A trapped downstroke..that still escapes! Can't do the same with upstrokes though

It’s been a while since I wrote a technique critique post. But I recently noticed something that I hope CTCers might find interesting: on the “Inside Gilbert” lick, I actually do a rest-stroke on the high note downstroke. This should leave me trapped, yet my pick does a sort of semicircle path that brings me back to the low string without hitting anything (when it goes well). I can bring this up to decent speeds even with 1-2 string skips despite the seemingly large motions (although on this lick I can’t reach my fastest speeds). Also, the rest-stroke is accented and I can’t remove this.

This (rest-stroke+rotation) is a quite handy technique, but unfortunately I can’t do the same when trying to free myself from trapped upstrokes, so I can’t confidently/comfortably play the “Reverse inside Gilbert” (is this the name?), with 5 notes on a high string followed by 1 note on a lower string. It would be great if anyone could spot anything as to why this may be the case, as having both techniques would open up many useful possibilities in my playing.

So here’s a couple of cherry-picked reps with slow motion for both types of licks. The first version is the standard inside Gilbert pattern with some added string skips to show the robustness of the movement, the second a “reverse” inside Gilbert which is where I struggle:

EDIT: @Tom_h, the stuff at the beginning of the video shows an example of what I mentioned in your other post - i.e., the exxagerated forearm involvement.

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I see this all the time when I film my own playing. This is true even if there is no or very little forearm component, and you do this entirely with wrist motion. It happens when you hit the downstroke notes harder, so they continue down into the strings, past the string you are playing. The pick eventually comes back out again, just later than you imagine it would.

You can call this trapped if you like but the pickstroke still escapes so at some level this is semantic. It’s still the same motions involved even if it weren’t going that low into the strings to appear “trapped”. If the terminology seems clumsy (and it often is), just look at the motions - like you’re doing. You’ve got one motion going one direction, and then some other sequence of motions going the other direction. If it works, it works!

Great playing, as usual!


When you’re not doing the arm thing, do you feel any contact on the pinky heel or is raised slightly off the bridge / strings? Like if you just play a single note on a single string using this form. If it’s slightly raised, with a tiny air gap, then this is the pronated form. When you see players that play this way doing faster stuff, you often see the arm movement for the ascending inside string changes. David Grier is a great example of this — you can see this in the magnet shots and the overhead shots:

Notably, when David hits the upper strings, you can see he actually stays in the more supinated form for a little bit. Those pickstrokes are actually double escape when he does that. So he’s got really two “modes” in a way. David is a great subject because his playing is so clean, his motions are so easily visible, and he never moves when playing — you can set up that camera and walk away and he’ll still be in the center of the frame during an entire song…

You’ve got this style of playing down, down, down. Have you watched any of the wrist motion stuff and tried any of the roll patterns using this form? That would be an obvious next step for you. Give that a shot and don’t be afraid to be sloppy if necessary. What you want to do is go past the string without going below it, with a feeling of flatness and sideways motion, just by moving the hand, not the arm. Don’t worry too much about the motions themselves, let the wrist figure it out.


Oh I see, I didn’t notice the rest strokes in your inside Gilberts (or similar patterns), I’ll have a better look. I thought I was doing something unusual - and I also thought I was using the forearm - good to know! Also @Tom_h recently posted a video where he thinks he’s using forearm motion for similar string changes, but I wonder if he’s actually using the wrist like me? See link below

Thank you, for a second I thought you were talking about repeated downstrokes and my forearm got immediately sore :smiley:

I think I also understood why the second part of the video doesn’t work as well for me - but please let me know if I’m off the mark: it is not as easy to dial in a significant of amount UWPS/ escaped downstroke, which would facilitate aiming for the correct string with the upstroke (as we discussed in the other thread - decoupling tracking from picking by making the movement more vertical). So the picking + tracking trajectory remains quite flat and often can’t avoid the unwanted strings. I could try to allow for more pronation by lifting the anchored fingers, I guess!

Finally yes, I should gather my courage and attempt some sloppy fast crosspicking, but first I want to watch the wrist tutorials again. I’ll do that soon.

Sorry, my poor wording. Yes you are using wrist and arm motion for some of these motions. I just mean that even when someone uses only wrist motion you can still see the same phenomenon of rest strokes and other trapped-appearing pickstrokes that eventually escape. The escape happens a little later than you’d think but it’s still an escape pickstroke.

As to some things ‘not working’ I’m not really sure what you’re referring to. Everything is working here! These motions are totally learned and polished and sound great. There’s really nothing else to analyze or fix. That’s why the next move is to try some lines you don’t normally play. Acoustic arpeggio patterns are great for this, as are mixed notes per string country, jazz, and bluegrass lead lines, etc. You can do it!

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