DSX player attempting the Mike Stern USX motion

Hi. My name is Brennan. I am a primary dsx player and I try to use the al di meola wrist motion. I am trying to learn the mike stern motion so I can do the Paul Gilbert mixed escape wrist motion. I am struggling making the mike stern motion. Can someone please help me make this motion correctly? Thank you

Hi Brent!

If you want to learn phrases where you have to make both types of string changes — i.e. upstrokes and downstrokes — I don’t think the best way to do that is to try and learn single escape motions separately. For example, Andy Wood is a mixed escape player, and he plays lots of lines where he has different numbers of notes per string, including one note per string at times. But when he plays on a single string he only ever uses DSX. I don’t think he knows how to do continuous USX motion at all.

Instead, if you want to play mixed escape type phrases the best way to do that is to choose one of the three forms that players use for wrist motion, and then attempt a wide variety of phrases, starting at faster speeds, that includes both types of string changes. The three forms are each capable of mixed escape playing, but the mixing and matching will happen somewhat subconsciously while you pay attention to bigger-picture aspects like smoothness and accuracy. You need to move a little faster than the video you’ve posted here otherwise you won’t really be able to tell if your motions are efficient (i.e. not stringhopping), if your hands are synchronized, if your pick attack is smooth, and so on.

When you get a moment, post a clip of any phrase you know that you can execute quickly, whether or not it’s clean. If DSX is your best motion, an example of a DSX phrase would be fine. Getting at least something going at a faster speed is the first step.

Try using a tripod or placing the phone on a desk. Your filming angle is good here but playing with one hand will feel super awkward and will make it hard to tell when things feel natural.

Finally, you can just paste the normal YouTube link in the forum (in the “watch?v=…” format), this way the forum can embed it right inside the post for easy clicking

Thanks for posting!


Dear Troy,
Thank you for the response. I will send a clip of fast playing once I get home today. Also, if I learn to do mixed escape but I primarily use dsx, will I be able to do two note per string stuff starting on a downstroke?

With DSX it would be much easier to play 2nps licks starting on an upstroke, or find some clever re arrangement of the fretting so that you have only one note on the initial string and even numbers on the remaining ones

Dear Tommo,
Ok, cool. Thank you. Also, is the escape motion a turn in the forearm, wrist motion, or something else. I’m talking about when you have to change strings after an upstroke.
Sincerely, Brennan Zentmeyer

In short, it can be all of the above :slight_smile:

We do not recommend to micromanage this process. It’s good to know the options in theory, but in practice you have to learn and memorise the motions with trial and error. Troy’s post above summarises our best advice on how to try and learn this stuff :slight_smile:

Ok, thank you so much. I will post a clip of me playing as soon as I get home

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Hope you don’t mind me chiming in with a question here. After reading your advice to focus more on form and let the smaller escape motions develop subconsciously, would you say you no longer advocate practicing motions like ‘down, up, rotate’?

I’ve been working through Antigravity, and as I learn 2WPS lines I’ve been taking the approach of finding the spots in the line where my pick slant needs to change and practicing that change. So it’s kind of taking the normal approach of learning which notes are downstrokes and which are upstrokes, and adding my own mental notation of when to rotate as well.

Been trying to read and watch as much of the more recent material as I can, but I think I still might be stuck in tending to think of everything in DWPS/UWPS. Have I been going about things inefficiently here?

“Down up rotate” is a description of using two different joints to play a scale, where the second joint motion is the forearm joint. It is a common approach, but not the only one. For example, wrist technique doesn’t use any forearm joint motion, and the pick does not appear to rotate. That’s I think the approach that Brennan is asking about and the advice I’m giving relates to that.

Players like Michael Angelo Batio and Vinnie Moore use the simple joint + forearm joint method. Players like Andy Wood are more complicated, using the wrist-only approach (no forearm joint) for certain lines but engaging a little of the forearm joint for other phrases. Neither way is better or worse. And most people probably do a mishmash of all these things, like Andy does. So if you’re asking, which way you should do, I would suggest using whatever way works first, taking the cue from whatever motion you are best at.

For example, if you are great at elbow motion, then probably some type of two-joint approach is going to work that looks like Vinnie Moore or Bill Hall. Lots of good shots of this in our interview with Bill.

On the other hand I would still describe Andy broadly as a wrist player because his default motion on a single string is just the hand moving and little else. If I were teaching someone whose core motion looked like his, I would mostly ignore his use of forearm motion and just tell them to keep their fast/fluid hand motion going while trying to play various lines. This is basically what I’m suggesting Brennan should do, because he told us he is a wrist player. However, it’s always a good idea to take a look. If his core motion looks like something else, then maybe that advice will change.

Everything flows from which motion is working best, and that’s why I asked Brennan to show us what his best core motion looks like. I’m not sure that trying to “choose” your technique is the best way to produce results, like, aha, wrist is the best, I want to learn that. Anything is probably possible in the long run if you want learning motions to be your primary hobby. But in the short term, especially if you’ve been playing for a while and already have certain abilities learned, then the fastest route is to continue using those.

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Dear Troy,
Here is my video link

Thank you

Thanks for filming. This looks and sounds great. This is wrist motion, and you’re using the Andy / Al form, which should be fine for playing mixed escape type lines without any significant changes. The hand sync drifts a little bit at points, so you might try playing some simple single-string patterns when you have time, because it’s easier to hear and feel when those lock up. And that feeling will transfer to other things you play. Otherwise, nice work.

Moving forward I’d simply start playing phrases that also require upstroke string changes. Probably the simplest are the classic outside picking phrases, like sixes patterns:

Don’t think about the motions at first, just try them with your current technique and see what happens at a speed similar to your most recent clip. If you hear unwanted noise or errors, slow down very small amount and see if the line sounds any cleaner. The DSX motion that does the downstroke string change and the USX motion that comes back are so similar in feel that it may not be super obvious to you at first when you’re doing one versus the other. So although we don’t have a huge amount of data on this, it seems like this is something you’re going to have to learn by trial and error and a lot of bouncing around between fast and slightly slower tempos, even if the learning is only by accident at first. What you don’t want to do is go so slow that the motion doesn’t feel like realistic-speed playing any more.

Because you’re using wrist motion, you shouldn’t need to make changes in your overall form to play these types of simple outside picking phrases. You’ll notice when Andy plays these lines that there’s not any significant motion in the arm — it’s just his hand that is making a slightly different motion during the upstroke string change. There may be some incidental swiping at times but it’s not happening every time and he’s not relying on it — they’re just minor errors, basically. So that’s a hint you can use. Whatever the solution, it shouldn’t require feeling like your arm is flopping around to get the hand to move cleanly.

Sounds good so far!

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Thank you Troy. I will practice those patterns when I have time. I will keep you posted if I have any other problems. Thanks

Interesting. Are there examples of DSX players doing continuous USX motions in the Mike Stern style. I also find it hard play tremolo style speed with MS USX motion as my default/primary motion is wrist DSX like Grier

I do this. If I play the pentatonic scale in both directions without doubling up any notes, it’s two different continuous motions. There’s an Instagram clip of from some point last year showing this.

I wouldn’t suggest that means I “am” a DSX player or a USX player, it just means I know both both motions because I deliberately tried to learn them. So I wouldn’t read into this too much, I would just try to play the phrases you want to play without making drastic changes to your overall form. Even if there are slight form changes, they should be small enough that you don’t perceive them.

Thanks Troy. So if someone like Andy Wood plays the Yngwie ‘six-note-pattern’, would they be playing the first 5 notes as DSX and then switch to USX for the 6th note and then back to DSX on the next string ('rinse and repeat)?

You could do that, or you could start on an upstroke so the last note is a downstroke.

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You could always play it like Jeff Loomis and start it on an upstroke:

Edit: lol I must have hit my enter key just a second later than @crenfb91 :slight_smile:


Yes, this is how I would ‘ideally’ play the six-note-pattern by starting on an upstroke. Though, I find it a bit difficult to weave such a lick ‘organically’ into my playing as I find it is much easier to be in sync with the pulse of the beat when starting on the downbeat/downstroke. Currently, I play this pattern using wrist DSX only (starting on down-stroke) and swiping.

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This would fit more of the old two way pick slant change Troy used to talk about way back in the day. You could do that, but it may be a bit awkward to train. It probably may be easier to work on a helper motion that doesn’t require a sudden shift like that. I believe that is what Andy actually does. It’s a slight u shaped rotational swing on the last note that gets him over the string.