Anton Oparin about learning technique in slow vs fast tempos

In his latest video

My transcription of IMO the most important part starting at 25:30:

but even if you choose Troy’s so called “pickslanting” and you start doing things differently in faster tempos thinking that it will become better by itself over time – not really
learning a new technique in faster tempos you won’t start clean
otherwise we would all be virtuosos right away when we take guitar for the first time
so you don’t have that skill in the beginning, you can’t play clean
your brains will learn to waste less energy over time on the motions that don’t allow you to play clean
they will become more efficient by wasting less energy, maybe you’ll gain a bit of confidence in those motions even though you still won’t play clean
there are thousands and thousands of guitar players in the world who play fast which means their muscles are able to do fast motions
but only few people in the world play clean in those tempos
if brains learned to play well in faster tempos by themselves, then why after so many years of doing so, there are only few people in the world who play clean?
and even if we forget about physiology of skill and the fact that we won’t be able to maintain quality if we learn things fast right away
by playing the same way in both slow and faster tempos you’d spend twice as more time on a single skill
instead of spending the same amount of time on two different techniques for different tempos
that’s why I never developed anything starting in fast tempos right away
I was using the methods that were used in sport and I’m pretty satisfied with the result

Another IMO important bit is about using specifically developed exercises for practicing, 14:40:

actually there are certain exercises on synchronization that have a lot to do with how our brains work while trying to synchronize our hands
and when we understand that entire process, we can make that process a little harder for the brain in certain exercises
and it will be forced to learn to make it easier so that we wouldn’t waste so much energy concentrating on it
so our brains develop that skill of synchronizing our hands
so my opinion and experience tells me that there are great exercises on synchronization but it’s not about playing certain notes

I think Justin’s position on playing differently slow vs fast makes sense in some cases. For example, you commonly see people play with DBX at mid-tempos and naturally shift into DSX for faster tempos but if you just have a single escape motion this doesn’t make as much sense, your motion might not be firing as optimally as it can when your playing 200bpm+ but I think it should essentially be the same regardless of speed :slight_smile:

What is Anton’s position? He’s against practicing differently slow and fast but says he didn’t develop anything in fast tempos straight away? Do you know what he means when he says that he used methods used in sport? That is too broad a statement for me to really draw anything from it, interested to know what he means though!

Whenever I see people use the term pickslanting I immediately get the feeling the last video of Troy’s they watched was from 7 years ago :grin: I feel like if they were more caught up they would see some of the nuance that is missing from the discussion!


I think the implication here is that it is possible to learn a fast technique by practicing slow (and if you want a fast and clean technique, no swiping etc., this is the only way?), if you know the correct thing to practice.

(We all know too well the result of practicing the wrong thing slow – stringhopping. But practicing the “right” thing slow, whatever this thing is?)

Hm, I don’t get the logic in that. If you can already play as fast as you want then sure some slow practice for memorisation of a lick is helpful but I don’t think I’d ever hit tall ergonomic mouse levels of DT/RDT speed without trying to unlock the motion at those super high speeds! How do you know the correct thing to practice without seeing if what your doing works at high speed?

I might be misunderstanding what he’s saying though, maybe there is some level of fast playing he thinks you need to do that he’s not mentioned in this video :grin:

It sounds similar to the concept of “deliberate practice”. You’d focus on practising the correct technique at a relatively slow speed compared to the target until it becomes second nature, and that you can bring it to higher speeds with time.

If you work in the frame where Anton knows what works at speed and that he’s able to teach it, it makes sense. Do what he teaches you to do because he knows that it works at fast speeds, and he can demonstrate that it works at fast speeds and explain why it works.

I’ll add this which some of you may have seen before. It is the experience of someone who has followed his lessons, which might help get a look into the philosophy of it.

Interesting point he mentions about Paul Gilbert having really good technique in comparison to Jason Richardson. My theory would be because he used to use a trailing edge three finger grip which meant when he learnt his picking motion he learnt a motion that is more closely aligned along the RDT axis than your average player and when he switched back to a more conventional grip his motion was already ingrained so he still moves his hand in the same, more efficient way.

Don’t you think it’s a strange coincidence that Bruce Bouillet, probably one of very few guitarists who could play leads in harmony with Paul holds his pick in exactly the same way Paul used to? :grin:

That makes perfect sense in theory but I’m not sure it often works in practice!

This is from a year later, similar to what he’s playing in that video. It sounds great, very clean and articulate but about the same speed:

That being said, I have seen videos of some of Anton’s students who can absolutely rip though!

I’m not watching a 45-minute reaction video. I assume he’s mentioning me/us because of something the other guy said? I don’t think Anton really knows what’s in our instructional material, because this is obviously not it.

If you have questions about how “fast” you should practice, here is what we have learned:

You can’t trust anything you see when you film someone playing really slowly. Anyone can get all the notes right if they go slowly enough. It doesn’t mean the technique is right. When you ask that same player to speed up, they might do the technique they’re shooting for, or they might just switch to some other motion they already know how to do. Or they might not be able to speed up at all. You won’t know until you ask them to try.

In general, if you can reach the speed you’re looking for, and the escape is the one you are trying to do, then you’re really “doing it”. The escape “is” the technique. This is the real outcome you’re trying to achieve, i.e. not just create certain pitches, but learning to perform a specific joint motion which is capable of creating those pitches.

This is true even if there are wrong notes. Wrong notes don’t tell you what you think they’re telling you about the correctness of your technique. A player doing the correct escape motion at speed, but “aiming” wrong, or any of 100 other possible accuracy-related outcomes, is in a good position for learning. A stringhopping player who gets all the notes right when playing slowly but can’t speed up at all is not learning. That same player who speeds up and switches to a different joint motion than the phrase requires, and hears “mistakes” as a result, is also not yet learning. The pitches alone can’t tell you whether any of this is happening.

This becomes super obvious when you give someone a camera. We have thousands of examples of this in Technique Critique, but you don’t even have to believe me. All you have to do is film yourself. Even if you’re not a mechanics hobbyist, anyone with a few pointers can learn to spot when their escape motion maches the phrase they’re trying to play. This will make most questions about how to practice a moot point. Nobody looks at stringhopping footage, or footage of obvious DSX motion trying to play USX lines, and thinks, “Let me put another 1000 hours into that.” They think, hm, doesn’t look right, what can I do, right now, to make this different? And that’s the critical step.

TLDR if you’re only listening for wrong notes, and not observing the technique directly at normal playing speeds at least occasionally, you’re just flying blind.


I’m not going to speak for Anton because I don’t know what exactly he has in mind.

But here’s what I think is his point. (From watching and rewatching his videos with a passion and trying to understand what he’s saying…)

First let’s make something clear – we all understand that it’s not about hitting the right notes when learning right hand technique.

We’re currently speaking strictly about learning right hand picking technique, which does not necessarily involve trying to play any specific notes. We’re just talking about doing the correct motions. All of what you wrote I already know of, I also watched many of your videos with a passion including the whole pickslanting primer.

And my guess about Anton’s position (again, I cannot read his mind, so take it with a grain of salt) is that:

while you can learn a fast technique by starting with speed, the technique you’ll learn that way will with high probability be far from perfect, in particular:

  • you will not switch strings cleanly (i.e., you will do what you call swiping, a lot), and we can indeed see this in the footage you recorded of a lot of great players, like Andy Wood or Steve Morse when they enter high tempos
  • you will have synchronization problems when you start involving the left hand, like Guthrie Govan who Anton analyzed in his 2h “universal technique” video and showed his sync problems, and the synchronization problems come from the unnecessary complexity (inefficiencies) of the technique you will learn that way, because your brain will have too many things to process while using this technique (for example, you’ll perform unnecessary finger movements) and will simply not keep up

So the dispute is about getting best cleanliness and synchronization while developing a fast technique – what is the best method of achieving that? (Again, it’s not about hitting the right or wrong notes.)

So the proposed alternative hypothesis is (again, this is my interpreted implication of what Anton is saying), that you can perform specific focused exercises (again, strictly for right hand picking technique) that you can perform in slow tempos, that will teach your brain the right habits which will naturally lead you to developing a fast, clean and synchronized technique, which will be most likely superior to whatever you can learn by starting with a fast tempo.

This does not contradict anything that you wrote above, I think. Yes, you can’t trust people filming their slow playing. But the question is why what they are doing is not trustworthy and not helpful when speeding up?

  • is it because anything that you could do in slow tempos is always useless for learning fast tempo playing?
  • or maybe it’s because the specific thing that these people are doing is not helpful, but there exists an exercise (or set of exercises) that you could do that would actually help, these people just don’t know what these exercises are?

EDIT: just to make sure we avoid miscommunication: by “exercise” I don’t mean a sequence of notes or even sequence of pickstrokes (i.e. a “lick”), I mean it much more broadly. For example, an exercise could involve moving your hand in certain specific ways or trying to activate certain subsets of muscles in specific ways. Or for example your “tapping tests” could be considered exercises.

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Troy. This is off-topic, but let me show you a piece of your own video which goes a bit against what you’re saying above.

3:28 – the “inside picking” lick

I probably watched that video like 10 times.

You’re doing a strictly “DSX” lick here.
But in each 6-note chunk you’re doing, 5 out of 6 pickstrokes are trapped. At the same time, the string switching is super clean here. Because just at the right moment, before switching the string, you are doing a tactical forearm rotation. (It was called pickslanting back then :slight_smile:)

So is it really true that “the escape is the technique”? Your single-string technique on that video has no escape! But you are doing clean string switches with a helper motion!

I understand you’re just guessing at what Anton may be saying. But most of these guesses are not really what we see when we work with students.

Playing at normal speed does not lead to “a lot” of swiping, even for beginners. Many beginners can look surprisingly good almost immediately, even in slow motion, depending on the technique. And playing at realistic playing speeds does not automatically lead to hand sychronization problems. Nor is playing slowly a good way to learn hand synchronization. And so on.

Yes. Sorry for the confusion. I’m not saying picking motions must always have a continuous escape, like a Gypsy player. I’m saying the pattern of escape motion is what defines one technique as separate from another. This is how you can still be doing it “right” (more quotes), even if there are mistakes.

A technique is “correct” (quotes again) when you attempt it at a normal range of speed, and you see escape motions that we would expect for the picking style you’re trying to learn. A Gypsy player needs to look a certain way. A reverse dart wrist DBX player needs to look a certain way. A reverse dart USX player needs to look a certain way. Etc. These can look very different compared to each other, but within each style there are similarities. This is what we look for. If we don’t see that, then it’s not “right” even if all the notes are correct.

The reverse is also true. It can be right even if all the pitches are not all perfect. By definition, beginners can’t do this. That’s why they’re beginners, and why practice is necessary. But if we can see that the signature motions for the style are actually happening as we expect, that’s important. It’s how we know the difference between someone who is doing the technique, just with errors because they’re new, and someone who is not doing it at all.

Thanks for watching our stuff! But any time I hear that people are repeatedly watching certain lessons, and trying to parse details of what pundits are saying, I get concerned about information overload. I also don’t like when these fears are to some degree weaponized in internet lessons where people are like, oh no, you’ll have swiping or some other horrible thing if you don’t do things the right way.

I didn’t create terms like escape motion and pickslanting to give people more stuff to worry about. It was to make technique more accessible for more people. You’ll notice I also have no secrets. Like, almost zero. I don’t think anyone gives away more actionable, tested information than we do, right here on our forum and web site. This is how we combat the FUD, whether it’s intentional or accidental.

If the reason you’re watching these videos on repeat and asking these pretty “inside baseball” questions about technique is because you’re working on your own playing, my best advice is to focus on the top-down approach. Certain styles have a certain form. They look a certain way. Establish this first. From there, they move a certain way using certain joints. Get that happening. Escape can help tell you if the motions are the “right” ones (damn quotes again!), so filming can clarify this. Don’t proceed further until you see this.

Once you do, it’s it’s ok to be sloppy because, if the technique is really “correct” (quotes!!) it will either be more accurate than you think sooner than you think, or clean up rapidly without having to exhaust yourself mentally trying to focus on getting the notes right. These techniques all exist because they are, at some level, easy. Try to find that easyness.


It seems to me that a swipe is necessary at every speed if the pick is trapped and one wants to pluck two strings away. This is one reason why I believe that slow practice is useful, in the sense that one must embrace the swipe where they need it.

I grasp that there is accidental string contact, but this seems very different from a swipe, an intentional movement.

Am I misinterpreting?

I think from Antons’s perspective the slow practice ethos is because he does not swipe. Not sure if that’s relevant but I don’t see swiping as a necessity especially for the majority of single escape-based players (i.e most)

Say you’re DSX and the pick is trapped between E and A strings, and you want to hit the D string. Don’t you have to go through the A string with a swipe in order to hit the D?

If the note on the E or A string is a downstroke then no, as it will escape the strings and the note on the D string would be an upstroke. I know what you’re getting at through, as it’s dependant on your escape motion (assuming single escape)

From my understanding people like Anton are highly developed DBX players, and the difference between there USX and DSX is nominal as the pick slant is neutral.

I’m no expert, i’m still confused about pickslanting lol, but if you are using DSX or the other one, aren’t you supposed to arrange the lines/picking so your last pick stroke is the escape so it is free to strike other strings? If you are ending trapped between e an a and need to go to d then this is poor planning and you are doing it wrong?

Sorry, I did a bad job explaining. Let’s pretend somebody is DSX, and the pick is free. They need to hit one note on the A, and then one note on the D. So, it would go like this:

  1. Upstroke to hit A, then trapped between E and A.
  2. Downstroke swipes through A, hits D, and becomes free.

Is there a way to avoid the swipe except for not doing things like this? Note that problems like this often times result from one note per string scenarios.

But is it wrong, in the sense that some people swipe very effectively and listeners just can’t hear it in practice? I suspect the problem starts when one is getting into situations with one note per string, and this frequently will result in irregular things like sweeping, swiping, and more.

You could hit the note on the A string and then get yourself free.
I’m just guessing though.

Added: Again I don’t really know much, but you can hear swiping though sometimes right? You could hear it with PG when he did it in certain postions. The note sounds extra exaggerated or emphasized. Didn’t Anton claim he could hear it at anytime and even pick touches? Didn’t he demostrate the different sound between them. In that one video he mentioned when people’s pick would touch and when they were “out of sync” and he could just hear it all. Personally, I don’t like the idea of it. Seems to be cheating lol. But I guess if you can make it sound good and if it is the only way then that’s what you gotta do. I think though with some people they didn’t know they were doing it. In addition to other aspects of their technique.

Yes, that might work in many cases, depending on where your hand has to be for the upcoming notes.

Yeah, I’d call it an “escape hatch.” :grinning:

The other thing is though, if you are upward pickslanting or DSX, when you go to downstroke the A string being stuck between A and E after an upstroke with the intention of swiping right through A to play the D string, aren’t you going to clear miss the D since the normal trajectory of DSX will take you over it since it is escaping. You’ll have to change something there and kind of sweep them in a down direction I guess. But if you kept going in that down direction turning your wrist a little could that take you out of the plane of the A string like a two way pick slanting thing and then just head over to D string. Maybe I’m remembering wrong or my physics are wack.