A Critique Request for my USX/DWPS Technique Please

@Troy (also @Brendan and the rest of the team) A huge THANK YOU for recently creating and uploading all of the new Pickslanting Primer videos. You and the team did an outstanding job. The biggest things that helped me was clarifying not to worry too much about HOW the technique looks, there are more than one ways to skin the cat in terms of pick grip, etc., and providing the easy step by step tutorial on how to set up for USX. Those videos for me solidified a lot of the earlier CTC work and forum readings… So my stubborn @ss took your advice- here is a video of me USX at different speeds to where I am comfortable, but not slow to the point I can get away with stringhopping:

So I feel comfortable doing the table tap on one string at 150/155bpm no problem which is the speeds of stuff I want to play at. The string switching is still my Achilles heel if you will. It’s getting cleaner but not there up to tempo. I did an updated Sold My Soul run up to 140bpm before I fall apart… I feel at times I am swiping and also having a mental hesitation switching strings. Like my commitment to switching isn’t there. Maybe I’m afraid I will miss the next string or be out of sync with the tune…?

Thanks again! BB


Have you tried making the picking motion a little bit larger? E.g. you can achieve this by making sure you always rest stroke on the higher string. This way, you could have a picking motion that is roughly the same size as the distance between strings, so that when you do have to go to a new string you don’t have to alter drastically your range of motion. Pentatonic licks tend to change strings quite often, so this might give a more even feel.

Not sure if it helps, just a possible thing to try :slight_smile:

Edit: another advantage of a slightly larger motion is that the pick does not spend too much time in the vicinity of the string, so there’s a lower risk of choking the notes


One reason could be that from looking at the first video, it’s almost as if you’re not escaping on the upstroke, i.e. the tip of the pick is buried below the plane of the strings all the time. Perhaps someone with a better eye could tell for sure.

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Sorry guys, I was absent for last couple of lessons. What is ‘USX’ actually? -_-

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I’d even go so far as to say that at some of the higher speeds in the first video, it seems like it’s the downstrokes that are escaping, even though the orientation of the pick in space is in what CTC calls a “downward slant”. This is probably from a combination of increased elbow motion at higher speeds and the setup of your arm (and not a lot of “supination” to the rotational position of the forearm). Those aren’t necessarily “bad” things, but if you are trying to diagnose a string switching problem, those things might be thwarting your attempts to get upstrokes to escape.

But the 135bpm “Sold My Soul” reps looked really good to me. One thing that may be hampering you above that speed is left hand efficiency (possible lack of) and how that affects the synchronization between the hands. Since this lick essentially calls for a trill on each string, it’s particularly unforgiving of lack of left hand efficiency, because the fingers get re-used so quicky. I know Zakk’s your bag, but I’d “cross-train” this lick with some licks that do more of an Yngwie “six notes spread across three fingers on each string” thing to help you build up general synchronization and confidence for the string switches.


In an effort to be more precise, @Troy and his crew have decoupled the description of “direction of motion of the pick” from description of “orientation of the pick in space”. USX is “upstroke escape” (the pick escapes the plane of the strings on an upstroke, regardless of how the pick is oriented in space).


Oh, that’s what it is…
Tnank you!

@Frylock it’s good to hear from you! Long time no message lol. Life has been a whirlwind the past year, but all in a good direction. I hope it’s the same for you and anyone else reading this…
Regarding your first paragraph, what did you mean that my downstrokes are escaping? Does that mean to you I am going PAST the rest stroke? Do you recommend I work on “bouncing off” on the rest strokes versus hanging on them? Try to rotate the forearm a little more? More supination? If you don’t mind writing a little checklist for me I will be glad to give those a shot. I am always grateful for your technique critiques…
I was thinking the same thing on your second paragraph comment. My left hand. We seem to overlook these things and I realized I need more synchronization. Especially with fast string switching and like you said, pentatonic licks that are unforgiving to the left hand. I’ll dig up some Yngwie licks and work on those this week.
Hope to hear back and get a list of points to practice on! BB

Thank you @tommo for that insight! I find at slower tempos I try and exaggerate the USX/DWPS motions. The escape path, the forearm rotation, etc. all bigger movements. Naturally as we speed up, movements get smaller. They have to. Or faster. Walking versus running mechanics type analogy.
However, if my movements are too small as they may be according to you and also pointed out by @SlowButSloppy I will need to focus on that escape/upward picking motion more!
Back to the practice board lol.

Yeah, in the first video, from 1:02 onward, and more clearly from 1:17 onward, it looks to me like a very nice example of DSX, even though what you’re intending to practice is USX. Your range of motion is small, so you aren’t going “past the rest stroke” per se, but at, say, 1:17, I don’t think your picking trajectory would “rest” on the downstroke even if the motion was bigger. My lazy prescription would be to flex your wrist a little more to force your arm into a more supinated position if you want to make the USX happen, but @Troy might have a more nuanced take.


I have a less nuanced take :smiley:

If it’s really DSX, you should be able to blaze through 2nps patterns by starting with an upstroke. Have you tried doing that and going as fast as you can?


@tommo I just tried and my blazing is as fast as a stoner at a Grateful Dead concert :smile:
Definitely not DSX if that is what we are possibly looking at lol.

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So @Frylock, when you want to play using USX, when you look down at your guitar and your right hand is resting on the body of the strings, etc. is your hand/wrist more or less in line with the rest of the arm up to the elbow? Again, more or less because this isn’t an exact science…
Or do you find more supination and your wrist is slightly bending towards the guitar?
Don’t want to ask too much BUT if you could take a still shot of your right arm so I can see what positioning you are referring to, that helps me a lot. I am envisioning what you are writing but seeing it helps much more.

Forgot to add, recently @Troy did a killer USX video:

Right around 3:50 he gives a great set up for USX. It appears that the set up is quite reasonable for lack of a better term? Wrist seems in line with the forearm, little bit of edge picking, wrist has more of an ulnar deviation and the angle of supination doesn’t appear to be crazy like a Zakk or Marty. That was my huge mistake in the beginning, mimicking Zakk’s wrist was a horrible idea ha!
Is my set up way off to Troy’s example?

The “tilt” @Troy talks about at around 5:15 of that video is where I’m trying to get you. If my wrist flex suggestion doesn’t get you there, ignore what I said.

When I do USX, I’m more like Zakk or Marty, and I have a significant forearm rotation component, so details of how I do it probably won’t solve your problem.

What I see happening in the first clip is that at higher speeds, you start using your elbow more, and you start having a wrist movement together with that elbow that is moving the pick away from the guitar body on downstrokes. If you can get that “tilt” @Troy talks about for your wrist-based movement, it might help you keep a USX pick trajectory, even when your elbow starts to get involved.

Also pay attention to what that video says about how you anchor the heel of your hand, and the effect that can have on your wrist movements.


I will work on having more supination if that’s the case?
Initially when I began with CTC I went overboard on my supination which was too exaggerated.
Now, I am trying to start neutral as Troy does and just work from there if that makes sense?
Can you please clarify what you mean when I am moving the pick away on the downstrokes?
Do you mean I am stringhopping/crosspicking? The curvy bouncy type motion or literally the pick is physically from what you’re gathering too far from the strings?
Thanks Fry :wink:

At the fast parts I referred to in your first video, you have what looks to me to be a pretty linear “single-escaped” motion which is trapped on the upstroke side, and escaped on the downstroke side. The motion of the pick has that trajectory despite the fact that its orientation in space is what CTC describes as a “downward slant”. There’s nothing wrong with doing DSX, but if your intention is to do USX, that’s not what I’m seeing when you go fast.

I suggest watching Troy’s videos about wrist-oriented DSX and wrist-oriented USX. It might help you sort out for yourself why you end up doing DSX when your intention is to do USX.

Thanks Fry! Are you referring to the newer videos from Troy, the one I referenced earlier?
So in plain speak for me being such a simpleton, at faster speeds it appears my pick is going away from the strings and on the upstroke my pick is more neutral and doesn’t escape properly?
I’ll try and get a video out later playing at a slower speed to accent my movements and hopefully they’re correct so I can still that at higher speeds… BB

In plain speak, at high speed, what you are doing looks like DSX: a pretty much linear pick trajectory that is in the “escaped zone” at the end of downstrokes and in the “trapped zone” at the end of upstrokes. DSX is what guys like Vinnie Moore do.

So your recommendation in the immediate is that tilt in the forearm correct? I rewatched the USX video and will try and get an updated video up tonight…

Yeah, and just in general to explore @Troy’s explanations of both USX wrist motion and DSX wrist motion so you have a handle on how each can work. Understanding DSX wrist should help you understand how not to do it when you don’t want to.