Any major issues here?

Hi guys,

Just started Troy’s Picking Primer, and Downward Pickslanting is more awkward for me than Upward Pickslanting.

Could you take a quick look at my Downward Pickslanting technique and tell me if you see any major issues? I know my synchronization isn’t great and that it sounds a bit sloppy at the moment, but do you see any issues that mere time and practice won’t be able to correct?

Downward Pickslanting Front View:

Downward Pickslanting Top View:

Downward Pickslanting Side View:

Sorry about the sound, I forgot to plug my guitar in (duh!), but if you turn up your volume you should be able to hear it ok.



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Hi! Thanks for posting these. This is an interesting motion. Did you develop this by watching the “wrist motion” section in the Primer, or is this something you figured out on your own?

I hesitate to say this is wrong, because if it works, it works. But without boring you with the details, aspects of this have the potential to lead to stringhopping depending on the phrase you try to play with it. And more generally, if you’re shooting for wrist motion, this is not the deviation-based USX motion we teach in the Primer. Have you run through the latest instructions, including the checklst, with the rest stroke instructions (if necessary)?

If not, I’d definitely check those out. Both of these have been updated with new details and hopefully better explanations as of this weekend. These are the two pages where we cover that:

Let me know and we’ll go from there!

Thanks for your feedback Troy, much appreciated!

I got this motion from trying to follow the Primer instructions.

Yes I did, do you think the issue might be that I’m trying to run before I can walk? I tried again but this time really focusing on the rest stroke, please see videos below. Is there any improvement?

Thanks for filming more of these — very helpful. What do you mean by run before you can walk, are referring to the pattern you’re playing?

In general I don’t like the “run before you walk” analogy because it implies that going for it is bad. But when you watch kids learn to walk, it actually looks like they’re running. It’s more like run, fall. Run, fall. And that approach I really like. It captures the spirit of trying something until you get it right. So in your case, by all means try stuff!

In these clips you’re making a motion which is too vertical, I think it’s wrist extension and essentially stringhopping. You can tell because the hand is going more up and down instead of side to side. And because of the up and down nature of the motion, you feel the need to use way more pickslant than I am using in the lessons. This makes sense, i.e. the pickslant has to match the escape trajectory for smoothness. That’s one way you can tell the motion is following a different path than the one in the lesson.

So first thing, straighten out the grip, similar to what I’m using in the checklist, where the pick is more on the side of the index finger. See if you can match that as closely as you can from the still images in the checklist. If you try the motion you’re doing here, with my grip, it’s probably going to feel weird because there won’t be enough pickslant and you will get the garage spikes problem. That’s good — you can use that as a test. The only way to make the garage spikes feeling go away is to make the sideways motion with the 10 degree escape angle instead of the more vertical one you are making here.

See if you can copy the grip, and then just try the motion on a single string, single note, and see if you can make it go fast. Remember, when it’s working, and you look down the strings, you’ll see more of a 10 degree angle instead of a vertical one. And when you film the side view, you should see obvious motion at the wrist joint, going from straight wrist, to ulnar wrist, and back again. If you don’t see the ulnar bend in the motion, even when you’re doing it slowly / demonstration speed, then it’s not right.

Thanks for doing this and give it another shot!


This feedback is gold, thanks!

As you can see in the video below, I think I’ve straightened out the grip successfully. I think I’ve got the 10 degree angle more or less ok, but it does feel strange as it doesn’t feel like I’m really doing proper downward pickslanting—like as if I’m going to hit the string above (the D string in this video). It also feels tricky to do fast, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’m doing something incorrect (a lack of supination?), or just that I need more practice to get used to it:

I think that’s pretty much what I’m getting here:

I think I’ve fixed that now thanks to your advice, please see below:

So, am I on the right track? Or is there anything that needs correcting before I go full throttle and practice till I’m blue in the face? :wink:

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Good work on the grip change, that’s what you want. Ten degrees is pretty flat — you don’t need much pickslant for that, which is why it doesn’t feel like anything to you. A little edge picking is enough to make the attack smooth at this slight of an escape trajectory. And yes, ten degrees is the minimum you need to clear the string. No matter what arm position you use, whether it’s this one or a more supinated one like EVH or Steve Morse, you’re still going to end up at 10 degrees and it’s still going to feel like you’re just barely clearing the string. Those guys just use a different wrist motion to get to that point.

Which reminds me, have you tried the two other forms from Chapter 2? If you can get it with any of them, you’re that much closer to getting it with all of them. I totally recommend trying that. Especially since we’re at this stage of not being totally sure what you’re doing here is correct. Definitely give that a shot.

In the first clip, as you play more slowly it still looks like your pick is making a curved motion as opposed to a straight one. It’s going sideways and then pulling up more vertically to get out of the strings. This isn’t by itself a bad thing, depending on how that curved motion is being generated. If you look at wrist motion versus a wrist-forearm blend, for example, you can see that the motion path of the blend is a little more curved than the wrist path by itself:

The issue in your case is that there is no forearm involvement. So if we’re seeing a curved motion, it can only come from wrist extension, which is not correct for this arm position. Take a look at your clip and let me know if you can see what I’m getting at.

Second clip, I still don’t really see any ulnar bend. It looks like the wrist is going radial to straight, and back to radial. Instead, what we want is straight, then ulnar, then back to straight. If you look at what I’m doing from about 6:20 to 6:40 in the video lesson, the ulnar bend is a little more obvious here. It doesn’t feel like it when I’m doing it, but that’s what it looks like when you view it face-on like this. In the overhead shot that follows it, what I’m doing there is positioning my arm so that it’s maybe just a tiny bit ulnar when the pick is resting on the B string. Then when I push through the B to play the note, and come to rest on the E, the wrist is visibly ulnar. Maybe give that a try, i.e. using the resting position on the played string as your starting point. Look in a mirror if you have to. If the form isn’t quite right, try lowering your approach angle just a little.

Can you see the ulnar bend when you finish the downstroke? Something in that general ballpark is what we’re looking for. Doesn’t have to be exact. And I’m not saying this is specifically going to solve the other issue, but it might trigger some small form change that makes this click.

And try the other two forms from Chapter 2, even if they feel weird. Consider it an experiment. If either of those work, you’ll have some reference point for what the correct straight shot motion into the strings looks and feels like.

Thanks again for working on this.