Cracking the tracking

I’ve had some really nice dwps/crosspicking progress for a few months, but some stuff (especially inside string changes, as expected) is still problematic. Also, sometimes
I can play something ascending but not descending or vice versa, even if it’s the same amount of nps. Yesterday I think I’ve stumbled on what may be the source of these problems. I haven’t watched the new primer, so it might have been covered there already. I’m new to these techniques so please take this all with a huge grain of salt.
I feel like tracking UP (b to g string) needs to be combined with a downstroke and tracking DOWN (g to b) must be combined with an upstroke. Also, there can’t be two opposite string tracking movements one after another, because it causes pain (sort of tracking’s equivalent of stringhopping). So if you have a basic 1, 2, 3,4 excercise
b-----------5-6-7-8
g-5-6-7-8----------
it would be down, up, down, up combined with tracking to b string, down up, down, up.
If it’s the opposite
b-8-7-6-5----------
g-----------8-7-6-5
it would be down, up, down, up, down combined with tracking to g, up, down, up.
Tracking movement happens on different parts of the beat depending on which direction you’re going.

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dunno if I agree with that example. Seems the second one would still be down, up, down, up with tracking added

Inside changes are easier for me. I struggle sometimes with certain outside changes. I assume this is because I have gravitated more towards uwps

here is sort of how I look at it: There are several ways to move the pick. Ignoring all the various “wrist deviation vs 4arm rotation” aspects, lets just look at 2 ways the pick can move.

  1. tracking. In other words, the same as pure sweeping. The hand itself is more or less rigid and all movement comes from the arm or shoulder or somewhere other than the hand.

  2. regular pick motion mechanics such as wrist deviation or rotation or whatever.

SO, that being said, the way I see and feel it is that inside picking changes and outside picking changes have both of these motion aspects but they have different RATIOS(!)

for example. The Paul Gilbert lick. Outside change going to a higher string (B to E). To me, this is more of a “pick” and slightly less tracking. I feel more like my hand has to be more active and sort of “reach up” with the picking motion to get to the E string

On the other hand we have inside changes. for example if we just do the Paul Gilbert lick in reverse: (starting all examples with downstrokes)

E----12----------------
B---------15–13–12

for me anyway, I feel way more of higher string tracking ratio when I go from the E to the B. I dont feel it so much as a “pick” as I do it being more of a “sweep”

So for me anyway, outside change going to higher string (B to E) feels totally different than an inside change going to lower string (E to B). They are both a “pick” combined with “tracking” but in different ratios.

If I were to do this lick, starting with downstroke and then all upstrokes, the feeling going from E to B would be about the same as if I were doing the reverse PG lick above:

E-----12-----------------
B---------13------------
G--------------12--------
D--------------------14–

So that lick would be pick, sweep, sweep, sweep or stated another way, pick, track, track, track…whereas the reverse PG lick would almost feel like to me pick, track, pick, pick

Maybe the outside ascending change feels like 80% pick with 20% tracking whereas the descending inside change feels like 20% pick with 80% tracking


It also may be as you say, it feels as if the tracking and picking occur at different points of the beat (but i think you described it wrongly). Its still the same “beat” but maybe it feels like that single beat is micro divided up differently.

for me maybe an outside change feels like a pick with a tiny bit of tracking coming in on the tail end of the pick whereas an inside change feels like tracking right away with only a tiny bit of pick coming in at the end.

I think it has to do with when you pick the B with a downstroke and the E with an upstroke, you are already headed in the right direction after picking the B so it feels like all you have to do is extend that pickstroke and you are ready for the E string upstroke. (keep in mind, I have gravitated more towards uwps)

Whereas when you pick the E with a downstroke and then go to pick the B with an upstroke, you are headed the wrong way lol. So you have to do some hefty tracking to get way down the the B string


and yet ANOTHER thought to ponder: When you do an outside change you have to clear the NEXT string you are going to pick, whereas with an inside change you have to clear the PREVIOUS string.


sometimes it helps me to think of the note AFTER the string change note. Like lets say u r struggling with descending inside changes like this:

E------15–14–12-----
B ---------------------15

instead of worrying about the upstroke on the b string, think about adding another note and then concentrate on THAT notes downstroke, for example:

E------15–14–12-----------
B ---------------------15–13

if you think down, up, down and then “ok, let me pick the 13 on the B with a downstroke” then you almost HAVE to pick thru the 15 with an upstroke. The upstroked 15 note can almost be an afterthought as opposed to some hard thing.

This is the equivalent of a golfer just making his swing and letting the ball get in the way as opposed to trying to “hit the ball”. You dont want to “hit” the ball, you want to swing right thru it. You dont want to “hit” the B string with an upstroke, you want to smoothly pick right thru it on your way to your next downstroke etc

Peace, JJ