Need help with double-escapes

Like I imagine happens to a lot of newcomers to CTC, I’m a bit drowning in the details at this point. So much great info, but… I don’t know how typical I am as a member, but musically I’m really not aiming for top speeds. Generically you could say I aspire to the kind of playing you hear in classic rock – there are definitely moments of technically challenging guitar playing there, but more like the guy who floors it to pass other traffic on the highway than the helmeted guy on a racing oval. I once heard someone say that shred starts around 16ths at 160, but that 16ths at 120 is sufficient for most styles outside of metal. Put me in the latter category.

In terms of the vernacular around here, that seems to mean that I need to focus on double-escape pickstrokes.

At first I thought that CTC was teaching me to be the ‘karate kid’ (probably gotta be 50 or older to get that ‘80s reference). In other words, learn a bunch of things in isolation, as ‘techniques,’ and then suddenly they’ll appear in your playing. (“Wax on! Wax off!”) But that was unrealistic. I recognize now the need for the right material to make this stuff real, no matter how precisely and anatomically you approach it.

With double-escape in mind, could anyone suggest good material to work with - very specifically (exercises from books that you like, solo licks, songs, super-specific advice about scales/arps)?

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I’m 37 and got the reference :slight_smile:

That’s only true if you are interested in playing things that require a double escaped motion. You can really get by on quite a lot choosing a single escaped motion. Eric Johnson did just fine :slight_smile: I mention him because you said you’re interested in being able to do things in the classic rock genre. Eric Johnson’s largely pentatonic leads definitely transfer to that realm, and there’s a lot you can do there with just having an upstroke escaped (achieved via downward pickslant) motion.

Not saying double escape isn’t a good choice. To me, a single escape is easier though and if you want to gain maximum results with minimal effort it may be a solid choice. Otherwise…
Not sure if you’ve checked these out yet, but browse the Steve Morse interview

Or this David Grier clip:

Are there specific sections of existing songs where you go “man I wish I could play that”? A couple of those suggestions may shed light on what you really need for getting from where you are to where you will be. Notice I said wll, because I’m confident if you put the good advice on this site and forum to practice, you’ll achieve your goals :slight_smile:

Thanks for the encouragement:)

As for what certain styles require, picking-wise… If you’re a high-caliber player who improvises fluidly, it makes sense to me that you’d want to focus on, say, UWPS. But as a developing player who’s not so much improvising as playing other people’s stuff, it seems to me you need to be more of a generalist.

Much of the footage I’ve seen here of UPWS and DWPS is quite fast playing. The double-escape stuff, by contrast, is not. To be sure, the acoustic crosspickers are zippy - but it’s not MAB blowing your hair back either.

So I’m inferring from all that that DBX is a better place to be if you’re just aiming for solid, technically-sound single-note playing (viz. no hopping allowed) but without pushing the speed barrier.

Does my reasoning make sense?

Yeah I get where you’re coming from. Double escape will certainly have you covered. It’s an area I’ve not focused on at all so I can’t comment on how hard it is to learn. Pretty sure I saw some vids of @PickingApprentice where he was killing it, so maybe he can tell us how long it took him to get to his current levels.

Food for thought though: John McLaughlin is a ridiculous improviser. He’s pretty much all DSX. Joe Pass and Tal Farlow were also ridiculous improvisers. They were both primarily USX. The general perception is that great improvisers are pulling things out of thin air on the fly. The reality is, they all have a vocabulary that they’re very comfortable and they’ve already subconsciously negotiated the required mechanics for what they’re playing. This is a really interesting article giving some weight to that theory:

So, definitely not trying to say “Don’t waste your time learning double escape”. Far from it. It’s an awesome technique that plenty of amazing players use. I just want to make sure you don’t think a single escaped motion is off the table if you want to improvise :slight_smile: You’ve got options!

More like being killed by it! :tired_face:

My double escapes are quite limited and there will definitely be others here that have made much greater gains in a musical way. If I recall, the post in question showed that there were quite a few air shots in what I was playing (largely to do with not using my usual pick, but it definitely still occurs more than I’d like it to when I play). I really struggle with rolls and other repeating phrases. Any facility I have with double escapes was born from working on using a mixture of primary USX and using DSX to navigate to another string when needed. I doubt that my USX is straight trajectory - I think the downstroke flattens out but is still technically trapped. If I employ a DSX after hitting the string on a downstroke then I achieve a double escape. I can’t wait to receive a magnet to see what I’m actually doing.

I haven’t worked a massive amount on double escapes - I guess I just work on mixing the single escapes. That being said, I’m trying to write a tune/etude that requires rolls and combinations of USX and DSX to make the USX, DSX and DBX feel the same and bake them in.

I think @joebegly is right in that, don’t throw anything out the window, especially if it works. Experiment, experiment, experiment!

Nope just found the evidence. This is really really good!

Definitely good enough to help somebody else who’s interested in going down the path (i.e. @Yaakov). Do you happen to recall, prior to devoting any time at all, how long it took you get to the level you were at in the post I just linked? Might give him a good idea of if it’s worth the time doing some experiments :slight_smile:

Well, the first time I noticed that I could do a dbx motion albeit a slowish one was back April '18 where I posted this:

But it was more to check what I was seeing (which can be deceptive) and I have been more focused on the mixed escapes. I don’t think that this is an indication of how long it might take. If a DBX motion is easy for someone, they could cultivate it in a few months. But brute forcing it probably won’t yield much fruit.

All I can really advise is try it a few times a week here and there and see what happens - don’t stress about it. Experiment with inserting a small amount of DBX in the middle of a single escapes if you find the rolls difficult, instead of trying to micro-manage.

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16ths at 170 sounds great to me… It’s a struggle trying to decide what to do with my whole practice routine while I’m hammering away at all the particulars of picking. Every song, scale, exercise you do - with the old, ineffective mechanics - sort of un-does whatever gains you’re making. So maybe I should just go into a cave with my CTC notes and a guitar and note come out until DBX is happening!..?

In terms of my decision to focus on DBX, something big is settling in with me… Troy wrote the following in the Tonight Show piece with McClaughlin: “From our interviews with many [elite players], we know that amazing improvisers don’t consciously sense any limitation on their musical expression imposed by their picking mechanics. The same way that native speakers of a language don’t feel constrained by the rules of grammar… So no, you don’t need all the picking techniques in the world, or even most of them, to build a full vocabulary. At minimum, you really just need one motion.”

That begs an important question: what if you’re not learning guitar through improvisation, like most (perhaps all) of these players largely did?

I’m coming at guitar much like the violinists come at their instrument - here’s the piece or exercise, here are the notes and how to play them. Classical music doesn’t leave a lot of room for choices like UWPS/DWPS, etc. (One of the concertmaster’s jobs, as I understand it, is to establish bowing patterns for everyone else!)

So if you don’t develop technique and then create music for it (like McClaughlin et al) but rather start with the notes and work on how to play them… you’re in a fix, unless you happen to have chosen music that fits whatever technique chops you’ve already got.

Maybe what I really need to do, if I want DBX to be my default, is to limit myself to music by players who I know play that way.

This is largely how I learned to play guitar as a teenager. At 14-16 all I really wanted was to be able to play note-perfect covers of instrumental rock (“shred”) pieces. I developed a repertoire of pieces.

I developed a method of picking which enabled me to play those pieces. It was based upon a double-escape movement. It’s has a primary neutral slant and slanting or single escape movements can be introduced as required.

I wrote about it here:

And I made a video overview here:

Here’s a few clips of the movement in action:

This method allows me my greatest facility for strict alternate picking, in terms of freedom for strings changes.

It’s not my fastest method of picking. That said, I can play scalar passages at 16th notes at 180-200bpm fairly comfortably with this method, and I really don’t think I could devise any passage that I couldn’t play with this method at 120bpm given a little practice time.

Maybe this is movement would be something which would work for your goals?

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Tom, do you teach? You should. Soothing and clear - you’ve got good instructor chops;)

I totally relate to the volume knob thing, btw. Only I haven’t outgrown that feeling. Some day I’ll mod my Strat (the smaller scale Fenders w/relocated volume are probably not the answer for me).

Thanks for those vids. Further encouraged.

Elsewhere I found that someone had taken the CTC gospel over to UG; posted some good exercises. So if what I wrote in the beginning of this thread about needing material to cut your teeth did in fact resonate with you, you might like to check it out:

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Thank you.

I teach mathematics at university level, but I’m not a guitar teacher. I give what advice I can on forums, I make a few YouTube videos and I’m writing a book on electric guitar technique in my spare time.

Great, I’m glad to help. Don’t hesitate to ask.

I checked this out, mainly to see if there were comments. Humans never cease to amaze me. There are opinions, and there are facts. I just can’t comprehend how anyone, as long as they are somewhat proficient in alternate picking, could have it laid out for them like it was in that article and argue that it’s either

  • Not true
  • an over-complication
  • not a huge find because Troy just ‘explained’ what the greats are doing (though the greats themselves couldn’t articulate it…hmmm…)

Sorry for the tangent and thanks for posting the UG thing :slight_smile: I’ve seen posts from other forums where there’s always somebody that seems unimpressed by CtC. I just don’t how anyone can view it that way. Oh well, to each their own, and their loss.

Troy says somewhere that “you don’t need all the picking techniques in the world, or even most of them, to build a full vocabulary. At minimum, you really just need one motion.” True enough. But I’ve been thinking about what this means not only for accomplished players, but for those learning to play - namely, about improvisation vs. structured songs.

A lot of amazing players that Troy has studied may have just that one motion - but I think that worked for them because they also weren’t relying heavily on covers (the way a lot of folks get into popular music) to learn the trade. To be sure, they grabbed licks and other stuff they liked in published/recorded music during their developmental stages. But if playing other people’s stuff is the bulk of your practice, you hit a wall when, for example, the guy is a big UWPS player and you just can’t make the song go. Or the unconscious DBX motion you’ve adopted won’t cut it in fast passages.

The point is: you’re playing other guys’ stuff without their technique. And CTC is unknown to you. Your Squier Strat is in danger of becoming a clothes hanger.

More than once I’ve encountered a guitar teacher who really pushes improv for the developing player. It always struck me as odd. My first instruments were sax and upright bass, both in the context of the school band/orchestra. I’m a Mel Bay baby; I just didn’t get where they were coming from with the whole improv thing. Anyway I don’t even own a beret, and I hate clove cigarettes;)

So I’m saying… Every pro managed to figure out the pickslanting thing, almost always on their own, and that was huge for their development. But… I’m wondering if they ALSO succeeded due to being early improvisers, thereby avoiding the technique-trap of a cover-heavy approach to learning guitar…??