Critique my Picking

Do you see any bouncing movement or any other areas that may be problematic? Am I pick slanting correctly? Any information about my technique would be helpful. My right hand touching the volume knob sometimes bothers me but I’m not sure if I should try to change my pick grip or just accept that I will touch the volume on the high strings.

Picking E Standard - Angle Pad Grip:

Here is me trying to use a different grip, my pinky finger really wants to come unfurled. Do I appear to be doing Trigger-Style correctly?

Picking D Standard - Trigger-Style Grip Attempt

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From looking at your playing I would assume that you do some kind of double escaped picking stroke since it doesn’t look like you are changing slants. I might be wrong though. It could also be string hopping but that would be really fast string hopping.

Is this your max picking speed? How does is look when you play a single string lick at max speed?

This is close to max speed for changing strings but single strings should be faster. I’ll record something single string and try to record closer to the picking hands.
If I am double escape picking, is this something I should unlearn?

That’s the trick — with wrist players, there is often nothing to see by looking at the pick itself. No “change in slant” is necessary to do something like this, just a change in wrist motion performed with the arm not moving and the grip not changing. In other words, what you’d see is the pick moving in different directions based on the string change (i.e. motion path change), but what you would not see is the pick changing its orientation in space (i.e. pickslant change).

Thanks for posting! When you play slowly, yes, it looks bouncy. Lots of great players do that, like Andy Wood for example, and then they gradually transition to a more efficient motion as they speed up. When you speed up, it’s not obvious that what you’re doing is specifically “wrong”, unless you tell me this is the speed limit for how fast you can move. Is that the case? Given the amount of coodination you are displaying here, you should be able to move at least 160-170bpm sixteenths, and I would guess, easily more, with no feeling of tension. If you experience speed limit or tension, then something is up with the motion.

That being said I think what you’re doing here looks interesting and if you have a slow-motion mode on your phone, and you could try filming this again, that would be cool to look at. Once again from this “down the strings” angle, an another from an “audience perspective” (where the guitar body faces the camera), to see what’s going on with your wrist.

Again, is there a speed limit? Then attempting one of the single escape motions, with rest strokes, would be the next step. If you can do that and film it we’re happy to take a look at those too.

Thanks for the reply, Troy. This is about at my speed limit for crossing strings. I’ll capture the video angles that you mention, as well as something on a single string, and post it here. Do you mind if a metronome is playing in the background, or is that distracting?

When you use a single-escape motion, there is really no difference in speed when moving from one string to another. Whatever speed you can do in your base motion, you can have that exact same speed when moving across the strings. I’m oversimplifying a little, but in general, when you play patterns with four or six notes per string, this is mostly true.

That’s why I like to focus on the core motion first. Get the core motion happening on a single note on a single string if necessary, and if there are issues there, those issues may ripple through everything else you’re trying to do.

Re: metronome use, I just don’t think it’s relevant to the learning process at this stage. I just want to see what “fast” looks like when you do it by feel on a single string, with no reference. The speed you can go is determined by the efficiency of your motion, not what the metronome is telling you. A lot of times, I notice heavy metronome users aren’t really even playing to the click anyway. It’s there, slightly off, in the background.

Just give it a shot the old fashioned way by doing “fast”, whatever that means to you, and let’s see what that looks like.

Here are a few more videos. I burned myself out trying to get a good video, heh. These are my speed limits, I would say. Do any of these better illustrate my issues?

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Thanks for posting these! I think there are two issues to sort out here.

One is just the motion itself. If you’re saying you feel speed limited at this speed, then we can try and figure out what you’re actually doing, but that’s kind of beside the point because you should be able to move a little faster than this. Have you watched the Pickslanting Primer wrist motion chapters for both USX and DSX? Were you able to do either of them on a single note, single string? Have you tried the rest stroke approach and did it help? If you haven’t done those things yet, definitely give those a shot and let us know if the results are any different.

Two, I didn’t notice this the first time, in some of these clips, you’re doing something I call “displacement”, where the picking hand picks a different number of notes per string than the fretting hand is actually fretting. This is a common mistake where the picking hand tries to simplify the phrase to even numbers of notes per string, either 2, 4, or 6, even when the fretting hand is fretting 3 three notes. This allows the picking hand to use a single-escape motion, which is simpler. Of course if that’s not what you’re actually fretting, it can sound unsynchronized.

I point this out because this isn’t just a synchronization problem. It’s your hand telling you it wants to use a specific kind of motion — the one you’re best at. And notice, we don’t see this problem in the very first clip here because — get ready — that phrase actually has an even number of notes per string. It is a USX phrase. So the hands stay synchronized.

So… perhaps when you go your fastest you only really have learned a USX motion so far. That’s not a problem. Learn to recognize this by feel and work on some awesome USX phrases. Try to smooth out the motion with rest strokes and accents, and check out the Primer chapters on USX motion. Then try to link up longer patterns where you always have an even number notes, like this one:

I like longer patterns so you can get going and stay going, and try to feel those accents. The goal here is to unlock more speed and smoothness by being aware of the USX motion you are making. Keep trying this different ways to see if you can go faster. Again, the rest stroke may help to keep the motion in a “straight line”, which is the fastest way to move.

Let us know how you make out.


Thanks for the detailed response, Troy. I have watched the pick slanting primer and thought I was working on a two way pick slanting pattern, but I’m not sure that I’ve successfully done that so perhaps I’ll fall back to the one way pick slanting stuff. I feel like I can play the DWPS stuff when I’m working on it, but then I revert to how I normally play if I’m not specifically working on DWPS.

Sorry for the confusion! We’ve updated the Pickslanting Primer in the last couple months with much better / clearer instructions for doing the component wrist motions, aka “one-way pickslanting”. Which, in your case because you’re using wrist motion, won’t really involve much actual “pickslanting” at all. But it still does entail the angled escape motion paths. That’s what we’ve tried to be clearer about.

We haven’t updated the “two way pickslanting” side of the Primer yet, in terms of how that should be done or even what to call it. That’s because, again, players like yourself probably won’t be doing any actual “two way slanting” to play both escapes, and we can see clearly here in these clips that you’re not doing that. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it just means that players who do wrist motion may see little or no change in what the pick looks like. All the change comes from the way it moves. And yet depending on various aspects of their form, some players do make an obvious change in their grip or arm position, and do look like what we’ve classically described as “2wps”. So we have to figure out the simplest way of addressing both of these realities, which (or both) of them to teach, how to teach them, and so on.


In your case, I think whenever there is potentially a speed issue, the best course of action we know of so far is to choose one or both of the component motions and make sure they are working as they should. If you can’t do upstroke escape or downstroke escape fast on their own, then that’s the first problem to solve.

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