I’m an acoustic player and strict alternate picker, with a default motion that’s a DBX stroke using mostly wrist and a little elbow, in the broad family of Carl Miner, Molly Tuttle or David Grier (minus 80% of the precision ). I’m trying to figure out a separate system I can transition to for uberfast lines, including an escape stroke for crossing strings while buried–like most of the top DSX alternate pickers will do when they need to go into top gear.
I have a few constraints:
- I need to be able to play on a full-size dreadnought, so my shoulder isn’t available for string tracking, which is what many (most?) electric players use. I’m capable of using my shoulder for string tracking (if I switch to an electric or smaller acoustic I feel it kick in and things get easier) but it’s just not an option on a large acoustic, short of putting it on my left knee, or using a strap with the guitar in an unorthodox location with better shoulder motion a la Michael Daves.
- My nervous system doesn’t like using the same joint to do two things; stuff gets sloppy. If I do two motions at the same joint, I can live with it, but still much less easy. (An example of the second one would be using a traditional DSX wrist motion but lifting my wrist when I need to escape.)
- I’m not bent on this, but I prefer a DSX motion, simply because it feels more natural for the accented beats (1, 2, 3, 4) to be the ones that drive into the instrument.
My current thinking is this:
- For string tracking, use elbow
- For the primary stroke motion, use wrist (your typical DSX wrist motion with a slightly supinated forearm, like, say, David Grier in fast mode)
- The least normal part: when escaping the strings, use fingers.
On paper this seems pretty elegant; I like the fact that each finer motion is handled by a correspondingly part of the arm.
This is currently more-or-less what happens automatically if I force my main motion to be wrist. The main difference is that unless I laser focus on using a specific escape motion, the escape motion tends to become a messy blend of stuff rather than just fingers, including bizarre combinations like elbow and fingers.
I think if I practiced, I could get the escape stroke to consistently be all fingers, but before I go on that particular wild goose chase I thought I’d run it by you other CtC’ers.
If this option fails, a similar alternative I could live with would be raising my wrist when I need to escape, rather than using fingers, as I mentioned earlier. I don’t like this because it uses the same joint for two tasks, which I’m sloppy at, but at least it’s separate motions, so I think I’d be able to make it work over time. It feels pretty natural (in fact there are certain places I can put my hand on the strings where it will happen automatically) but so far I just don’t get the fine control that I can accomplish with fingers.