Can you help me in my picking quest?

#1

Hi everyone!

Thanks @Troy for your dedication and putting all this incredible material and studies together. I’m discovering a little bit of the iceberg.

I’ve been playing for a while in the styles of Jazz, Jazz fusion, but it’s more recently (the last 5 years) that I’ve been paying closer attention to my picking speed while I switched my main guitar from a solid body (Parker fly) to an Archtop from Eastman.

And for all this time I’ve been plateauing big time, I haven’t seen any progress and I think, watching some of the content around here, that I’m sligthly stringhoping. :tired_face: Do you guys see that too? That would explain the lack of progress…

Here for example a lick that I transcribed from Lage Lund (side note, I’d be interested to have an analyze of his picking):

In Slow motion:

Here a real life example of my picking, starting 2’20 there is a closer shot of my hands when I improvise:

My ultimate goal is to be able to improvise multi bar phrases of 8th notes at up tempos (in the 320bpm). But not being “trapped” in licks that require certain numbers of NPS. So ideally a Cross picking technique that allows random combinations of strings changes. It seems like (as described at 10’43 in this video: https://troygrady.com/interviews/albert-lee/analysis-chapter-4-the-compound-curve/ ) that I need to switch from the left side (stringhoping) to the right side (DWPS + Albert Lee’s additional escape). If so, where do I start?

Thanks for checking out my post and thanks for your tips!

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#3

Hi! Thanks for posting, and great playing.

It’s not obvious to me that what you’re doing here is stringhopping. It just looks like a double-escape picking motion. As a comparison, here is what a double escape motion looks like when done with the wrist as you are doing it:

And this is what it looks like when lined up against the two single-escape motions, also done with the wrist:

In short, just because the pick exits the strings at both ends of the pickstroke doesn’t mean it’s stringhopping. It’s only stringhopping if the same muscles are being used for the downstroke and the upstroke, i.e. making it repetitive. If different muscles are used, then there is no feeling of tension or difficulty. In these examples here, the motion feels smooth and can be done rapidly, because the muscle groups alternate.

If your motion feels smooth to you and you can do it at Pat Martino-style tempos or better, then I wouldn’t worry about it. You’re just making a double-escape pickstroke - like what Pat does, who is also a wrist player.

In general we’re not going to use the term “crosspicking” in the future just because it’s not clear whether we’re talking about a type of pickstroke or a type of arm or wrist motion. Instead, when we describe the pickstroke directly, it’s easier for people to visualize what we’re talking about. This also makes it clearer why the same type of pickstroke can be performed with with different joints (wrist, forearm, etc.), which is a separate question from what kind of escape path you’re generating.

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#4

Thanks so much @Troy for checking it out and your analyze! I really appreciate.
Well that’s the thing, I can’t do Pat Martinos style tempos with fluid 8th, (starting 240bpms) I can only do bursts.
I guess I just need to stick with my technique and work harder to be able to go above this 120bpm treshold for clean 16th…

For example here is the lick I played above at real speed (it should start at 7’46 BTW it’s the same bass player than in my video above) :

I just can’t play it at this speed (and after already a lot of practice, lol :sweat_smile: when you think that Lage improvised that!)
So do you think that using my actual picking technique and more practice, I should be able to do it?

Thanks

#5

No problem!

It’s not a “practice” thing in the sense of slowly getting a little bit faster each day. When the movement is right, it’s fast and smooth immediately, especially for an experienced player like you. It may not be super accurate immediately across different kinds of phrases — that’s the “long tail” part of the process which takes time. But as for the basic motion, there should be a feeling of smoothness and speed right away.

Can you play quickly on a single fretted note, where you’re not trying to do anything with your fretted hand or move from one string to another with the pick? It doesn’t have to be super fast. As an example, this is about 160bpm sixteenth notes, in the range of what you’re talking about in the Lund clip:

Again you don’t have to fret notes while you do this, but can you move your wrist at this speed with a feeling of smoothness and no tension buildup? If not, then that’s a sign that there is an issue with the motion.

The solution for this is to choose a simple motion and try to do it at this speed or faster, in a way that feels smooth. The single-escape motions are the simplest — either downstroke escape or upstroke escape. I know you’re looking for a technique that can make any kind of string change, and this is reasonable for jazz playing. But for now, the most important first step is to get smoothness happening with any motion, and the single escape motions are the simplest. When it comes to wrist motion, they are part of a family of very closely related motions, so when you learn one, you can learn the others.

Here are some thoughts on the downstroke escape version of wrist motion:

The Pickslanting Primer in its current form has a broader overview of motions but less detailed instructions. The updates for the Primer that we are working on now will be the clearest and most detailed instructions we have done on wrist motion to date, but that material will take a little while longer to finish.

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#6

Thanks @Troy !

So I tried filming a tremolo and interestingly when I’m watching I think I’m switching to an arm motion, I guess I can’t play it with my usual wrist motion. But I think I’m now in a trapped motion doing so.

What do you think?

real speed

Slow motion

Do you have an idea of when the new primer will be live?

Again… thanks!

#7

You pick extremely high up on the guitar - almost at the fretboard - or so it appears from that clip. Did you realize you were doing that? Most guys pick considerably closer to the bridge - near the bridge pickup. That will give you a better sound and I’m betting you’ll find it’s easier to pick faster there as well. Picking faster than you currently pick is you current goal, right?

In fact, although I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision or not, when you attempted your fastest tremolo picking, you did pick much closer to the bridge than you picked in the video I referenced where you’re playing a live show. Maybe it was a conscious decision but if not, if you just happened to pick there when trying for your maximum picking speed, now you know why you ended up picking there. The tension of the strings there lends itself much better to fast, accurate picking.

BTW, the very first video you posted in this thread shows you playing a jazz lick that’s a nice picking exercise. It involves lots of string changes and in a musical way. Use your metronome to see how at what setting for BPM you can play the notes in that lick as 16th notes and then in a couple months, compare your then current top speed for that lick to what it is now and you should see some nice improvement.

#8

We’ve got a bunch of updates sketched out; current plan is to roll them out in stages. So it won’t be an “all at once” completely new Primer surprise album drop sort of thing, but rather adding material iteratively. We’re currently finishing up a batch of new chapters on picks + grip, will have an update on that soon, and more to follow!

#9

Hi! Thanks for filming these follow-ups, and sorry for the delay in responding.

These actually look pretty good. There is none of the double-escape or potentially stringhopping motion of your previous take. It doesn’t look trapped either — it looks like downstroke-escape, or something very close to it. Many wrist players are also elbow players when they speed up, either in part or as a complete switch. We’ve seen this with Andy Wood where he appears to use a little of both when playing fast. In your case, if you can do this motion, you can probably also figure out how to do the wrist deviation counterpart since they operate in the same plane. Either way, the goal is get this happening with smoothness so it doesn’t feel like you’re shaking the whole guitar when you turn it on.

Since this is working, I would absolutely suggest using this motion to work out some downstroke-powered string changes in a style similar to what you typically play. The blog post we just put up yesterday has a few bop-style lines organized specifically for downstroke escape. You style sounds a little more modern but the same concepts apply. You can use pure alternate:

Or you can weave in some upstroke sweeps, slides, and pulloffs. This has the added benefit of introducing more dynamic texture when you want it, so it’s not all picked all the time:

But short story, yes, you have something here and you should use it!

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