Cmcgee 902 picking motion critique

@Tom_Gilroy So I’m trying to test out 902 fast, it seemed like 3x3 groupings would be a good test - but I’m not sure if I’m sticking with 902 playing this - it’s a bit difficult for me to get a better angle ATM but it certainly appears to stay in USX form from what I can tell, hoping you or someone else could confirm if I’m right on that. Either way it’s gotta be 2 way escape since I don’t hear any swipes when slowed.

When I’m able to properly relax and hit a groove at the end it feels very low tension on the wrist and I don’t think any other major joints are moving, but this is the cleanest I’ve played something like this and it feels like it could be made consistent considering I haven’t been at it super long.

Hi @cmcgee11235 . The video quality isn’t great and the angle isn’t ideal, but here are my initial thoughts.

I think this has a lot of potential. When you start playing, there’s a noticeable gap between the side of your thumb and the strings, so relatively supinated. There also appears to be a slight downward slant which would be consistent with this. However, it appears to me that as you move towards the lower strings, your form shifts. You become more pronated and it seems you primarily escape on downstrokes. This shift in form might be the result of string tracking issues.

It seems to me that you’re initially doing a 902 crosspicking movement, but as you descend it’s shifting to a more linear 802 movement and trying to make the upstroke escape happen via rotation rather than wrist movement.

You could maybe try to focus on maintaining the initial degree of supination throughout, that could help to maintain the 902 movement throughout.

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That makes sense, my natural tendency when string tracking is to supinate down and pronate up and I’ve drilled that in for sweep picking. I used to plant my wrist consistently but dropped it attempting to imitate Jason Richardson’s tracking the last few months, switching it back still feels more stable but not I’m trying to make to more natural to add to my range and maintain even pickslant by bending my thumb on the low strings and extending on the high strings, which Anton demonstrates in some of this Russian videos I’ve seen on here, and Paul Gilbert and Andy Wood seem to do as well.

It seems to me that you’re initially doing a 902 crosspicking movement, but as you descend it’s shifting to a more linear 802 movement and trying to make the upstroke escape happen via rotation rather than wrist movement.
You could maybe try to focus on maintaining the initial degree of supination throughout, that could help to maintain the 902 movement throughout.

That also makes sense as it’s the form of 2WSP escape that I’ve practiced the most - one note on that though - I feel like I don’t do it ascending, only on these descending runs (I’ll try to get a better video of both today) and -

I went back and watched Andy Wood playing sixes, interestingly on the descending version he’s changing pickslant with what appears to be forearm rotation in a way that isn’t present on the descending run. If I consciously do something similar and maintain form on the first 2 strings and switch on the 3rd in preparation to start over it feels good, this becomes more 2WPS or situational 2WPS.

So my question becomes, is it necessary for Andy to change form here, or could both be done smoothly with 902? Why does he change his form for the faster sixes?

In principle, both ascending and descending forms can be performed smoothly with the 902 motion.

While wrist crosspicking movements can be done quite quickly, they are inherently slower than linear movements. We can feel when we are approaching the limits the capability of our crosspicking movement. In attempt to make the movements feel “easy” again, it’s natural to eliminate the curvature and adopt a linear path. To be able to escape in both directions then requires that we change orientation, or that we have a specialized helper movement to handle the problematic direction of escape.

What’s happening here is that Andy feels that it would be easier to achieve what he want by abandoning his 902 movement and switching to the linear 802 movement introducing rotations to change escape directions.

However, keep in mind that this is an intuitive process. Where Andy feels it becomes preferable to change his movement patterns is dependent on context, and is kinaesthetic experience of that particular context. As such, there may be discrepancies between ascending and descending, inside and outside changes, notes per string, etc.

This is completely natural. We shouldn’t insist upon uniformity of our form in all contexts, if we find a solution which works for us in a particular context, that’s all we really need. We may have personal idiosyncrasies or interesting artifacts in our form which persist, and that really isn’t a problem.

As an interesting example, Shawn Lane had a completely redundant rotation when playing ascending sixes across strings. It’s vestigial and has absolutely no function in that particular context. However, that rotation is necessary when playing a repeating ascending 6 on two strings, or when ascending with sixes involving string skips, and it may be that that rotation is an artifact from one of those contexts.

When playing descending sixes across strings he had no redundant rotation. For whatever reason, Shawn intuitively felt that a redundant rotation was not necessary in that context.

I believe many of Eric Johnson’s idiosyncratic finger and thumb movements while picking are somewhat similar, being contextual artifacts which are sometimes completely vestigial.

My own guitar teacher had a very idiosyncratic “thumb flick” movement on a particular picking pattern that was completely unnecessary, he was aware of it and knew it served no function, but he couldn’t remove it from his playing. I’m not sure that it was even worth the effort, the thumb flick didn’t prevent him from playing the pattern perfectly and consistently.

My conclusion then, is that if these idiosyncrasies, peculiarities or vestigial artifacts arise in our playing and they don’t negatively affect our playing, we should just accept them as something which occurs in motor learning and not worry about removing them.


@Tom_Gilroy Does the exclusively wrist mechanic Dart thrower/Reverse Dart Thrower has an inherent advantage over the motorcycle grip wrist forearm combo?

I’ve noticed two things practicing today -

  1. Maintaining pick angle is kind of tricky, but I can immediately feel when I’m doing it - everything is much smoother on one note per string runs

  2. If I anchor my forearm, I always slip into the motorcycle grip motion - I think my arm naturally wants to defer pressure from my palm to the forearm since I tend to angle the guitar body towards myself so it’s a natural resting point. If I don’t let my forearm rest, it’s a lot easier to get into the groove without noticable forearm wiggle.

I’ve been practicing Tumeni notes as well:

@cmcgee11235 When you get the arpeggios lined up in your video they sound really clean!

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Thanks! Yeah hand synchronization is like a whole new feeling with this mechanic, I’m incorporating crosspicking serrana into my practice routine now to try and hone in on synchronization and string tracking.

Another note - I was trying to use a thumb bend to get over the low strings earlier and I think keeping a straight thumb helps maintain the pick angle, I thought it would be the opposite. Also - not sure if it’s just because having a bigger pick means I can hit the string with a more exaggerated motion but tortex picks and the pettrucci Tritip picks seem to work better than the Jazz 3 Primetones I usually play with.

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One thing I’m not clear on - are Anton and Andy keeping the palm planted at the base of the bridge the whole time?

Is anchoring the palm in one spot at all essential to proper string tracking?

I tried adopting Anton’s anchoring which is up a bit higher on the pinky side of the hand rather than center of the palm and it feels more stable, also I feel like it’s a lot more clear how much supination to use with that position.

I have got the Troy Country Arpeggio thing to 125 bpm right now 16ths, quite the brain hand twister. Took a few days for the hands to mold into the lick. Right now it is starting to feel more fluid, and I plant like you say at the bridge to perform the lick with the picking motions Troy uses.

I think he (Anton) largely stays put. I see slight changes when he’s on the low E, and there is a subtle rotation that he engages at times. I wouldn’t say it’s essential for tracking because not everyone does it this way. BUT, IMO he’s the gold standard in the 1nps department, so imitating him is probably a great starting parting.

Okay so - feeling a lot more stable today with the picking, I can consistently play Tumeni’s intro at the speed in the above videos without many mistakes, I’ve found resting the tip of my ulna on top of the low string/bridge like anton seems to suggest here Anton Oparin - A Live Lesson with a Student: Alternate Picking Basics | part 1 - YouTube

really does stabilize my hand - I still also need to keep my forearm from resting on the top of the body but playing is more consistent now - will post a video if I get a chance shortly

Awesome. Also, in case you haven’t seen it, here’s him doing Tumeni:

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@joebegly @Tom_Gilroy

Okay, so I’m tried loosening up and just letting my hand go focusing on executing the right hand mechanic in a relaxed way, I think something clicked at the end of this video - not totally sure if I hit it dead on but those one note per string arpeggios at the very end of the video felt and sound super clean.


This is the start of something great, keep at it.

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For myself I tend to start digging my palm into the bridge the more I try to push the speed beyond my limitations. Does that guitar have a floyd rose? I would be going out of tune on that thing. :laughing:

Yeah I agree. I’ve been working on crosspicking a lot lately and the hardest hurdle to get over was just finding that motion. The end here looks like you may have found it.

@cmcgee11235 some things that helped me a lot were to focus on stuff where the fretting hand was a little more “stupid”. That allows for greater concentration on where we need it when finding the right motion, which is the picking hand. Tumeni notes isn’t exactly Barrios, but it’s not the most simple fretting hand piece out there. There are lots of noise control issues it creates too, and that’s too much to worry about in the beginning. I ripped off a Rainbow tune and made a little etude out of it:

One thing I noticed, was if I change the picking pattern slightly to this:

(and just keep that same thing going on the chords in the above sound slice. Second and final note of each beat is the open E. Makes for some cool sounding dissonance on some of those chords).

…it’s the same picking as Tumeni notes. But now we have the opportunity to do it on clean channel and just let the fretting hand chill out a little.

Hopefully that helps, and keep up the great work.


It is a Floyd but I’m putting the pressure where the low B/E strings are coming out of the bridge which gives almost no leverage since it’s right over the fulcrum the bridge is resting on, that thing isn’t moving - it is a 7 string Floyd (technically it’s an Ibanez Edge Zero - but I removed the zero point system so it wouldn’t be so stiff), so it doesn’t move as easily as a 6 string.

Then the other thing, when I’m relaxed enough to hit that motion, I don’t think I am pressing terribly hard, my arm doesn’t feel much tension in it at all. When I’m going slow and consciously working on synchronization sometimes I am pressing hard, but again because I’m balancing the end of my ulna right on where the strings leave the bridge it’s just pressing down right on the fulcrum, probably why Anton is so precise about where you should rest the palm since he’s playing a Floyd rose in that video.

So one thing I noticed - I actually was pretty quickly able to find other crosspicking motions by playing with my anchoring a lot. The first one I found was motorcycle grip because if I don’t lay my palm flat, my forearm wants to pronate on downstrokes based on where I was resting my palm - resting my forearm on the body of the guitar as an equal anchor point to the palm was also adding to that.

I think the idea of choosing a variety of different anchor points, and then really relaxing the hand while picking, is a good search strategy. Relaxing the wrist and playing I’ve seen @Troy mention plenty of times, focusing more on the right hand movement and not being musically correct. But on top of that, maybe also compiling an ongoing google sheet or something of what anchor points people are using and just trying relaxed alternate picking to see what, if any, motion comes out of it, could be an interesting exercise - I think some sets of anchors are definitely more likely to guide the picking hand into falling into place than others for different picking paths.

EDIT: As far as Tumeni - I actually am switching to spending more time on the Serrana arpeggios for this for two reasons -

  1. The span they whole set of strings
  2. It spans pretty much every standard 3 and 5 string arpeggio shape (all major/minor inversions plus diminished)
  3. I know it really well so it takes the left hand out of the equation. Not only do I know it well, but I know how to play it without barring almost any notes, and that really helps with synchronization - picking a major 5 string arpeggio with 3 barred notes feels like rubbing my stomach and patting my head although I can tell I just need to get the muscle memory down, I can focus on that separately later on if I want

This all sounds related to @Tom_Gilroy 's concept of “imitate form => imitate results.”

I think pick grip + anchor point comes close to dictating your actual motions.

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