[long post warning]Need help adding helper motion to my DSX and also fixing my USX and DBX

Hi. It’s been about 2 years since I started trying out CtC stuff. I have a way better understanding of picking technique now but applying it to actual playing didn’t get much easier for me. The biggest change is that my picking motion is now supinated flextensiony DSX (used to be pronated deviationy DSX before CtC). Not so much of a change, but it enabled swiping for me, which is a thing that I couldn’t do with my previous tech.

Now I’m trying to add a bit of rotation to do occasional upstroke changes and inside picking kind of works, mostly on 2 string phrases. If I’m lucky I’m able to play through a 3nps ascending scale cleanly. It’s the outside changes that I can’t clear. Looking at the videos now I think I may actually be supinated too much and I can’t rotate enough because of that. The other thing that maybe causes problems is my range of motion (outside changes need bigger upstrokes than inside changes) or maybe I’m a little flexed and the wrist can’t move freely because of that. I’m not sure, that’s why I’m posting these.

Inside licks feel like they lack reliability but could be fixed with enough practice, outside ones feel like complete mess. You can clearly see I’m swiping them.
Here’s an interesting thing, when I ignore the rules of DSX completely and just go for it, I swipe the inside changes. I thought it’s illegal but it works with decent right hand muting.

Now it’s time for the USX part of the post. I tried wrist only approach but couldn’t make anything out of it. If I could do it I’d probably be able to do DBX as well. With the wrist approach it’s always not enough supination to escape and when I dial more, I start hitting the strings with my index finger. About a year ago I’ve had some success with kind of forearm/wrist blend but didn’t make any progress since then. Some of these clips look decent and the speed is past the stringhopping level, but it’s far from effortless. A few licks is enough for me to start feeling pain in my forearm or elbow knuckle. Even when I’m trying to play tremolo or economy picking an ascending scale where the escape isn’t needed, the pain is still there.

Even though the trajectory is curved, you can see a lot of swiping, especially on lower strings. I don’t think this movement is stringhopping but there’s clearly something wrong with it. I think I’ll ditch it and go back to trying wrist only again.


These are some of my latest attempts. In the first one it’s the outside change (g to d) that causes me the most discomfort.
The last thing that I’d like to ask about is this:

In the first clip I’m rotating a little bit to pronation side on downstrokes and supinating on upstrokes. The second one is the reverse, and it seems to work while being a little swipey. Is the second one similar to what Andy Wood does when doing descending outside picking, changing the wrist motion a little and maybe adding a little rotation to help the tracking?

To sum it all up, basically there’s a common theme to all these clips - I can’t do upstroke string changes. I can do DSX from both supinated and pronated, wrist or elbow. USX I can’t do at all. I feel like when I’ll figure out some kind of smooth USX, I’ll have both my helper motion and DBX.
Thanks for taking your time to read this and watch the clips.

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Dude this is all fantastic lol. Great job! I don’t know if I can give much useful feedback since it looks like everything is working so well, but here’s my 2cents.

I don’t see an issue with the outside changes - on the ‘outside gilbert’ the upstroke range seems big enough to get back on the bottom string. The occasional swiping is not really audible to me, in fact in the ‘scale asc swiping’ I’m not sure I can even see it, the upstroke seems to me like it clears when needed. This tells me you can do DBX without thinking about rotation and helper motions, i.e. …

…maybe you can try ignoring the rules more often :smiley:

You clearly can haha. How long have you been trying this USX on its own? If it’s fairly new I imagine if you decrease speed, consciously relax and keep tweaking it you can make the discomfort go away over the course of a few weeks/months.
In the ‘usx forearm tremolo’ I saw you kind of went back to the DSX flexion for a bit, so I wonder if the tension is coming from the effort to suppress the DSX. And sometimes it seems like you use more finger motion than others, so I think with time these might start to become more streamlined anyway. I’m curious, if you vary the amount of finger motion consciously, how does the pain change?

In yngwie 6s it looks like you’re mostly changing the wrist angle as you go down, which might change the escapes a bit. If you track with the arm more, this might improve.

Thanks for the reply.

It’s been about a year and it doesn’t get any smoother. At some point I just started to ignore it and work on my DSX, because it worked out of the box basically. It was funny, because when I started to change my picking I didn’t have much knowledge about the motions, so I thought supination = USX, pronation = DSX and assumed I’m doing something wrong while I’ve actually had supinated DSX for free.

I’m using finger motion? I didn’t know that.
To be honest I myself can’t really see why this stuff doesn’t work. I mean it mostly does but with a cost of pain near the elbow knuckle usually. It’s the descending/outside ones that cause me the most pain. The reason I stumbled upon CtC was that two years ago I completely fucked up my hand because of 6 hours long stringhopping marathons. Maybe I didn’t actually recover enough before starting to play again and since forearm USX uses a bit of flexion-extension and the flextension gear is attached to the elbow knuckle, that’s why it hurts.
I wish I could stop playing for about 2 months but I teach for a living and in 2 weeks the last year of my jazz studies are going to start, so I’ll have to wait till next June/July and just play as little as I can utill then.

Yes that was what the UWPS DWPS terminology originally kind of led us to think, and it was a pretty good starting point to get DSX and USX motions to happen, though it’s awesome how much clearer Troy and the team have made it now.

Yes, I think I can see a lot of wiggle on your thumb in some vids, like ‘forearm penta desc’.

I don’t see anything wrong with sticking with your awesome supinated DSX (which I still think can escape on upstrokes just fine), if that doesn’t cause pain.

Cool cool cool, you are already a great player as we know :sunglasses:

First impression is that this all sounds pretty great to be honest… and wow man that’s a lot of videos!

What are the most important 2/3 videos to have a closer look at in your opinion?

Hi, thank you. I think the ones with outside changes DSX and USX swipy ones

Thank you that helps a lot! Today was a bit busy with the day job but haven’t forgotten, will take a close look asap!

Hey @adamprzezdziecki, thanks again for the smaller selection, really helps to narrow down the focus of the analysis!

First (not very useful comment) is that these sound great in the big picture. A little bit of gain and compression and I bet nobody could hear those occasional swipes. The Gilbert lick in particular seemed almost perfect after the first couple of reps. In fact I believe I saw a few reps that were 100% clean, or if there were swipes they were basically invisible from this camera angle. Maybe double check and see if your agree. Whatever you are doing here in the clean takes seems a great foundation for primary DSX mixed-escape playing - so you could try to memorise the feel of those clean takes.

In terms of the last two videos there is one obvious thing that jumps at me: I know you are going for USX but instead it seems that you are very often defaulting back to a combination of downward pickslant and DSX motion (or maybe fully trapped motion?). So we have a bit of a mismatch between motion and pickslant, and I suspect your upstrokes feel sticky when this happens? Also, because the upstrokes will grab the string more I suspect swipes will get more obvious / louder due to this mismatch.

So maybe one thing you can try is to do keep the pickslant a bit more “neutral”, and this should already make things feel smoother / mitigate the effect of swipes when you go back to that DSX motion.

There are also moments of clean upstroke escapes there, like the transition between G and D string in the pop tarts lick - but this does not happen consistently. So I’d guess that you have not yet memorised the feel of doing USX consistently, and you keep going back and forth between USX and your DSX comfort zone.

So maybe one possible approach is to keep filming USX examples and then look back to see if you are actually managing the correct escape motion, at least on some of the reps / some of the string crossings. Then try to remember what that felt like & try to recreate it for next time. A bit laborious but might work.

But again, in general you seem to have a great foundation with the DSX motion!

EDIT: I just noticed that my comments have a lot of overlap with those of @spirogyro :slight_smile:

EDIT2: as usual, please watch again and let me know if you think I missed/misinterpreted something :+1:


Yes, the upstrokes usually feel sticky in my USX so I’ll probably start experimenting more with slant and the amount of edge picking. I feel like the reason I’m switching to DSX is my grip and the amount of supination, I’m adding a little extension to avoid hitting the strings with my index finger. Thanks for your input.

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Not much of an update here. After a few Marty Friedman transcriptions I feel like I’m getting RSI again. To be honest I don’t know what to do anymore, I think I’ve stumbled upon some kind of issue that even CtC doesn’t talk about. I’m playing past stringhopping speeds, I can do really fast bursts USX but it makes me feel pain instantly, especially when changing strings.
What makes me even more uneasy is the fact that I know I’m not a total idiot when it comes to motor learning, as a teenage dude I figured out pretty complex stuff like Jason Beckerish sweeps, really fast pronated DSX, 99% of my left hand technique I’ve learned by feel, etc. Maybe when it comes to certain picking motions there’s some kind of biological limitation for some people after all, who knows. I hope not.

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Hey @adamprzezdziecki, great job on the Marty solo and I’m sorry you are getting pain from the guitar!

Is the pain specifically related to USX motions? It seems so from what you describe.

If that is the case, it’s probably wise to let it sit for a bit until the pain goes - you already have so many other awesome techniques at your disposal - I hope the pain is not affecting those as well?

And since you have great DSX, you can play almost all of the USX stuff by starting on an upstroke (except of course the downward sweeps, but in many cases you may be able to find alternative fingerings that work). This is what Andy James does for example, and you don’t hear many people complaining about his technique :wink:

But I know that will not be enough for you :slight_smile: In the longer term, I know that Troy is currently filming some new lessons with more insights on how to test / learn the various wrist motions. So hopefully when your hands are feeling better you’ll have some new ideas to try!

In general you are a really great player, when I listen to you I don’t really think “yeah, this guy needs to do more USX” :smiley:

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Mostly, but I’d say that supinated DSX isn’t 100% comfortable for me too. Maybe I have a problem with supinated techniques in general. I usually work on my USX, start feeling pain and switch to playing with my pronated DSX, which is still the most comfortable thing I do and it works a bit like a massage.

For me it mostly works for playing music of other people, not for my own. The problem I have is that my ears and brain evolved over the years but my technique didn’t. Writing something that a)I’m happy with and enjoy listening to b)is compatible with my technique, is a complete nightmare and takes me so much time that I’ve stopped doing it. I don’t even want to mention improvisation, I know there are jazz/bluegrass guys who can improv amazing stuff with one way escape picking, but I know I’ll never be one of them.

That’s great to hear. By the way, I think that CtC has a lot of info about what to do and not so much about what not to do. It may sound stupid, but I think that some kind of “potential pitfalls” thread on the forum would be a good idea.

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Sorry for off-topic about picking but this caught my attention:

This happened to me as well! But I realized that I need the process of recording and creating something. So currently I’m doing this to remedy the situation:

As a sort of cheer-up device, I’m recording ultra-simple, short songs that are easy peasy to get right. No cool tricks, no fast stuff, no unleashing all my creativity. Just something super basic beginner stuff that I know I can get sounding great when recorded. I’m simply eliminating all real challenge from it, and that’s the point.
Two benefits: 1) It keeps your basic guitar chops from rusting, and 2) it gives you an energizing feeling that you’re successfully creating something, even if it’s an easy little thing like that. It’s just a stepping stone. When it’s done well, it feels kinda great to listen to, no matter how simple it is.

Simultaneously, I’m keeping up practicing picking techniques as usual, and also learning scales etc. I’m tackling the real challenge that I have. Later, when things improve, I can start incorporating those techniques in compositions without feeling like it takes 3 hours to get one riff right, and like making my own kinda music is a nightmare. Getting closer to making the kind of music my ears and brain are thinking of, and actually releasing it one day.

Don’t give up! :fist:


Trying USX on a classical ax, both guitars that I use now have tuneomatic so
I wanted to try something different. I feel like my upstrokes are too short and I’m doing some upper arm movement to compensate, maybe that’s where the fatigue comes from?


Well this looks and sounds amazing - but I’m sorry if it does not feel good.

From the slow motion I get the impression that you are in the ballpark of the gipsy wrist/forearm blend that Troy does here (video should start at 5:53):

However your forearm moves a bit less than Troy’s and your motion looks a little more “curvy”, like I get the impression that your downstrokes would eventually escape if they didn’t end up resting on the higher string. Indeed the last note with the accent is actually a downstroke escape. Also, there is perhaps some finger movement in your case, but I don’t know how important that is.

Could it be that this constant “fighting” against the habit to do a downstroke escape is what is causing the fatigue?

That being said, again, this is really great playing!

I may be, but I’ve been there for about a year now with no progress.

Doesn’t feel like I should do anything about it at all, I’ve also tried deliberately adding finger motion to do Yngwie-like blend and it felt like could work and also be a gateway to Martin Miller’s MP extension technique. It made my upstrokes longer and smoother.

It may be one of my problems, too much wrist and not enough forearm. I don’t feel like I’m suppressing DSX at all. I actually have two movements involving rotation, one is that gypsy like USX that you can see in the latest clip but I can also do fast bursts of DBX by mixing my flextensiony DSX nad gypsy USX, in both cases the upstroke part is a problem.
Thank you all for the replies, I feel like I need to take a break from picking and try again after a few weeks.

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I thought I’d bump my thread since Troy seems to be active in terms of replying to forum posts. I’m once again trying various types of USX with no progress. I don’t know what to change, any kind of help would be appreciated.

Not sure what feedback you’re looking for here. This looks and sounds like perfect playing to me. There is certainly nothing to correct here as far as the motions or how they are working. The musical results are perfect as well. If you were in some kind of jam with Joscho Stephan and you busted out the lick in this video, you’d be right there with him and everyone would applaud.

What is the complaint, that it’s too tiring? I don’t know what to tell you. First question is how do you know? Maybe anyone playing that lick would get fatigued to the same degree.

@joebegly has offered the tip of trying not to grip the pick too hard as a way of tricking yourself into not “over-flexing” unnecessary muscles. But that’s a guess. It’s a guess that there is such a thing as “trying too hard”, and it’s a guess that gripping the pick less hard will help solve it.

This is an area where I have more questions than answers. When technique is visually and sonically perfect, is there a way it can still be “wrong” as far as what’s going on with other muscles and how can we test that?

These are my questions. Others, propose some tests!

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Well, basically doing this motion causes really strong pain in my forearm or near the elbow knuckle, especially when changing strings after an upstroke. Not only super fast stuff, mid tempo things in 120bpm 16ths range too. My muscle memory refuses to ingrain any of the USX vocabulary because it is just painful to do. I can’t bring it to the point when it really clicks and I’m able to execute things with confidence, it’s still a hit or miss kind of thing and I’ve spent tons of hours trying to make it work for the past 2 years. I also have a good understanding what smooth really feels like beacause of my old pronated DSX.
If I’m chunking EJ descending sixes for example, the first string change from e to b is kind of smooth, but the next one from b to g is where some serious pain starts to kick in.
As I said befeore, I’m really afraid that it just may be some kind of biological limitation. I’ve figured a lot of stuff on the guitar by feel, but when it comes to USX, even with all the CtC knowledge it’s like trying to catch a yeti or leprechaun for me.

Well, you should never do anything that causes pain or spend lots of time in that zone, so if that’s the case, why bother?

You can try Gypsy style technique with a wrist flex, you can try a Mike Stern type technique where you keep the wrist straighter and don’t supinate the forearm like you’re doing here. You can try finger motion. You can try Zakk Wylde style elbow motion.

If you can’t figure out any of those or they don’t feel smooth, you can not bother with these lines. Joe Bonamassa doesn’t use Eric Johnson’s technique, and neither does Andy Wood, yet when those guys try to play like Eric, nobody can seem to tell the difference.

The specific motion you use doesn’t really matter, just play cool stuff with whatever technique is the easiest!