Fighting the strings, why?!

Hi everyone. First I’d like to thank Troy Grady for the tremendous amount of information he has shared and thank you to all the users on here helping each other. :pray:

I originally posted in the technique critique section but it never got posted. Apologies if this is a double post!

Now my issue, I have been struggling with alternate picking in general, but specifically when it comes to metal rhythms (thrash metal to be specific for example basic 16th notes 0000000)

From my understanding it looks like I use USX motion.

My up strokes get caught on the string and I feel like I’m fighting with the strings in general. I also tend to get tired. There have been times I’m able to get a spurt of speed but only after 1 hr of playing. However that “fighting with the strings” is still there, not the effortless smooth picking we see our heroes use.

I have used so many picks and settled on the standard Tortex 1.14mm. But if someone suggests a pick that I have not tried, I’ll give it a go.

I have tried using “bridge lean” which didn’t work, I also switched using a DSX motion but found it extremely uncomfortable to the point I was experiencing numbing and tingle sensations. I thought maybe my upstrokes are weak, so I found a video of Paul Gilbert suggesting playing only upstrokes to a shuffle beat.

Not sure what else I can do at this point.

Here is my video

Thank you everyone!

Kinda, it doesn’t look very consistent or efficient yet, you need to crank the tempo way up to find something that works at speed! Try 16th notes at 175bpm and see if you can keep it going for around 30 seconds. The good thing about this level of speed is that if your motion is wrong it will be impossible to do for any length of time, forcing you to experiment until you get something that works :slight_smile:

These are both signs that you need to experiment with your pick orientation/general setup until that feeling disappears, always aim for smoothness and effortlessness :slight_smile:

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Try thin pick?
Try to just skim the string?
Try a little edge picking?

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I know you mentioned low E metal rhythm specifically, but I would try to develop a smooth picking motion on a different string first - the G string is a good choice. The low E adds in a bit of extra awkwardness. Once you find that smooth motion, transferring it to low E will be easier than just starting there.


Should be much closer and slow motion?

Andy Wood has “complained” that the low E feels harder to pick. I can’t think of many people I consider better at picking than Andy, so if he says it’s hard, it’s hard lol!


Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond!

@Riffdiculous and @joebegly I’m genuinely curious why is it that the low E is harder to pick?

Here is another video, but unfortunately it will probably be the same distance. I don’t own those cool magnets (where can I get one by the way?) I went lighter to 1mm and picking on the G this time.

@Jacklr any advice on how to keep it more consistent other than just flooring it? Thank you!

Maybe a better way to explain it is that you need to find a specific range of motion that your wrist can make very quickly. In my case it is quite a small movement, a tiny flicking outward of the wrist along the RDT axis, if you can find it you’ll probably be able to do it for a little bit before losing it and then you have to stop and find it again to really hone in and isolate the movement.

The hardest part of learning USX wrist for me was isolating the wrist and not using deviation. I actually learnt DSX wrist and then eventually worked out how to keep the flicking motion going while adjusting into a USX setup.

Hopefully that helps, I’m not sure how useful this level of detail actually is. Best practice is to come at it with a problem solving mindset rather than a repetition mindset and keep experimenting in those higher speed ranges :grin:

Have you experimented with your grip?
I’ve had issues with sticky upstrokes with USX picking. What I found fixed the problem was experimenting with my grip.

You could try the grazing fingers setup. Where your unused fingers are grazing the body of the guitar. When you do this, you can extend your index finger out a bit and from there, experiment with your edge picking amount.

For me, less than 45 degree edge picking on the lower strings helped.

As mentioned already though, it’s best to start this tremolo/experimentation at higher speed. You want to be sure you are using a fast efficient motion. When you get that going, if it’s still feeling sticky, experiment with your grip/edge picking amount.

Hope that helps some.

The low E is much looser than the others, try detune all your strings really low and practice on that, I bet after some practice on floppy strings you’ll feel much better at hitting the low E at proper tension.

Would this be the correct motion?

I managed to get a close up shot. I hope this helps in finding out what’s wrong.

Thanks again everyone. @jptk Interesting…is there a video so I can better understand? I used to pick with my unused fingers kinda hanging out, but I found I naturally close my hand and it feels fine. I also have more support for the index with a closed hand.

Way too slow to say, at this level of speed it is almost impossible to find something that will work fast. It’s like practicing the 100m sprint by walking. My advice would be to set a metronome to 175bpm (minimum) and try and play 4 notes a click until you find something that feels easy for extended periods of time, around 30secs-ish, no short bursts allowed :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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I would say don’t worry about getting it going for 30 seconds right now, that’s quite a long time for a new motion. Once it’s ingrained that will be easy enough, not immediately.

Just get a fast tremolo that feels easy and let’s see what that looks like. These clips are quite slow. Go as fast as you can!