My upstroke is suffering

I’m holding the pick correctly. I’m using not just my wrist back and forth but I’m also using forearm rotation. And I’m still not smooth going through the string on both the downstroke and upstroke. I cannot figure out why the upstroke sounds rough!

Even when I play just an open string kind of like tremolo picking it does not sound right. It is unsmooth. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.

Any ideas?

Can you take a picture? There are lots of different ways to hold a pick, and depending on your technique, you might be holding it “correctly” but in a way incompatible with your playing technique.

Can you post an up-close video of you alternate picking with the roughness you’re speaking of, ideally with different speeds and angles? My first inclination is that you’re holding the pick pointed neutral or “back” too much, making the upstrokes snag more.


Here is a video. I only had my neighbor take one. I hold the pick at an angle to the string exactly as suggested.

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I think we need a closer video to get an idea of what the pick is doing but… I would spend a bit of time tremolo picking and experimenting with different grips, angles and wrist and elbow motions to see if you can find one that feels ‘good’. You should know when you find it because it will just work and feel comfortable.

I’ve been playing for 30 odd years and I’ve recently been analysing my picking motions and experimenting with different things to see if I can find some improvements. For me anything that isn’t wrist outside picking reverts my picking abilities to that of a baby. It’s really bad, I can sweep both ways and swipe it seems, but if I try to use my elbow or forearm rotation or change the grip or just try alternate inside picking I’m completely useless.
This is how it’s always been and I remember all those years ago trying similar things, although I didn’t understand the motions and joints in use, but when I found the thing that worked it just clicked.
Some things take time to develop like escape motions and sweeping but finding the motion that you can tremolo pick with is the first step and the biggest one really.

A few thoughts:

Like @SlyVai said, don’t even worry about the fretting hand when it comes to this. Just hit a single note, open string or fretted doesn’t matter, and work on your picking hand (one thing I would vary is which string, as that will likely affect your technique to some degree).

To be honest, it looks like your fretting hand has some issues as well, mainly you seem to be shifting your fingers too much between notes (instead of keeping your fingers more or less “floating” above the fret you just played). It would help if you work on these two things separately for now.

Here’s a link to some pictures of what I mean by “pick point”:


Here are two more videos. One of me holding the pick and the other of me holding the pick against a string.

If you are talking about finger recoil, in other words fingers kinda flying upwards I think that is an involuntary reflex action. I don’t think anything can be done about that.


I’m going to disagree with the crowd here and say forget your picking hand for now, or rather trying to play fast with it, and work on your fretting hand and synchronization. It needs work, and is more important than just the speed of your picking hand in the grand scheme of things.

Why? Well you can be an awesome player with a great fretting hand and a so so picking hand, there’s lots of cool things you can do with just the fretting hand alone, but the opposite is never true - a good picking hand and a bad fretting hand always sounds bad.

tension, coordination, and hand position is likely causing the excess reflex. I would honestly try spending some of your practice time working on left hand only legato and hand sync. I wouldn’t even worry about speed right now.


What do I do with my fretting hand? I’m never gonna get this. I just can’t make the pick glide smoothly across the string on both the downstroke and the upstroke.

It could be that you’re using the “wrong” grip for your motion. Try everything! Different grips, different picks and so on.

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Since the pick snags the string on upstrokes I would say it is not the “correct” grip.

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You can get this. So one exercise you could try is to legato (hammer on and pull off ) the lick. Start slow and get that happening. Also I would suggest don’t loop the lick at first. Just play the lick once (e.g. below) and stop. Until you get it. Then introduce the picking.

You can do this!



Have you tried simply temolo picking as fast as you can on one string? Without the fretting hand, pick a string, say g for example as it’s right in the middle. Can you play at about 150bpm 16th notes?
The tempo you are playing at in the video isn’t fast enough to tell if it’s a motion that can work fast.

Have you gone through the picking primer?

The picking primer? I’ve read some articles Troy has put out in the pickslanting primer.

Yes. I had all sorts of problems until I went through it from start to finish.
Starting with speed is very important to know whether the motion is correct or not. Approximately 150bpm is fast enough that you won’t be string hopping etc.
I think to have a better understanding of what you need to do, you should take the time to go through it all.

I’ve tried every type of pick grip I can think of. There isn’t like an infinite number of ways to hold the pick. There is only so many ways after that you run out of ways to grip the pick.

Record yourself tremolo picking. At least 150bpm 16th notes. No left hand. Just one string. Don’t think about how you are making the motion. Wrist/forearm/elbow etc. Just do it and record it.

I don’t think the grip is the problem.

He’s done all that. He has numerous posts regarding this part of it. He’s using the the picking hand technique most people agreed was the most promising after viewing his many videos.

My personal assessment and opinion is that he’s not developed enough in the rudiments yet to even worry about all of this.

My apologies. I didn’t see previous threads. Just this one.

Troy has so many videos out that it’s hard to digest all that information. I feel anxiety.