Getting Mechanical With Martin Miller


I was just watching the new video you put up. Excellent job!!!

The slow-mo really shows that there is a lot more going on than I initially thought from the first video from 2-3 years ago.


I tried to check if I could get this as a free download, I couldn’t. Only the jazz/ metal/ crosspickng sampler packs announced some weeks ago.
I am subscribed automatically each month. Do I need to unsubscribe and re subscribe to get such download ? I am just asking a question here not complaining. Thanks.


No need to visit the store - it’s already in your downloads! Just click “Account” and then “Downloads”.


Could it be possible that the ‘Miller Picking’ finger movement (thumb+index) is a visible result of Martin making a 0-2 clockface escaped downstroke but since the heel of the pinky and even the pinky is resting on the guitar bridge it makes it look like only the left half part of his picking hand is rising (thumb+index) and the other half which is resting firmly on the bridge doesn’t move?
When he tries to do only pickslanting and extends his pinkie trying to remove his crosspicking technique that finger MP movement disappears. Since he is not locking the pinkie on the guitar and the hand move freely.

I liked this interview quite a lot. I will rewatch many times. I think there are many things to pick from it.


Thanks. So I just took the wrong digital pathway.
Thanks a lot.


I haven’t quite dialed this one in yet, but the pinky being “glued” to the bridge seems to be an important component.


There could be some wrist motion involved here, especially when he doesn’t anchor the fingers (see below). But I’m pretty sure the finger joints are also moving independently of the wrist. I don’t think you can get the kind of index/thumb motion we’re seeing without actually moving those fingers directly.

There are actually a couple examples that I pulled out, mainly for mechanical reference, where Martin doesn’t touch the body with his fingers at all:

There is some wrist motion happening here too. Whether these two examples are a different form than his finger-anchored form, your guess is as good as mine!


You’re right that the pinky isnt always planted in Martin’s examples. I did find that when I planted and fully extended the pinky that my regular crosspicking mechanic started to exhibit more of that finger movement. It feels like planting the pinky is locking out a certain kind of motion and forcing me to compensate with some finger movement.


I saw those examples indeed. Those made me have that idea about his finger movement. Very cool that we have them to compare against his regular anchoring setup.

This is becoming a very rich encyclopedia of guitar players with awesome technique. Keep it up Troy and company.


Hello, I’ve been playing since the 80’s and was as obsessed with alternate picking as Troy is, but never managed to get to his level. Thanks to Troy and Martin Miller for such an excellent lesson.

The first thing I notice about a picker is where their stabilizing points are, when good alternative pickers play I’ll notice a planted pinky ( for stabilization ) combined with some palm on the bridge, possibly combined with the inner elbow resting on the top of the guitar body. This seems to be an important part of keeping the picking hand locked into a specific place.

I was taught to play from the elbow unfortunately. This has served me well in a lot of ways but can see that I wouldn’t be able to do what Martin does in the Steve Morse exercise, the maneuverability is too much for elbow playing. But notice the forearm and elbow do play a role in stabilizing here by stiffening up a tiny bit ( it’s hard to see it, but I can see it ). Ed Van Halens right bicep was really developed in his early years, that was his stabilizer for when he used to pick a lot more than he does now.

What I’d like to ask Martin is if there is any sense of a ‘flick’ when he picks fast. What I mean by this is, imagine you have a tiny piece of chewed gum between the thumb and first finger of your right hand and you want to flick it off … it’s that action, is there any hint of that being inputted into his picking passages?

Great forum, love this topic!!


There are lots of ways you can move your thumb and fingers, so I’m not sure which of those you’re referring to specifically, but in general, yes, Martin’s technique is primarily a thumb-index technique. In particular, the MP joint of the index finger, where the index connects to the palm, sees a lot of action in lifting the index up during the downstroke. This was the subject of our first feature on Martin:

Martin was not aware he was making this movement at the time, but it’s a few years later now, and since then he’s more aware of it. The purpose of this most recent conversation was to try and figure out more specifically which joints are moving, and how the rest of us might try and learn it.

As others have pointed out, the reason this works with the anchored hand is that the fingers can still move a little even with one side of the palm stuck to the strings. That is not the case for all picking motions, and just to take one example, wrist motions need more freedom than that.

Don’t count out elbow motion. The great Doc Watson appeared to use a combination of elbow and wrist to do arpeggio picking, and Doc is a legend. @Bill_hall here on the forum is also a great elbow picker, and he does some 1nps stuff as well. I don’t know for sure but my guess is it’s probably also a combination of elbow and wrist. Or maybe elbow and forearm. Bill will be stopping by the studio this coming year and we’ll do what we did with Martin — try to figure out how it all works!


dito with what Troy said. The elbow is potentially a great mechanic. But to get a more well-rounded technique that allows for tough patterns such as 1nps, you need to use it along with other mechanics.

Also, stabilization using the pinky is a give & take. Yes, it gives you precision, but it also can potentially limit your movement. I’ve abandon it completely in favor of the gliding approach, but others swear by it.


I just watched the new Martin Miller video…I loved it! What a great player! I love to watch him play and he is so musical. I am really looking forward to stopping by the studio, Troy…thanks so much for having me! It will be a lot of fun to talk about these things. I will play a bunch of different things and we can see how it all works. I am really looking forward to it! :slight_smile:


Awesome! Looking forward to seeing that footage!


Great to hear @Bill_Hall will be on Cracking the Code - cool to see a forum member getting a spotlight in the studio.


Thanks, shinjuku and aliendough…I am excited and honored to be a part of Cracking the Code! I can’t wait! :slight_smile:


Martin’s technique is primarily a thumb-index technique. In particular, the MP joint of the index finger, where the index connects to the palm, sees a lot of action in lifting the index up during the downstroke.

Right, his up and down movements are mostly being generated by two tendons, the Brachioradialis, and the Flexor carpi ulnaris.

I said mostly above because there is no such thing as pure wrist playing or pure elbow playing, the forearm, elbow and right bicep is alway involved in picking. When Al di Meola starts picking fast his right bicep stiffens a little as if to keep the pick in it’s necessary travel distance of approximately a centimetre, if his arm didn’t flex somewhat he’d overshoot the travel distance at those speeds. When we all pick at normal speeds our forearms and right biceps are relaxed.

I also noticed Martins pick angle is quite parallel to the strings. This allows the pick head to quickly pass over the string with articulation. Notice how Jimmy Herring and Ed Van Halen hold their picks with the thumb and second finger! what does this do? it makes the pick more parallel to the string, especially if the guitar is held lower. Try it.

At 9:28 Jimmy Herring does a fast run, it is pretty articulate, and look how he’s holding his pick between his thumb and 2nd finger.


@Troy, do i get this right about how Martin holds the pick with his crosspicking grip? He says that the pick is at a 60 degree angel with the fingernail as a reference point. So if you would look from above the point of the tip would more pointed towards the neck.?

I have already tried this and this gives a whole new feeling; the pick seems to glide much easier over the strings now.
Am i right about this grip?

It would be great if there would also be footage from the players point of view in the future because that would reveal things you can’t see from the side or front view.


In that part of the conversation, I think he’s talking about what I have been calling “pick point” in our upcoming Pickslanting Primer material on pick grip, for lack of any existing term. Meaning, the angle the pick points when it is sticking out of your grip.

The general concept of pick point is that it’s another way to control pickslant. Most of the players we have interviewed appear to use close to a 90-degree pick point, perpendicular to the way the thumb is pointing. Exceptions would be Michael Angelo Batio and Joscho Stephan, who have very flexed setups, and use a positive pick point to get back closer to perpendicular. And Molly Tuttle has an extended setup, and uses a negative pick point to dial that out, getting back to near perpendicular. I’ve looked at everyone we’ve filmed, myself included, and I think this is basically the rule that governs pick point.

Martin looks like he’s using 90 degrees or close to it, even when we were looking at our grips from different angles during that part of the conversation. I know he said he alters this, and he might - but if he does, it’s small. Either way, you wouldn’t do exactly what Martin is doing unless your setup is identical in every other respect.

Instead, the general rule is that if you want to adjust the pickslant, you can make a small adjustment to your pick point somewhere a little positive or negative of 90 degrees. But only after you have all the aspects of your setup where you want them, and only then if there is an issue where you do not have the pickslant you want. If you change the effective point later on, you might do that by moving the thumb or index, and not by re-pointing the pick in your grip directly, which is hard to do while you are playing.


Ok, thnx for that!
I changed to this (first pic) because i thought that is what Martin means.
The 2nd pic was what would be my normal pick point direction.

I feel a great benefit already with the new way, but will have to explore this more.