Hello CTC community!
I’ve been trying to switch my picking technique to a deviation based wrist motion one, as I noticed that I was clearly string hopping and hit a speed plateu trying to go faster than 100 BPM doing the classic 1234 chromatic exercise. After joning CTC and trying to absorb the Wrist Motion section of the Primer as much as I could (and later on watching the Bulletproof Wrist Picking with USX motion video on YouTube countless times) I thought I had something going on as I felt like I was able to perform a somewhat speedy tremolo, but following my teacher’s advice I started practicing the first 3 rounds of Gambale’s chop builder to try to improve my picking accuracy… And I’ve found out that I’m still having trouble picking every note even below 100BPM 16ths! I thought I should have at least cleared that hurdle already!
So, long story short, I tried to record just my picking hand holding my phone down the strings like if I had a Magnet (can’t wait to receive the real thing later this year!), and I saw some things that I wasn’t really expecting. Those videos were pretty bad to share here so I asked someone else to record my playing. Unfortunately my phone only goes up to 60FPS, but I think you should be able to watch the pick trajectory if you watch them in fullscreen (EDIT: Damn, I swear these looked better on my phone… Please try watching them at 720p 60FPS, you can barely see the string I’m attacking sometimes but at least you can see the pick trajectory, sorry )
First, some single string tremolo picking (normal speed, then slow):
And here’s me trying to perform the Chop Builder’s Round 2 Ex. 4, which plays 4nps across 4 strings consecutively (once again first normal speed, then slow). I know this isn’t too fast and that there are some fretting hand/sync mistakes here, but I’ve noticed that some of my upstrokes seem to be failing to cross the string from time to time:
These are some things I’ve noticed myself, although I’m obviously not an expert so I’ve got no clue if they’re actually wrong or just red herrings:
As many other wrist players, I feel a strong elbow component to my movement when I try to play at higher speeds. I kind of clearly feel the switch at around 140BPM. While I know this is normal, I think I feel like my pick trajectory changes when this happens, as well as my range of movement. In fact, I sometimes feel like I’m somehow switching to a DSX kind of moton and the pick trajectory reverses in the Y axis, but I’m still trapped in the next higher string so I’m not sure if I’m just overthinking it.
The biggest takeaway from watching my picking up close was that after the initial pick, my pick doesn’t ever fully go back to being above the string below the one I’m playing, but I pretty much always do a rest stroke in the next high string. I’ve trained myself to always do this in order to avoid stringhopping, but I’m honestly a bit concerned about this – the trajectory itself seems fine, and it looks like if I managed to make bigger movements the string would escape, but could this be causing any issues in my playing? Should the pick movement be fully simmetrical when picking up vs picking down (note that I’m aware that in the case of the Wrist + Forearm movement, a slightly more curved upstroke should be fine, but that’s not what I’m going for at the moment).
Following up on the previous point, I feel like moving my wrist in the radial direction is significantly harder to do for me than in the ulnar one. I try to center my wrist using a sligthly ulnarized deviaton, as Troy suggests in the Primer, but I’m second guessing myself here and I’m not entirely sure if I’m doing it correctly. Thoughts?
Finally, I’ve always had a harder time picking upstrokes than downstrokes. I thought this was to be expected as I play with a downward pickslant most of the time, but looking at the slow motion video and then focusing on feeling how the pick attacks the strings in each direction, it feels like I significantly have to do more work on my upstrokes to cross the string (in fact, as mentioned earlier, in the second video there are a couple of times where the string remains trapped while trying to do an upstroke).
Damn, I need an editor! Sorry for the huge wall of text I’ve been pulling my hair out for a whle now trying to figure out what’s missing in order to start feeling some sense of smoothness and I’ve tried to figure out on my own but I have been unable to do so. Thanks to anybody that bothers reading all of that, and please stay safe everyone!