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Investigating Mechanics With The Amazing Bill Hall

By August 10, 2021 Features, Uncategorized

When we sat down with musical maestro and friend of Cracking the Code Bill Hall, it was ostensibly to delve into his virtuoso command of elbow picking. But what we discovered was a treasure chest of other motions at which he’s also inspiringly great.

As it turns out, Bill is a jack of several mechanical trades.  While elbow motion forms the core Bill’s faster playing, he augments that with both wrist and forearm motions to tackle a range of musical challenges, from Di Meola-style scale playing, to Eric Johnson-style one-way economy phrases and Yngwie-style pedal tone lines. In the interview, we take a closeup look at these awesome motions from multiple camera angles, including Magnet viewpoint and overhead POV-style perspective.

Here’s a great example of some of the awesome stuff we uncovered. In this excerpt, we investigate Bill’s fantastic wrist-based arpeggio picking technique:

For this type of arpeggio playing, Bill uses the pronated forearm setup, which is the approach used by other amazing players we’ve interviewed like David Grier, Molly Tuttle, and Oz Noy.  The pronated form is one of the “big three” main setups for players who use wrist motion, all of which achieve the same end result of being able to perform any kind of string change, up to and including one-note-per-string phrases like arpeggios.

Primary Motion

Many players have one motion that serves as a kind of default for faster lines. This simplifies the process of knowing what motion to use, since you don’t have to think — you can just start with your primary motion and only switch away from it if the phrase requires it.

Bill’s playing is a great example of how choosing a simple joint like the elbow as a primary motion isn’t really a hindrance when it comes to building a varied vocabulary.  Your primary motion may be your default, but it doesn’t have to be your only motion. It’s simply a foundation upon which you layer other skills as needed.  This is also why we usually advise that players go full steam ahead with whatever motions are working best for them right now.  You can always add more technique, and the best way to do that is by becoming great with at least one motion to begin with.

The Bill Hall Interview

Where can you watch this fun multi-mechanical investigation? Right here on the platform:

Bill Hall

Acoustic and electric performer Bill Hall delivers multi-mechanic virtuosity


If you’re a Cracking the Code subscriber, you already have access to the interview along with its 77 trascribed musical examples. If you’re not yet subscribed, head on over to our Join page to sign up.

If you’d prefer the a la carte approach, you can grab a download copy of Bill’s interview in our store. Even if you go this route, you’ll still have access to the online version here on the site with the awesome Soundslice player for all the musical examples.

Top Comments

  1. Avatar for Troy Troy says:

    Our interview with the awesome @Bill_hall is up! This was a really fun conversation that had taken us so long to finally edit it, that doing so was like watching it with new eyes. The ostensible purpose of the interview was discussing Bill’s use of elbow technique, but when we took a look under the hood, there was a whole treasure trove of other cool stuff going on.

    We pulled out one such example for YouTube where we talk about arpeggio picking. Bill says this was the first picking motion he ever learned how to do, and he never practiced it. In the interview you can hear me telling him not say that too loudly around other guitarists, which you’ll understand when you see how good he is at it:

    This is wrist motion, and Bill’s using the “pronated forearm” approach, or what we called “David Grier” style wrist motion the most recent Pickslanting Primer update. You’ll recognize this in the Magnet shot because you can see the thumb-side anchor, and the air gap beneath the pinky side of the palm. This is one of the three main forms or setups that players will use for wrist motion, and in this case it’s the one used by Bill and also great players like David, Molly Tuttle, and Oz Noy, among players we’ve interviewed.

    Many thanks to Bill for doing this one!

  2. Thank you so much, @guitarenthusiast! I really appreciate it! It was such a fun and awesome experience to be interviewed by Troy! He is such a great player and a really nice person also! It’s really was really exciting that he asked me to come and be interviewed. I was honored that he asked me! I think the video is really fun to watch and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did doing it! :relaxed:

  3. Avatar for RevTwo RevTwo says:

    Great stuff, Bill–thank you!

  4. Thank you for the reply @Troy! That makes total sense that the hockey stick would play a big part in that. Now that you mention it…I think that the tone aspect does play a big part also. I remember consciously not really wanting any kind of chirp sound from my pick when I was playing the electric years before I started playing a lot of acoustic and I kind of remember flattening the pick to get rid of the chirp without really being super conscious of it I just knew I like the tone better when I had it flatter. It’s funny… I had forgotten all about the chirp aspect of it until you mentioned it. I have experimented with different picks over the years and I always go back to the standard 351 heavy because it just sounds the best to my ears. When I use a heavy pick like a stubby I remember it being really chirpy and when I used the Jazz 3 it just didn’t feel as good as the 351. I just chalked it up to not being familiar with those pics but after watching your recent video it makes total sense to me that the reason why I like the 351 Fender heavy is because I don’t use a lot of edge picking and it sounds great with my technique on the acoustic or electric. So I guess it would be a combination of the hockey stick form and the tonal aspects. That makes a lot of sense… Thanks for answering that for me! I really enjoyed the Oz Noy interview…he plays such cool stuff! I’m going to watch that one again when I get a chance… It’s been a while since I watched it and it would be fun to see it again. Thanks again for responding! :relaxed:

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