Attempted DBX - Trem, Arps, Scales

Back after being away for awhile. Aiming for a DBX technique that uses wrist translation plus a little bit of motorcycle grip. I see from these vids that I’ve got some forearm as well. History - prior elbow-based and economy techniques “worked” but hurt my elbow, so I’m avoiding that. I also completely reworked my pick grip to be trigger-ish, although my old habits creep back and I can get out of position after awhile,

TIA for any comments.

Tremolo around 180bpm:

Stacked third arpeggios (part of my warmup routine). Some parts of this feel smooth, some feel like stringhopping:

Scales as fast as I can play them, E scales starting on G#, including 2nps on the B String which causes inside and outside string changes:


Hey @tommo, got time to have a look?

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Looks like you’re mostly anchoring at the forearm and very lightly anchoring at the wrist, which probably is making your picking feel unstable.

Right, as part of my Jimmy Bruno Guitar Institute phase I adopted a floating wrist along with elbow- based movement and economy picking. I’ve already tossed out the latter two, but still largely float.

Hey @jllewi! A first obvious comment/question that comes to mind: when the pick starts moving, does it later settle into a new equilibrium position? Because that would be ok, you don’t have to force yourself into a pick grip that feels uncomfortable.

By the way, @Troy recently added an overview video to the “pick grip” section, may be worth checking it out :slight_smile:

Re: the 3 clips, I think number 1 (tremolo) and 3 (scale) are promising! The speed is there but we need to make the pick attack and “aim” a bit more consistent. I think @Pepepicks66 may be onto something and that you could try to see what happens when you anchor a bit more around the bridge area. I have occasionally seen some players “float”, but most fast players have some sort of anchor, either with the palm, the unused fingers or both. I know Jimmi Bruno looks “floaty”, but it looks like he is resting the unused fingers on the pickguard most of the time.

With 2 (arpeggios) I think the tempo is low enough that you could probably get away with inefficient movements. In that case I would try to see what happens when you push the tempo!

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Anchoring at the bridge will be tough, but I’ll try it out. I have always (45 years) hit the strings more towards the neck pickup rather than down towards the bridge pickup, so having the heel of my hand on the bridge feels really weird. But, I’ve changed almost all of my right-hand technique since joining CTC, so why not this?

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Hey @jllewi, some additional comments from Troy (liberally translated and summarised by me):

  1. Your tremolo form looks USX and very similar to @Yaakov - so check out this thread:
  1. Since you have a potentially solid USX thing going, try some patterns with even numbers of notes per string (e.g. 6-note yngwie pattern), see how they feel and if you can get them fast and clean in a relatively short time.

  2. In the scale playing, there are some picking “errors” where you are picking an even number of notes even though the fretting hand is doing 3 notes, and similar things. This again suggests that at speed your hand “wants” to do USX, with you current setup

  3. For patterns with more mixed escapes, like scales or bluegrass stuff, see what happens if you use the three finger grip (like Albert Lee or Steve Morse) while keeping everything else the same.

Keep us posted :slight_smile:

I’m 60 now, and since I started playing guitar at 15 I used a USX technique, with economy picking. Since I started playing jazz many years ago, and bluegrass more recently, I found a need to go from any string to any string, so I wanted to work up at DBX technique. So I’ve been trying to unlearn the USX and economy habits.

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No worries! Now that you mention it I actually recall that your USX was strong in your initial posts a year or so ago!

No need to unlearn, it’s more about adding new things! You can keep these techniques as they already work great for you :slight_smile:

If you want to branch out into “dbx” stuff, I’d give a go to Troy’s suggestion of using the 3-finger grip. It should allow you to be in a more “centralised” setup (not much biased towards either USX or DSX) without really changing your arm position and anchor points. Let us know how that goes!

Alternatively, you could use the same pick grip but try to be less supinated, again to achieve a more centralised position.

I went back and watched these two crosspicking vids.

A. I can’t do Andy Wood’s all-wrist technique. I try and my wrist refuses.

B. Since our conversation lapsed last year I’ve been aspiring to use the wrist-forearm or “motorcycle grip” technique. I recorded several videos for myself and found that I am not, in fact, accomplishing a downstroke escape, even though I think I am commanding it. I took note of Troy’s advice on developing this technique, and I will backtrack and see if I can get some basic motions working.



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Couple quick comments on this:

  1. did you take the wrist motion tests in the “Testing your motions” section of the Primer? Because that may give you the confidence to know that your wrist can in principle do the motions

  2. For the Andy wood style, did you have your usual supinated form? Because that technique works best with these contact points with the picking hand (location is approximate, hopefully you get the idea):

  • I went through Testing Your Motions and was able to do 200bpm 16ths with both Tabletop Knocking and the $1M scratch-off motions, no problem.
  • I was able to translate both of the above into single-string tremolos. Without trying to do any escapes, the scratch-off/Di Meola style felt a bit better.
  • When I say I can’t do Andy Wood’s style, I mean the compound motion he uses for DBX. I am trying to stay mindful of my supination and the way the heel of my hand is oriented vs the strings/bridge.
  • I see that I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t know if the Picking Motion section was here in this format last year, but I need to go through it all again regardless. Then we can see what kinds of escapes work for me, with the goal of playing tunes like Donna Lee and Red Haired Boy that don’t lend themselves to a single-escape technique.

Been out of action sick a few days. Gave me a chance to re-watch virtually all of the Primer. In particular I watched the two above Crosspicking with the Wrist and/or Forearm several times. So, with the goal of playing Beaumont Rag in mind, here’s where I think I’m at:

  • I now use a compact trigger grip, and it seems to be working pretty well. I use a moderate amount of edge picking. I have a continual goal of 0 degree pick slant, but I can slip into old downward slanting habits, so I keep an eye on that an reposition when necessary. I’ve experimented with having the heel of my hand just below the bridge as a contact point. I think I’m using both thumb and pinky heels, but this is very new.
  • Based on my recent videos, I am not escaping much if any on either up or downstroke, even though I am “requesting” it in my brain. Earlier when I said I “couldn’t do Andy’s style” I really meant “I’m having a hard time doing Crosspicking with the Wrist (no Forearm)” and so I was focusing on Crosspicking with the Wrist and Forearm. But even though I’m requesting some motorcycle grip action, the video says I’m not achieving much if any escape motion.
    So I’ll keep working with the various DBX hints to try and amplify the escape motion.
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Hey @jllewi, I think the latest Instagram video by Troy gives a very good example of how one should go about learning these complicated “one-note-per-string” phrases. Choose a setup that you find comfortable, and then “floor it”! All the knowledge you have can give you a hint of things to try, different hand positions, pick grips, contact points etc. But at the end of the day your only hope is to get it right “by accident” at first:

If it makes you feel better, I also haven’t yet developed a solid enough technique for bluegrassy stuff :sweat_smile:

<cough> bullshit <cough>


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Here’s a new video of a Paul Gilbert style lick via Uncle Ben. On my downstrokes I’m hitting the next string much of the time. This video includes chirp from the pick contact as well as chirp from my RH first fingernail, a curse of mine forever. I am not achieving the “double escape” that I am aiming for. Any comments are appreciated.

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Hey jllewi, this is a style of more shreddy playing where I am a bit more comfortable, because I do it a lot :slight_smile:

It’s basically “many fast notes on one string with an occasional lone note on another string”. I feel like this is a different challenge compared to bluegrass tunes which have more strictly 1nps sequences, and to me it feels easier / faster. In any case, I think it’s good to try many different things that involve some for of “double escape”, so good move :slight_smile:

Tthe key observation here is that you are doing some of the reps perfectly clean! You can see that in slomo too right? So I think you are definitely on the right track.

While you are playing this, can you hear/ feel the difference between the clean takes and the not-so-clean ones? If so, you’ll be able to increase your hit rate pretty steadily as you keep working on this.

One caveat: with these paul gilbert-style licks, I think no one manages to get clean reps 100% of the time, especially at the higher speeds. There is often the occasional “swipe”, where you catch an extra (muted) string during the string transition. That includes Mr Gilbert, Troy and myself :slight_smile: The important thing is that you keep your left hand muting tight, so that even the non-perfect reps sound good enough.

Let us know how you get on!

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Thanks for the kind words. Here is a more bluegrassy fragment, the rolls from Beaumont Rag. Lots of left and right hand mistakes, but it does seem like I should be able to clean these up through practice, at least at this tempo (approx 100bps 16ths)

I went and measured a random Doc Watson tune and tried this take at around 135 bps 16ths.

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Hey @jllewi, cool, I think this is good — if not great — progress!

Did you change your anchoring system so that now you have some contact points on the bridge? I may be biased, but this has a more comfortable look than the more “floaty” setup you had before.

Also, I did not A/B new and old videos but I think your pick has now a more neutral orientation, which is indeed more appropriate for “DBX stuff” (no garage spikes in either direction).

And I think the 135bpm take is great! Does that feel nice and smooth? From the outside the motions look smooth and “the right amount of curved”, and while there are some mistakes there are also some segments where it looks and sounds fully correct. I would do more of this type of practice at this tempo, perhaps using also other tunes that feature similar passages (variety is good!).

I think your challenge now is to recognize by ear / feel when you are doing the thing fully correctly at the higher tempos. You of course also have the camera and the slow motion to confirm your impressions!

Keep us posted both on this and the Gilbert stuff, I think your latest clips are looking great!

Yes, I did change my anchoring. Still feels a bit odd, but I can also see the benefits.
Yes, I have to constantly watch the neutral orientation of the pick to make sure I don’t lapse into a downward slant.
I can definitely feel when its working and when its not, and there were moments in the 135 bpm take when I could feel it working. I have to watch that my index finger doesn’t “uncurl”, because that’s a different pick slant and my finger starts hitting the strings.
That’s probably my last video for this week; I’m headed to Andy Wood’s Woodshed tomorrow. Maybe I can get Andy or Uncle Ben to check my mechanics in person!

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