Improving the accuracy and the speed in my phrasing

Hi to everybody!

I bought the first seasons episodes in 2013 (and later all the other seminars…) but to be honest I never dig into the material, as the details explained by Troy were too many and I could not follow all the different aspects while playing… moreover I was into jazz improvisation studies and I was already working in mapping the geometries of scales, arpeggios and target notes and my brain buffer was already in overflow!

Now after 6 years, considering that my fluidity while playing still needs a lot of improvement and that it is more important to play well nice lines than being able to map all possible scale and arpeggios over the fretboard, I decided to dig the monumental work that Troy did regarding guitar technique.

I discovered I am an UWPS so to be able to play freely lines I should develop also the capability to play with DWPS.

I am actually working on the pick slanting primer intro clip that as far as I understood is an DWPS lick.

I can play it more or less well till 110 bpm, from 120 bpm on it get worse, sloppy and I miss notes. I’m trying to angle the pick in a DWPS way, mainly changing the orientation of my wrist and having my fingers touching the body and the higher strings of the guitar in opposition to my, more natural, UWPS position that has the thumb/palm resting on the upper part of the guitar.

I am studying also the videos about wrist and elbow but it needs quite a lot of time and I prefer to practice.

Do you have any suggestion in order to boost my improvements?

I know it takes time but I just want to make sure I am working in the right way…

Thank you all!

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Watch the videos several times, pause them and work on your own. Use a mirror to get a set-up in the ballpark. Make a video, post it and ask for help. Try a bunch of techniques as if there is nothing to lose. Stay obsessed.


Thank you very much!
I am watching the videos and I think in the end what we need to master is the capability to "feel’ the correct way to pick using a DWPS when doing an USX and an UWPS when doing a DSX. The microscopic analysis of Troy proofs the statement and address many possible ways you could achieve such slanting movement (supinated wrist with a 9-3 movement for USX ala Mike Stern or a prognated wrist still with 9-3 movement for DSX… and many other variations…).
On the other side there are other factors that affect the accuracy of the phrase, like synchronization with left hand that change a lot when increasing the speed.
Also the use of legato can help a lot, there are many great players that use mainly a mix of picking and legato to reach high speed when they express themselves.
My goal with speed is mainly to be able to express anything I have in my head; after many years of studying scales and arpeggios I understood that rhythm is much more important than play the “right” notes, so in order to play any rhythmic figure you must be able to play at least sixteen for the bpm of the song, so if I am playing a song with 130 bpm, I must be able to freely play sixteens at 130, so I can express almost all the ideas I may have…
The same applies for technique, I can play picking, or doing legato or mixing both (or sweeping), but I must be able to play all these techniques.

So going back the the study path, apart watching all the videos of Pickslanting primer what exercises should I do on the guitar? I am working the Pickslanting primer intro clip, should I just focus on this until I play it at higher speed? or should I work on other things?
I am getting obsessed, somehow as I am working since 5 days only on this phrase (with little progress) and watching all the videos I have of Troy… is it the right way to reach some results?

Welcome to the forum!

Have you already seen this short video by Troy? It only addresses one aspect of what you are asking (i.e. speed) - but it does so very well:

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Hi Tommo, thank you very much!
Yes I did, on a single string I can go fast the problema is when you change string…

Ah, I see! From what you write above, it seems that you already have a comfortable DSX (downstroke escape) motion. Is that correct?

If that is the case, you should be all set to work on high-speed coordination, by using phrases that only change strings after downstrokes (if necessary, with the help of some strategic pulloffs). I know it’s not the same as “playing anything”, but you may be surprised at how fun it is to explore the strengths you already have. Troy’s work showed how there are elite players who built an entire career out of these “single-escaped” strategies :slight_smile:

In parallel, you can of course continue your search for a comfortable USX motion, and possibly for a setup that combines both. But I would not wait until then to start having fun!

Yes for sure more confortable than USX.
So you suggest thinking more in terms of developing my strategy in order to play anything I want , with the help of legato, rather than get obsessed by DWPS and its USX motion? yes this makes absolutely sense!
Are there phrases in CTC that are just using DSX motion?


A typical example is any phrase that has an even number of notes per string - provided you start on an upstroke. If you like the “Yngwie pattern,” I may have a tab for you :slight_smile:


Great thank you! Nice phrase to work on, even if I feel it weird starting on upstroke… you play it very fast! very good technique!

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I forgot to mention that you can even avoid starting on an upstroke!

On the first string you play, just do the first three notes of the scale in the normal order, starting on a downstroke. Then, change string and start the Yngwie-style pattern. This will work both ascending and descending - let me know if it makes sense :slight_smile:

Cool! I’ve never thought about that! Anyway I think I need to work also on my synchronization… as even using the USX movement, I cannot go over 80 bpm playing it in a clean way… :hot_face:

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It’s normal, I think, so when you do “speed practice” don’t worry too much about being clean at first :slight_smile:

One possibility is to alternate between slow/medium speed repetitions (where you try to be accurate) and fast repetitions (where you just try to go fast!). Don’t worry if the latter is a bit sloppy - initially you just want to get an idea of what it feels like to go fast. A bit like riding a bike I guess :slight_smile:

Actually don’t take my word for it, let us hear it from the absolute King of fast guiatr playing :smiley:

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Thank you Tommo!
In effect when you play slow you are in control of every picking movement while when you are playing fast you cannot be analytic, you just have to follow the flow… the micro movements that we worked when we were practicing slow are not anymore in our command you have to trust your work and let the finger go…
It is for sure a different mental situation where you cannot think too much at what you are doing but it goes in automatic… like when you are improvising, you cannot think on the fly what chord tone or arpeggio to play over this chord… you must have worked on the topic in advance with different options and you can choose on the fly the option for sure not creating a new one and trust your work!!

Hi all,
today it is my 51st birthday and I decided that the goal of this year is to improve my picking technique and be able to play smoothly over song at 135 bpm with sixteenth notes, that may sound a simple goal for many of you but it would be a great achievement for myself!
As I said previously I spent many years working on H&T studies and fretboard knowledge, the problem is that when you play over tunes in blues fusion style (like Sunny for example or Cantaloupe Island orb even So what) you must be able to play fluently any idea you have, even if just following a shape or your instinct and if your technique is not at your command you sound sloppy and out of time, that is TERRIBLE!
So I have to be honest with myself and admit that I can play on single string sixteenth notes at 110 (even with some mistake) and not more than 90 changing strings…
I think I have some synchronization issues also with left hand.
I tried to improve also my legato but in the end I gave up and I play slower, trying to be as much expressive as I can.
This could be also a possibility, but since you exist I want to give me another possibility, I think I can make it if I work properly, so I upgraded as CTC member and I hope you can help in solving the issue.
Any idea of what are the steps to follow?
Maybe I can submit for your critique a video with me playing on single string? but what lick?
Please help me!

Hey, happy birthday! Some good advice from Tommo above! FYI, I’m going to merge your new topic in here so we can reply all in one place, will address your questions in more detail soon :slight_smile:

Hi all again,
I am struggling in organizing a structured plan for improving my technique in playing with accuracy in 130-140 bpm territory.
The huge work of Troy is unique and fantastic but I don’t have all the time needed to dig into all his videos and understand WHAT I need to improve, I think it could be useful a sort of Check-list where I can assess my main issues and work on them gradually.
For example I can play on single string the semi-chromatic at 120 and changing string at 110-120 also but if I apply different patterns (like 1-4-3-4 or 1-4-2-4…), it starts to be more difficult, so I guess I have some issue already with synchronization. So I think I should work first on single string and improve my speed there rather than on changing string… but how? should I worry about using a UWPS or a DWPS? Should I check my wrist if it is supine or pronator? Should I check if I use my wrist, or my arm when reaching higher speed? What exercise use?.. too many things to think and pay attention, but what is the correct way? Also considering that what I do on one single string can facilitate the change to another string if I use an USX or a DSX…
Is there any clear and simple video on this site that can help in clarifying how to work in order to improve my technique? That is the reason why I am a “master in mechanics Member”…

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I think there are two questions here:

  1. What do you want to play?
  2. What technique(s) to use?

Maybe it’ll be helpful to first clarify what kinds of stuff you’d like to play. We’re not big on prescribing specific exercises for everyone, because it’s usually better to work on motions / technique in the context of the actual musical stuff you’re most interested in.

The idea of being able to play anything comes up a lot, but in our experience it doesn’t really work that way. There are lots of picking techniques, and they all have certain constraints that inform the vocabulary of what you play. And even what seems like fluent improvisation is built from combining those building blocks of musical vocabulary that must be developed.

Definitely suggest going through the Pickslanting Primer and experimenting with the different grips and picking motions. That will be helpful to get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. There’s no single “best” or “correct” way, so we suggest trying them all and seeing what feels most comfortable.

Identifying the technical issues you’re running into is a great start, whether hand sync issues, getting a smoother more consistent picking motion, or perhaps both! We don’t have a single all-in-one checklist to identify every issue you may be seeing, though that’s a good suggestion. But hopefully the Primer will help with some of that.

And yes we can absolutely take a look at some video if you’d like to make a #technique-critique post! See here for detail on how that works:

Let us know if that helps!

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this exercise is hugely helpful! it’s an easy to understand pattern with an explanation of how to do it.

like Maio996, I’m also a longtime UWPSer and I keep finding that if i just flip the DWPS phrases (i.e. starting on a downstroke when they start on an upstroke) I can immediately play it ---- the intro solo is a good example.

DWPS feels horribly foreign to my body. I agree with David Grier (who I’d never heard of. thanks, CTC!) where people have been telling me to DWPS (with different language) forever but my body just doesn’t do that. I hate the ringing low strings.

but this exercise is more helpful and clear. Thank you, Tommo! Do you have more of these?


Thank you for the kind words, happy it’s helpful! At the moment I don’t have other transcribed stuff like the above, but in general, anything that uses an even number of notes per string will do the job :slight_smile:

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I have been doing this exercise daily for about 10 - 20 minutes and seen improvement. Some notes I think are worth sharing:

I find going up easier than coming back down regardless of USX or DSX (I’m faster on DSX)

I have tried changing up the left hand pattern from

143 134 142 124


134 143 124 142

and find it VASTLY more difficult for some reason. I suspect because the string changes in the first set are all 1 to 4 but they switch from 1 to 3 and 1 to 2 in the second set.

I’ve also tried running this backwards — starting with my pinky on the way up and vice versa. Leading with the pinky is hard no matter what.

GREAT exercise, @tommo

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