My scales are janky but this tune seems alright?

So I’m not sure what’s happening, although I have a couple of guesses. Hoping for some insight.

This is a link to the playlist of clips if it’s easier for referencing what I’m talking about, but I’ll link the individual ones as I’m talking about them.

1A and 1B are the same clip just different angles. 1B was shot with my No-Pro in 120fps so should be able to be slowed down for referencing.

And the same loop, only faster. Starting to show the cracks!

And then finally what I’m having trouble with, scales at speed. Any faster than this and they turn into… not fit for human consumption noise.

This last clip somehow I lost footage for the wide shot, but it’s just a descending C major scale played from the open position starting on the C note A string. It’s about as fast as I can do it consistently sounding alright. Sometimes I can really blast through it but usually not so this is a good approximation of what’s working.

Anyway, please fire away. I can shoot more video, no worries there so if there’s something I need to show you for further insight, let me know. Appreciate any feedback as it rolls in.


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Great playing! Thanks for posting. You’ve got some ferocious wrist speed happening. I can tell you what I see, but have you watched any of the Primer, and what picking motion or motions are you trying to make?

In general I think what you’re doing looks like a great start. A lot of people get hung up on doing the core motions, where they can’t go fast without bouncyness or tension. You’re way past that.

The lines you’re trying to play all require double escape or mixed escape motion. Most people even advanced players can’t just play an open string scale with wrist motion like you’re trying to do. It’s doable, but the motions are deceptively complicated. Hard to understand, easy to do. So you’ve taken a nice step here getting the single string speed thing happening, and then getting some of the scale stuff happening at an intuitive level.

To make this more conscious, have you tried playing any roll patterns? That’s another great way to work on these “wrist only” type approaches like you’re going for. Here’s our lesson on that:

This covers the two main approaches for doing this, the Andy style and the Molly Tuttle / David Grier style. You’re already using the Andy style. This video will explain how that works, as does the Primer “wrist motion” sections - especially the “wrist mechanics” videos.

In addition, most players that do the kinds of acoustic lines you’re doing here use a little more pick exposed in their grip. This way their fingers aren’t so close to the strings that they accidentally damp them and cut off the sound. That may be happening here. And you want a bigger motion so the pick strikes and moves past, again, not cutting off the sound when the pick strikes or rests on the string. That also may be happening here. That big, open sound with clear tone and attack is what those players go for.

The “open string scale” clip comes closet to this at points, but I think knowing more specifically what motion you’re trying to do, a la the crosspicking lesson if you haven’t seen it yet, and then doing the bigger pick / bigger motion thing can help get closer.

Otherwise I think you’re actually doing the core motions correctly, and this is a great start. A little more conscious feel of the motions you’re making, and some more variety like the roll patterns, could unlock some more clarity.

Nice work!


Thank you so much!

I will go through more in depth and answer your questions in a bit, kids bath time etc :o That feedback makes me so happy though so that’s great

great fast picking and nice playing!

Warning: Off Topic: I would like to ask if the tune you play in the clips is “Lord of the Dance”? I know the melody from a Dubliners song or at least a Dubliners intepretation. Or is it a Bluegrass tune, too? I ask because Bluegrass is so often referred to here, Irish Folk rarely. But if you play banjo tune or a mandoline tune for me I could probably not often tell if it is Bluegrass or Irish. And is not Irish music part of Oldtime which is part of Bluegrass traditions? I like entanglements :slight_smile:

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Hahaha it absolutely is Lord of the Dance!

Or rather, it’s my Dad’s far more upbeat and jig-like version of an otherwise fairly slow tune. I’ve even heard it sung at a funeral. It’s actually one of the first songs I ever learned to play with him.


Gonna try and answer some of your questions now, apologies in advance for my lengthy replies :wink:

Basically what I’d hoped to get was EXACTLY the response you supplied. I figured I was on the right track for SOMETHING, because it seemed I could pick reasonably quick for certain things, but the question I had was “is it useful and how can I employ it in music?” which you’ve gone some way to answering. I was ALSO hoping against hope that the scales I’m trying to play at speed (just for speed’s sake and so I can turn them into unconscious thought basically and get my hands synched up) are actually quite a complicated thing to achieve. Turns out that’s also true, so good job me for picking an arbitrarily simple seeming exercise and going the dumbest/brute force route and ending up with something to show for it in the end, so that’s good too, in a way.

Although you’ve already galaxy brained me into starting to realize the importance of arranging your licks to the style of picking you employ or tailor your picking style to the lick you’re trying to play and that’s 100% based off the explanations and work you’ve put into this whole Cracking the Code enterprise so, holy bejeezus, hats off to you. It’s like the entire world clicked into focus. Even just being aware of what the lick is requiring of me as a guitarist ex: “this ends on a downstroke/upstroke and needs a string skip now” and being aware of what that means vis a vis picking motion… headexplosion.gif

The interesting part in all of this, is those clips of me playing Lord of the Dance at speed, that’s like the 2nd or 3rd time I’ve played them that fast, and it only happened that afternoon. Because I said to myself “what if I just push for speed and stop bouncing my hand?” and then whoops TURNS OUT I CAN HIT 160bpm quarter notes on and off, which is an easy 40bpm jump from what my normal max is. The hand synch also was SO much easier, I don’t know if it’s because I was more consistent in my cadence or what, but the only notes I was missing was because I’d goof my picking or miss a string, not because my hands weren’t synched, which I find WILD because I’ve literally never played that fast before. Then, I go back to the scales and I was probably touching 130bpm quarters for the first time ever, hand synch being MUCH less of an issue, likely because I was concentrating on keeping the same picking motion as during the fast musical playing from the song practice. Strange days.

Anyway, what have I watched? The full web series (obv amazing btw) from the Primer, the intro chapters, the wrist/forearm/elbow motion clips and the first few clips from the downward/upward and two-way pick slanting groupings. I also watched all of the and I’m now working my way through, just saw the Supanated Deviation Crosspick term coined and what changed when I unconsciously stopped string hopping and shifted (by accidentally forcing speed) to the “902” type of motion and roping in a second set of muscles on opposing pick strokes to allow for WAY more relaxed and consistent picking movements. (internal screaming intensifies)

I would definitely like some hints for what kind of rolls I should try practicing to lock in this nascent picking pattern, or is that just further along in this particular clip? I plan to continue through the catalog as time permits, but pointers and specificity is always appreciated.

EDIT - apparently there are plenty I just needed to keep watching that crosspicking link

Well here’s my first few attempts at that 3 string roll. It’s driving me nuts, muscle/brain keeps trying to force two downstrokes through the middle string and it just completely cacks up the works. Ah well.

I’m a little concerned that due to the slower speed I’m not getting the proper technique and it’s more string-hoppy than it should be?

Pay no attention to the furiously clenching jaw… I swear I’m relaxed :flushed:

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Hey @JB_Winnipeg, sorry for missing this earlier!

You are correct that this speed is not ideal to practice these things: you are getting all the notes nice and clean but the low speed might allow you to play the rolls with inefficient motions. So we can’t rule out that some hopping is happening.

Because the distinction between “true” DBX and hopping is so subtle, the only test we have at the moment is… to add more speed! As a first step, the idea is to go for fast & smooth movements while allowing some slop to happen. Go to a tempo where stringhopping is totally impossible for you. The hope is that you will occasionally get some “correct” repetitions in there, and that will be a first win!

Give that a shot and let us know how it goes :slight_smile:

Hey @tommo, it’s all good and it actually works out for the best since I’ve needed a few weeks to learn the motion well enough that I can play it at any degree of speed. Also I’ve moved “studios” to the basement and don’t have the nice natural light from last time so I’ll need to figure out a filming solution, at least until my magnet arrives!

I’ve been meaning to take some more video anyway and update either a new thread or this one, so that also answers my unasked question of “where should I post more footage” for the time being.

Cool of course there is no rush :slight_smile:

I’d suggest if you are working on the same pattern (rolls and similar) you can post an update here, if it’s something else e.g. “the Gilbert lick” you can make a new thread with descriptive title e.g. “JB_Winnipeg trying the Paul Gilbert lick”. This will make it more likely to get comments from the other forummers as well as the CTC team :slight_smile:

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So as promised @tommo I’ve grabbed some more footage. This is me trying my hand at Wheel Hoss, or a simplified version at any rate. Wondering if it’s fast enough to diagnose string hopping or actual crosspicking. Definitely have to get across a few strings to make it through, not the prettiest of my attempts but it’s as good an indication as any of where I’m at.


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Hey @JB_Winnipeg, I think this is going in the right direction!

Do you feel that the pick is a bit “sticky” on the strings? It looks like you may be using a very “flat” attack (no edge picking).

Maybe you can try just a tiny extra edge picking, and see how that feels? In my experience it also reduces the sonic effect of the occasional brushing on the wrong string (i.e. swiping).

The speed here is such that you could probably still do it with hopping, but that would probably be exhausting. So if you can keep this type of movement going for a while (e.g. with a 3 string roll) it would be a good indicator that you are on the right track.

I would still recommend the occasional sloppy repetition at even higher speed, just to check that the movement can indeed be sped up. A bit more edge picking may help with that as you’ll feel less “string grab” from the pick. Or it may feel bad - you tell me :smiley:

Combining the speed with the proper “aim” is of course not the easiest task, and I’m still working on it myself. But I can tell you that things can sound pretty good already with a few swipes here and there - provided timing/hand sync is good and the actual notes you want to play are loud and assertive enough.