Confusion about USX reverse-dart motion

In the wrist section of the pickslanting primer, where the reverse-dart-thrower motion is explained, it is said that you need to pronate your forearm slightly in order to be able to achieve smooth DSX/DBX/mixed escape reverse dart motion without a garage spikes problem. However, later on when the USX motion is demonstrated, the forearm is then supinated, in order to achieve the USX motion. When I try with the slightly more pronated forearm, it feels smooth and comfortable, however, when I try a USX motion with the more supinated forearm, I feel like I’m getting a garage spikes problem where the upstroke is sticking.

I am confused because it was said that you need to pronate your arm to avoid this garage spikes problem, however you need to reverse this to play USX, seemingly reintroducing the garage spikes problem? I feel like I’m missing something…
Could it be that i’m supinating my arm too much, thus introducing some catching of the pick on the string?

Any help is greatly appreciated!
Thank you :slight_smile:

It could be that the motion itself isn’t really turning into USX. For example, if the elbow takes over, just supinating more won’t magically make the motion USX. Ask me how I know :slight_smile: . Also, if the motion is curved, supinating more still won’t magically make the motion USX. Ask me how I know :slight_smile: Not saying either of these are what’s happening in your situation, but these are possibilities. It could be pick-point too. We’d only be able to tell by seeing footage since this is a symptom of some sort of mismatch in the motion chain.


Thanks for the input :slight_smile:

I’ll try to capture some footage over the next couple of days, hopefully that will help to identify any issues that might be present :slight_smile:

I’d need to watch it again to be certain, so I could be wrong on this, but I believe continuous USX with RDT just isn’t done - RDT can do DSX or DBX, meaning the downstroke always escapes no matter what, and the upstroke does as well during DBX. Pure USX would require the dart thrower form, which hasn’t really been covered in depth yet.

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I’m pretty sure Igor Paspalj does it, and I can (I think) if I imitate his form. He has a couple different mechanics though.

I had a lengthy discussion with Troy about this here

Troy classed the mechanic used in the video I’d linked in the OP as RDT. I of course agree (though I couldn’t see it at the time…doh!!). There’s plenty of USX happening in there…at least I think! :slight_smile: At his speeds…I guess it’s always possible it’s primary DSX and he’s swiping upstrokes or just clearing with some clever helper motion.

I’ll see if I can get some magnet footage of my imitation (at much much lower, mortal type of speeds) and see what’s happening.

Me too. I remember the part you’re talking about. It didn’t quite make sense since I have a pretty strong image in my mind of RDT having capabilities of DSX, DBX and USX. But, maybe the catch is just that RDT can do USX, just not continuous USX. That’s a guess, time to rewatch…

EDIT: short video, here it is:

There’s that “strong image” I had in my mind lol! Certainly, as advertised, RDT can do these all.

Here’s the one with the deeper explanation. When he says “you can’t do continuous USX” it seems that he means in the posture he was just demonstrating. He goes on to supinate more and demos what I’d call continuous USX.

This is my take too. I think @Troy is essentially saying: the mixed-escape RDT form isn’t suitable for continuous USX phrases, but for mixed-escape playing, that’s OK, because it can handle just enough USX to get the job done. But by adding more supination, you change to a form that can do continuous USX with an RDT motion.

To the extent that things aren’t coming smoothly, it’s probably a matter of pick grip and the details of the pick angle relative to the direction of the picking motion.

Two other consecutive videos from Primer that apply directly to some of the discussion in this thread:


Sorry for the confusion. What I meant by that passage in the lesson is that, in theory, the basic reverse dart form that we teach in those lessons can’t do any continuous USX, because the pick attack would be garage spikes. This is why I think the most common type of reverse dart wrist player is simply not a USX player at all. In Andy Wood’s technique for example, you never see any kind of continuous USX motion. You only ever see DSX motion or DBX motion, in various combinations. Those two motions together are enough to play any phrase with pure alternate picking.

In actual practice, I’m sure there are all sorts of variables that come into play, which might allow USX to happen. For example, in Albert Lee’s technique, he will play certain fast lines with continuous USX. But he also gets a very specific, aggro attack on those notes. And when you look at his shredcam (i.e. old magnet) footage, he really doesn’t look like a typical USX player. There’s not an obvious downward pickslant. I think he has just enough flop in his grip to allow the pick to get through the strings with the “wrong” pick orientation, hitting the strings with a more vertical pick than would be typical for a Gypsy-type player, and really snapping the attack.

More commonly, you might see a player who subconsciously shifts the arm position and grip to allow USX, essentially becoming A USX-only player for certain phrases. As demonstrated in the lessons, the USX version of reverse dart form isn’t that different. It’s just a slightly different arm position and maybe a slightly different grip.

Exactly. You cannot get continuous USX motion and continuous DSX motion from a single arm position. Using the basic form we outline in the lessons, you can get continuous DSX and continuous DBX. That is enough to play any line with pure alternate picking. That’s the theory — see previous disclaimer about exceptions / Albert Lee, etc.

If you want to do continous USX, you need to change your form in some way to enable this. As we discussed previously, if you want to play USX-only phrases like Eric Johnson or Yngwie stuff, just learn a USX technique for that. Those songs were all written and played by USX-only players who have no access at all to continuous DSX motion and very little access to DBX motion. It is not problematic to have a slightly different technique that you use for that type of material. In fact, in developing this, you become multi-lingual in a way that most self-taught players can’t do at all.

If you just want to play lines that mix and match different kinds of string changes with pure alternate picking, and you don’t need access to sweeping, you can use the basic wrist forms (reverse dart or dart) for that. In that case, you don’t need to worry about or even think about which type of escape the wrist is making. You just need to assemble a large variety of phrases that have mixed string changes in them, and experiment with them until they all feel somewhat smooth. This is how bluegrass players and classical mandolinists learn technique, and why they all end up with a mix of motions that usually includes a certain amount of double escape in there somewhere.


Just want to clarify: USX reverse dart is possible, and I’m not barking up the wrong tree? :rofl:

Yes of course. I demonstrate this in the lessons. If you’re not able to do that, the only way to diagnose what’s going on is via video. If you make a platform TC, we’ll take a look at it.

However, the fastest route to any end goal is to try everything and use whatever works first. There’s no reason you have to try only wrist motion. Did you try any forearm stuff? Gypsy type technique? How about fingers?

There might be some technique that you can do immediately that you can use right now, and then you don’t have to worry too much about the technical stuff any more.

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Can wrist USX be utilised to the same extent as wrist DSX when alternate picking lines that mix string changes? Is the only limiting factor the slightly smaller access to DBX motions?

Here is footage of my picking. To me, it looks like I have a bit of a dwps when playing on 1 string, but the motion seems to kind of flatten out when I try to play over multiple strings… :thinking:

To me, your slow mo part (0:25 - 0:48) looks like it starts USX, but then it can’t decide and becomes DSX. The descending pentatonics (0:55 - 1:05) are all DSX.

When it comes to understanding wrist technique, the simplest thing to do is to think about the form options that are available:

  1. The basic form in the lessons, which has a (mostly) zero-degree pickslant. This form lets you play lines that mix downstroke and upstroke string changes using pure alternate picking, generally without sweeping. This is the form that appears to be the most common starting point among players who play these types of lines.

  2. The downward pickslanting form from the lessons. This form lets you play lines that primarily have upstroke string changes, often in combination with downstroke sweeping.

  3. The upward pickslanting form from the lessons. This form lets you play lines that have downstroke string changes, often in combination with upstroke sweeping.

As to your question, are you asking if you can use form (2) — the one with the downward pickslant — to play lines like (1)? If so, technically speaking, there is no option for that. However, there is a fourth option:

  1. Two-way pickslanting. This is where you change between two of the available forms. OR… it’s where you use one of the forms plus a helper motion. This varies based on the joint a person is using, since not all joints can even do these different forms. It’s complicated! Players mostly do it subconsciosly. The two-way pickslanting option mainly gets you scalar lines with some limited one-note-per-string capability because you can get a double-escape pickstroke right at the moment you do the switcheroo. It’s not the same double escape pickstroke you get in (1), which is done mostly with the wrist.

I’m oversimplifying here, and even this simplification is pretty complicated! Out in the real world, you will see all sorts of mixing and matching of these various options. But this captures most of what players are doing.

So in summary, try to simplify the process for yourself as much as possible. If you want to play lines as in (1), use form (1).

If you do that, and then you film yourself with a Magnet and look at what motions you’re making, you may discover that you’re doing any number of complicated things. But I wouldn’t go into it trying to think through those motions too much. Assume the form that most closely matches the phrases you want to play, and then try to play those phrases at realistic speeds while searching for motions that feel smooth, and which get some amount of the notes right to start, without requiring too much physical effort or mental concentration.


It looks like you’re using rotation for the single string at first, getting USX, but then switch to DSX wrist for the pentatonics so it becomes swipey.

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Not at all, I apologise as I realise I may have made this unclear earlier :slight_smile:

I want to develop a USX technique which will allow me to play lines which require downstroke sweeping, as well as string changes with mainly even number of notes per string.

I have tried a wrist USX as shown in the wrist motion section of the pickslanting primer, and a wrist-forearm type motion as shown in the forearm section. So far, I have found that USX feel quite awkward to me, especially when changing strings - I feel like even if I can get some kind of USX looking motion when playing on 1 string, that slight dwps seems to disappear when I try to play across strings.

However, despite this, I do feel a bit more comfortable playing 2nps lines now than I did when I originally posted about USX motions.

Edit: haha sorry, I thought you were replying to my post. sorry.


I think this is because you’re switching to DSX when you go from tremolo → actual scalar phrases. This happened to me too in the beginning. I think it’s just because if you’re a DSX player by nature, when you introduce something you’re very familiar with, you’ll revert to what you’re used to. I beat this by doing tremolo melodies because it allowed me to concentrate on the new motion but gradually introduce some fretting to. It’s like combing your hair while you brush your teeth :slight_smile:

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Ah, Thank you! I’ll try this :slight_smile:

Not a problem.

As @joebegly points out, and as we’ve already discussed, this looks like it wants to switch forms as you speed up. The slower speed motion looks pretty good for USX, but the faster speed form looks like double escape to me. The pickslant is zero, the motion looks flat and there aren’t obvious rest strokes like you see with DSX players. So your current technique looks like a nice starting point for double escape playing. I would just try to start with a zero-degree form at slower speeds so there isn’t a shift as you speed up. Experiment with form adjustments until you achieve this.

As part of that expermentation, I still think trying dart-thrower form is useful. They’re not super different and sometimes one “just works”. You don’t have to play that way all the time if you don’t want to. But the more of these you get, the easier they all become.

It’s going to be difficult to get there by simply making repeated attempts to do this using the form you already know. When things feel and sound exactly the same, then as you speed up, you’re likely to just to drop right back into motions you already know how to do. Switching to a different-feeling technique can be a way around this: forearm, fingers, etc. Something that looks and feels obviously different to you. Consider this a hobby / side project in addition to your current technique, which looks like it is already working for double escape playing.

The only other thing I’d mention is the pick gauge. Huge picks generate massive amounts of chirp which can make it tricky to know when you are executing the attack smoothly. You can hear in this clip that each pickstroke effectively plays a note a minor third above the one you’re actually fretting.

I’m always open to experimentation but in general, for learning technique, I try to suggest pick gauges around 1mm and materials that are not hard and chirpy. This keeps the pick itself mostly out of the way. A Jazz III at 1.4 is doable since it has a bevel and the material is relatively soft. Heavier than that, I try to stay away for learning, even with a bevel. I’ve seen so many problematic TCs with 2mm+ pointy beveled picks that, whether or not the pick was actually part of the problem, I now just associate that formula with unnecessary added difficulty.


Is the downstroke sweeping still accessible as part of double escape?

No. You need USX technique for that. What you’ve got is a good starting point for pure alternate double escape type playing. USX you don’t have yet. That’s why I keep suggesting doing something completely different.