My technique is awful

Don’t laugh.

I have played since 1984.
I probably hit my speed limit and technique after 2 years.

I struggle with crossing strings.
filming it didn’t help much!

this is my natural hand position.

obvious upward slant

My index finger straightens out when I play “fast”

should I give up ?

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Hi! Thanks for signing up, and thanks for posting. The good news is there’s nothing wrong with your ability, and no you should not hang it up — you’re just using the wrong motion. You are making a double escape motion, i.e. which escapes on both downstrokes and upstrokes. Whether or not this is technically stringhopping or some variation of it is kind of in the weeds. The point is it’s not smooth and fast so we’re going to ditch it.

The easiest fast and smooth motions to grasp are the single escape motions because they’re simple. And the best place to try out some new motions is the Pickslanting Primer. Just keep in mind that if you’re trying a new motion, and can’t go much faster than this, then that means you’re not doing it right. It’s not a read on your “speed”, so don’t worry about that. Speed is the test. Keep trying things until you find one that goes fast — or, at least, comfortably faster than this with minimal effort.

Good luck and report back after some attempts!


wow, a reply from The Master ! Thanks Troy

I will delve into the primer.

I’ve read some forum posts about escape motion, it’s making sense.

I was genuinely convinced that I could not change.

Watching the original CTC on Youtube spoke to me, as I started playing in 1984 and just pointed at my speaker and laughed at “Marching Out” or whatever album it was. No tab, no slow down software etc etc.

Do we have any success stories for old guys like me who went from “old learned habits” to Yngwietastic shred after years of muscle memory?

Anyway, I’ll be back…

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It looks to me like you always one to keep the pick away from the strings so you feel like you can move freely (which results in that kind of string hopping motion), but for me the trick that has made me feel some progress is to intentionally trap the pick between two strings and getting used to that feeling. I suggest checking Troy’s videos when he mentions the “pick rest” movement.


I’ve noticed with my extended trigger grip/angle pad, I sometimes scrape my finger tip, or nail of the index finger on the string.

I’m trying holding the pick differently and also practising resting the downstroke to bury the pick whilst playing just one note !

a few days in

watched lots of the primer

trying a DWPS burying it on the down, resting on the string below.

also trying different grips.
holding near tip my finger nail can rub string. bending index more removes risk but feels odd and unnatural!
I can get smooth speed sometimes.

does this look any different/better ?

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Way better! This is miles ahead of your original post. Nice work.

I assume you’re working through the wrist motion part of the Primer? What you’re doing here is actually a mix of wrist and forearm, and that’s why you see your arm wiggling around there. You can probably feel that too. At this stage there’s nothing wrong with this as long as it is fast and smooth.

However since you’re doing some forearm anyway, you may as well take a look at the “Forearm Motion” section and give some of those a shot:

These techniques are all downward pickslanting, so they only work for certain kinds of phrases. However, again, at this early stage what is most important is getting anything working that’s really smooth. You can always add more motions latern on.

Another think=g you can try here is using the more extended grips, like “angle pad”. That’s the grip where the index finger is even straighter than you have it here. Just as with motions, it’s more about trying everything. You may find that you get more than one thing working, which is great, and gives you options.

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Feel like my gains have been lost/ got worse in the last couple of days.

I am having trouble fast picking AT ALL on one string. Noticed that -

1 my hand was tilting towards the floor at wrist (this may be how i could fast pick though)

2 I’m better if I don’t go for angle pad grip as everything moves (done this grip forever) and the pick is more solid with a more bent index.

I’ll keep experimenting !

It’s natural to have this experience. Skills come and go as you practice. One day you’re on top of the world and the next it feels like you haven’t even been practicing at all. The good thing is that as long as you keep going, those episodes of inconsistency will begin to disappear, leaving only the concrete level of mastery you’ve been working to develop. Then you’ll “be there” and no longer have to really practice to keep your skill level, aisde from a little maintenance here and there.


So I just wanted to post and tell you that I was/am in a similar situation - have been playing for like 20ish years and am mostly self-taught…was able to play certain things perfectly and other, comically simple things not at all.

For me at least it was, initially, very counter-intuitive and hard to practice doing like proper 1234 alternate picking and like teaching my hands to sort of start over, but there was a moment within just a few days of alternate picking practice where it just “clicked” and I got it.

If you have the same issues I had (which are going away at a remarkable rate) - difficulty jumping from string to string, difficulty articulating each note in >8th note phrasing, flubbed fret placement, than the alternate picking practice is exactly what you should focus on at first.

There’s lot of good advice in the thread already, but what I found most surprising in my own case is that it wasn’t actually my right hand that was the bottle-neck…it was the left hand’s syncopation with what the right hand was doing.

Hopefully this is somewhat helpful and things improve for you…personally I’m mind-blown at how much better I’ve become in like a few weeks time. All of the root skills were kind of there in my case, they just needed the proper technique to draw them out.


trying different hand positions, and two grips.

sometimes picking in one direction is harder !

oddly, resting on the palm under the thumb is “faster” with an UPWARD slant.

actually getting somewhere tonight. small increments

I bought my first electric in 1984… Couple of thoughts:

Pay attention to discomfort? Introduction of radical changes can lead very quickly to injury.

You might want to pick a musical passage or specific pattern to benchmark progress with. As much as you can keep your head in a musical space, the speed serves. Otherwise I find a certain unnaturalness of working in the abstract that may lead to feelings of “icannotshredyet.” Might progress faster if you put a more positive frame around your efforts. :slight_smile:

Congrats on the speedy progress!

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I agree. When I practice patterns mechanically, they are noticeably more awkward, clunky, and slow than when I play the same patterns in a musical context, which tends to feel far more effortless. It feels much different mentally as well, like I’m using a different part of my brain or something. Actually, now that I think about it, it feels like the difference between driving to learn to drive (focusing on the mechanical, constantly readjusting seat/mirrors/posture, thinking about my motions, etc.) and driving to get somewhere (focusing on the goal and outcome, not the process). To change lanes, I don’t think about engaging my brachioradialis to 60% then following up with a bicep flex combined with an abductor pollicis brevis squeeze, I just think “I want to be over there” and that’s where I end up.

When I practice mechanically, I also tend to think of the guitar as a sport, and develop athletic goals rather than musical ones.

With few exceptions, I don’t really practice technique separately from music anymore. Even new patterns and techniques, whenever possible I just go straight to the part where it turns into music. Repeating patterns over backing tracks feels much easier and more satisfying than playing exactly the same thing to a metronome.

When I made the conscious decision to avoid mechanical practice in favor of musical practice, the rate at which I made technical improvements jumped appreciably and instantaneously. I can’t swear it works the same for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a try in my opinion. I was pretty shocked at the difference, to be honest.


This is really well-put. It’s such a small, seemingly obvious piece of advice but when I internalized it and understood it, it made all the difference for my technical development.


interesting thoughts everyone.
still trying to ingrain the DWPS …