A cautionary tale (avoiding stringhopping)

:face_vomiting: I am a dang string-hopper, I just refused to see it! It’s everywhere in my playing and I think that I just refused to see/believe it! Now it’s not the whole problem, but man… if I get the hopping sorted out a lot of other stuff falls into place. The hopping is inconsistent, but it’s in all kinds of spots as a kind of umm habit I must have ingrained when I was an elbow player trying to play incompatible lines for like, decades.

Probably why my DSX escape stroke is trapped, and also why there’s all kinds of swiping in there as well when it shouldn’t be a necessary escape strategy. Oh well, sometimes the truth hurts. Anyways, to anyone else out there who “just can’t get it to work” check and make sure you aren’t doing the “hop”…

Just gained about 20BPM… grrr


How exactly are you a string hopper? I know you’ve had some dbx excursions that were hoppy but you’ve got a core single escape motion that is plenty fast

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Ahhh I took a good long hard look at what I play, and observed quite a bit of up and down with the wrist; I wasn’t really aware of it until it was brought to my attention so I have been trying to beat it out of myself today.

That’s anytime I try to do DBX - but my DSX I seem to trap my downstroke, and then it’s a ‘hop’ type motion or a swipe to escape. Some kind of inward pressure I seem to habitually apply with my picking hand. I believe that’s the root cause, which leads to hops/swipes/spikes.

So yeah, everyone else has posters of Luke and Han on their wall? I have Palpatine… Vader… Maul… Dooku…

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Here’s a pretty good example of complete stringhopping as a playing style! Illustrates pretty much every negative aspect of plectrum playing. There’s hopping, improper anchoring, swiping, slowness, and of course tragic slowness besides just slowness! hahahahaha

Of course, I’m hoping to rectify that in a way that doesn’t involve the overuse of a Boss Waza Fuzz! But for now…

So yeah; kids - don’t do any of THIS;

lol The good news is that I’m hoping to climb out of the “hopping pit” soon. I have some stuff Tommo’s assigned that seems to be making a bit of a difference, I’ll do my best!

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I was/am a string hopper for the past 20 years, and revert back to it a lot even though I have DSX and USX. Old habits die hard.

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Yep, they do. Especially if we aren’t too sure what to look for - we may be doing what to us might seem like something completely removed from the problem, but in fact to those who know what to look for it’s plain as day.

What is particularly frustrating is being able to do a tremolo with a form and then trying to apply it to a phrase, but then you start string hopping again, even though you changed nothing. I always have to watch out for that, because you are essentially wasting practice time.

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Obviously the specific advice will vary depending on the specific player etc… but if I had to oversimplify I’d say: if you are worried about stringhopping, just pick a tempo where stringhopping is impossible for you. Then, your only hope will be to stumble upon a more efficient technique that can actually plat the thing.

Random example: there’s a mixed escape phrase that you currently can only play at 125bpm 16th notes, suspected stringhopping problem. Try to play the phrase at something like 140.

More specifically:

Are you saying that you can do more efficient techniques when you play fast, and less efficient techniques when you play slowly? Then it’s probably ok.

If you have to play a slow part, it doesn’t really matter if you play it with strighopping or not. It’s almost an academic question. The problem only arises when there’s something that you can’t play because all your available techniques are too slow.

PS: let me know if I’m being clear, because I’m worried I may not be :slight_smile:


You know, I was thinking about this. I wonder if the reason this happens is kind of “by association” and when we learn the musical chunk, all those things we burned into our DNA come along with said chunk; Might be one of the reasons why the team encourages a wide variety of musical vocabulary - do something new when you’re trying to learn a new motion and perhaps there’s less chances of influencing oneself to utilize previous habits.

The current motion I am working on I am trying to get the raw motion faster so that I can “start with speed”. Tricky, because the upper limits of my current tempos using this form are right in stringhopping territory. There’s another issue, and that’s me kind of “mutating” the form I am trying to work on into something else as the tempo goes up. Staying disciplined can be tough, because you just don’t know if you’re beating a dead horse or actually progressing. Very challenging.

One bit of advice that Tommo gave me in my last TC that really got me thinking was “don’t settle for less than…” and you know, I think that’s important, great advice.


I have wondered about this for a long time. There are slow parts I play that I like the rhythmic feel that a little string hopping gives me.

Hmm, for myself I don’t think of string-hopping as a positive; I think it’s simply an inefficient way of executing string changes which is why it is so tempo limited. I mean, I am fine to play ANY string change up to a certain tempo, but once I hit the wall, that’s it, no worky…

Keeping this thread alive; journalling my progress as I feel this an interesting and somewhat unique issue. Frustrating, yes. Rewarding as well though. Thanks in advance to the poor suckers who slog through this. My condolences if you are experiencing the same thing.

This week I realized two things, 1) I am still trapping my pickstrokes. 2) I am EXTREMELY heavy handed when I pick. It’s pretty amazing actually how much force is being exerted! (@Tom_Gilroy you will be proud to know that I can shatter a string at will now! hahaha)

Here’s the thing about trapped pickstrokes, and please someone correct me if I am wrong but as far as I can tell there are but a few options if one is going to accept that as a component of one’s playing style. String hop out of the strings. Swipe out of the strings (Smash through the wall! Brute force!). One can sweep (I can do that). One can legato (I do that also). And one can hybrid pick (I also do that). Here’;s the important thing - while I am capable of making music with the ability I have, I really want to figure this out! I mean, I take time to be creative and play actual music every day so it’s not just a technique grind - but I want to figure this out! lol

I’ll share a video shortly, just for reference and to stir the hornets nest, get a dialogue going on trapped playing, both good and bad. I’d like to learn more about it and maybe understand my own playing a bit better.

Anyways. Here’s my theory; I am thinking that the inward pressure into the guitar body that I am applying is a big part of the issue I am having if not the root cause. I believe that this is something I am applying subconsciously all the time, and due to this that often when I “think” I am doing my motion correctly, I may be but that inward body pressure is adding an extra level of difficulty. I can really notice I am adding that inward pressure when the going gets rough (faster tempo) and I am convinced THAT is what is hampering my tempos and escape ability.

Plunging that pick in to the guitar body under the strings, and it’s any type of pick really, is forcing me to exert extra pressure to escape the string after the stroke, and then that constant inward pressure that Ii think is always ther (habitual) keeps my hand spring-loaded almost so that the instant I begin an upstroke, that pressure I am applying makes that pickstroke (which should just escape) dive back down in between the strings.

Now, both @tommo and @troy gave me “homework” that really centered around getting those pickstrokes to feel smooth and easy; no garage spikes and while tempos are indeed going up it is a LOT of work, and it results in a very snappy sound that is prone to hopping and swiping. In adjusting the variables I have at my disposal I noticed the same constant; trapped. Swiping, and hopping. Elbow = trapped wrist = trapped Rotation = trapped Fingers = trapped. Leading edge or trailing edge grip = trapped, Pistol or pad grip = trapped, Supinated or pronated = trapped.

So I messed around with something completely new last night, used a pick on the round side. And gee, guess what? Still trapped BUT the strokes kind of use the strings as a guideline and I was able to deduce that this trapped thing, in my situation needs to be solved so here’s what I am doing.

  1. Still focus on my Herring motion.
  2. Lots of play, stop and reset to see if i can identify when I am applying pressure - all the while try to maintain balance.
  3. Pick Depth. I know it shouldn’t really be much of a factor, but I think to me it’s a symptom (pick depth) of applying pressure. I am a pretty big guy, tough as nails so I think that developing that sensitivity to how much force I exert is something that’s important.
  4. Hops. I string hop and I don’t even know I do it until i hit a tempo where it falls apart. A key thing is to identify just exactly WHAT the hop feeling is. This should be easy; literally my default picking feeling I would suspect!
  5. Swipes. When hopping stops working, I swipe. Sometimes it’s a swipe that I didn’t notice, but now i am quite aware of it. It’s a great tool in a pinch, but for now I don’t want it - it’s in the way at the tempos I am at, and should not be necessary.
  6. Force. Exert less force dang it!! I am killing the strings! I think the force I am exerting on the strings is a subconscious kind of compensation so as to achieve higher tempos

Any thoughts on this are welcome. Also, to anyone reading the thread for heaven’s sakes read Troy and Tommo’s instructions clearly. lol Don’t be dense like me… (Of course I didn’t have CTC way back then but still)


Sorry I missed this part. Yes, I understand what you mean. And thanks for the advice; I definitely need to apply it more, because right now I’m just doing a lot of wasteful repetitions. And I need to figure out the optimal way to chunk, if that’s possible.

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lol Ask me how I know about this! hahaha I am a practice maniac - I love it! I have learned, that quality trumps quantity. By this I mean that I catch myself sometimes wailing away on something thinking I did good practicing when in reality, I practiced… nothing.

So for me, and maybe you, but I can only speak for myself; Developing an awareness of what is good vs what is bad, well I guess that’s the ongoing struggle vs evil… (In a guitar sense of course!)

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Hi @Scottulus, I wanted to write up a message to you in this thread.

I reviewed some videos you sent me back when I was working with you. You were definitely getting a naturally escaping downstroke of the picking rudiments we worked on and you were getting good results for a while.

Has the swiping and trapped downstroke started happening on those rudiments, or does the issue only arise when you include the fretting hand?

I honeslty wish I could just give you one of my picking movements that I don’t really use. You’re super creative and musical and you’d make good use of it.


Actually, I just checked and it happens on both fretted and unfretted things, although I have been taking steps to correct this. Honestly, It was subtle man - I had no idea it was happening, and I do believe that Tommo and I were at wits end as to wtf the problem could have been! The trapping wasn’t something I could see I was doing until I ramped up the framerate and looked at it with a better magnet view.

So now while I am indeed working on something quite different, my main motion is still that pronated DSX, only now I am getting rid of that last remaining bit of background tension - which we knew was going to rear it’s ugly head at some point! hahaha I guess that I was not yet finished figuring out how to minimize said tension further!

The good news is that my DSX motion is getting steadily better, and it’s in much better shape due to the efforts of the last 6 weeks or so. It So really, I suppose I could pretty much play anything I want - for the most part - utilizing DSX, sweep and hybrid. But Tumeni Notes not being able to be played like Steve really bugged me… lol So I failed and am failing at mixed escape but the attempts are proving to yield clearer information that I can use in my single escape playing, to optimize and refine.

I firmly believe at this point that I have a real lack of sensitivity to the feedback my body is giving me, you know - I just press on doing stuff as uncomfortably as humanly possible for hours on end utterly oblivious to the signals I have sent myself. Just kind of brute force my way through it, it’s kind of funny. Painfully frustrating at times, but at the end of it - kind of a funny situation!

lol You can mail me your unused and not needed motions whenever you like hahaha I would take 'em all! Sadly, it looks like a motion transplant may not be possible - I have to do the chores!


Hi Scottulus, FYI I added a sort of sub-title to the thread just so the topic is clearer for passers-by. Happy to change it again if you think this is not representative of the discussion.

I don’t think this is true! In our various critiques both Troy and I identified moments where you were doing a potentially efficient double-escape motion. Sure, you are not yet able to do it on command and on many consecutive pickstrokes (as required by Tumeni notes, for example), and your “good” motion can unintentionally morph into a less efficient stringhoppy motion particularly when you play at medium tempos.

However, you already proved to yourself that you can do these motions, which is a key first step.

As suggested in the recent critique, a possible way forward is to focus on tempos that are not crazy fast but that are definitely out of reach of the stringhoppy motions. Also, rather than jumping straight into Tumeni notes, you could try some phrases like ascending 6s that do not require continuous double escape, but where you need you to do a DBX pickstroke here and there.