2wps vs my technique

Hi! :slight_smile:
I’ve been working on my 2wps for a while, mostly with this phrase. When I started the motion felt pretty naturally but now I’ve reached a point where it feels I just can’t go any faster. On the videos I play 95 bpm and at this speed I can play totally relaxed and it doesn’t even feel like I’m playing fast. Then on 97 bpm it totally fall apart. How can 2 bpm make that much difference? Sometimes I get like tics in both the picking but more often the fretting hand, which of course disturb the playing, how should I do to get rid of this?

So my questions…

  • Am I doing some obvious mistakes (apart from playing EXTREMLY out of beat)?
  • Are they some concrete hacks (not “just relax”) how to remove tension?

I hope the quality of the videos are good enough


I don’t know man, this looks pretty great to me! Everything is perfectly clean and I don’t see any “tics” or playing “out of beat”. Maybe my standards are low. Or maybe I like to see the big picture. Is the motion correct? Yes. Is there hand synchronization? Yes. Does it sound good? Yes!

In fact, given what we’re seeing here, it is likely that what you’re describing as “falling apart” is probably not falling apart to the extent you may think it is. When you catch yourself using phrases like that, try to be more specific and ask yourself what specifically you’re referring to. Is the motion changing? Is the hand synchronization changing? Is something else changing? Is nothing changing? I think we have a tendency to over-analyze tiny variations in our playing that might not be apparent to other listeners. If there are bigger-picture problems, definitely, we want to recognize them and fix them. But if there are just tiny variations that only you can feel, and which you won’t even notice in six months when these motions become more familiar, it’s good to recognize that things are working correctly too.

The only other thing I’d’ recommend is not really thinking of this as “two way pickslanting”. I know that’s our fault because this is how we originally presented this. But what’s really happening here is that you are using a combination of different wrist motions to play these phrases, and changing the “pickslant”, or moving your arm in different positions, isn’t really what’s allowing you to do that. You’re just changing the direction your wrist is moving.

For example, look at the first clip, the descending portion which starts around 13-14 seconds. Put the YT player into slow motion and look at the pickstrokes when you move from a lower string to a higher string to repeat the pattern. These are double escape motions. Meaning, from the arm position you are using for this portion of the phrase, you can switch strings in any direction. You don’t need to change the position of your arm to do that — you can just keep your arm in the form you are using here, and simply use two different directions of wrist motion, as you are doing here, to move to a new string.

So moving forward, I’d try that. Use the form for the lower half of the phrase, but see if you can play the whole phrase that way without changing the wrist / flexion extension (motorcycle grip) style motion you are using in the first half of the phrase. You may have to tool around with this a little to find the sweet spot. But just keep the arm relaxed in the form we’re discussing, and try to play the phrase quickly by moving your wrist, even if it feels a little sloppy or you hit strings you don’t mean to hit. You’re already doing it correctly on the lower strings, it’s just a matter of doing it everywhere.

Nice work here.


Thank you so much, this is incredible!

Just to check I haven’t misunderstood completely, do you mean something like this?


Yep! That looks perfect. Have you always been a wrist player? How did you learn these motions?

Can you make both picking motions, downstroke escape and upstroke escape, independently on a single note on a single string if you had to? Or is the switching mostly automatic / subconscious? Also, if you just play a single note by itself, at a slow, medium, and fast speed, what does your motion look like then? That would be interesting to take a look at if you have a moment.

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Thank you! :slight_smile: I didn’t have a clue that I am a wrist player, so it’s really hard to say what I’ve done before. I havn’t been that into practicing technique for that long, I watched the 12 episodes Cracking the Code maybe half a year ago. I do study music at the Swedish counterpart to high school but since my guitar teacher is a jazz guy with no technical knowledge the only inputs I’ve had is the tips about pickslanting from those youtube videos.

Here I first try downstroke escape, then upstroke and then slow-medium-fast. But doing those motions feels way more comfortable when switching strings.

This exercise might be the only one I’ve been doing for a longer period of time, some minutes now and then for maybe 2 years?


Awesome! Thanks for recording these. Your playing on that exercise is killer. What is the sequence, 5-5-6 using four-fret fingerings on each string? Where did you come up with this? It’s for picking technique?

Re: playing a single note on a string, I totally understand that this can feel academic. I guess a more realistic question is, if you just have to play fast on a single string, what motion do you use for that if you’re not thinking too much about it? Can you do that a little faster than you’re going here, and does it feel smooth? If so, I think your motions look good and I wouldn’t worry too much more about them.

In general, everything you’re doing here looks great. I would move straight ahead into more musical phrases in whatever style you’re interested in playing. Exercises are repetitive in nature and usually have less variety than the kinds of phrases you would probably write or play in improvisation or composition. And that greater variety of picking patterns, in combination with a variety of different left hand fingerings, will help you locate all the little things that don’t feel smooth and polish them. Plus, of course, it will help build up your vocabulary of musical phrases at the same time.

What style of music are you interested in playing, and have you tried working out any lines that move around across the strings and don’t strictly repeat? For example, lines like this would work well with your alternate picking chops and would be an obvious next step for you:

This is a lot of stuff connected together, so you can just pull out parts of this as smaller phrases / licks and learn those. Up to you.

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Thank you so much for this!
This is the exercise and where I found it:

I think that’s my problem, I can’t go much faster than that. It’s not that it’s stop feel smooth, I just reach a wall where I can’t go any faster. Is that something that will become better if I practice at high speeds over time, like you run faster if you do intervall training?

Amazing advice! Actually I hav’t learnt that much fast licks yet, because I’ve thought I needed to work up my technique at first. I’m mostly into rock/metal and during the last couple of weeks I’ve actually looked at a scale run, so maybe more of that? Will also check those licks in that clip out.

Once again thank you so much for all this help, means everything!
I actually cried real tears of joy when I realized I straight away could play things I been to scared of to even try before.

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Ok, ha, I never watched that Uncle Ben video. And now I feel bad, because I watched your clip thinking about how much I don’t like playing things that sound like exercises — I didn’t realize it was one of his. But we love Ben!

It’s not clear if speed works the same way as running or gym exercise. Those physical capabilities respond to training but also fade quickly if you don’t continue to do very high intensity training. Picking speed is more like a skill you learn to do and then can always do, as long as you play anything at all on a regular basis. The maintenance of the skill seems to require much less than the maintenance of peak performance athletic skill. That’s why I think it’s more of a learned ability that involves doing something correctly, and then polishing it with some practice.

Just based on what you’re doing in these clips, I would guess you can already go faster than what you’re doing here. What happens if you try to play something fast on a single string, what does the motion look like when you hit the speed limit? Have you tried other motions like elbow or forearm? If you just hold your hand in the air, you can try all those motions with no guitar. Sometimes “air hands” is the easiest way to test out different motions, without worrying about the pick or strings. Try some experimentation and see if you discover any motion that feels faster than your current one.

Again, your current playing is not really “slow” so I’m not super concerned. And you have no issues with phrase complexity so that’s great. If you’re into rock / metal, have you tried any alternate picked arpeggio stuff? This Steve Morse sequence from Deep Purple’s “Cascades: I’m Not Your Lover” is a great example of taking a simple picking pattern and applying to different shapes to generate cool sounds:


Yeah Ben is the best!

Ah okay, this was vey interesting! So if I can play 16ths at 110 (if only just for 2 bars) with only downstrokes does it mean I have the speed to be able to alternate pick 16ths at 220 bpm or are these different things? Does the same go for perservance, or is that something you can improve with practice? (manage to keep up the speed for longer runs/more bars)

Wow, when I go as fast as I can on one string it actually look like my elbow start going. Is that something I should keep in mind whatever I play?

I think it would translate in slightly more than 220, since the alternate picking movement is simpler that the downpicking one (i.e. no need to avoid the string on the upstroke).

Great playing by the way, I may steal your lick if you don’t mind :smiley:

PS: more or less repeating what @Troy already said, have you ever tried to go way past the 95bpm mark, say 110-120, and just see what happens? Then maybe going gradually down to the desired tempo.

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Yep. That’s how I get my tremolo picking. Set a metronome, start with 8th downstroke, then 16th downstrokes. At some speed it becomes difficult to avoid string between downstrokes, so I relax my hand and let this happen… thus I got alternate picking. The only problem here is to keep the rhythm consistent.
Oh, and before 200-210bpm I think about downstrokes only, but with faster speed I think about 4notes bursts as basic units.

This is super common. Lots of players use a double escape type motion when they play at medium speeds, and a single escape motion when they play fast — i.e. single-escape meaning a pickstroke where only one half the picking motion goes over the string, either the downstroke or the upstroke. The fact that you see elbow when you do this is also common because it seems to be a type of joint motion that’s easy for people to figure out without teaching. And the elbow is a single-escape joint because by itself it can only produce a downstroke escape motion. So naturally you tend to see it more when players go fast.

Can you use that? Sure. Nothing wrong with elbow motion. You can try and create some patterns that only move to new strings when you play a downstroke, and then you can use that as a test / etude for your elbow technique.

Your wrist technique is great too though, and I wouldn’t really call it “slow”’. If you get a chance to film any other types of phrases with that technique I’d be interested in seeing it. Try some of those arpeggio patterns when you get a moment and see if you can get them to work.

Again, thanks for posting these.

Well, I tried but I can’t do it as fast and clean as the original yet. The picking movement feels pretty natural and I feel it gets worse if I try to to think about what I’m doing. I’ve had to work more on the fretting hand on this one.

Don’t really know what you are looking for but I recorded som other stuff as well:


Sorry for the delay! We’ve been swamped.

These are awesome. You’re killing it with this motion. We’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple years trying to understand how wrist motion in particular works, because it’s both very common and also not well understood. Like other great players who use wrist motion, you’re mixing and matching multiple versions of this to handle all these different types of string changes. This arpeggio sequence, and the tricky exercise stuff you’re tackling here, are lines that most people never really figure out how to do. And I say “figure out” because that’s really the point of failure. When players say that things are “hard”, what they really mean most of the time (whether they know it or not) is that they weren’t able to figure out how to do the actual picking motion. So the lines feel like they require more effort than they really do. You’re saying the motions feel natural, so great work on your part.

I would just keep feeding this with enough musical variety to give your hands a chance to make everything as smooth and easy as possible. Try and put together as large a collection of musical phrases you can that fits the style you want to be playing. This way you’re finding all the little patterns and picking / fretting combinations that don’t quite feel smooth yet, and polishing them up.

Again, great playing and thanks for putting these up.