Introducing myself: I'm Nathan Kramer :)


#1

Hi Cracking the Code forum!

Long time observer… First time dipping my toes into the community proper.

First a bit of history for me: At 15 I was an economy picker, and I think I might have been pretty good at it.
At some point I came across John Petrucci and Dream Theater, and developed the strange idea that alternate picking was somehow a more noble adventure.

So now I’m an alternate picker mostly, and not very good at economy picking.

I’ve uploaded a video which should serve as a reference for what I can do, and what I can’t do.

If I were to self-diagnose, I’d say I’m a wrist-oriented swiper who has never truly developed movements that reckon with outside picking string changes at speed.
This means I can often play lines that sound fast (like Petrucci was always the goal), but I’m mostly limited to lines which force inside picking string changes.
I can throw in one or two outside string changes, but too many of these in a row and everything falls apart.
I seem to be more comfortable doing three notes per string ascending than I am descending. Doing an outside picked string change starting on an upstroke is very hard for me.

At first I was planning to make a technique critique post, but I’ve decided the footage I filmed is too broad, so instead I thought I’d ask a few general questions:

  1. In the video I compared my pentatonics chops starting on an upstroke and downstroke. My speed starting on a downstroke is orders of magnitude faster. I attribute this to my lack of technique for oustide string changes. Does anyone else suffer this / agree with my diagnosis?

  2. What do people think my next steps should be? I’ve been thinking about trying something Andy Wood style…

I suppose I’ll try record something a bit more focused for a technique critique proper technique critique post. (or we can switch this over if the mods think it’s more appropriate there)


#2

That’s interesting. So, how many years has it been since you abandoned economy picking in favor of alternate picking? Also, how many days a week and how many hours a day do you work on alternate picking?


#3

It seems to me that when you are playing stuff that changes strings after downstrokes your pick escapes both ways. Look at the pentatonic example starting on the upstroke in slow motion, it is more obvious on the lower strings but still present on the higher ones. Because this is one way upws pickslanting you should be escaping only on downstrokes.


#4

Hi Nathan! Thanks for signing up.

I don’t have time to go through this with a fine-toothed comb at this exact moment, but short story is this all looks awesome and I would not be in any kind of rush to go out and change anything. Instead, try getting some closer footage in slow motion to see what’s really going on. It all sounds awesome.

Small nit pick, please try to keep narration in the forum thread if possible, and not in video format. It makes it much easier to see at a glance what questions you have, and quote / reply to them individually. If you’ve got multiple things you’re playing, timestamps for those items are also helpful. Otherwise, separate videos, single phrases / topics apiece, is even simpler.

Again, great playing here. Get a handle on what you’re doing before making any drastic changes as I think lots of people would like to have your chops!


#5

I think there’s a good likelihood you’re already pretty much doing this. Again, closer footage in slow motion will reveal what’s going on. Don’t get too close though - you still want to grab some forearm in the frame to spot any movement there.


#6

That’s interesting. So, how many years has it been since you abandoned economy picking in favor of alternate picking? Also, how many days a week and how many hours a day do you work on alternate picking?

I switched to alternate picking when I was 16, and did most of my subsequent guitar practise between the age of 16 and 18, if I could guess it was probably about 16 hours of practise a week.

I’m 25 now, but I honestly don’t think I’ve made a skill jump since those earlier years (and I practise much less, so no cause for surprise there I guess).


#7

It seems to me that when you are playing stuff that changes strings after downstrokes your pick escapes both ways.

Because this is one way upws pickslanting you should be escaping only on downstrokes.

Good point. I know I can do something like one way DWPs, and one way UWPs, but neither of the movements works for outside picking string changes.

For instance, while I can ascend a pentatonic scale (2 nps) starting on a down stroke (DWPs), I can’t descend starting on a downstroke. It’s still DWPs (or that category of string escape required), but the outside picking motion isn’t working.

The same applies for UWPs. You saw in the clip that I can’t ascend a pentatonic starting on an upstroke, but I can do it fine descending, because I change strings on an inside picked downstroke.

So my movements aren’t sufficient for outside string changes. Except this one case where they are for some reason (I think it has to do with the pickstroke returning me to my center of wrist motion / comfort. It works for that EJ overlapping pentatonic sixes thing)

I think I’ll try to take a good slow motion video of the really bad case: two notes per string outside picking.

Again, great playing here. Get a handle on what you’re doing before making any drastic changes as I think lots of people would like to have your chops!

Thanks Troy, sounds like good advice!


#8

Try to get an overall picture of what is going on, i.e. film examples of the good and bad. In general, when someone’s abilities are generally great, but there is some specific thing that trips them up, it’s not that they need to “fix” that thing. It’s more likely there is something systemic that can be adjusted to make all things work better. Specifically in the case of “902” type players, or any “wrist” player for that matter, it’s usually a question of matching up the wrist motions to the arm position, and then all types of string changes “work”.


#9

This sounds familiar. I too was big into economy picking for quite a while… and then when I switched to alt-picking… I also found that I had a strong preference for inside picking. I think it’s possible that trying to economy pick everything can lead to this bias.

And also… outside picked ascending (starting on an upstroke) has been my kryptonite as well… specifically… doing 2NPS ascending starting on an upstroke felt nearly impossible. Which is why I really focused on that more than anything over the last couple years. I really had to alter my mechanic quite a bit in order to tackle this, but once I did it… everything really freed up.


#10

Great playing, first off. Impressive technique. I hear what you’re saying about inside/economy picking.

I’m an economy picker too, much more comfortable with inside picking than outside.


#11

To try to give a diagnosis there is something I’d have to see. Could you film yourself playing the Paul Gilbert lick that you play fast when using inside picking but play slow using outside picking, but this time use outside picking and still play it as fast as when you use inside picking, even though there will be mistakes? Or is it that you simply can’t generate the pick speed to play it that fast when using outside picking even if you accept the fact that it will sound sloppy? In other words does the outside picking make it physically impossible for you to generate the type of pick speed that would be necessary to play it as fast as you did when you used inside picking?

I’m trying to differentiate between two different possible scenarios: The first would be that when you play it with outside picking as fast as when you play it your fastest with inside picking, it will have lots of mistakes. The second is that you simply can’t generate the pick speed when using outside picking for that lick to play it just as fast but sloppy.

The bottom line is this is either a coordination problem, or a problem with generating pick speed, or a combination of the two and I’d like to know which of these is the case. Without knowing that, I can’t make a diagnosis.


#12

If I understand you correctly, you’re saying your technique, especially regarding speed, hasn’t improved any over the last 7 years and everything you recorded you could have done just as well 7 years ago. Is that correct?

The reason I bring this up is it seems you’re saying that’s the situation and it’s because you don’t practice much anymore. Well, if you don’t practice much anymore is that by choice or is it that you don’tt have any time to practice more? I ask because you’ve joined the forum and apparently did so because you want to improve. This forum absolutely can help you improve but only if you’re willing to put in enough practice time to learn the techniques you will come across in Cracking The Code. They’re very good concepts but they’re not magic; they still require a good deal of practice to be able to use well.


#13

Good point. I know I can do something like one way DWPs, and one way UWPs, but neither of the movements works for outside picking string changes.

Why wouldn’t upws work for outside string changes? When you play an ascending 2nps pentatonic scale starting on an upstroke you need only one way pickslanting. Downstroke on a lower string goes to an upstroke on the higher string. That’s outside picking. Your pick only needs to escape on a downstroke and the upstroke can be trapped inside the strings. That’s one way upwps.

What I was referring to is that you escaped on upstrokes in a one way ascending uwps line. That’s a waste of motion because you don’t need that escaping motion and this can be the reason of your troubles with that type of line. In a 1 way uwps type of phrase you should eliminate the escaping motion on the upstroke.


#14

The bottom line is this is either a coordination problem, or a problem with generating pick speed, or a combination of the two and I’d like to know which of these is the case. Without knowing that, I can’t make a diagnosis.

This is sounding like a really promising place to start. I will try to upload a video early this week. My guess is that I’m simply unable to generate pickspeed, I can say that with some certainty based on experience but happy to take it to the magnifying glass.

If I understand you correctly, you’re saying your technique, especially regarding speed, hasn’t improved any over the last 7 years and everything you recorded you could have done just as well 7 years ago. Is that correct?

For the most part that’s true, though I’ve definitely made a few alternate picking/cross picking improvements (and lost some sweep picking prowess as well).

As per the rest of your comment about practise: I’m a fulltime software engineer and that has come with some creative energy costs. I still practise and play as much as I can but it’s just not as much as a high-schooler could manage. I also don’t expect this forum to solve my problems for me, I’m here to engage in a bit of conversation and certainly interested in the latest developments around pickslanting rhetoric (it was always pretty obvious to me that the fore-arm pickslanting canon was not really applicable to me unless I changed my motion mechanic, so I’ve been waiting in the wings for something like this 902 stuff for ages.)

Why wouldn’t upws work for outside string changes? When you play an ascending 2nps pentatonic scale starting on an upstroke you need only one way pickslanting

Let me clarify: I don’t really use pick slanting much, as far as I can tell. What I meant is that I can do something like an upstroke escape and downstroke escape, which I consider functionally equivalent to the historical usage of the term pickslanting, but the motions are only compatible with inside picking string changes ( I think that’s because that’s technique carried over from my old fast economy picking chops.
), and if I were to guess I’d say they were wrist “dart thrower” (or reverse) movements.

But we’ll see once I upload some slow mo clips… hopefully tomorrow

What I was referring to is that you escaped on upstrokes in a one way ascending uwps line. That’s a waste of motion because you don’t need that escaping motion and this can be the reason of your troubles with that type of line. In a 1 way uwps type of phrase you should eliminate the escaping motion on the upstroke.

Noted. You might well be bang on there, I’m yet to interrogate that further… THanks for the thoughtful observation!