DSX is OK, but trouble with USX

I start with DSX - feels good, however you will see when I switch to USX, it just feels off…I can get a quick triplet, but looping it is an issue. I’d love to sort this out - any help is much appreciated. Also, very thankful for this community. Cheers.

Hi! Thanks for posting. Short story, one thing you can try is different grips and different motions. Different grips pair with different arm positions, which gives you a different wrist motion you can work on. Here are the instructions for that:

The idea is not that necessarily that you’re going to switch and start playing full-time with an extended finger grip, or a middle finger grip, but that you do it for the learning opportunity. The feel is different enough that it may trigger an “a ha” kind of moment where you go, ok, that’s what it’s supposed to feel like. And then you can take that knowledge and look for the same feeling with your usual grip.

Of course, you may like one of the other grip and motion pairings enough that you do want to switch to it. Or at least, occasionally use it so it feels more natural. This is how you broaden your arsenal over time. Every skill you acquire makes it more likely that a new skill we be similar in some way to one you already have. And that makes each successive one easier to acquire.

More generally, it looks like you’re using the pronated form for your DSX motion and then switching all the way over to a supinated form for your USX motion. I tend not to do that. Instead, when I plan on doing anything USX, I use a supinated form for both motions and just make slightly different wrist motions. This sets the stage for being able to play lines that require both escapes, without having to roll your arm around in the middle of a phrase. Or at least, not having to roll it around as dramatically.

When you work on this type of approach with a trigger style grip as you’re using here, the supinated form it requires isn’t quite as supinated as you’d think. These grips are very compact, so the arm feels pretty flat against the guitar body the whole time. What you’ll find if you tool around with this is that for each grip, there’s a kind of centralized point you can find with your arm where you can get either escape just by changing the direction your wrist is moving. You might still find that you make some small adjustment to your forearm setup when you do this - typically at a semi-conscious level. But the amount of this adjustment becomes so tiny that it’s not worth thinking about, and instead you’re mostly thinking about which way you want your hand to go. And again, in your case, when you use a trigger style grip, you may find that this “centralized” form is a little less supinated than what you’re demonstrating here, and closer to what you would also use for DSX motion.

If that fails, I also recommend experimenting with wrist/forearm motion, because it’s very similar to wrist motion and for a lot of people feels almost the same:

When I play this way I’m usually only doing upstroke-escape type phrases, frequently with downstroke sweeping. It’s a “mode” I click into, like its own little world with its own vocabulary. Just another thing you can try as a way of introducing variety when you’re not “getting it” with one technique. Everything you can get makes it easier to get the next thing.

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Thanks so much for your thoughts…I had assumed to keep the wrist motion the same and change the pick path by rotating the forearm…probably born from working out the string hopping tendencies from 4-5 months ago (I was scared to change anything once my DSX clicked in). I also have to remind myself to allow for pure experimentation with movements…maybe a sticky note on my mirror or something.

I suspect you nailed it with the dramatic change, I have randomly felt a ‘good move’ or two when experimenting with TWPS…probably made those changes tighter without thinking about it.

I’ll go through those chapters you linked it. Back to the woodshed, Cheers.

Making progress since…late 2019, just wanted to share in the spirit of documenting these things. I’m happy with my right hand speed now, just working out hand sync stuff, string tracking.


Sounds pretty great to me :slight_smile:

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Sounds pretty awesome. But how can you not have a red cover on the middle pickup of that Canadian flag guitar!? :wink:

Sounds really clean! Also digging the tone, what are you running?

Haha - that’s a great idea!

That’s through an old line 6 flextone III. Eric Johnson preset I got somewhere. The amp is great at ‘bedroom level’, not so much live. I’m happy to use it where it shines.

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Just keeping my progress documented here on my original technique critique thread. Over the last three years I’ve gone from zero to having a usable alternate picking technique that I can call on without thinking too much about it. When I do come across phrases that I can’t play clean, I can break it down and figure out why. At this point I have a sense of how to develop and what to expect - it’s not easy for me, but I know and trust the learning process at this point.

A few points I realize about my journey to getting a usable picking technique:

  1. Fast alternate picking really is a language - once you have an efficient motion it takes time to put the words into sentences and use those sentences in context
  2. Learning music I like as opposed to licks on their own keeps my passion fueled - less up and downs and much more rewarding.
  3. If I can get a usable alternate picking technique, anyone can - I struggled way too long and thank the CtC team and forum for all the evidence based insight.
  4. It’s worth the fight to keep going even through it can be really frustrating - Alt. picking has opened musical doors for me - I continue to dive into gypsy jazz, bluegrass, fusion, konnakol etc…also home-base pentatonic playing feels fresh again.
  5. My timing on slow melodic phrases has improved - my ear hears the smaller subdivisions much more clearly now which makes adding ornaments much easier.

I’m have no claims to being a master, but I’m happy to have broken through a wall that held me back for so long.


Great playing! What is your primary technique now? And has it changed or have you changed it from one method to another?

Thank you! My primary technique now is USX - it started as DSX, which I still use and love. It was a conscious change…brought on when I wanted to apply fast 2nps pentatonics starting on a down stroke on the strong beats.

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Ah cool, and it seems it’s mostly wrist based? Did you alter your setup slightly to get the usx going?

Good question - that was something I needed to figure out - how to convert my DSX to USX. First - it is mostly wrist. I ended up taking my DSX and rotating my wrist anchor ever so slightly to make a more shallow escape, once that felt more familiar I rotated it a little more until it was escaping from the top giving me an USX. This is my perception of how that went, perhaps under a magnet the finer details may have been more nuanced.

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If it works, it works! I was just curious if there was a conscious alteration to your form. What you describe is very likely correct though, it would make sense that rotating the form slightly would help achieve usx. Anyway, keep up the good work!

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