Should upward and downward slanting feel almost the same?
I’m flawless with my upward slant. But when I switch to downward it’s super slow also my entire forearm rotates. Instead of just my wrist.
Should upward and downward slanting feel almost the same?
Good question. From my experience, upward pickslanting requires more wrist movements than the downward slant.
I’m don’t exactly follow your post. Do you mean that you have a working wrist DSX motion and want to use the same motion mechanic to achieve USX?
If you want to go fram a DSX to a USX motion, you have to adjust something in your motion mechanics to correspond with the changes needed in the picking trajectory and what pick stroke escapes/is trapped. If you keep everything the same, the motion will be identical, right?
The type of adjustment you make and to what extent you do it can vary. For example, if play mostly using wrist deviation and only change forearm supination/pronation between the escape motions, they could look and feel quite similar. If you on the other hand achieve USX with a gypsy style forearm rotation and DSX with pure wrist deviation and a pronated forearm, you will see and probably feel a bigger difference between the two.
However you achieve a USX or DSX motion it should feel smooth and effortless. If you’re experiencing a bouncy feeling when playing it could be a sign of stringhopping. Could you post a video of your playing where the problems occur?
I would suggest doing what is often advised here on the forum and start with a bit more speed. You want to find a motion that is smooth and that you feel could work at higher speeds. Try experimenting with different motion mechanics and see what works for you. There’s nothing wrong with incorporating, say, forearm rotation in your USX playing even though you only play using the wrist for your DSX motion for example.
How much faster should you try then? You don’t need a metronome to do this but a general minimum is sixteenth notes played at 140 bpm. Try not to go too much lower than that, otherwise, inefficient motions can also feel smooth. You can have a look at this video for more information:
Currently, in your video there are lots of different motions going on.
If you want to focus on USX, make sure that only the upstrokes escape. At the end of your video (around the 28 s mark) you can see a typical crosspicking motion where both the down and the upstrokes escape. There’s nothing wrong with this but it’s a different picking motion. Reststroking the downstrokes on the higher string, as you do in the beginning, can help you focus on USX if that is what you want to develop.
At around 18 seconds, it looks like your up and downstrokes are making a 90 degrees angle, or approximately a 12-0-9 motion using the Clock Face Model. This kind of sharp angle is often a telltale sign of stringhopping where your motion mechanics, mostly wrist in your case, are working double time. This can make your playing feel e.g. slow, sluggish, tense, or bouncy as you mentioned, so watch out for that!
Taking a look at this topic could maybe help you along the way or find things to experiment with regarding USX:
@AndreasNasman start with speed video I’ve watched tons of times. But the only motion that feels smooth and effortless is the upward pick slant he’s doing in the beginning. what wrist and forearm motion would suggest for the Downward slant? No matter what motions I try it’s always going back to the string hopping when trying faster tempos, which feels very exhausting. So you’re saying if I find the correct motion even for a few seconds my body will give that correct feedback?
Remember that there is an infinite number of working solutions when considering the elements of a picking motion, so it’s hard to recommend one single approach. Copying someone else’s technique exactly could work straight away but doing some tweaks here and there might make it feel better for you.
For advice on where to start and getting in the ballpark, I would suggest having an in-depth look at the Pickslanting Primer. In the Wrist Motion section there are explanations of a lightly supinated USX motion and one where the supination is cranked up a bit.
The Forearm Motion part shows examples of compound wrist and forearm motions and forearm rotation alone, both being USX types o motions. Adding more wrist flexion results in a gypsy style USX motion.
I’m not sure what you mean here, but when you find a motion that works for you, it should feel smooth and quite effortless to do. There could be some tension in the motion but it shouldn’t feel strenuous to do; tremolo playing sixteenth notes on a single string at 140 bpm or more should be achievable pretty early on. If not, you should try and make some adjustments to your playing and experiment with the different components.
Since you linked to my post, I guess I will chime in on this conversation.
I think for me, and maybe for Jef here as well, the frustration is that I don’t know how to do the USX motion at high speeds. Troy’s work focuses on what to do, but never how to do it other than experimenting for 10 minutes and it’s supposedly guaranteed to work. I truly do not understand how people are able to tremolo pick so quickly. I’ve spent years searching for the answer to “how” but no one seems to know the answer.
Starting with more speed makes sense if you already have the ability to play at that speed, but otherwise it’s completely unproductive. In Jef’s case, he’s resorting to string hopping at faster speeds because, at the moment, his hand doesn’t understand how to do the motion correctly. It understands what to do, but not how to do it.
@lime and @AndreasNasman
So the way I look at this you’ve been doing these wrong motions your entire life. There’s no way you’re just gonna find a new motion that instantly clicks. Therefore I practice the downward picking slant slowly because it’s all about muscle memory right?That’s what I don’t understand because I know when you’re developing a new motion do you need to do it slow first correctly before you speed it up. I practice for an hour today and I could not get past 100 BPM with DPS. But like I said, when I use up slant picking. I can do 150-170 effortless. So maybe I should send some videos of different camera angles to assist me and Lime.
I agree that most of the information on this website focuses on what to do. I also agree we should avoid putting absolute values on how long these things will take to develop. 10 minutes could maybe be more of a guideline: if you’ve made no noticeable progress in that time, try and switch something up!
Some sections of Cracking the Code examines the how, e.g. the interviews with Ellen Winner, Noa Kageyama, and Pietro Mazzoni, which at least I find very interesting and informative. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there is that much research or known facts on the learning process of how to actually develop these kinds of complex motions. Troy has mentioned on multiple occasions that the information on Cracking the Code servers as a resource that hopefully teachers and others can benefit from in understanding and refining the learning process. This is for example discussed in the Teemu Mäntysaari interviews where Teemu has integrated Cracking the Code concepts into his guitar lessons and Troy hopes it will shed some light on how in the future.
Personally, I think slow and fast practice both have their benefits and drawbacks. Playing slow is helpful, but shouldn’t be used exclusively if your goal is to play faster. If you’re a complete beginner I don’t think starting with speed would be much beneficial as you have so much else to focus on.
Once you’re comfortable with the guitar, starting with speed can help you test and experience a picking motion and see if it could potentially work at higher speeds. If you think about it, of all the infinite picking motions none is really correct or incorrect, they are just different with a varying degree of efficiency, flexibility, etc. The higher you go the speed spectrum though, the more finite the number of functional motions becomes. If you want to develop your playing regarding speed, starting with it can help filter the motions and hone in on something that could work for you.
For speed development, it makes more sense for me to try and adapt a fast hand motion to guitar playing than just placing the hand on the guitar and trying to make it go faster bit by bit.
Sure, but with that logic, slowly practicing inefficient motions for speed – motions in the stringhopping category – will also make them stick in your muscle memory. How do you know if the motion you currently do slowly will work at a higher speed? The easiest answer I think is to test it by playing faster. People on this forum can give you directions and hints on what you could improve by looking at a video. Ultimately, you have to be the judge on what adjustments feel fluid and right and also have to be the one who makes them.
Like I wrote before, I don’t personally think there are any right or wrong motions. How do you even define “correct” in this case? Most guitars I think would say a motion with a higher speed cap is better than a slower one. If we accept this, how would you then know if the motion you’re currently playing slow turns out to be a motion that eventually will work out for faster playing? Trying to go faster bit by bit and hoping your body will make the adjustments needed maybe works for some. This never worked for me. Starting with a bit of speed plus the guidelines in the Pickslanting Primer is what made it “click” for me and, I think, many here on the forum.
You can clearly play a lot faster using a different technique then! Maybe if you post a video of some speed DSX playing we and you yourself can help spot the differences and problems in your USX picking motion?
This is the key question that strikes at the heart of the flawed but well-intended advice to “just practice with a metronome and gradually increase the speed over time”.
Metronome practice to build speed can be useful, but only if the technique being practiced is a technique that will still work at higher speeds. For people who had the good fortune to be using a “speed-friendly technique” to begin with, progressive metronome practice might seem like “the obvious and only solution, because it worked for me.” It’s rational for them to believe that because it worked for them. The problem is it only works for the subset of people who happen to start out with a “speed-friendly” technique. I’ve seen material where Michael Angelo Batio correctly explains that your “slow” practice needs to look like a slowed down version of your fast playing, but that central point tends to get lost among the many other things he says. And how do you discover what your “fast playing” will look like? By discovering, through trial and error, a picking movement that you can do fast (and that escapes the plane of the strings on either downstrokes, upstrokes, or both).
And how do you discover what your “fast playing” will look like? By discovering, through trial and error, a picking movement that you can do fast (and that escapes the plane of the strings on either downstrokes, upstrokes, or both).
For some people like myself, this still requires slow practice to get the point where you can “test” your method at high speeds. Even if the motion is objectively efficient, it still might be impossible for you to test it at high speeds simply because it’s faster than you can currently play. Not being able to play it at high speeds doesn’t necessarily mean the motion is inefficient, it might just mean that you can’t do it at that speed (yet).
I agree that starting slow can lead to the wrong technique, but that’s the unfortunate truth for every technique on every instrument. You learn, make mistakes, refine, and learn again. Some are lucky and choose the right technique first, some aren’t.
I see what you mean, but I think many people – I included – have thought or thinks the idea of slow incremental practice to be more elegant and structured than the approach of starting with speed, i.e. cleaning up or refining a faster motion currently potentially being sloppy. On paper, I think the first alternative sounds more reasonable for developing speed. In practice, however, I believe the second approach to be much more effective.
I’ve followed the first style of learning for a long time up until I found Troy’s videos on YouTube and started diving into the material here on Cracking the Code. Looking back at my playing in retrospect, I realize I focused a lot on phrasing, improvisation, theory, etc. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but I also wanted to play faster stuff and often avoided it because I felt uncomfortable or never ready to tackle speedier licks.
I think you can easily become perfectionistic with this approach as I myself became, being afraid of mistakes and experimentation, thinking it will ruin your current reliable technique. I never dared bump the metronome up more than a couple of BPMs at a time and never felt ready to try a fast lick at full speed. Thus, I never achieved the playing speeds I wanted and in the end, I felt somehow genetically or somehow else incapable of playing fast.
Why I think the second method of starting with speed proposed here on Cracking the Code to be partly superior to the first approach is because it avoids the mental trap mentioned earlier. You can start out with a table tapping test to convince yourself that your picking hand, elbow, forearm, and other parts of your body are able to perform a motion fast enough to match the movements needed to play a fast lick.
In the beginning, when applying it to guitar playing, you take away as much complexity as possible and limit yourself to the most basic style of fast playing on the guitar – single string tremolo. You choose a playing position talked about in the Pickslanting Primer and try to mimic the motions shown. This should put you in the ballpark of an efficient picking motion with the idea and knowledge of what to try and improve or experiment with as you go along. You try to play your chosen motion relatively fast (in the 140 BPM sixteenth note territory) and try to make adjustments for finding a working technique.
This adjustment and improvement process can be done externally, trying to find problem areas from videos of your playing or similar. Doing this development internally is in my opinion often more effective, trying to feel around for a smoother and more efficient motion. If something feels good, stick with it and try it out, otherwise disregard it and try something else. The Pickslantin Primer gives you a great guideline with a good selection of what to experiment with. The options and components you have available to play around with are more specific than if you just try to do it by yourself, hence, you can better guide your body since you have fewer possibilities to choose from.
Once you’re able to tremolo on a single string, you can convince yourself that adding the fretting hard and/or adding string changes is possible since the picking motion stays the same for the most part (if we talk about alternate picking), which you’re already capable of. Starting with speed, allowing experimentation, and adding more complexity gradually have at least helped me play licks I think I never would have reached sticking to the strict metronome path.
One of the main reasons I think Troy and his team are doing all this Cracking the Code content is to eliminate or at least lessen that kind of luck factor. With more comprehensible material made with better technology consisting of clearer explanations of these kinds of complex guitar-related anatomical motions, I think they will be more accessible to a wider number of guitarists with a clearer path to success and smaller dose of luck.
To be clear, I’m not saying I chose the slow method because I wanted to, I chose it because I had to. The fast method doesn’t work for me at all. I’m guessing I’m in the minority on this forum, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a lot of guitarists who have tried Troy’s advice without success; they just don’t comment and thus aren’t represented.
Hmm, I’m not convinced of this at all to be honest. Tapping your hand on a table isn’t even close to the motion one makes on a guitar. But maybe we change it and consider a different motion: swishing your hand back and forth on a table. It’s closer, but still not the same motion. When playing a guitar, your hand is positioned differently, your arm is positioned differently, and most importantly: there is a string in the way. The string requires one extra degree of downward force to prevent the string from pushing your hand up. It’s very small, but it’s required.
For an analogy: I can wave my arms back and forth super fast above my head, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to swim in water that quickly.
Yes I agree with this.
One thing I would add is that for me, I notice that the tension of the string affects my right hand, so playing on fret 1 feels very different from playing on fret 13 for example. It’s just an extra thing to practice. Since I’ve practiced so much on the mid-range frets (3-9 ish), I’ve noticed that I struggle a lot when picking open notes or high fret notes. Actually, same goes for the different strings too. I made some good progress when I stopped practicing tremolo picking on the G string and started practicing on the D string instead. I find it to be much easier.
It eliminates that luck factor, but only if it works. If it doesn’t work, that’s pretty unlucky!
By the way, I fully support the “start with speed” approach if you already have the ability to play at high speeds, I’m just unsure about the guarantee that it will work for everyone. It’s worth trying, but it can be very discouraging when it doesn’t work.
Also, sorry for taking over your thread, Jef.
I just wanted to ask if this would be considered true for crosspicking motions also. I am currently working on a clockface 9-0-2 Andy Wood type of crosspicking motion and 16th notes in 140 bpm was some sort of an end goal for me. I can reach that speed with little effort using pure deviation (USX or DSX wrist motion) but I thought crosspicking had a lower upper limit compared to those.
Lime, I kind of agree with you here but the reason it’s not clicking for you is probably something really niche. Hold on with me here but in space a tiny fleck of paint travelling at 100000 miles an hour can destroy a satellite and in the same fashion be it a little less extreme () picking at high speed with a pick orientated off by a couple of degrees or simply in my case, having insufficient pick showing under your grip can totally derail your picking and no matter how many times you try and get your usx wrist motion going you’ll crash into the lower string or get stuck on the string your trying to play.
The most frustrating part of the guitar is exactly this and if it isn’t working for you, you can either get stuck in idiots syndrome, trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results or stuck in manic innovators syndrome (my own term!), changing multiple variables and totally losing track of exactly what is working and what isn’t.
Couple this with a constant subconsious deviation to return to a familiar muscle memory and you can just run yourself into circles till you give up.
I’ve spent over 100 hours the last month just picking at speed trying to find this issue, at about 80 I was about to give up. Then I realised I was suffering the above issues. The trick was to stick to one string, one note and changing one variable. Try everything and listen to the feedback your body is giving you, feel how your wrist moves when you move into an upstroke. try changing how you hold your guitar, try index, three finger grips, use each finger out/in, like me, try showing more/less pick. Observe how all these variables will affect your movements.
On my personal experience, I was showing a tiny amount of pick and initially this didn’t even seem like a problem. However, when you think about how this affects your movements, your hand will be very flat and close to the string, any sort of ulnar movement with wrist supination will crash your hand into the strings, you naturally then resort to forearm rotation as the movement seems “impossible” to perform with wrist, however it is not a wrist issue at all.
This really confounded me as I could dsx wrist fine! But unknown to me at the time that makes sense! Your pick is not in the centre of your hand, it is a good 8cm from your little finger but only 1 cm from your thumb, pronating your forearm is a totally different beast.
Tldr, you do need speed to test your motions as it is an acid test that the whole system is working. However you do need to be aware that the picking system is in fact linked to everything your right arm is doing. Your problem is probably something very trivial and outside the realm of what is explained fully by this site and I hope if you expand your analysis of your motion, you can find and fix this issue.
To keep it short, I completely agree with pretty much everything you’ve said, @Tbennettbristol, and I’ve been thinking the same way for quite a while now and applying those ideas to my own practice. The thing is that it’s simply not working. I’ve been at this (just practicing tremolo picking on one string on one fret) for about 7 years. Is the issue trivial? Possibly. But I can’t find it.
Sorry if you already have videos posted that I’m not referencing here, but based on what you are describing in the section above, it sounds like you’re probably putting a lot more pick on the string than necessary. That is, if you are noticing such a big a difference in picking when fret 1 is pressed versus fret 13, it probably means your pick attack is a lot deeper than it needs to be.
For those of us who have our fast motion figured out already, we can vary the pick depth quite a lot and maintain speed (certainly on a single note tremolo). At least that’s true for elbow and for forearm-wrist blend. But if you’re finding the resistance of the string to be an issue, I think one step to help you find a fast motion would be to, temporarily anyway, try using a much shallower pick attack. That reduces the feeling of resistance when picking and should make it feel more uniform re: fret 1 vs fret 13. In some of my tremolo experiments way back when, I was picking on one of the wound strings with a pick attack that didn’t even fully penetrate the midpoint of the string, the pick was only every so slightly grazing the string from one side, such that the resistance was barely any more than moving in the air.
For me, the closest way to approximate the “air only” resistance feeling is the use a shallow pick attack, a decent amount of “edge picking” (around 20 or 30 degrees), a rigid pick with a sharp tip (I like Jazz III XL). I also had fingers sliding along the guitar face to help me keep picking depth uniform. Now that I have a knack for tremolo picking, I can use pretty much any pick, and as much depth of pick attack as I would ever want (haven’t experimented with deeper than about 5mm for fast picking).
One thing that might be messing with you, especially if you are focused on trying to use a wrist-only motion, is the way the resistance of the string can change the trajectory of your motion. This is one of the reasons I think tremolo is easier to “get” with elbow or with wrist-forearm rather than wrist alone. I think elbow and wrist-forearm are more resilient against the “normal force” deflection that the pick experiences as it displaces the string.
@Frylock would you mind sharing some pics of your shallow pick depth? Maybe your view looking Down and a magnets view. When you watch Troy Grady’s videos he’s got a lot of pics sticking out of his fingers.