Critique my pickslanting!

Hey all,

I discovered CtC last year and worked through all the videos. Finally got around to making a technique video now that I have a bit more spare time again.

I’ve done one-string picking (quarter notes at 120), a couple of the DWPS exercises (sextuplets at 70) and the UWPS exercise at 110. These are speeds that I can currently play them quite comfortably although on a good day I can go a little faster.

I know my timing and my right hand technique could also use some work, but it’s the picking I’m looking for help with right now! With DWPS I’m never sure if my wrist angle is quite right as I sometimes hit strings while crossing, especially at faster speeds; I find UWPS a little easier but again when I go faster I need to make sure I’m slanting enough to go over the string without hitting it.

One recent discovery I made is that I tend to use a bit of thumb motion at slower tempos, while when I go faster it’s mainly wrist deviation which has quite a different “feel” (discussed in Changing gears w right hand). Since then I’ve been trying to practise the wrist deviation more, since I can clearly go faster with it, although in the video I think I still see a bit of thumb movement.




Thanks for sharing! You mentioned you’re practicing wrist deviation - I think I’m seeing a few different forms and motions in your video. The first part (DWPS one string) looks a bit like blended elbow and wrist motion to me. In the other parts, I can also see the thumb motion you mentioned. Are you attempting to do strictly wrist motion in this video?

To give you a bit of critique, it seems like you’re focusing on getting these phrases to the click and trying to keep up with the metronome, instead of working toward smoothness of your picking-hand motion first.

Now this is just me, but:
I would probably go to “picking motion camp” for a while, and focus only on finding a picking motion that feels smooth - just on a single-note tremolo first, and then some easy 3-4 note patterns that don’t require real attention, like the phrases on your video do. I’d actually leave the metronome out for a while and only focus on looking for smoothness of motion.

No tension in the body (I sometimes curl my toes, believe it or not), no stringhopping, no thumb changing its angle/bend, no garage spikes with the pick - just getting the picking motion right. I’d keep any licks I play as ultra-simple as possible, with no left-hand challenge whatsoever. Just working on the right-hand motion, and the smoothness of feel and resulting sound.

Whenever I feel I’ve “lost” the wrist motion, I usually go through the USX motion video and the checklist again, then check myself using a mirror and do all the steps again and again until I can do it by feel, instead of by looking at my hand. I do this a few times per session.

I would recommend going through the Wrist Mechanics part again, too - it’s a really cool explanation of how things can work with the wrist. It helps you self-analyze.


Thanks a bunch Shredd, that’s great stuff!

Now that you mention it I’m definitely seeing some elbow movement in the first part, and some thumb movement particularly in the 6-string DWPS exercise. I’ll try to focus on keeping it just in the wrist and make more use of a mirror or camera.

I started just focusing on right-hand motion but more recently have been using the metronome as I find it using the technique “in time” has quite a different feel and I wanted to lock it in more. However it sounds like I need to go back to the basics a little more so putting the metronome and the fancy left-hand sequences aside for now does make sense.

I’ll probably re-subscribe at least for a month just to work through the basic mechanics videos again, especially now that I have more time on my hands with the quarantine.

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Hey @garybryan thanks for posting!

I like @Shredd’s suggestion about focusing on picking smoothness. I’d say try to up the speed as well - do not worry if the clarity suffers a bit. As a rule of thumb, you want to play fast enough that you can’t can get away with inefficient motions - here are two videos worth more than 2000 words :slight_smile:

May I also ask if you are aware of the distinction between “pickslanting” (the angle of the pick) and “trapped/escaped” pickstrokes (to do with the trajectory of the pick)? Not to put you on the spot, but to better follow up / clarify if needed :slight_smile:

You’ll see that nowadays we often use shorthands like
USX = escaped upstrokes
DSX = escaped downstrokes
DBX = pickstrokes that escape in both directions

For example, at the very start of the video it seems that your pick is trapped both after upstrokes and after downstrokes, so even if the pick looks slanted in the desired direction, the picking trajectory you are doing would not allow you to change strings smoothly after upstrokes.

Finally, if you include the youtube video like this:


YT link


it will automatically embed on the forum. I already did the edit for you in your original post. Hope this helps and feel free to ask more questions :slight_smile:


Absolutely. And I think it’s process, too. Sometimes I need to catch myself doing the motion wrong, fix it and then continue to go by feel, then re-check again, and so on.

Also, that Shawn Lane clip has good thoughts in it. Never heard of him before. That’s some smooth shredding too, holy moly.


For example, at the very start of the video it seems that your pick is trapped both after upstrokes and after downstrokes, so even if the pick looks slanted in the desired direction, the picking trajectory you are doing would not allow you to change strings smoothly after upstrokes.

Indeed, that’s what I was referring to in my first post about not being sure if the angle is right so sometimes hitting strings; I suppose the angle isn’t the only factor and as you say even if it’s slanted correctly it’s still not following the right path.

Anyway thanks for your feedback too! I think my plan for now is to revise the basics and make sure my motion is right (just focusing on USX at first, to keep it simple) then start with speed. I like the idea in the video about being able to recognise that you’re doing it right, as I’m still at the point where I can’t tell.

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Hey @garybryan, if I may I’d also suggest an alternative approach: start immediately by trying to pick fast, even something very simple like tremolo picking on a single note on a single string. Perhaps you can also abandon preconceptions that “it must be USX” or similar.

Once you get that going, you could a posteriori analyse if what you are doing is USX / DBX / DSX, and take it from there to work on string changes. What do you think?


It’s no factor at all! When it comes to motion, that is. The pickslant is just the way the pick appears oriented in space. If has no effect on its motion. Getting a picking motion happening is all about moving whatever joint along whatever pathway.

The confusion of course is that they sometimes appear correlated. And this only makes sense. The pick is at the end of your arm so any change in position anything up the chain is going to affect what it looks like. And since certain motions require certain arm positions we notice for example that Gypsy players almost always appear to have a downward pickslant. That being said, it might very well be possible to use a Gypsy arm position and have the pick appear not to have a downward pickslant if the player does something unexpected with their grip. Again, this wouldn’t affect the motion. But it might sound weird or feel weird if the pick “grabs” on the string, i.e. as a result of the grip causing the pick to not hit the string squarely.

So that’s all pickslant does - affect pick attack. Many times it is correlated with certain very common arm positions and grips. But again, that doesn’t tell you whether you’re moving correctly.

As @Tommo points out, get a motion happening that is fast and simple first. Most of these motions just go back and forth without a lot of drama. If you can’t play faster than 120bpm sixteenths, it’s definitely not working and don’t put any more time into it. Try another approach.

One question, while I have you. If you tap eighth notes on a table top, what’s the fastest tempo you can do that? Is it way faster than your maximum picking speed tempo in sixteenth notes? If so, you can pick fast, you just haven’t figured out the motion yet.


Thanks Tommo and Troy, more food for thought!

I can certainly tremolo pick a single note much faster than 16ths at 120 but it’s way harder to play multiple notes in sync and in time, and all the more so with position shifts involved like in the example! I suspect I was trying to run before I could walk, though.

I tried tapping on a table top and 8th notes at 200 or even 210 isn’t too difficult…

Quick video just trying to tremolo pick a note as fast as I can without thinking too much about techniques:

Seems to be mostly wrist but my elbow moves a little too. In terms of slanting, it’s definitely a downwards slant but it seems trapped between the strings, no USX.