Confused about TWPS

Hi all, I’ve been practicing two way pick slanting with 3nps scales for a while now, very slowly, but I’m feeling very uncomfortable and now am questioning whether I actually have the mechanics right at all.
Let me try explain what I’m doing with a 3nps scale.

So, I’s start with an UWPS on the low E, when I reach the A string, I stay in an UWPS until the last note on the A string and this is where I rotate to a DWPS, which I stay in until the last note on the D string, then change to an UWPS. I continue this method throughout the scale, changing my slant on the last note.
I got a bit confused as I saw a YouTube video which was basically saying to slant the opposite way to what I’m describing above… :confused:

I should also note the my DWPS in a 3nps scale is actually a little more neutral if I view it from a mirror sideways.
Also, when I reach the high E string and I’m in an UWPS, I find it hard to mute noise from the adjacent B string.

Most importantly, I wanted to ensure I actually have the slants right in the way I described above and wonder will it get more comfortable with slow practice…

Any help greatly appreciated.

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Any chance you could post a video? This is a circumstance where one would be infinitely more helpful than words.

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Hopefully this has worked.

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Hey, thanks for posting! Bit hard to see the pick as it’s very dark in the side angle, for future reference see some tips on filming your playing here. Also I think to really know if the motions feel smooth, you’ll want to try playing this considerably faster; it’s not necessarily going to feel the same w/ slow practice. See here for why: New vid: Don't "Work Up" To Picking Speed — Start With It!

Keep in mind that what matters is the trajectory of the pickstrokes — what we call the “escape” — much more than the slanted angle of the pick. Some of our older videos aren’t clear on this (not sure if the other YouTube video you mentioned is one of ours!) but our newer motions tutorial sections in the Pickslanting Primer I think do a better job explaining. Definitely suggest checking that out if you haven’t yet.

Here’s a free video from the Primer wrist motion section, on double escape motion, which you’ll see is possible to do even without really visibly alternating the “pickslant” at all:

Let us know if you have further questions on this, @Troy may have more thoughts as well!

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Thanks for the response.

The videos I watched were one with Michael Angelo Batio and this one here

In the above video though, I don’t change my pick slant in advance as he does, but change it on the last note before a string change. For example, he says to be downslanted on the A string, in a 3nps pattern, but I would be still in an upslant until switching to the D string.

I’m a little confused as to what to do, I can practice fast on one string like the video you linked me to, but I can’t play a scale fast. I figured it was just that I didn’t have the correct motions burnt into muscle memory yet but seems I may not be doing the correct motions at all? :confused:

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Also, I have gone through parts of the Pickslanting Primer. If I buy the one off download of this, will I get access to all the videos and tutorials etc? Will it advise me how to practice? Although I’ve been playing a long time, I’m relearning picking from the ground up and honestly don’t actually know what the most efficient method for practicing picking is…

Yes if you buy the Pickslanting Primer download you’ll get all the videos it comes with, and you can browse through it all on the site to see a list of what’s included in each section. Or you can access with the membership, only difference is videos are streaming only rather than downloadable.

We should distinguish “two way pickslanting”, as we describe in e.g. the Batio videos (“down, up, rotate”, switching the “slant” every few notes) from the more general concept of “double escape” picking motion, as described in the YouTube video I linked in my previous post.

The important thing there, as we see in the techniques of players like Andy Wood, David Grier, and Molly Tuttle, is that you can do this double escape motion without alternating the slant — not just one one string but across strings, at pretty high speeds, as they do e.g. in bluegrass roll patterns.

I haven’t watched that Ben Eller video but he knows his stuff so I don’t think it’s wrong though may be described slightly differently from how we do. But really the core principle is to only switch strings after escaped pickstrokes. Whether you do that by alternating the pickslant when needed, or using e.g. a double escape wrist motion with more neutral pickslant…either can work!

And re: practice speed, keep in mind that fast and sloppy is better than slow and precise, that’s the core point of that “starting with speed” video :slight_smile: Try practicing a scale like literally twice as fast as in the video you posted above. It will be totally sloppy but you’ll get a better feel for if the motions are working. This “wrist motion checklist” may help as well…we should probably make a checklist like this for every motion, but getting the wrist motion working smoothly should be a good start.


Thanks for the detailed response.
Starting tomorrow I will try practice the scale at faster speed and try clean it up at that faster speed. I’ll also purchase the full primer and study that over time.

I view “down up rotate” as really being a single-escaped pair followed by a double-escaped motion (correctly or incorrectly), I believe that the above nomenclature is a historical artifact. Is that true?

I do it with a single-escaped motion, a trapped motion, and a single-escaped motion, so I suppose that many techniques work.

Apologies for the confusion on this topic! As Brendan is pointing out, our understanding of these motions have become clearer over time, and we’ve stopped saying “two way pickslanting” to describe this type of scale playing for the time being. When you play a scale, you’re not really “changing the slant”. You’re making different picking motions. Some of these motions involve the forearm joint and appear to rotate. Others that use the wrist don’t appear to rotate. Both of these motions can be used to get over the string cleanly.

A classic example is Andy Wood, an awesome player and good friend of Ben’s, who we’ve interviewed. When Andy plays a fast ascending scale, he uses downstroke escape, or “DSX” wrist motion for the first five notes. This is a type of wrist motion where downstrokes go up in the air, and this is how he gets over the first string change. i.e. The first string is DUD, and during that third downstroke, the pick is in the air, and we can move to the new string. The second string is UDU, and during the sixth note we have to once again switch strings. Because of the DSX motion, the pick would be trapped, so for this, Andy introduces a little forearm motion in addition to the wrist, to lift the pick up and get over the string the second time. Then the pattern repeats.

Because this sixth motion uses some forearm, the arm and hand appear to rotate a tiny amount, creating a semicircular / curved pickstroke that we call the “double escape” pickstroke. And yes, technically, this also changes the “pickslant”, because anything that changes the hand’s orientation will also affect the pick. But I can also change the pick’s orientation in ways that won’t help me get over the string at all, such as by making small adjustments to my grip. So pickslant and picking motion are not the same thing, and many times when players start moving their fingers around to “change the slant” they’re not actually doing anything to change their motion, and thus not doing anything to help their scale playing.

So what we’re really seeing in Andy’s case is that for ascending scales, he uses a hybrid approach: wrist motion sometimes, and forearm-wrist motion at other times. That’s the simplest way to put it. And this approach happens to be very common, used by players like John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and many others. Why it’s so common is harder to guess, but it indeed it is.

Interestingly, when Andy descends, there is no forearm at all. It’s all wrist motions, in various combinations. Some of these are downstroke escape wrist motions, which he can use for downstroke string changes just as before. And some of these are upstroke escape, or “USX” motions, which he can use for the opposite string change. Because none of these motions involve rotating the arm, none of these make the “pickslant” appear to change. But the effect is still the same as Andy’s ascending approach. The pick goes over the string on downstrokes, and also on upstrokes.

It’s… complicated! There are lots of ways to do what you’re asking, including playing the entire scale in both directions with no, or very little, forearm involvement at all. Or you can do a hybrid approach like Andy. Considering that great players like Andy are not always super conscious of this blending of motions, one approach to learning wrist motion specifically is to try to ignore them. Instead, follow some instructions for getting any of the core wrist motions happening smoothly, and see if you can intuit the others by feel of smoothness and correctness at medium or better speeds, as Brendan outlines. As you do this, knowing what is supposed to be happening mechanically, and what it is all supposed to feel and sound like when done correctly, is a big leg up compared to tooling around entirely blindly with no knowledge of which motions are which.

And yes the Primer comes with lifetime updates as we integrate more of this type of clarity and teaching into the product over time.

Yes we’re probably stepping away from calling anything “two way pickslanting” at this point, until we’re clear what it even means. As you’re pointing out, the clearest thing to do is look at the motions you’re trying to make.

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My definition if it (today) would be “pick is escaped before the 1st stroke and after the 3rd stroke” (where the sequence is composed of at least one single-escaped stroke). MAB is escaped three times and I am escaped twice.

Thank you for the detailed reply.

I’ve been practicing it fast now, and doing very badly. Extremely slopping and missing most notes. Is this practicing fast to replace slow practice in order to learn how you need to move to play fast? So, for scales and sequences etc, once you have the basic pattern down, ramp up the tempo?

I’m not a supershredder so take my advice with a grain of salt.
“Play fast” is a kinda reltive thing. What is fast for me is a snails speed for Yngwie )
Anyway, I recommend to play at such tempo where you can barely hit all notes you need, but you stilll hit them. Near you limits. May be a bit slower.
So you try to play fast for a some time (5 min maybe). Then you decrease your speed a bit and play it while watching TV or reading CtC forum or whatever. It took me about a week to come to 180bpm scale. Not very fast, I know, but for me it was like '‘wow’.

When you talk about a scale at 180bpm, what subdivisions are we talking about? quarters? eighths? sixteenths? triplet 8ths? When I first read that I just assumed you meant 16ths, and in my book that’s not slow. It might be moderate for someone like Batio, but even Yngwie’s fastest 16ths don’t get much above 180. Well, that I’ve heard anyway. I surely haven’t listened to his entire catalog. Just wondering :slight_smile:

Well, it’s not slow but looking at forum guys like @milehighshred I do realize that it’s not that fast either. Moreover, it’s my maximal speed, so it’s not a thing I’m sure about. And I would definitely not use that speed at a perfomance )

Ah, gotcha. I guess it’s all relative, huh? At any rate, I’d say keep up the good work!

That’s exactly right. What we have learned is that when you go slow and try to get all the notes “right”, it’s very hard to know by feel if you’re getting the motions right. And getting the motions right is really what you’re trying to learn. Because at very slow speeds, all motions can successfully play the notes correctly, even motions that are not efficient and can’t go fast. So the only good test for knowing if you are doing efficient motions is trying to go fast in the beginning.

So yes, as you point out, in order to do this you have to memorize the fingering. And it’s fine to do that at whatever tempo helps the memorization. That’s a different problem. But once you can play the left hand, and you want to figure out the right hand, the best way is to make different attempts go fast and see which one produces the closest results.

As you do this, total accuracy is not what is most important. What is important is a feeling of smoothness and speed in the motion, where at least some notes are correct and sound good. Other notes can be wrong or even missing. That’s fine. The reason some notes go missing is that you might be doing the right motion for some notes, and the wrong one for other notes. But as long as those motions are both fast, that is better than doing two “wrong” motions that are the slow kind. In other words, there are levels of “wrong”, and using the efficient motion that is simply not the right match for a certain phrase is closer than not using any efficient motion at all. If that makes any sense.

This is really the first step in mechanical learning. Once you achieve this, you can try to slow down a little and see if the accuracy improves. But not too much. If you go really slow, then you lose the feeling of smoothness and you can’t tell if it’s correct any more.

If you forget what that feels like, you can go back to the fast sloppy speed to remind yourself. So you can go back and forth as a kind of reminder, and also as a test to see if you can reproduce the more accurate playing at the faster speed. Over time, you will be able to go even slower while being sure you are still doing it right, because your ability to recognize the correct motion by feel will improve.

Let me know if this helps!


Is there a current CTC youtube video that concisely expresses that idea? I think it’s a point that could create an “aha!” moment for a lot of people who aren’t yet on the CTC bandwagon.

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We did put up a video called “Starting With Speed”, which you’ve probably seen, but it wasn’t intended as a YouTube-style “you’ll never believe how wrong you’ve got it” kind of explainer. It was just a somewhat self-contained chapter from the wrist motion section, which is hard to find when you’re doing chapterized lessons. This is the challenge with doing the instructional stuff — they don’t always play well as standalone videos for marketing purposes.

That being said, that video has done well and I think a lot of viewers take it as a kind of mythbusting even though we didn’t intend it that way at all. In fact, I intentionally steered clear of anything that was too conceptual and talky because this was really part of a tutorial. We were just providing advice for what to do next as you’re learning those motions.

Certainly a more thesis-y video about skill acquisition style practice could be made on the subject in the future, potentially for a part of the Primer that wants to provide a basic overview of how to learn new picking motions.

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Thanks @Brendan and @Troy for your responses.

I have been practicing faster now but seem to have a lot of trouble with unwanted string noise and I’m wondering is it down to my form. I always play standing up and I am wondering do I need to lower my elbow so that i can get more of my hand in contact with the strings to mute them. I recorded a quick video which is quite sloppy but you should be able to hear the string noise anyway.