Any Trailing Edge Pickers Here?

Do we have any other trailing edge pickers on the forum? I have been playing like this for a number of years now and find it comfortable, although I have gone back to regular pick grip at times, but trailing edge works great for me.

In my own analysis of my playing, I feel that I play with a cross picking swing whereby I don’t need to use pickslanting. I’m wondering though, from all the analysis that the CTC team have done - do trailing edge pickers tend to use pickslanting?

Here is how i hold the pick:


George Benson is probably the most famous trailing edge picker, and he’s essentially a gypsy-style downward pickslanter. I was a trailing edge player originally, and I still play that way occasionally. And when I do lately it has been of the crosspicking sort, clips of which you can check out in some of the Morse analysis:

I don’t know that the grip itself specifically lends itself to crosspicking per se so much as it lends itself to supinated forearm positions, like what Morse uses, and those positions tend to be crosspick friendly. So once, removed, but yes!


wow, looks like you hold the pick like I do. With the thumb, index and middle finger, but I am not a trail edge picker, sorry. That looks like a really nice guitar; I know I’m judging a book by its cover, but looks perfect for playing metal.

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Thanks Troy. I need to relook at my own picking. I’ve always been assuming that I’m not using any sort of a pickslant and am holding my pick fairly parallel to the strings. I will try to film a decent picking video and post it for further forum analysis.

Thanks! It’s a Suhr Modern - not really a metal guitar as such IMO, but it can cover metal fairly well.

You’re not really looking at the pickslant, per se - you’re looking at the motion path the pick follows. If the pick lifts above the strings on upstrokes, that’s downward pickslanting. If it lifts above the strings on downstrokes, that’s upward pickslanting. And if it lifts above the strings on both, that’s either crosspicking or stringhopping depending on the movement you’re using.

As an example, you wouldn’t really try to assess Andy Wood’s technique by looking for the slant of the pick - you’d never see this from more than a few feet away. And you probably wouldn’t even see it as the person doing it. But if we look at some magnet footage of what he’s doing, we can see that the pick rests on the G string and clears the high E string:

The amount of that clearance is minimal, but it allows him to get over the higher string without hitting it. That’s why this is upward pickslanting.

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again you’ve taught me something new, I thought someone was an upward or a downward pickslanter based on the slant of the pick, although I guess that DWPS lends itself to a downward angle of the pick anyway?

Most of the time that’s going to be the case. But trying to figure which way something is oriented in 3d space from whatever camera angle you happen to have, or even from your personal viewpoint can be tricky or even impossible sometimes. The good news is the visual appearance of the pick is secondary. What is the purpose of pickslanting? The purpose is to get over the string. Does the pick get over the string on one side or both? That’s the question you’re asking.

So yes, there is a slant that you’re evaluating - but it’s the slanted path of the pick’s motion.

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On the concept - we’re just talking about default hand/wrist position right?
As a descriptive term.

In a trailing edge system, starting on an upstroke we’d be picking with the leading edge.
Each system when used with alternate picking “alternates” between leading and trailing edge.

The biggest difference in my hands is the timbre of swept passages.
For me, the plane of the pick orients the sweep.
Toward the neck with leading edge when ascending. or
Toward the bridge with trailing edge when ascending.

Certain “grips” may have advantages, but I think you gotta learn to work with what feels right for you.

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The baseline terminology Troy established in his videos is that he uses the term “leading edge” when he’s referring to a grip where the edge of the pick closest to the nut will be first to touch the string during a downstroke.

So Yes. it’s a description of the grip. I thought so.

the question remains:
Can one play contrary to the situation I’m describing in the post?

A leading edge player sweeping toward the bridge,
or a trailing edge player sweeping toward the neck.

As I envision it, the grip determines the available pathways (efficiently)
A trailing edge picker would seem to have a different sweeping mechanic.
I have “sawing” motion when sweeping. how would that work with a traing edge grip?

I’d say yes, though the the difference in which “edge” orientation your grip has will have a qualitative effect on how the attack feels and sounds. The greater the amount that the sweep moves along the length of the strings, the more noticeable those differences will be. I’m a “leading edge” picker, and when I try using a motion mechanic such that downward sweeps (ascending pitch) will move toward the bridge, I increase the acuteness of my “leading edge” attack (making the attack less “flat”) to help the pick slice through the strings with a greater feeling of smoothness and control. In that case, by the time I cross the high E string, my “leading edge/trailing edge” axis is less than 20 degrees from “vertical” (where vertical means the threshold between “leading” and “trailing”).

It sounds like you may be referring to what I call the “tracking” mechanic - the physical source of the motion that moves the pick from one string to another. To make matters more confusing, this can sometimes be the same as the picking motion, and sometimes not!

In the case of sweeping, what you’re describing as a ‘sawing’ motion is what I think of shoulder tracking. The entire arm pushes through the strings. I think of this as a tracking motion because if you were to stop at a particular string, and play a tremolo, you probably wouldn’t use shoulder motion - you’d use a picking motion that originates at one of usual places - elbow, forearm, wrist, and so on.

To take another extreme example, if you were anchor the wrist firmly on the bridge, and only allow the the hand to move at the wrist joint, then your picking motion and tracking motion would be the same. Picking back and forth on a single string would be wrist motion. Moving to a new string would also be wrist motion.

In actual practice, players blend all of these movements. In our interview with Michael Angelo Batio this year we talked about that, starting around 55 minute mark:

When Mike sweeps, he appears to use a shoulder / elbow tracking type movement, with some finger orientation to control the pickslant based on the direction he’s sweeping. The finger changes appear deliberate, and are probably not simply a consequence of the pick pushing on the strings.

If you’re asking does grip influence all this, sure, it does. Can I use a shoulder tracking motion for sweeping, while using a trailing edge grip? Probably. I’m not sure that one precludes the other. I suppose we can try all the combinations. But given all the possibilities, another way to proceed here is to find players who do something, and do it successfully, and mark that particular combination as ‘possible’.

Great feedback. and food for thought.

thanks for the observations.

I do the whole trailing edge “Benson picking” approach for some of my jazz playing and love the tone I get from the approach. I dig Sheryl Bailey, George Benson and Armen Movsesyan for ideas on the posture and sound.

Jonathan Kreisberg is another great trailing edge picker too.

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@Troy, I’m interested dude, you said in an early video that you used to play with a trailing edge technique. Would you possibly be able to post a picture of how you held your pick in those days - a CTC approved down the neck picture? I’m interested to see how TEP hold the pick with only a thumb and index finger, when I do this it keeps flying out of my hand. I know it’s a case of what works best for you, but I’m always interested to learn about these things.

Best wishes man!

I’ve mentioned this a few times in various threads but there’s actual footage of it right here on the site. You can find several examples of this in the Steve Morse crosspicking analysis videos. Edit: around the 2:00 mark:

I have no way of knowing if this is similar to what I used to do back in the day, but I’m going to guess it’s probably in the ballpark.

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Great playing as usual Troy!

However, your right hand posture for the Tumeni Notes crosspicking looks a bit “awkward” compared to your standard setup (which instead looks very comfortable). A bunch of questions out of curiosity:

  • Can you switch on/off this hand position at will (say starting from your standard posture), or does it require some kind of conscious effort / warmup / fine-tuning?
  • Is this a hand position that you can sustain for long? Do you feel any tension while you do it?
  • How does the pick not fly away? :smiley:
  • Did you choose this kind of alternative hand position to somehow re-learn the picking motion without interference from the DWPS/TWPS habits of the old posture?



I used to play this way years ago, then switched away in college and never thought about it again. Then, a couple years back, when we were doing the Steve Morse stuff, I was just standing in the studio one day, experimenting with various ways of playing one-note-per-string arpeggio patterns, and I started doing this.

It was totally spontaneous and not planned. It was immediately obvious that something was working because it was super fast and effortless, just sloppy. In accordance with my “do more of what is working” methodology for self-teaching unknown movements, I switched to only that method for a week or two. Over that time period it started to clean up significantly. Since that method worked better than any of the others I was experimenting with, I ended up filming the feature that way. Then I stopped using it and moved on to other things.

Thus ends my trailing edge picking story!