Experienced player trying to remove string hopping technique

Hi Troy and forum members,

My name is Will and I am a professional guitarist based in New York City.
I am taking the primer course, and I have identified that I often use a string hopping motion. I am primarily a jazz player, and the vocabulary I have learned is often an odd number of notes per string. I want to learn the best technique for me to pick bebop and choro vocabulary at faster tempos. I have been playing this vocabulary for years, and I often rely on legato playing to compensate at faster tempos. I have never been able to pick all the notes of my phrases at fast tempos and I default to string hopping which causes tension and doesn’t work.

I noticed that I naturally gravitate towards the Al Di Meola technique when I play fast on one string. The problem is that it feels awkward for me to start phrases on an upstroke. Additionally, most of the phrases and vocabulary I play are not really suited for one-way pick slanting as they don’t have an even number of notes per string.

Do you have any advice for me on where to start? I know I need to get rid of my string hopping habit, but I’m not sure if one-way pick slanting works for the vocabulary I have spent years developing. I have been playing for 15 years, and I play professionally, so I know will be difficult to get rid of an ingrained habit like this.

Here is an up-close video of me playing on one string and then playing without thinking about the technique:

As you can see, at this tempo my lines start to get sloppy. I can see I am also using economy picking and legato in addition to some string hopping at this tempo.

You can also see a decent angle of my picking technique in the video below:

Any further insights into my technique and advice would be amazing.

Thank you for your time and this amazing educational community.



Much smarter peoeple than me will opine, but perhaps this will help:

N is the notes per string.

  • N=1 is the hardest, let’s not talk about this (it’s either double-escaped, sweeping, swiping, …).
  • N is even is the easiest, as any technique works.
  • N is odd (and 3 or larger) is interesting, as one solution is to “legato” one note and turn it into the even case (like Yngwie), or one can switch between upward and downward escapes (formerly called two-way pick slanting).

I think the following is fair: If music has two or more notes per string, it’s pretty easy to reason about picking; 1nps can open a world of pain, depending on the details. (Indeed, it is the isolated single string that I think is the peak of picking brutality.)

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Hey Will, great playing!

From the beginning of your first video I’d also guess that you already have a good and fast DSX (downstroke escape) motion. I would definitely explore more of that by doing precisely what you say you are not currently doing :smiley:

  • try to start some even-numbered licks on an upstroke
  • develop more vocabulary where you only switch strings after a downstroke

Note that the things you can already do will not go away, you can look at these DSX-specific lines as an “extra gear” that you can use once in a while if you want to have some fast-picked sections in your solos.

Once you get comfortable with some DSX-only lines, you can start to expand by:

  • adding pulloffs/hammer ons to enforce the downstroke string change
  • gradually introducing lines that also feature the upstroke change. Just try to play them fast & sloppy at first, you may find that you will develop an auxiliary motion to tackle the occasional string change that does not conform to DSX.

Useful reference:

Let me know if that makes sense and if you have any questions :slight_smile:

Thank you for the feedback!

I will try to develop the DSX motion more and then go from there. I think I still have some ways to go with playing DSX lines as it is a new technique but I can feel that it is smoother and faster than any other picking techniques I have tried for me personally.

Thanks again,

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Nice playing! Looks like you are a one-way economy picker, but in the opposite direction (I am a downward rest-stroke based player). The aha moment for me was realizing you only need to solve 1 out of 4 string change situations: the one where you go from a buried stroke (down for me, up for you) to a new string in the opposite direction. This one situation requires a helper motion.

This helper motion may be a bit string-hoppy compared to the straight linear motion used elsewhere, but again, it isn’t needed that often. It’s the mechanical simplicity overall that makes it a winner for me. Those 3 out of 4 string changes are utterly linear wrist motion, dead simple. And with growing comfort with this style, it is pretty instinctive to me when the helper motion is needed. Very little mental confusion I find.

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