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

Thanks for the details. Yes, I know your form is more pronated on the lower strings, that’s why I asked about the contact points when you play on the higher strings. Your form in that second photograph looks exactly like Andy Wood and Al Di Meola. Is your pinky heel touching the bridge or the strings when you use that second photo form?

The arm position is just a clue. It doesn’t tell us what kind of wrist motion you’re making. A player with a pronated arm position could make a deviation motion, or a 2:00 motion, the results would be functionally the same — they would be DSX. But when you play on the higher strings, and you use that Andy Wood looking arm position, that narrows the possibilities. You can only be DSX with 2:00 wrist motion because deviation (3:00 motion) would trap.

Is this what you’re referring to as “adding in flextension”? Because I just call that 2:00 motion nowadays. More importantly, if you’re doing it on the upper strings, there’s the possibility that you’re doing it on all of them, regardless of arm position, even when you are more pronated. Once motions are learned, they’re pretty resistant to change, and your 13 year old clip, which is awesome, speaks to that for sure.

The more supinated attempts where you’re using some forearm look great, but if you’re saying it feels painful then I of course there’s no reason to use that form.

What happens when you use your form from the second photograph, and you just play lines where you also have upstroke string changes and you ignore those string changes? In other words, you allow mistakes to happen whenever they would happen. It shouldn’t feel any different in terms of comfort to just playing a DSX line, does it?

Because if you can do that to where it is comfortable, then you can probably clean that up and make it work for you.

I’m not sure, maybe just scratches it a little, the thumb side is the main anchor point.

For some reason I assumed that when you’re pronated you have to do pure deviation motion to play fast and thought that was what I’ve always been doing. You’re right it’s probably more or less the same deviation and flextension mix from different arm positions.

It sounds like complete swipefest, there’s more noise than actual notes or I’m adding a little painful forearm rotation on upstrokes because that’s what I’ve practiced.

Your arm looks supinated against the guitar. So to get the downstroke to escape, you can’t move deviationally because it would trap. So I think you’re doing what Al, John McLaughlin, Andy Wood, Paul Gilbert, and lots of other great wrist DSX players do, which is the 2:00 motion.

Here’s some Glen Campbell, who quite accidentally created the world’s clearest instructional videos for 2:00 wrist motion ever filmed – multiple times!

For some reason the forum doesn’t want to link to the timestamps. So, time marker 1 min 15 secs:

…and time marker 2 min 3 secs:

I’m pretty sure Glen is doing what you’re doing, which is making the pick escape by moving along a diagonal which close to deviation, but not actually deviation. Again, because with the arm turned this would have to be true.

Why does this matter? Because if you can do this motion without pain, then the only remaining question is whether you can do pure deviation without pain. That would be your upstroke escape motion. If so, then you have both of the motions needed to play mixed escape lines from the arm position you like, with no involvement from the forearm, which, for whatever reason is causing you pain.

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Can you take a sort of “tension inventory” while you do this and see if you can relax what’s causing your pain without becoming unable to do the motion, if that makes any sense?

It may not be the motion itself that is causing the pain in the first place, but the act of doing it is aggravating an existing ailment - possibly tightness of a forearm muscle, or tightness of a muscle higher up the arm that is pulling the ones lower in the arm tight too and you are feeling it with the forearm helper motion.

Im recent weeks I have been struggling with pinched nerves and muscle soreness on hands an wrist - hand were getting numb. All these have dramatically improved after I worked on my neck, shoulder, tricep and top of the forearm. I would have never had made any progress unless I found ‘DIY Joint Pain Relief’ on Youtube, because I cant acces the physio I was getting pre-covid. He has a couple of specific guitar related ones.

Just thought I’d through it out there…

(Just FYI: The timestamps work for me!)

I was super jealous when I saw your Gilbert string skipping runs on insta, I can’t play like that :slight_smile:


Thanks. I edited to use the “share” button with the “youtu.be” link format. Not sure why that works and the other format doesn’t.

Hey, thank you all for the replies.
Yes, I know how lightly supinated wrist DBX works, I just thought I’m mainly a pronated player. To be honest I’m totally confused where pronation ends and supination starts now, I’m definitely not as supinated as Glen Campbell but stil in supination area on higher strings probably.
Not really, it’s the motion itself and there are not that many moving parts that I can analyze like that. Forearm pain, nothing more specific.
You may be right, one of the reasons i’m here is because 2,5 years ago I had RSI caused by playing Paganini’s Caprice 5 and 16 with stringhopping for 6 hours a day. I didn’t play for more than a month after that and it felt like it’s healed but some remains of it may be still there…
or not, because yesterday I’ve stumbled upon something that seems to be a possible solution to my USX problems.
When looking at this video which is my attempt to play wrist only USX I’ve realized something

I may actually have a problem with the range of motion. I remember the first time I’ve noticed ulnarized picking motion, it was even before CtC on a workshop with Tomasz Andrzejewski, one of the finest polish shredders. His ulnarized motion is super apparent, after realizing that I’ve looked at Oparin and Gilbert and felt like they’re doing the same thing, so what did I do? I just pulled my upper arm up a little bit and tried to place my hand in a more vertical manner on the bridge. After looking at the video yesterday and searching for answers I started to think, what can actually regulate the level of how ulnar you go and it’s basically upper arm or elbow. So instead of placing my hand in my usual manner, I started to experiment and I’ve arrived in a place where my upper arm isn’t really raised, my whole hand is placed more to the right and to make my motion ulnarized I flex my elbow more. After doing that I thought that it reminds me of qwertygitarr’s setup and he is the USX role model for me.

Started experimenting and currently I’m flipflopping all over the place, constanly re-adjusting my arm and elbow and trying different things. I’ve found some kind of wrist-elbow USX with 3 finger grip that looks super similar to Albert Lee’s and it’s way more comfortable than any kind of USX I’ve done so far. I wanted to record it today but I can’t do it lol. I’ve played a lot yesterday and at the end my hand felt better than before playing, instead of the usual forearm pain.
I’ve had these moments of “this is it!” a few times before and usually got stuck not so long after, but I’m finally feeling like I’m learning something new and it’s a good thing. I’ll try to record some vids on the weekend.

@Brendan and I encountered a similar issue previously. It appears that a stamp will work when you click “play” on the embedded video, but if you open the video in a new window, the stamp is ignored.

Ok, I’ve managed to catch them.
3 finger grip, mostly wrist with some forearm:

More or less the same thing with traditional (trigger?) grip:

They feel ten times better than the previous ones. I’ll be going for the traditional grip version for now and see what happens. Feels like I have to relearn tracking.


These look and sound great. You’re saying you can now do this without pain? I’m not totally following what the difference is between these attempts and the earlier attempts that were painful. Is it that the wrist orientation is more ulnar, and it was the radial side of the range of motion that was painful?

If so, yeah, that sounds like injury to me. I’m not familiar with anything painful happening in any motions I know that work like this, so you may indeed have something to be wary of. If you live in a part of the world that has better health care than we do in the US (which isn’t hard), maybe some imaging with an orthopedist might reveal something.

Re: supination / pronation, I just mean the arm bones in relation to the string plane. Both of your clips in post #25 look supinated to me, in that I can see amount of the forearm’s underside — just the second clip just more so. In a strings-pronated player like Molly Tuttle, you generally can’t see any. Glen Campbell always wore long sleeves but he looks sort of minimally supinated to me, similar to you, Al Di Meola, etc.

But the arm position is really just a hint, it doesn’t tell us what joint motion you’re making and as you point out, you may be just making the same motion from various arm positions. All stuff you already know.

Anyway nice work on the sleuthing here, let’s hope you’ve put the painful phase behind you. If you want to do multi-escape phrases, I think it’s likely you can still do that from one of the arm positions you already know. Some (painless) experimentation will reveal.

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After watching most of the videos - you sound great! Very speedy and articulate picking for the most part and definitely in agreement with Troy where you would probably never hear the very minor and infrequent flubs when plugged in. I’m so thankful for Troy and everyone else at Cracking the Code for opening my eyes to all the possibilities out there for technique development but you seem like you’re going through some paralysis by analysis like I was when I first dove into the CtC stuff … forgive me going off on a tangent here but I felt like I was in a rut for honestly a couple years trying to optimize my technique. I was gobsmacked by the whole DWPS/USX thing as I’ve since learned I’ve always been a big DWPS/DSX guy and I was obsessing over flipping things around and being able to play those Yngwie and EJ licks.

Outside of those big lightbulb moments like the micromanagement of upstrokes and downstrokes or avoiding really inefficient picking motion like stringhopping, I really don’t think any sudden change to technique will yield immediate appreciable efficiency to your playing. Maybe others will disagree here but I think taking a step back away from the nitty gritty mechanics of your picking like minute difference in wrist orientation etc. and letting feeling guide you can help you regain a sense of what really is working for you and what isn’t. Then once the discovery is made you can reasses and examine what’s really happening mechanically that allows you to be more successful.

I have a degree in Kinesiology and part of what really appealed to me about CtC is the details about joint mechanics as it’s something I’m very familiar with … but there can be a bit of a stretch between intent and the actual mechanical execution. Thinking too much about the nuts and bolts and what is happening from a mechanical standpoint can take away from your sense of tactile feedback when playing and experimenting with different motions.

Sorry for the novel LOL.


  • You sound really good
  • Consider using tactile reference for feedback (how the picking feels) versus what you believe is occuring from a mechanical standpoint
  • Taking a break from overanalyzing your playing and revisiting it later can allow you to figure out what’s working for you without the added difficulty of overthinking the mechanics - then when you’ve settled into to something that feels good take a closer look and see what (if anything) has changed mechanically

Edit: after scrolling down and reading that you have pain during a certain motion - that can tie into the tactile feedback as well. Obviously avoid the movements that cause pain for the time being and if it persists I’d recommend seeing a professional for a diagnosis.


Wow! Your playing in these clips both sounds and looks fantastic!

When looking at these two versions though, what jumps out at me is that the three finger grip seem to yield a more straight motion that moves a little bit more vertical to the strings, more towards the guitar body on downstrokes. The normal grip seems to be more parallel to the guitar body and maybe a little bit curved. On the Yngwie sixes it actually almost looks a little bit DSX with helper motion for string changes.

So to me, the 3 fingers vertical motion LOOKS more refined, more reliable and less strenuous. But that of course doesn’t have to be true for you. Go for what feels best. And again, wonderful playing!

@Troy @Philausopher
About the injury thing, since my first RSI (summer 2018 I think) it’s been a cycle of screwing up my hand with wrong movement, recovering a bit, screwing it up again, etc. I’ve had ultrasonography and radiography and they didn’t show anything unusual, my hand was just super tired. This July I’ve even had a really intense therapy with massages and icing (5 days a week for a month) and after picking the guitar up again and trying to USX it went back to being painful. My forearm is a bit sore at the moment but playing with this “new” USX makes it less painful actually, it works like a massage. After fooling around with it a little bit I start feeling that kind of warmth that you get after playing with the right technique.

Hi, thanks! You may be right. As I said before I’m in total flipflop mode now, constantly readjusting, trying different pickgrips, etc. Today I’ve discovered that the more thumb overlap I have on the pick, the more forearm I’m engaging. Few days ago I’ve had a lesson with a student and when teaching her some basic strumming patterns I felt I’m doing something different than my usual movement, while having a break at work I started fooling around and my funky strumming felt totally effortless (I’ve always had a problem with it and tensed after a while). I can even do Guthrie 32nd note strums and gypsy tremolo.

I couldn’t do that before.
When it comes to roll patterns it’s totally random. Sometimes I play really good, sometimes I barely hit anything.

Ironically it’s not the inside picking string skip from b to d that’s the hard part but outside change from g to d is the most uncomfortable. I’ve managed to play a few way cleaner and smoother takes today but couldn’t replicate them on camera.
TLDR: I’m finally getting it.

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Your English is better than most people I know! It’s embarrassing actually.

Thanks for filming! The two arm positions you’re describing, I would describe the first one as a straighter wrist in the flexion/extension axis, with more of an ulnar offset in the deviation axis. It’s similar to the the Andy James and John McLaughlin arm position:

The second position, the one you like better, is more of a flexed wrist orientation with a radial offset. This is closer to Gypsy style and more typical for “DWPS” playing styles. And of course used in funk strumming, when you lift up the anchor, as you demonstrate — great playing.

The body anchor points don’t actually look much lower on the body — comparing the body anchor at :30 seconds with the body anchor at :53 seconds. But yes you are more toward the bridge, so the wrist flex is needed to reach the picking position.

If you’re saying this is not painful, great. Glad you were able to figure that out.

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Thanks! Just a quick question about pickslanting/edge picking. Should I try to flatten my pickslant when trying to DBX or just keep my downward pickslant and edge picking? When it comes to DBX 3 finger grip feels the most comfortable for now but I sometimes feel these sticky upstrokes. With 3 finger grip the pick is a little floppy and the harder I press it, the harder I feel them.

Pickslanting is for pick attack, to smooth out any “garage spikes” problems where the pick grabs one pickstroke (either the downstroke or upstroke), harder then the other. The rule is that the pick wants to be 90 degrees to its motion path.

At the bottom of the semicircle, when the pick hits the string, it is basically moving parallel with the strings at that instant in time. So 90 degrees to parallel would be zero degrees pickslant. So… double escape motions don’t require any pickslant.

When we film players this is mainly what we see. Players like Andy Wood and Olli Soikkeli who use supinated setups may appear to have a very slightly “DWPS” orientation compared to players like Molly Tuttle or David Grier, but I think this is mostly irrelevant:

But then there are time even Molly Tuttle can appear to have a downward pickslant, because of the way she presses in (hyperextends) her thumb. In the bigger picture, I think these differences are so tiny they don’t matter. Somewhere in the ballpark of zero is probably what you want.

This is the purpose of the middle- or three-finger pick grip. For highly supinated setups, index finger grips almost always produce a downward pickslant. The middle finger grip gets rid of that. In your case, you use way more supination than I do for an index finger grip. If I did that, I would have a downward pickslant and I would be playing a USX-only style like Gypsy jazz. Nothing wrong with that. But I would not be able to do the mixed escape stuff with that setup. So maybe this has to do with differences in finger geometry between your hands and mine.

Either way, if you want do all escapes from a very supinated arm position, middle/three-finger like Steve Morse and Albert Lee, with zero-degrees of pickslant, is usually how that’s done.


Thanks, I’ll just try out different stuff and hopefully work out what’s best for me.

That’s the way it works!