2WPS by thumb extension and retraction

Just wondering if this is a documented method. For example I mostly stay in a slight DWPS position.

I have always struggled switching strings using an outside situation. I spent a couple months trying the wrist rotation and forearm and it did help a bit but was not a drastic improvement.

So yesterday I was reading through another thread and thought I heard someone mention the thumb extension motion. I gave this a try and right away it feels more natural to help escape on downstrokes for outside string changes. The classic Gilbert 4 note exercise within a few minutes was smoother than I’ve ever had it. I’ve also had some luck using thumb retraction for outside escapes going upward. So extension for going towards the floor, retraction for switching towards the ceiling. Another byproduct is this helps track the strings quickly and gives your elbow a second to catch up.

So anyway, funny story… I went back to the original thread that mentioned the thumb movement and I don’t see it mentioned anywhere. Did I just hallucinate the entire thing? Divine intervention?

Please let me know if anyone here or any known pros use this motion. Thx


Somebody definitely mentioned this in the Paul Gilbert thread. I have not experimented with this technique, but I’m going to try it and see what happens. Do you think it could possibly be used for crosspicking as well?

EDIT: Also, is there a chance that you will post some footage of you playing this way?


Okay, I’m not crazy then. It was the Gilbert eye view thread but I missed it the second time through.

I’m not sure on the cross picking. That seems like you want more of a sweeping arc and the thumb movement would likely introduce a second axis. I think it primarily helps string escape.

I’ll see about trying to get some video. I consider my picking technique intermediate so don’t expect greatness but this does seem to be helping me so maybe it will help others too

1 Like

I’m not exactly sure how you do the extension, but I think that if it’s possible to do it fast enough, it could work like crosspicking, maybe kind of similarly to Martin Miller’s technique. At least if I understand correctly, you still use DWPS to escape on upstrokes and do the thumb movement for downstrokes to escape.

1 Like

Yes, that is what I meant. I am still using downward and just using thumb extension instead of trying to rotate my hand into an upward slant. To try it, just hold the pick as usual, now straighten your thumb. This motion moves the pick. Somehow the movement helps me escape on outside ascending string changes. So my inside changes are good, thumb extension is helping on outside ascending,my only have one more problem to solve, outside descending. Well putting it all together without having to think about when to do each movement will likely be the hardest part.

Here’s a quick video clip


I think I do something similar. Although I don’t think my thumb moves as much. I think that I move more from the wrist escaping in an upstroke with UWPS, then back to DWPS. My speed has increased significantly. Accuracy is coming along quite well, too. I’m really working on accuracy and precision movement and gradually increasing speed. I think the speed will come with time. Your speed seems quite impressive to me. It sounds clean! I think what you are doing is working.

The thumb movement is over exaggerated definitely. This is something I tend to do with new movements to help get them baked in. I’ll likely back off as much as possible until only the amount absolutely needed remains.

I switched to inside picking on one take just to give a comparison. It’s obviously much cleaner and relaxed on inside, but I’m only one day into the thumb thing so hopefully it will get there.

I’ve been thinking about this whole thumb thing. I wonder if it is what John Petrucci does as well. He moves his thumb and, apparently, he doesn’t like that fact :sweat_smile:

1 Like

I went back to the Martin clips. He appears to be doing some thumb extension on down strokes and retraction on up strokes. It’s subtle but it is definitely there. I know Troy mentions his finger motion is mostly the first finger and the thumbs along for the ride. Concentrating on the thumb seems to be easier to visualize for me as well as execute.

Here is a link to a good example

1 Like

It appears Andy is also doing a similar thumb movement. He extends on down strokes and retracts on up strokes. Not all the time but I could not slow it down enough to figure out the exact pattern. It could be this is helping string tracking but has a secondary benefit of giving the pick a touch more lift. In conjunction with 2WPS looks to be very effective.

Andy example

1 Like

Here is an updated clip. I’ve been working on the thumb movement for a bit over a week, probably 2 hours a day. It is definitely helping. The thumb tip movement actually raises the pick in addition to assisting in string tracking while your elbow or shoulder movement catches up. Also it seems like leading with the thumb helps make switching pick slants easier. Just concentrating on turning the wrist is hard for me to process mentally and it is confusing when to rotate unless I very slowly figure out the exact riff. The leading with the thumb seems more intuitive. Who knows, I might be imagining the whole thing but it seems to be helping!

And here is a slow motion

1 Like

VJust a quick update on finger/thumb movements. I’ve been at this for a month now and it is without a doubt having a noticeable impact. Cross picking is showing the biggest improvements. As a side note, It seems like Andy is conciously using this based on the new acoustic interview.

So this is what is happening, I am attempting to train muscle memory by doing medium to slow cross picking using the thumb motion. I can’t really rev it up too high doing this. But if I spend about 5 minutes on it, then stop thinking about it and just do a cross picking exercise, it is much cleaner then the cross picking without the pre training session. Anyway I’m fairly convinced this was one of the missing links for me.

Anyone else working on this?

1 Like

You are straightening the thumb (extending and bending it) or are using the MP Extension that Martin miller also uses?

1 Like

Dannyjoe Carter and Dallas Perkins both use their thumb. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsUeSGMFPdc

That hummingbird finger deal is wacky! Definitely not the same as using a bit of fingers to complement wrist motion. I wonder, does he use finger motion as a primary technique or is this just his tremolo technique?

I’ve jammed with Dannyjoe and his primary technique is all done by moving the pick with the thumb and index finger. There are quite a few of Dannyjoe’s songs on YouTube as he has released two albums over the last 5 years and one other album recorded quite a while ago. Here’s a cool song of his from his album "The Collection which was released in 2013. The song is named "Don’t Stop."

@Tahoebrian5 I forgot to tell you about Dannyjoe’s vibrato bar technique. It’s really incredible. He uses it in a different way that most metal or hard rock guitarists do - he uses it to emulate the sound of a bluesman playing slide guitar and he has recorded a beautiful cover of Amazing Grace. He calls his style of music Delta Shred.

He doesn’t just play instrumentals.here’s one of the singles of his 2014 album “Minuets.” The song is "She Walk."

This is common, and we talk about the ‘thumb bump’ in Antigavity as an enabler of upward pickslanting. Teemu plays this way and you can see it on the Gilbert examples in his interview. Andy Wood also as you’ve pointed out. And among the more obvious is Frank Gambale which you can see in the brief clip we posted.

Just going to bump this thread. I’ve been noticing that I can play lines smoother and more accurately if I use the thumb to facilitate pick escape on a downstroke (pushing the thumb forward seems to assist in changing the plane of pick movement).

I plan on watching all the videos, but just wondering if this technique is covered anywhere? If not, maybe thumb movement could be analysed in a future video?

I’ve noticed thumb movement with some players I’ve been watching, was trying to work out what they’re doing there and stumbled upon this method.

1 Like