Is Pickslanting a taboo?

I’ve noticed with increasing frequency that the mere utterance of the phrase “two way pickslanting” provokes the term’s creator to feel compelled to apologize for having introduced it to the world. Come on man, it’s not like you invented Keurig cups or something equally ecologically destructive. Years of thought, practice, experiment, and analysis have gone into the pickslanting concepts - why would you need to apologize for them?

While I understand some of the justification for distancing the CtC vocabulary from an earlier methodology, I question the need to discredit so much of the foundational material. 3 Major seminars are dedicated almost exclusively to pick slanting mechanics: 2 on Downward Pickslanting and 1 on Two-Way Pickslanting. There’s a recurring theme in many posts about a need to go back and “fix” a lot of the earlier pickslanting material. Let’s not ‘George Lucas’ this bit and destroy the original work with revisionism.

Han shot first.

It seems to me that the whole debate around pickslanting terminology (DWPS/UWPS/2WPS) vs pick escape terminology (USX/DSX/DBX) boils down to how we conceptualize pick interaction with the string (or the “plane of the strings”). The pickslanting terms model the way the pick attacks the string, while the escape terms model the way the pick leaves the string.

Personally, I find it much more intuitive to focus on the Attack. That’s the thing that initiates both physical movement and string vibration. Modeling a picking system on the Escape seems backwards - we focus on how the action ends, not how it starts. I recognize that the escape is highly relevant to picking mechanics generally, especially around string changes - but this is already a core part of pickslanting concepts without needing to reframe them.

Rotation and “Double Escape” movements seem like the catalyst for this shift toward the “escape” focus. These mechanics are the most common scenario where the Attack and the Escape are not in linear opposition. For example, in linear pickslanting mechanics we can assume that a DWPS has an USX, while an UWPS has a DSX. Pick rotation creates a scenario where DWPS can be DSX (to prepare for an upstroke string change) and vice versa. Double Escape (DBX) - where every stroke is curved pick rotation - is the main thing that deviates from pickslanting, because it’s not based on an linear attack/escape trajectory.

All of this seemed pretty clear to me from the Anti-gravity seminar and the 2WPS Primer, so I’m confused on what exactly would need to be “fixed”?

I hope this doesn’t come across as being resistant to evolving ideas as new observations support them. I appreciate the scientific methods used on CtC to get deeper in playing mechanics. The whole thing reminds me of this classic:

2 Likes

This all just comes from teaching right here on the forum. I’ve probably written a small novel responding to threads title “Critique My Two Way Pickslanting” that show no actual “slanting” at all even though the playing itself looks good. I’m tired of adding chapters to that novel.

Once we added the new wrist motion and forearm motion chapters to the Primer, the volume of thse confused posts went down dramatically. So I think it’s working. If someone wants to learn Andy Wood’s technique, they need simple instructions for knowing how to do that which aren’t based on looking at the “slant” of their pick, because Andy doesn’t appear to have a pickslant most of the time. How would you teach this? Well, you can teach them what a downstroke escape motion looks like with wrist motion, and how to do the grip for that, and so on.

If someone wants to look at something like Gypsy technique and call it a “downward pickslanting” technique for short, I’m kind of fine with that. I mean, that’s what it looks like. They still need motion instructions and to know that the pickslant by itself isn’t causing the motion. But with wrist players like Andy, Paul Gilbert, McLaughlin, and so on, the “slant” thing is just way less clear. The arm position and motions are very clear, though, so that’s why we emphasize that for the teaching aspect.

Edit: re where we would still use the phrase “two way pickslanting”, we included it in the recent Gambale feature because Frank’s playing really does look like that:

But when it comes to the pure alternate guys that mix and match these very subtle wrist motions, I just don’t think the term does a very good job of either describing or teaching what they’re doing.

2 Likes

Anecdotal evidence - everything I was reading here clicked for me when I realized that “pickslanting” had nothing to do with the slant of the pick itself, necessarily, but rather was about if your pickstroke was “escaping” above the strings in one particular direction or not. I think the new approach is a lot more efficient in that it gets the point across a lot faster and with more clarity.

1 Like

This is actually a really common issue that ultimately boils down to semantics. Labels aren’t always descriptive or literal, although people expect them to be.

1 Like

For twenty years I had this idea, which I still think is common sense, that to play quickly I’d need to be constantly on the top of the string with the plectrum. That’s why I like the model of two way slanting, because it stopped me going to the wrong model. To the best of my knowledge, I now only change slant on a single string, an inside string change.

A classic case of 2wps confusion came up on Instagram over the past few days. This is Jake Lowe who is a great player:

Many people would be happy to have this level of scale technique at their disposal. Here’s what he had to say about it in the comments. If someone this good doesn’t understand that he’s already doing the thing we’re trying to teach, and arguably doing the more adaptable version of it, this is a failure of teaching. This is a very clear example of how telling someone to “do slanting” doesn’t communicate what’s really going on as effectively as explaining what picking motion they need to make.

1 Like

I don’t think ‘-slanting’ terms should be discarded. Their meaning is different from
escape’ terms, like ‘sweet’ and ‘hot’.
‘Pickslanting’ refers to an angle of pick related to string axe. ‘Escape’ refers to a final point of your upstroke/downstroke. They both could be used to describe somebody’s playing.
E.g. I use DWPS and DSX somemtes though obviously DWPS+USX works better.

It’s just that changing pickslanting alone doesn’t help people much, while focus on escaping motion does. Basically, I would formulate it like this : escaping motions helps you with string changing, pickslanting helps you with escaping motions.

1 Like

I think it was a great move of @Troy to specify the terms more. I can share this experience of mine:
I am mostly a DSX-Player, think vinnie moore in much worse and slower. When i play fast, my elbow starts moving.
I tried to learn gipsy picking because i love the Authority and the powerful sound the good players generate with it on acoustics.
So, I practiced with an extreme downward pick-slant, the bent wrist, etc. AND I tried to focus on Rotation.
BUT… when I play fast, the elbow creeps in, which I can’t seem to get rid of, and as a result I can now do a great and totally useless version of a fully trapped pickstroke from a gipsy setup.
:sunglasses:

1 Like

Am I seeing both his descending and ascending fast runs start on a downstroke? I can’t tell at this recorded speed if he’s then moving to upstrokes for the next strings of the ascending run. If that’s the case then he must mean that he can’t start a quick run yet with an upstroke, but can use upstrokes once he’s got into the motion with the help of a downstroke to start the run.