Just want to open up by saying how awesome CTC the code is, it’s really helping me understand my instrument better. Anyway; I am a jazz student trying to get my chops up so I can play the music I want to. After watching CTC videos I decided to go for a combination of TWPS and cross picking (for 1nps lines) with DWPS as my primary pickslanting. In general I’ve seen some progress the past couple months but I originally misunderstood what Pickslanting was and have only been dealing with it as a movement the past few weeks.
I can’t get the movement I’m doing fast enough. It especially falls apart when I do ascending 2nps lines (see the Parker video below). I added in some elbow movement yesterday and that seemed to help my descending lines become more fast and fluid. In general I’m having string tracki issues as well. Am I still stringhopping? What’s going on?
trying to learn a new technique and doing complicated jazz lines at the same time seems a bit much to me. Its like saying “i want to learn to ride a motorcycle so ill take this superbike and do this slalom course, on ice…blindfolded. NOW, GO!!” How would that work out? lol Why not first learn to work the clutch and brakes etc
So I would break it down into smaller challenges. Like make sure you have simple string crossing down first. going to higher string after downstroke, higher string after upstroke, lower string after downstroke, lower string after upstroke etc
Then maybe take a particular Parker lick and know it cold so that you have worked out exactly what it is. In other words know all the string crossing and what technique is involved etc.
if it takes a month it takes a month, if it takes 6 months it takes 6 months. The 6 months will pass anyway so where do u want to be in 6 months? once you start to get the basic movements and string crosses down, the progress will speed up
on the second example, upon first glance, it looks like you might be making a common mistake. its looks a bit like you have indeed slanted the pick downwards, but has the PATH of the pick actually changed any? The whole point of dwps isnt the slant of the pick itself but the PATH of the pick. Downstrokes should move slightly INWARDS toward the body and thus sort of get “trapped” down into the strings a bit, and upstrokes should move slightly AWAY from the body and thus be “free” or we say “escaped”
on the 2nd example it looks a bit like you have the pick itself slanted but the PATH seems to be mostly just straight up and down parallel to the body so that the pick never actually escapes on its own and you have to do a little stringhop lifting thing to escape the strings
of course, I could be totally mistaken so wait and see what others have to say.
When you get into crosspicking, which I think will be called “double escaped” picking going forward, the motion itself can somewhat look like stringhopping
If I were you I think it just work on some basic 1 and 2 string stuff just to get my motion smooth and coordinated especially if dwps is new to you.
not that you are a beginner or anything, but often we tell people to start with 1 string stuff like the Yngwie 6 note pattern and get it flowing smoothly before attempting scales etc. if we cant get smooth and coordinated on 1 string, what hope do we have for full scales and harder lines?
it might be cool if you filmed a simpler line such as this:
D------------7–5 loop etc
thats a real classic dwps type of thing and we could see exactly whats going on then
Thanks, JonJon. I’ve been experimenting and making some gains. My real problem is what you said (my slant is “false”) and I am stringhopping because of it. Ill update this post with videos tomorrow at my school when I get some time to sit down with my guitar and shed.
a lot of these challenges have more to do with hand POSITIONING rather than the actual motion. The motion of moving the pick should just be something free and natural so that it can be fast etc.
for example if you just picture a robot hand and arm by itself, with no guitar, and the hand and arm were picking back and forth…you wouldnt really be able to tell if it were dwps or uwps. While the robot arm picked, I could put the guitar in place in such a way that it would make the picking by dwps…or I could move the guitar to a different angle and that same exact motion would be uwps
So its all about the PATH of the motion relative to the strings. In general, a dwps guy will have the pick moving slightly away from the guitar on the upstroke. the upstroke “escapes” from the strings. The downstrokes moves slightly inwards toward the guitar and sort of buries itself into the strings and gets ‘stuck’
of course uwps would be the opposite. in that case the downstrokes would “escape”
so how to accomplish this? in general a dwps guy might have the heel of his hand a little away from the guitar while the pinky and rings finger side will be digging into or touching the strings etc. It might look like he is karate chopping down into the guitar. In an extreme case he can look down and see his palm
an uwps guy will be the opposite. he will have more of the thumb and heel of the hand digging into the strings and the pinky and ring finger will probably be off of the strings up in the air. it almost looks like he wants to wave at the crowd. If it were really overdone he would be able to look down and see the back of his hand
your motion is more neutral almost like you are doing “wax on, wax off” from the karate kid movie. once you learn to do dwps and uwps, you might eventually come back to your neutral position as a nice base to work from. that might be a long term goal if you want to learn two way slanting etc
take your hand and hold it in front of your stomach with the palm up like you are reading a number written on your palm. now karate chop down into your stomach diagonally down, back and forth diagonally. thats an extreme example of a dwps path
now hold your hand so that you are looking down at the back of your hand to see if your fingernails are clean. chop into your stomach diagonally up with the thumb side digging in. thats an extreme uwps path
tbh your natural hand position looks a bit closer to an uwps path. maybe you should see if you can escape the pick going downwards lol.
I agree Jonjon. I’ve taught myself to play neutrally at the advice of instructors in school. They have no idea how picking mechanics worked and have actively argued with me about some of the CTC stuff I’ve brought up (one instructor called DWPSing “bullshit”).
I’ve tried upward pickslanting. The UPWS pronation feels just as unnatural to me as the supinated DWPS position. Changing strings on downstrokes is super unnatural as well, I’ve been doing DWPS fingerings for a long time. I’m going to keep trying today and post some more videos of some pentatonic patterns on one or two strings. I’ve gotten way better at identifying string hopping recently. There was a point last night I was blazing through some Coltrane patterns at 300 bpm (a major pentatonic 5-3-2-1 cycled in minor thirds) but I think I might have been doing the little stringhops fairly often. I watched the mike stern analysis. If I understand Troy said there was something about his pick grip that allowed him to be less supinated and more pronated. I’ve been trying to implement this with little success but in theory, this should mesh better with my “natural” netural position.
The old school way of making sure you’re really doing DWPS (or what ever we call it today, I don’t remember right now) is to do rest strokes. A technique that was originally used on acoustic instruments to make sure the string vibrated in the same plane as the instruments top, I think. You might already know about this technique but anyway… rest strokes are done by making pick rest on the adjacent string after the downstroke. Just like JonJon said, you actually pick INTO the guitar more or less. I have a feeling this is no news for you but better be overly clear…
When I started working on DWPS a few years ago I really exaggerated this motion of almost picking vertically to the plane of the strings. This made the basic motion burn in and also forced my hand to use a new motion, rotation, which also was a good thing for me at that time. Nowadays my setup is much flatter but I think I benefitted from trying the extreme for a while. This doesn’t need to be true for everybody though. If you are already really happy with your setup, maybe you shouldn’t stray too far.
It’s good that you already have a lot of lines that are made to work with DWPS. I think it might be clear to you when you get the motion right. if you get it right, some licks can suddenly become very easy to play just like you experienced with the Coltrane lick.
Looking great! I wouldn’t call the hick ups string hops though. I’m not sure you can even do string hop movements at this speed. It’s more about this movement not being burnt in yet. The more you do this the more reliable and smooth the movement will get.
How does it feel? Is it a lot different feel to your “normal” style?
Hi! Thanks for posting these - and nice playing. I think this all looks like a pretty nice start, actually.
I don’t see stringhopping in any of these clips. Remember, just because you use a motion to make string changes happen doesn’t mean it’s stringhopping. Stringhopping specifically and only means when you use the same muscles on downstrokes and upstrokes — similar to tapping on a table top where every tap uses the same wrist flexion motion. Eric Johnson’s “bounce technique” demonstration on his instructional videos is probably the most well known example of this. That’s not happening here.
I think mainly what you’re experiencing here is just the unfamiliarity of the picking motion you’re using, and not so much that you’re doing it wrong. I say this because when someone is new to a physical activity, you tend to see randomness in the execution of it, where motions are not consistent. In some of these phrases you have pickstrokes that look good and sound good, and others that are super small and don’t fully complete the motion / play the note. And sometimes this will cause a whole attempt to fall apart to where you feel like you lose the coordination of it, and you stop. That happens here a bunch.
This is all totally normal and common at this stage. This is why I like to think of this work as trial and error rather than repeition. You’re trying to do the motion in a realistic way, and attempting to learn and remember what it feels like when you do it correctly. This kind of work is best done at realistic speeds, with motions that are as realistic as you can make them at this point, and ideally with phrases that are similar to the ones you want to be playing.
In that respect I actually like that you’re going for it on these jazz lines, and I think you should continue to do so as a source of variety. As you do that, you can try to mix in some slightly simpler phrases where you can more clearly focus on the smoothness of the motion itself. Being able to do the four-note-per-string chromatic thing, in both directions, is pretty useful in bop style playing. So that’s a good choice for a simple type of phrase that you can work on which still has musical applications. And you’re already working on it so you already have a handle.
To simplify that even further you can try doing the same thing on a single string and just repeating the same four fingers in one spot, using chunking accents on the first note of each sixteenth note grouping. You’re looking for smoothness and fluidity here, at a medium-fast speed or better. If things don’t feel smooth, change something about your motion and try again.
Again, don’t get rid of the more complicated phrases - those are great for lots of reasons, both mechanical and musical. If you only do simple exercise / pattern type stuff, there is a tendency to make the same motions all the time, and it’s easier to get stuck in a rut where you’re no longer changing your form to improve it. The complexity of the more sophisticated phrase increases the likelihood of the happy accident where you do something right, and go, hey, what was that? Those a-ha moments are what you’re looking for here. If you experience that, take note of it, and do more of it.
If you feel you need more specifics on performing motions, here are some thoughts in a recent thread on a deviation approach to upstroke escape motions:
We’ll have more of this in Pickslanting Primer updates coming soon.
this was sort of what I was implying in the extreme suggestions I was making. Its good to see where the extreme outer limits are and maybe feel them etc. Then when u come back to a less extreme position it will feel much more “doable”
when people say this type of thing, it might have a lot to do with where they are coming from. for one thing, people tend to freak out when they hear new terms. Cognitive dissonance anyone?
of course there are many ways to play lead guitar (and golf, fight, swim, run, etc)
take these 2 guys:
dude 1. Big motions, obvious slanting mechanics, says to only practice fast. When he plays fast it LOOKS like he is playing fast because its obvious he is exerting force etc.
dude 2. Tiny motions, almost imperceptible slanting, advocates millions of reps to build precision. Looks somewhat effortless when he plays
both of those guys shred but if u asked them about the other guys method they’d say ‘awww man, that guy has no clue’ or ‘that crap doesnt really work’ lol
some of the sort of ‘anti slanting’ guys are guys who are generally pretty neutral and they might use some rotation in their picking. So to THEM it might not seem as if they are “slanting”. If they are neutral and then they rotational pick down, then arent they more or less already set to do an upstroke on the next string? (all they have to do is stringtrack some etc). if they are neutral and they do a rotational upstroke, arent they then ready to go to another string?
So some of these guys cant be bothered with the actual details of the mechanics. of course we can all understand that until one is actually filmed, one only has a vague idea of what is happening in their own picking hand etc
its just like golf. you go out to the range and practice and you THINK you know what your swing looks like. Then u film it lol. Then u realize you had no idea what you were ACTUALLY doing. Same with picking. Your minds eye tells you one thing but the camera might say another