It’s funny you say that, because it really is true I think. When I do those rolls I now have the feeling that it feels like … nothing. More in the sense of ‘nothing I can relate’ actually. Sometimes players comes with metaphor to describe the picking motion (like turning the key etc…). But with the rolls it’s hard because you are not really under the impression of aiming at/picking the strings, it’s more about the motion itself, with the strings being mere way points on the pick trajectory. Especially with 4 nps circle pattern … to me it feels like strings are alike those dots lighting one after the other on old digital display, creating the illusion of a motion.
I think I am starting to feel what you feel. In the video clip I did above of wildwood flower - I had to actually not think about which string to pick in order to play it at that speed. If I started thinking about it, my brain can’t keep up, I start to feel the strings and get confused.
All this is clearing up so much confusion for me. Although I am still very new to this style of analysis, I wish I had come here sooner. I have spent the past year bashing away at dozens of alternate picking exercises, with the promise that the speed will eventually come, but in the last few days I feel like much more progress has been made.
I’ll keep trying to eliminate the arm movement and post back in a couple of days.
holy crap… that jedi-mindset actually works. I decided to try the 3 string rolls without looking at what I was doing… and it finally clicked.
I guess my eye can deceive me.
3 string rolls I do much better if I’m not looking, 4 string or 6 string crosspicking patterns, I’m lucky if I hit ANY of the strings without looking.
Would anybody be able to give me any feedback on my attempts to do the 902 motion?
@Troy pointed out that my arm was rotating, and to try to use wrist only, rather than any arm rotation/turning:
Slow down speed:
Does it look any better to you? I just want to try and get this right.
The strange thing is, when I do it on one string, I don’t turn my arm at all - it’s all wrist. It’s when I change strings that I start turning the arm, because I think until now i’ve been using that motion to “get over the strings”. So I’m just seeing if I can re-learn this. If this is correct, at the moment I can only do it at this speed - any faster and my brain is still wired to turn the arm…
I don’t know … the previous clip sounded very good to me. This one sounds a little more stiff.
Can’t say if it’s the motion though, or maybe some red-light syndrome…
It seems to me that you can flat out the pick trajectory a bit, especially on the upstroke. Also something I’m not sure but you look like reversing the pick stroke (up <> down) quite abruptly, which might be a problem at higher speed. The change in direction could be smoother IMO.
Take that with a grain of salt. Better wait for @Troy comment on this.
This looks fine. It’s the most deviation-y of all your attempts, so you’re clearly getting it. In fact, the transformation here is pretty remarkable!
The arm turning in and of itself isn’t a negative, there will always be some amount of it. When you see that the arm wants to adjust itself ever so slightly on certain string changes, you can try just putting it in that position to begin with and then it won’t want to adjust any more, or it will adjust less. In your case this means using a tiny bit less supination to begin with. We’re getting to the limit here of how little you can supinate and still have enough tilt to get over the string. So I wouldn’t worry about this too much. Give that a try and see if it works.
Otherwise, you’re more concerned with the big picture - is this movement essentially correct, with negligible other movements, or is it a movement that can’t decide which movement it really wants to be and is inconsistent, and that’s why it looks that way?
One thing you can do to test this by playing faster. Just “go fast” and see what happens. Don’t worry about accuracy and don’t use a metronome. I wouldn’t recommend metronome for any of this, honestly. Which specific tempo is irrelevant right now. You’re testing all tempos to see how they feel, and it doesn’t matter what the numbers are. Focusing on the feel of the movement and to some extent its visual appearance is what matters more.
In general, when you start to get this down you can speed up without things feeling too awkward or the form changing dramatically on you. You may not hit all the notes at first, because you haven’t figured out what this movement feels like yet when done correctly at the faster speed. And the different speeds do feel different, even when the motion is identical or nearly so. That’s the paradox.
Do that test and film it for yourself. And try lots of little variations to see what the effects are.
FYI no need to post a slowed-down version of these unless you’re actually filming in a high frame rate mode on your phone. The YouTube player can already slow down video and it looks the same. However if you film in 120fps, which is the sweet spot, your slowed down footage will actually reveal more motion, and those are worth posting.
Nice work here!
Ah great, thank you thank you thank you!
Ok, I’ll try that out - yes I’ve sorta jettisoned the metronome for this, I feel like I need to get the feel of the new technique to burn it into my right hand first before all that stuff.
This is a really different approach to playing than a strict “use the metronome and bump it up slowly”. It’s making me realise that because my movements weren’t optimal before, no wonder all those hours of metronome practice didn’t get me that far…
The filming is also really useful. It’s just so nice and helpful to know exactly what to do, rather than just guessing…
Yep. A metronome is useful as a measurement tool if at any point you want to know what the max speed a motion is reliably working at. But that’s it - it’s just a measurement, like taking your temperature with a thermometer. I turn it on, measure, and turn it off. I don’t leave it on and play to it - it’s super distracting from focusing on the movement feel. And forcing everything to happen at a prescribed arbitrary tempo is not even really relevant at this point.
I definitely don’t agree with a blanket statement that forearm rotation should be reduced for cross-picking. There are many x-pickers who use forearm rotation quite well.
Remember that wrist only double-escaped picking is one of many flavors. You may find that you like it, you may find that you don’t.
I’ve actually kinda gone the opposite direction and am using more forearm rotation than previously. It feels very smooth… but that’s just me.
would anybody be able to give me any feedback on how I am getting on with this?
My issue is that:
- When I do these rolls slowly, I can do the 902 motion what looks like correct, with minimal arm rotation (what I am trying to eliminate). Have a look at this clip at just a slow tempo:
Now, @Troy said that rather then speeding up gradually with a metronome, I should just test the technique at a faster speed:
(triplets at 130bpm)
Now when I do this, I hit the notes (which is extremely satisfying, but it looks (and feels) more arm rotationy. So my question is, what is the way to learn a new picking technique (supinated 902) and burn it in at higher speeds. It feels like I can change my muscle memory for slow tempos, but my brain reverts to old muscle memory at higher tempos. Am I seeing this right or is my technique at a higher speed ok?
Do I just play slowly for hours and hours until when I try it at a higher speed the 902 motion is burnt in and automatic?
Do I loop at one tempo for a long time, bump up the speed by a few and play at that tempo for a long time?
Is there a way of getting the 902 to ‘just work’ at higher speeds? I feel like the ethos here is not really to use a metronome, but I do feel more comfortable with one
I would actually say the metronome is your enemy here.
The rolling 3’s have been my nemesis for months… and I’ve finally gotten some progress on them over the last week or so… by completely ignoring the tempo… and just focusing on the ‘feel’ and basically just closing my eyes.
Honestly… when I completely ignored speed… and just worked on ‘feel’ is when it ‘clicked’.
And I’ve broken through from 130 to 160 almost overnight because of this.
I can’t really comment on the forearm rotation, because I use quite a bit at both slow and fast tempo.
Thanks for posting!
This is super common, and it’s a thing that has actually been tested in motor learning circles, in one famous example with finger pointing and metronomes. It’s common to have a movement in some tempo range, and yet have that spontaneously revert to a different learned pattern in another range.
Whatever underlying process is at work, we can say in practical terms is that different tempos simply feel different, even when the motions are exactly the same. Somehow you have to figure out what this motion feels like at the faster tempo so you can recognize when you’re doing it, and recall it deliberately. It’s not so much learning to “not” use your arm. It’s learning “to” perform the target motion. Trial and error is the main way you learn these things, with frequent video comparison, since you probably can’t tell by feel what is precisely happening yet.
One other specific thing you can do here is to try the 9 and 2 movements individually, shred-style. One of the simplest 2’oclock patterns you can play, if you want to start on downstrokes, is this one:
For 9 o’clock motion, there are lots of choices. You can try this one:
Or this one:
You can do these in either direction, connected, not connected. Don’t think of them as “exercises” and don’t do them for hours on end. Think of them as trials. Do them for a few seconds, film it, and see what the motion looks like. If you can get these to be wrist then you are a little closer to getting the feel of these two component wrist motions in your mind.
Finally, none of this is to say that forearm motion is wrong. It’s clearly not. However, using forearm because you choose to, and using it because you are trying to do one motion but can’t, are two separate things. I want to feel like I have all the options. Ultimately, you will settle on something that is technically capable of the lines you want, feels natural, and sounds good. The more informed you are, the faster you will arrive at that point.
thanks this is incredibly useful. Sounds like I am on the right track. I think I will those exercises.
Well - I hope I am on the right path. I have been watching more Andy Wood clips - and your right, he seems to be doing the same motion at slow and med/fast tempos (except when he goes into hyper speed mode when it switches). I am trying to play faster and seeing what it feels like to not rotate the arm.
Thanks again for all your replies, this is a great place!!
Thanks - yes lots of people say it’s when your relexed. I’m just trying some single line stuff now, my hand just tenses up when I try to go fast :(. I feel like I am making good headway with the rolls, but the single line stuff always feels like hard work, and my hand/arm will seize after a couple of beats.
Do I just need to slow down and relax and forget speed here? But if I do that I fear that I will just end up playing slow and not push myself into telling my brain how fast it needs to make my hands go…What is the answer here, it feels like a real catch 22…
I am a big fan of playing short bursts of speed… just so you know how its supposed to feel at those speeds. Sometimes just for a second is enough. But a majority of my practicing is at slow, relaxed speeds.
I have had some more thoughts on why I am struggling to get this, and in general why I feel so tensed up whilst playing, and why I can’t build up much fluidity/speed in my playing. I really looked closely at Andy Woods seated position, and also his pick grip over the weekend.
Basically I see that most of the great players are:
- resting their right upper arm on the guitar
- holding the pick with their thumb in a relaxed way.
I have made this short video to show you what I was doing - it seems to be more self-explanatory than lots of long descriptive text.
Would anybody be able to just verify that these are helpful insights to have? I know there are lots of way to hold/play the guitar, but it seems to me that this seated position and pick grip are almost ubiquitous, and the way I was doing it seemed to lead to a lot of tension.
Anyway here’s the clip (it’s a bit longer than the recommended 30seconds - apologies!) any feedback would be most helpful.
I am really determined to be able to play the things I hear from great artists so will listen to anyone who can help…
Great points! Re: posting tutorial type videos, I understand that it’s easier to just turn on a camera and talk. But for forum purposes it’s harder to search for and locate things that way so I’d simply request that you still itemize comments in the forum. This makes them easier to find, and also easier to quote and respond to.
In general, this concept of “tension” is presented as the enemy so often that we take it for granted. Most of the time I think people have it backwards. Tension isn’t causing you to play wrong. Playing wrong is causing tension. You’ve highlighted two great ways that can happen and I apologize for not noting these earlier, since I assumed whatever you were doing was comfortable for you.
When it comes to anchoring, the “bicep on the bout” trick only works if your forearm is the exact length to place your picking hand where you want. In my case, I actually don’t have enough reach to play a dred-sized guitar that way. And on a “Dred Jr” sized body, I have too much reach. So I personally cannot use the bicep trick.
But the general principle is right on, i.e. that the top of the guitar body takes the weight. In my case, it’s the forearm going over the edge of the body that takes it. I’m not continuously lifting with the delts or traps to keep the arm suspended, even though that’s what it may look like. Great insight here.
Re: grip, you can use a bent thumb to control edge picking and Andy himself does this, and talks about it in the first acoustic interview, in this clip here:
But you are correct, you shouldn’t have to squeeze up your hand to get this. If you feel like you have to bend the thumb really far and apply force to get it stay there, then maybe adjusting the arm approach angle is the way to go.
Again, great points here.
Ok great, thanks for this reply. Noted Re: video posts, I will itemize things for people to search for.
I see your points re forearm length. That’s confusing though, did the new position i was trying look ok? It felt good. I don’t quite understand your description of how you hold your acoustic, ill have a look on the site to see if there is a video of you doing it. I could try that too
Also i noticed in that new position, that forearm rotation stops, and just by moving the right arm left and right of the laser point, the 902 movement just happens, and the pick is moving in and out of the strings without me having to rotate my forearm. Indeed rotating my arm just causes me to miss strings. So the windshield wiper motion you mentioned before makes more sense. The pick is always slightly downward slanted and im doing a bit of edge picking it seems but the 902 motion means i can escape the plane of the strings. Does that sound right to you?
Also i feel more relaxed this way, and my timing is a lot better to a click, rather than my tendency to speed up… It looks more like the great players i see in terms of being relaxed and easy…
Yes, the position looks just fine. Your arm is exactly the right length to reach where you want to be, as is the case for Andy as well. I’m just saying, if someone’s got longer or shorter arms than you that might not work. You don’t need to worry about that.
If you observe that things feel better and work better this way, then that’s what matters most!