DWPS/Alternate Picking Critique Please


Yes. Have you gotten MAB’s Speed Kills series of instructional DVDs? I suggest you at least get the first in the series - the original Speed Kills. he talks about some concepts such as PPS - Potential Picking Speed that aren’t covered in the CTC videos (as far as I know) and the Speed Kills videos are an excellent supplement to the CTC videos.


Thank you Ace for the reply. A long time ago I watched the MAB Speed Kills. I just remember barely seeing his pick move, insane speeds, and his mirrored double guitar playing when we all wished for his speed in one hand :slight_smile: Will definitely revisit this week… Any other artists or vid lessons please send my way. Best to yah


@BullseyeBrewtality You’re welcome! At the moment I can’t think any other video lessons that are of the quality and usefulness of MAB’s Speed Kills series. I believe there are 3 separate DVDs in the Speed Kills series. The first is probably the best.

It’s always interesting to hear people who have thought about this a lot before making a video lesson and MAB has some beliefs which I would say are fairly contradictory to the CTC beliefs as I remember it but it’s been years since I watched it. I think it did help me become faster though. It’s good. MAB has a Master’s Degree in Music and used to do a lot of private teaching as well so he’s a very knowledgeable guy in explaining how to become a better player…


My two cents is that even though MAB’s movements are small when he’s playing at high speeds, the true “secret sauce” of that “machine gun” attack is his ability to very precisely and consistently regulate how deep his pick attack is. That consistency allows him to use a less “gliding” attack without fear of the pick dipping deeper than he wants and catching in the strings. I don’t remember how much edge picking he uses, but when I do my mimick version of his technique, I can get away with very little edge picking without sacrificing speed.


@Frylock Not sure if MAB talked about using rest strokes? I’ve been using rest strokes to work on the into and out of the plane movement we chatted about, and some members on the forum found that at high rates of speed, the rest strokes aren’t a crutch but a part of their playing now which is awesome.

Do you have a take on when rest strokes should not be used anymore or if they help/incorporate in your playing and it works, just stick with it and don’t think on it anymore than that?


Need to watch MAB again with @Troy for sure… Thanks Ace and I will look for the first DVD.


Hi! Sorry for the delay in responding! We’ve been a little swamped trying to get some things edited. I’m glad you posted this, because we’re going to fix what’s holding you back right now. Please watch this:

This what you are doing. It is not downward pickslanting. For the aficionados, we can think about whether this is stringhopping or crosspicking. And if it technically fits the definition of crosspicking, then we can think about why it isn’t fast. But that is a conversation for another thread!

What we can say clearly is that this curved bouncy motion, this is not what you want. You want a straight line motion that goes into the strings and comes straight back out. In other words, you want only the upper half of the pink arrow. The upper half of the arrow is fast and efficient.

Very often, when you make only the upper half of the arrow, you’re going to hit the next higher string at the very bottom of the downstroke. This is a “rest stroke”, and it’s good. Some people on the forum have had success actually forcing themselves to do this, intentionally, to make sure they are not making the bottom half of the arrow. If you have to do this to stop making the arrow movement, by all means do so. Whatever works. The key is that you only make the straight-line movement from now on. Everything else, from grip to pick choice to you name it, is secondary.

In terms of helping you do this, have you watched the live broadcast on picking motion yet? That’s this video:


This is currently the best walkthrough of the various motions for dwps and uwps that we have, and it explains how to do the straight-line movements. We are currently editing this material into more detailed, updated, and step-by-step type chapters for the Primer. For now, anyone with the Pickslanting Primer as a purchase should be able to access this page.

Sorry it took so long to clarify this. The good news is that you now have something very specific to work on that will pay solid dividends.


@Troy THANK YOU. Wow I never realized this or would have even thought I was possibly cross picking/string hopping. Funny to see me suck in slow mo lol. At least we know how to fix it…

So would you say unknowingly I am traveling past the rest stroke or going past it? Similar to throwing a punch, a lot of new boxers throw a straight punch but on the way back they will sometimes use a different almost wide hooking path to bring their arm back to their face. From the video you put up, it looks like I am pushing through the rest stroke instead of bouncing off of it?

I did watch that live broadcast before but will watch it again and later this week post an update of me DWPS on one string, slowly, to see if my upward movement is on the same path as the downward movement.

Thank you and thanks to everyone reading this for being such a support! Love this forum


No, I would just say you’re not doing a rest stroke at all. Call it whatever you like, but you can see clearly what is going on. Don’t make the bottom half of the arrow, just move in a straight line, contact the next higher string, and come straight back.

Slowly really isn’t the way to learn these movements because it can feel robotic and unnatural. Moderate natural speeds are the way. If you physically contact the next higher string via rest stroke, it’s much harder to make the “bottom arrow” movement because the string is in the way. Just do this at a moderate speed and film it and see what it looks like to you in slow motion.

Since you now know what it looks like, do it a couple times, film it, and look at it. If you’re still doing it wrong, change something and film it again. Do not repeat the wrong movement for hours, trying to speed it up slowly, or trying to convert it into the right movement. This is not going to magically become the right movement on the 1000th repetition.

If you find that you cannot shake the habit of making this bouncy movement, even while rest stroking, then you need to shake things up further. Try a completely different picking motion. Like upward pickslanting wrist. We walk through how to do this extensively in the live broadcast, how to place your forearm, exactly how the pick should move. At least try that.

I know you are somewhat focused on trying to play Zakk Wylde stuff and he uses dwps, but that type of fixation can often be a recipe for beating your head against the wall with something that is not working. The A-number-one most important thing you can do right now is make a correct pickslanting movement of any kind, either dwps or uwps. That skill will translate to all the others. Everything else is secondary.


@ Troy I will rewatch the broadcast you previously mentioned and will re do the DWPS for review. Side question/note, even with my bouncy curved picking in the video, I remember when I struck the B string, I would still consistently smack the high E when playing. I made a point of doing it. So to be clear, I am curving my wrist on the bottom half of the pink arrow when I contact the high E? Instead, just play the B, touch the high E and come straight back? Cheers


I don’t see any high E string contact. If it’s there, it’s irrelevant because…

…yes you are making two different motions here - one that goes down toward the strings, and then another that lifts away. It looks like wrist but it could be forearm or fingers. That doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that you should be making only a single motion, the downward motion, and then a corresponding reverse motion as the upstroke.

The rest stroke is just a teaching technique to trick your mind into making a pickslanting movement. When you really hit the rested string flat on, without the lifting part of the pickstroke, it will be obvious - it most likely won’t feel anything like what you’re doing now, so keep that in mind.


Evening everyone! @Troy, here is the latest of me DWPS:

It definitely felt different as you stated above and I now feel comfortable with the pick being buried in the strings on down strokes. As I alluded to earlier, after years and years of curved movements and string hopping (even worse), the idea of the picking being buried at first is a no-go so I was definitely fighting the new mechanics and reverting back to old habits.

Ben Eller discusses what you mentioned before right at the 12 minute mark so I thought it would be good to reference for the curved/crosspicking motion:

Looking forward to more insights and improvement- thx!


@Frylock I forgot to reply to this one! One of my hangups with DWPS and just changing my old picking habits with CTC has been a sort of fear in the back of my mind. And what I mean is, the idea of “burying your pick” on a rest stroke is so alien to me. Now it’s not, but initially it went against everything most of us were taught umpteen years ago by our yellow page guitar teachers (For our younger players we had to find people in books that paid to advertise and when we called a girl we liked on a land line, their parents always picked up lol. But I digress…)

So as @Troy commented, the first half of my DWPS was OK, but my angle coming back was curved as I was trying to get away from that burying idea with economy picking. Not sure if anyone else has this hang up like I do, but I realize my old habits with CTC little by little and try to break them as clearly, they weren’t serving my playing.



This is super common so don’t worry about it. To be clear, it’s not obvious to me if what you’re doing is crosspicking in the sense that Ben Eller means it in the clip you have linked to, or if it’s stringhopping, as in “inefficient repetitive motion”. But it’s sort of irrelevant because it is what is slowing you down at this point so you’re going to stop doing it.

In general the new movement looks better, and exhibits less of the issue. Two things:

  1. Is it fast? The test for whether or not it is working is whether you can do it quickly. That’s it. It’s not really about speed per se, since there is a good chance you already have plenty of hand speed. It’s really about whether you are not introducing an additional unnecessary sideways component into the movement. If all you’re doing is moving your pick back and forth, and not off to the side, that is the simplest sort of movement you can make. So again, can you do this quickly, or is this as fast as you can play? Try this again and go as fast as you can, even if there is no fretting hand involved, and see if the movement feels any smoother.

  2. Try uwps. I’m a bit of a broken record about this lately, but until you’ve surveyed all the basic picking motions, you can never really be sure what your best current motion is. So the link I posted above of the live broadcast, have you tried all those yet? The reason I say this is that it may very well be that some of these, especially uwps elbow and wrist, simply do not trigger your past baggage of the curved movement. If so, you win - you are already ahead. Doesn’t matter if you don’t want to use uwps or play uwps phrases. What matters is that you internalize any picking motion, as quickly as possible, and ditch the baggage of yore.

And one small request - if you can, try and limit technique critique clips only to playing, and not commentary. It’s much easier / faster to zero in on the playing example and see what we need to see that way. Anything worth mentioning, by all means include it in the thread so I and others can quote and reply to it.

Thanks and keep up the good work!


Hi @Troy! Thank you for the updated critique and glad to read my movement is getting a little better… To answer your questions:

  1. I can play that lick a little faster if I speed it up with a metronome. But probably not drastically more.
  2. UWPS for me is faster as it tightens my movement and I activate the forearm muscles more than DWPS. But I use that movement for single note tremolo style playing.

I didn’t understand that last part of the following sentence: “Doesn’t matter if you don’t want to use uwps or play uwps phrases. What matters is that you internalize any picking motion, as quickly as possible, and ditch the baggage of yore.” Could you clarify? I want to be at a point where I can utilize DWPS as well as UWPS and 2WPS etc. Whatever the music calls for I can do at that moment.

One big issue that keeps arising when practicing DWPS is that I am so focused on not making curved movements I want to almost “mechanically” go into and out of the plane as CTC says. So at lower speeds I feel comfortable doing this. At higher speeds the forearm tightens up some and then I am not smoothly striking the pick against the string but almost forcing the issue. Any recommendations on building up that smooth speed please? I’m almost smacking the string with the pick to keep the proper mechanics in place.

And re: request of course, will keep videos to just playing and will write in the thread itself. Best!!


Right, but the fastest way to get there is to start with whatever pickslanting movement is working best right now, rather than trying to force the one that is not working as well to start working better. Your big issue right now is you don’t know how to make a fluid pickstroke. But it sounds like you in fact already do, with the other technique. So start using that one and using it to play lines and phrases.

The sooner you can get to learning what it feels like to play clean, fluid, synchronized lines with any picking movement, the easier it will be to learn others.


Hey @Troy and gang! I wanted to share something I discovered recently in my playing the above mentioned Sold my Soul pentatonic link which starts on the Low E and works its way up to the D string. If anyone else has this issue please don’t be shy to admit it :slight_smile: I find that I’ve been really planting my right hand to palm mute. Almost frozen like (years of Metallica down picking will do that). And when I DWPS on the Low E I am fine, from E to A, I start to crosspick slightly which Troy pointed out earlier because my arm isn’t moving WITH the lick itself up the guitar (please see the above video in the thread of Troy outlining eith the arrow my movement). My wrist is frozen and just the hand itself moves in that crosspicking/pendulum motion. So as a result, I THINK, if you are in a DWPS slant you can only go so far up crossing strings without having something to give- either your arm traces the guitar to keep DWPS or the hand itself will rotate and you lose that DWPS movement. I have found some relief by easing up the pressure against the bridge and just palm mute as light as possible to get the effect I need. But again any tips to break this damn habit please let me know… Thank you everyone for your continued help and insights. Always grateful…