So, I’ve been enjoying Cracking the Code and the joys of pickslanting for a couple of months now, and I can see the improvements. Now a couple of issues have arisen. I’m an upward pickslanter, however, I used to string skip before I knew that was a thing. So, because I play a lot of 3 note per string scales, I learned Downward pickslanting and picked up Two-way pickslanting. Now here’s where it gets tricky. I can chunk 2 and 4 strings, but when I go to play 6 (ascending) I seem to be missing strokes on the 2nd string. I also miss the middle strokes on the first and sixth strings when playing a run that both ascends and descends too. Sometimes I even seem to fail when playing slowly (but that could be exhaustion). The thing is no matter how hard I try to be careful, it just keeps happening.
Any tips, you guys?
Thanks a ton!
Hello @The_Metal_Bard! I’m the newest member of the team and, as far as I can remember, I was also a “primary-UWPS” (see note below) before discovering Cracking the Code
I (and I’m sure many others) would like to help, would you feel like sharing a short videoclip of your playing showing the issue? In case you have not seen them, here are the current guidelines for filming your playing for technique advice:
Due to recent advances in our understanding we’re gradually reducing the focus on “pickslanting” (the angle of the pick) - and instead we are mostly trying to talk about “escaped/trapped pickstrokes” (the path of the pick). The reason is that, while the two are correlated, the second concept is the crucial one for changing strings cleanly. Let us know if you have any further questions about this
Thanks a ton for replying so quickly. I did went ahead and shot a clip. Hopefully it’s good enough to spot the issue.
Hey, thanks for the quick upload!
This overall sounds good in the context of the mix, and you don’t seem to have a speed problem
For properly assessing the technique it would be better to hear the guitar in isolation. Also, would it be possible for you to film this a bit closer and with better lighting on the picking hand? Ideally you’d want to see both the pick and the strings, something like:
Edit: and if your phone does high framerate/slow motion, it would be also helpful!
Absolutely. Although I can’t right now, I will film in the afternoon. Thank so much !
The way I fough against missing notes while playing scale: I accented them.
like ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-TA-ta-ta… Like the while meaning of a pssage was in that notes.
It helped me.
Obviously you would have to slow down a bit at first.
That actually makes a lot of sense. I’m going to try it. I think I do need to work the intermediate speed and build from there, from where the conscious chunk becomes a subconscious one.
I tried to record something in that angle. and I did try to make it as visible as I could. After the first 30 seconds it’s the same but slowed down. As I listen to it that way, it’s downright embarassing how sloppy my playing is. Other than all the great insights that you will surely provide from the video, I do have a question: When should I slow down and how much “slow” is too much?
I just noticed that apparently youtube reduced my frame rate by a lot!! Let me know if I should upload a better version. Sorry!
Here’s one with much better quality! I’m sorry for the previous one being so terrible!
Thanks for going through the pain of filming close-up and doing the slow motion as well!
You clearly have great raw speed, and perhaps the main issue I can see is that L/R hands are not always in sync. Have you tried doing the same thing but with different subdivisions of the beat? (e.g. 4 notes per beat, then 5, then 6 and so on - but keeping the same # of notes per second). When I’m stuck I sometimes find that simply changing the rhythm/accents gives me enough variety to find new solutions.
About the string switching-mechanics I’ll try to have a closer look in the next few days - thanks again for the close up!
This is a good question, there is probably no “exact” answer at the moment. But you could for example try a speed that is fast enough to be impossible with inefficient movements, but slow enough that you have some degree of control over the details (e.g. hand sync). Judging by how fast you are playing here, maybe something like 16th notes @150-160 bpm should be comfy enough for you? let us know
Woah, that is some great insoghts! I will start playing with different accents. Thank you so much!
Hey @The_Metal_Bard, how is it going? Obviously things went a bit downhill recently but we are all slowly catching up with work & everything!
I tried to study your video again, I can see that on the lowest string you do one pickstrokes and 2 hammer ons (I think?), and then on the remaining strings the right hand seems to draw more or less the correct “contours”.
However, I was not able to count the pickstrokes, so I am not sure if you did 3 pickstrokes per string or not. This may be because you were playing really fast
When you have time could you try to film the same example just a little slower, say 16th notes at 150-160 bpm? (or 6 notes per beat at 100-110 bpm, whatever feels best). Also, without backing track would be easier to analyse.
This way it may be a bit easier to check what your pickstrokes are doing.
In any case, what you are doing there already sounds cool - particularly the descending portion
Thank you so much for taking the time to try and analyze it. I will do a video as soon as possible! As I am trying to accent the first of 4 pickstrokes, I’m actually noticing that my left hand is not keeping up with the other one. Hopefully later on today or tomorrow I will be able to do the video.
Thank you again!
FINALLY! I’m sorry for the delay, here’s the video.
I removed the backing track, it’s just the guitar being played, and a light metronome on the background. Thanks!
Tomorrow I will also upload a slowed down version. I’m sorry, I must’ve forgotten completely
Hey @The_Metal_Bard!, Thanks for the new clip, gives a good view!
I discussed this with @Troy, and you appear to be a mostly-wrist player. It seems that your forearm is flip-flopping between a “supinated” position (similar to Andy Wood):
and a “pronated one” (similar to Molly Tuttle/ David Grier/ John McLaughlin):
It should not be necessary to swap between the two forearm orientations, so you could try to do all your scalar playing, for example, using the pronated position, getting both upstroke and downstroke escapes with the wrist. Essentially just try to play the scale from the most comfortable of these two forearm positions, with no or minimal twisting on the arm as you change strings - you may find that you need less forearm adjustment than you think!
I’ll tag @Troy to sanity check this, and please let us know if it makes sense
Thank you so much for the reply. It does make a lot of sense and I finally realize what I am doing wrong. A few years ago, life was much better and I had the opportunity to take a few lessons with Teemu Mäntysaari and he was the one who got me into pickslanting. You know him being such an amazing player and teacher, he has that incredible accent motion, and apparently I was overthinking everything and have been trying to mimic that in a wrong way, which developed into an awful habit. I’m going to give this a try and I will let you guys know. Thank you so much for these invaluable insights.
It’s not an awful habit, your playing looks great. This is just a complicated subject. There is no question that great payers like Teemu and also @Tommo make subconscious adjustments to their arm position during certain phrases. But they don’t do it all the time. We know that you can make both types of string changes from the same arm position, because, for example, we can see Andy Wood does this.
Watch this clip in slow motion, toward the end when he speeds up:
You can see at first he uses the double escape motion, the semicircular one. A lot of players do this when they play at moderate speeds. But when he gets faster, you can see that he switches to the straight line “single escape” motions. The downstroke goes over the string in a straight line, on an angle. That’s the DSX motion. And the upstroke comes back over the string also in a straight line, but on the opposite diagonal. That’s the USX motion. Andy’s arm doesn’t change its position when he does this.
In Andy’s case and also Tommo’s case, they only make arm adjustments when they play ascending string changes with an upstroke. That doesn’t happen in this clip because this example doesn’t have any ascending upstroke string changes. That’s why Andy plays this using only wrist motion by itself.
That’s a lot of detail, but we still have the question of what you should do. And I think the simple solution here is to find one arm position and just use that one. As Tommo says, it could be the “Andy” arm position or the “Molly” arm position. Either one can work.
You’re already making the correct wrist motions so no further change is probably necessary. If you film yourself and you see that you are still making small changes to your arm position, but it feels good and sounds good, then I wouldn’t worry about it.
Nice work here! Keep us posted, and let us know when you try this.
Thank you @Troy and thank you @Tommo for all the help. Yeah, I understand that every outstanding guitarist has his own small movements and adjustments that occur on a subconscious level, and it’s all a question of trying to figuring out the foundational position of the arm sonI can get there. I will give it my best shot! Thank you all so much!