I have been trying so hard and have made no progress!

Hello fellow guitarists. Longtime lurker, first time posting.


I have been having an incredibly difficult time making any progress on my picking technique. It’s so sloppy! Constantly tripping over strings, missing strings completely. My hand really just has a mind of its own and my pick grip never stays the same. I’ll start with a good picking motion, then the pick just ends up spinning to the side slowly and i lose my grip. When I try and tighten my grip my wrist/forearm starts to hurt. Also I have a really hard time with applying too much pressure to the back of the neck with my thumb. Most of the time, i feel tension in my forearms and wrists pretty much right away… so I know I’m doing a lot wrong. I don’t want to continue hurting myself, but I also don’t know what exactly I need to fix.

When playing the first 8 notes of the pop tarts lick, i max out at 96/100bpm. My form starts to break.
When playing the yngwie 6s [13 10 12 13 12 10], i cant go faster then 63bpm.

I’ve watched the entire pickslanting primer and everything seems to make sense but i just cant seem to do anything right.

heres a video of my asscrack picking. any help/advice would be appreciated.

i do some economy picking 5s, pop tart [12 15 14 12] yingwing 6s 13 10 12 13 12 10.

it’s kind of all over the place… but i tried.

go easy on me.

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Personally, I would ditch the hands together practice and focus on developing a solid alternate picking motion on one open string.

Your breathing is erratic and you seem super tense. I would really strip everything down to the essentials and just focus on a simple D-U-D-U-etc. pattern.


Could you maybe elaborate a little? Nothing really feels comfortable or “right”. I can alternate pick an open string. How do I know if it’s a “solid alternate picking motion” or not?

First off, don’t be so hard on yourself! Honestly this doesn’t sound that bad. I think the 5s are probably the best sounding part of your playing in that video. Once it looks like you get comfortable, they come out faster / smoother.

How long does this take to happen? Are we talking like a handful of notes, or minutes into playing? I feel like I reset my grip probably every long stretch of notes, so pretty often.


Sometimes I can get the 5s to fly. And I’m like “woah how did I do that”. Like once in every 100 times I try the pattern. The pick grip happens immediately. It’s not me adjusting the grip though… it’s more so the pick feeling like it’s trying to escape from my fingers… like it’s being held hostage or something.

What pick are you using? Could you take a picture of your grip from your perspective?

Speed! Smoothness!

If you can speed it up significantly and it feels smooth and relatively effortless, then you know. If not, then you need to change something and try again. You will need to go fast. You can’t judge the effectiveness of a motion by going slow.

What happens if you try to play as fast as you can on a single string? What does it look like?


I use a dunlop jazz iii. And yes, I will try and film some better quality videos from different perspectives today.

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I can keep it steady for a few seconds until it goes out of control (steadiness becomes jittered. miss the string, not fliuid, etc). No longer then 3-4 lo seconds. If I keep it going, the steadiness comes back in 3-4 second bursts here and there. I just get a lot of tension in my picking hand when I do it.

Definitely film yourself doing this and post it here. If you are experiencing a lot of tension at lower/mid tempos, you could have a string hopping issue going on.

Picking technique is a journey of self discovery and it could be that you just have yet to discover a picking motion that comes naturally to you. Once we can see a clearer clip of what you’re currently doing, we can start to break it down a bit more.

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Definitely agree with this and @Johannes feedback about going for a fast tremolo.

As recently as yesterday had a similar experience where I didn’t appear to be stringhopping and during practice sessions I could reach speeds close to 200bpm 16ths, but the motion wasn’t quite as smooth and reliable as it should have been. Troy felt that the jittery speed might have indicated that there could be a better motion available and got me exploring my best motions from the table tapping tests - of all things the simple door knocking motion was my best and I’m now working on applying that motion to my current one. Really quick results of smoothness to my surprise, but still a work in progress (below link if remotely interested)

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the video is still processing HD quality. But here are a slew of different things discussed.

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I’m not the greatest at analysis of motions but it looks to me like your tremolo motion when smooth is different when you start playing the poptarts lick.

Is it dsx when good and slow usx?

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Your trem picking looks and sounds great! I’m gonna guess elbow DSX (shout-out to @Johannes for catching my mix-up on this).

I’m noticing that when you play the 5s riff and the chromatic scale, you change to USX with wrist motion. Maybe try some riffs that play to the strengths of DSX, such as sextuplets with 3 notes per string on the first string, then 6 notes per string on subsequent strings (or any riff that changes strings after a down stroke).


Thanks! I will try and work on that for sure! Do you have any riff recommendations?

I agree! The tremolo motion looks like a shallow DSX motion, wrist/elbow. The other motion is USX, with a lot of finger motion and a touch of forearm. A more down-the-strings angle would help a bit in identifying it, perhaps.

Elbow, not forearm, I believe!


You’re totally right, I still mix those two terms up! I think my brain sees the forearm move and I blurt out FOREARM

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First one that comes to mind is “The Spirit Carries On” by Dream Theater. It starts at measure 85:

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Awesome! I’ll give it a shot.

Here’s another video. I hope these views help.

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It looks like you’re using a DWPS (downward pick slanting) form but the motion appears to be DSX (downstroke escape). Often DWPS form with DSX motion can run counter to each other and I know this is something that was tripping me up some time ago.

It looks like you’re onto something with the single string tremolo picking. As an experiment, try it with a more obvious UWPS (upward pick slanting) form, involving a more pronated forearm. This could include the thumb-side palm as a contact point as well or/instead of the pinky-side palm.

Not at all saying you should pick it his way, but it would be worth experimenting with some options to see if anything clicks.