close to the bridge. This is
in contrast to the George Benson style which is higher off the
top of the guitar and as you say, not suitable for high gain
distorted tones where string muting is important.
I'm sorry to say this, but the article written by Tuck Andress on
picking is one of the worst pieces of instructional literature I've
ever seen. Not one diagram, poor defintion of terms, ambiguous
descriptions. I know of so many people who have got thoroughly
confused by that article. A few videos or even pictures could
have said twice as much and resolved the confusion. There is
little point in having the knowledge if you dont posess the
language ability to pass it on.
I certainly think that you can't hurt your picking by modelling it
on players like those you mention. As wrist pickers they are all
This is one of my problems: I'm still not entirely clear on the
motion. I have a good idea of it but I would like some
confirmation. The classic example used is the motion of
knocking a door. The ways this applies to picking is you are
essentially moving your hand away from or towards the string.
The "knock" or motion towards the strings is the upstroke, and
the "unknock" or motion away from the strings is the
downstroke. I hope that makes some sense, if I could I'd post a
I have seen both Petrucci and Lane play and there isn't a
whole lot of difference in there techniques. Same with
McLaughlin and Gilbert.
You probably won't see much of a difference at high speeds
however if you watch Lane and McLaughling closely they
definitely appear to be using this knocking motion while Gilbert
and Petrucci don't seem to be using it at all.
The following video of McLaughlin has a good shot of what I am
talking about at 1:25
I'm sorry to say this, but the article written by Tuck Andress
on picking is one of the worst pieces of instructional literature
I've ever seen.
I agree that it is very poorly written, but there are still some
interesting ideas there. The article was what got me thinking
about this but most of what I've learned about it has come from
looking through forums and watching videos.
I still think Petrucci and McLaughlin have essentially the same
technique. Basically, they both keep their wrists close to the
guitar body, they both move up and down rapidly from the wrist.
What you don't see is the very subtle curvature on their
movements which allows them to skip over strings without
hitting them - but it must be happening, right?! Otherwise they
couldnt do what they are doing.
One point of confusion here is the notion that what a player
does at slow speed is the same as what they do at high speed. It
isn't - the fast picking that every one of the mentioned players
do is not their slow picking sped up. There is a lot of variation at
slower speeds. Some like to move a lot for rhythmic feel. Some
like to change the pick angle a lot for tonal variation. Some just
move freely because it makes thm feel more relaxed.
But once they speed up, they all have the things I mentioned
above in common. They don't use any rotational movement of
the forearm which is typical of the high wrist jazz players. I
actually think it is what they do at high speed that you should
examine because it isn't that important what happes at low
speed. You too will have your own unique approach when the
pressure is off. What you are striving for is a technique that
doesn't limit your speed and is efficient. These guys have it and
IMO it is the best for the type of music you want to play because
you can play cleaner with distortion.
There are other great techniques for other styles though.
By the way, I should have added that some players have an extra
technique in reserve for when they are just sitting on one string
and trying to get maximum speed. Usually it a higher wrist position
and the wrist is held very stiff with just spasmodic movement
coming from the elbow. It's not very useful for other things
because the flexibility is non existent. Their normal high speed
tecnique is as described above and is probably quite fast enough
for most of us!
One point of confusion here is the notion that what a player
does at slow speed is the same as what they do at high speed.
I think you may have misunderstood me. I didn't mean that they
oscillate at lower speeds but don't at higher speads; rather, I
meant simply that it's hard to see exactly what they're doing
when their hand is going so fast. But When I look closely at Lane
and McLaughlin from the right angle I can see some of the
Regardless of that, what I'm gathering from what you're saying is
that I shouldn't really worry about oscillation or any of that stuff
that Tuck talks about in his article. Am correct in thinking that?
Yes Adrian, I think that's right. Try to set your wrist to
something similar to the players you mention. The rest will be
movement by necessity. All players have a bit of the konking
motion simply because when you pick a string it is closer in than
when you skip over a string. This is a necessary condition. The
other variation I think you are seeing is that some have a
smoother profile than others. This is caused by the fact that
some players pick with the very tip of the pick and have very
small clearance when sjipping strings - as a result the profile of
their movements is very flat. Others may dig deeper with the
pick and have higher string clearance - hence the slight
"knocking" appearance. Thy are still using essentially the same
movements though. It's just a matter of degree.