Breaking the habit of outward downward motion

I am pretty sure that this is how I’ve been resting technique; however I have been doing this for years and am trying to break the habit by incorporating downward pick slanting…using groups of six (single and ascending/descending)…

Thank you in advance!


It sounds like you’re referring to what we call “downstroke escape” motion. Is that what you mean? There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s not a bad habit. It’s one of the three core picking motions you can make, and it’s necessary for playing certain types of phrases. So that’s a good thing, you have one of the core motions already. Again, if this is what you are referring to.

Have you watched the “wrist motion” section of the Pickslanting Primer yet? This may help clear up what you’re doing:

We go into detail on how to make both downstroke escape and upstroke escape motions. And in the new wrist mechanics section at the top of that page, we show you lots of hand closeups of greats like Steve Morse making both types of pickstrokes, depending on the phrase he’s playing.

Use that’s exactly it. When paying attention to it and watching in your downward pick slant videos it seems to be more pronounced with me whereas very slight if at all with you.

Ok now I’m confused!

Are you saying you’re looking at your pick and it looks like you’re using “too much” downward pickslanting? That’s not really a problem. Certain styles of picking motion look that way, and it’s totally ok. Take a look at these examples:

There’s nothing inefficient or wrong about this approach. It’s just a particular type of picking motion that works for a specific type of phrase — an “upstroke escape” phrase.

Again apologies for the terminology here. Upstroke escape is when the pick goes up in the air on the upstroke. Downstroke escape is when the pick goes up in the air on the downstroke. Pickslanting is what the pick itself looks like, which is a separate thing from the motion.

Sorry for the confusion. Using downward pickslanting, my downward motion seems to have a “flare” at the end before the upstroke rather than a rest.

Ok, I gotcha. That’s potentially stringhopping. Or not. Can you go fast? Does it feel smooth when you do? If so, I wouldn’t worry about it. Lots of players use what looks a curved picking motion at slower speeds, but transition to a more linear one when they’re going fast. Andy Wood is a good example of this. If that’s what happens in your case, then that’s fine.

But if you experience a speed limit, and that limit is low, like under 150bpm sixteenth notes, then this could be a problem.

No matter what, your first step in picking technique is to find a motion — any motion — that goes fast and is at least reasonably fluid. It doesn’t matter if that’s elbow, forear, wrist, whatever. You have to find one motion to start with otherwise you can’t really play smoothly.

Is there a way to insert a video? Speed is not extremely fast and definitely gets chunky at higher speeds

Sure thing! You can paste a YouTube link so it displays directly on the forum. We’ve got a couple help pages with more detail on how to do this:

If I have a video already recorded, can I insert it into this conversation (not in yourtube, it’s on my phone)

Nope you can’t upload the file here directly, video files are typically too large. But you can easily upload to YouTube and paste in the link as shown in the above guides.

As a follow up, part of the issue (after going through the wrist motion videos) is that I have a contour on my guitar body which puts me in position of wrist flexion naturally. With a contoured body do you have any tips for aligning a no flexion position?

See if you’re getting your rest strokes right. I might be wrong, but what you’re describing sounds a bit like what I used to do before CtC.

I used to do a weird, small upward sway after playing every normal downstroke. I wasn’t using rest strokes because I thought it was wrong. I guess that flaring or swaying essentially is, like @Troy said, stringhopping. When I started practicing rest strokes for real, I realized that I had been using that weird sway motion for everything, even when I was internally trying to pick fast and smooth.

@Shredd, did you have an exercise that was particularly helpful in practicing this?

Thanks for watching those lessons! The wrist flexion thing isn’t really related to stringhopping. The straighter wrist is more about centering the motion so you can do downstroke escapes and upstroke escapes from the same arm position. But even without that, if you use the flexed form, you can still do a motion which is fast and smooth and not stringhopping and plenty of great players do.

My Mustang has the body contour and I’m resting on it in this photo:

The arm is not totally parallel to the plane of the strings any more — you can see my elbow is still a little behind the guitar body and the hand is in front. This is true even on a guitar with a flat top like an acoustic, because the strings are always a little higher than the guitar’s body. So your elbow is always going to be a little “lower” than the strings if it’s resting on the body, and your hand will be a little “higher” than the strings if it’s resting on the bridge or strings. You will end up essentially pointing away from the guitar at a shallow angle — which is the teal overlay in this image. Note that it’s not parallel with the strings. I am just doing it with the arm and wrist mostly straight instead of flexed.

Mostly just the 150 BPM-ish 16th note single note tremolo that Troy shows in the USX tutorials. Every day and with 100% focus. It took a while to get somewhere and I’m still practicing, but it’s definitely improving all the time.

I did also use some melodies to help my hand to learn to “trust” the new mechanic/motion. Just something that includes easy quarter notes AND faster passages. I used some easier Dream Theater stuff.