Need some direction: Pursue 902 Movement?

I have made so much progress over the years through Troy’s videos, but I feel like I have hit a wall in one area: 3 Note Per String runs.

For lack of a more modern term, I currently use the “2 way pick slanting” approach to 3NPS, where I rotate to use UWPS and DWPS for every other string change.

However, I feel that while I continue to progress in other areas, I have not gotten any faster for a very long time with 3NPS.

I recently watched some of the more updated videos, and I love the whole concept of 902 picking. Not having to worry about rotating the wrist/pick at the end of every string change (in favor of the more U shaped double escape of 902) seems like it could be just what I need to reach the next level.

However, I feel discouraged because I have seen a LOT of people say they just cannot get 902 (or any DBX motion) to click for them.

Since I have hit a wall with my current technique on 3NPS runs, would it be recommended to put a lot of time into learning 902 motion? Any other ideas welcome as well

What’s your motion mechanic?

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I’d say my default is closest to Di Meola Wrist Motion. I currently use 2WPS, but my default is Downward (lightly supinated forearn), so I just rotate the forearm for upward pickslanting when needed.

However, I think this constant change between DWPS and UWPS is what is preventing me from progressing in 3NPS runs

It sounds like you would be able to benefit from working on a wrist based double escape.

Try working out the movement by doing some 3 string banjo rolls for a while. With what you’ve described, it’s possible you’re close already.


Out of curiosity, have you tried just a ‘helper motion’ approach yet? It might be a good compromise between where you are and going down the 9 0 2 rabbit hole. The idea is rather than changing slants like you mentioned, you keep your primary motion, but isolate the string changes that require an escape in the other direction. A good example is here around 5:30

Andy has this default DSX motion and very occasionally switches to a USX motion for just a note here and there.

One thing I’m ignorant on, is if many players at the really fast speeds are actually maintaining 9 0 2, or if their motions are more diagonal and they do more of this ‘mixed escape’ approach as needed. I’m unclear after watching the above video if the motion Paul Gilbert is making on his 3nps phrases uses all curved strokes (DBX) or if he too is primarily DSX and just occasionally does USX on a note here and there as needed.

Is there anyone who plays at/above 16ths @ 185ish and maintains 9 0 2??? I’d love to know. I should know by now, but I’m on the dense side.

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There might be, but I think the closest we see is Andy Wood, but he doesn’t use dbx for his fast shred stuff, unless it’s 1nps of course.

Although I’m confused, isn’t the 2 o’clock motion used to describe the Andy/ Al dsx motion? Which is a diagonal motion… and not the same motion Andy used for his bluegrass playing… The clock tends to confuse me

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That part I do know (at least I think). Andy/Al DSX is 8 0 2 which is diagonal. It becomes a DBX motion when you replace the 8 oclock with 9 oclock


“One thing I’m ignorant on, is if many players at the really fast speeds are actually maintaining 9 0 2, or if their motions are more diagonal and they do more of this ‘mixed escape’ approach as needed.”

If you have a run that only requires escapes in one direction, you might optimize by leaning into it and getting lax with the unneeded escape. That’s why I recommend doing 1nps on 3 string groupings to really engrain the wrist motion.

“I’m unclear after watching the above video if the motion Paul Gilbert is making on his 3nps phrases uses all curved strokes (DBX) or if he too is primarily DSX and just occasionally does USX on a note here and there as needed.”

Paul is a hard nut to crack. Sometimes he’s swiping, sometimes he has a real clean dbx. At one clinic he talked about certain lines not working for him at all on some days. I think he has a real shallow curve in his dbx and sometimes he can’t avoid the swipe at high speed.


Ah ok that makes sense. Cheers!

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Makes sense. I should have specified and asked in the context of runs that require more than one escape, like the 3nps runs in the OP. Do we see clear use cases of players doing pretty fast (i.e. 16ths @ 185-ish or higher) 3nps runs and they keep to 902? I’m specifically thinking of non-swiped examples, not that I have any issues with swiping. Just more from an academic discussion standpoint.

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Steve Morse? Andy Wood?

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Yeah good call on Morse. Andy Wood I am not sure about. There was another thread on here recently showing where at his upper limits that he opts for DSX and occasional USX just where he needs it. He wasn’t maintaining all curved strokes (9 0 2) in this range. That could have been an isolated case though. He has so much variety in his playing it is possible there is some situation where he does it.

I guess what I am getting at with all this is if 9 0 2 is the best bet for the problem presented in the OP. The reason most people play the way they do is because it came naturally to them. 9 0 2 seems like a hard motion for a lot of people to learn. The mixed escape approach might be easier if the goal is just scalar playing. If 1nps is a requirement too, then it is a no Brainerd. That was what I was after and what made me start working on DBX.

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Gotcha, good idea with the banjo rolls. I was actually doing some of those recently when watching one of Andy’s seminars, and I was surprised I was able to get a feel for it, as my 1NPS stuff over 4+ strings is terrible.


Yes for sure, I would say the “helper motion” is my default as I play with a downward pick slant by default (so USX), and I will throw in an escape when needed in the other direction.

The main problem though is that I am specifically having issues with 3NPS runs, so the opposite escape is needed every other string change anyway. So this constant need for an escape (and then the return to my default motion) is what is slowing me down.

This is why the 902 stuff is so enticing - I could keep my normal motion (slightly supinated forearm, pick is slightly downward) as I move across every string change, and use the Mike Stern escape for downstroke string changes instead of dong a slant in the total opposite direction.

I see. Sorry I misunderstood your post. I thought you were doing a full on switch of the slant - DSX for 3 notes then USX for 3 notes etc. That is more like the all but deprecated ‘Two Way Pickslanting’. I thought was what you were doing, which is different from the helper motion I was suggesting. At least, different than my understanding of a helper motion, which is a very brief “one note only” type of departure of the primary motion.

I’d say go for it re: 902, nothing to lose. You’ve gotten some good advice from @saintelsewhere already. I’d add to it to not get hung up on anything that doesn’t feel easy. When I started working on DBX I concentrated on just trying to find “the movement”. If something couldn’t go fast, I didn’t waste time on it. Variety is good, both in terms of technique (setup, grip, pick exposure, approach angle etc) and especially the phrases you play too. For example, I found early on that the banjo roll with string skips was hard for me. Rather than bang my head against a brick wall I found that patterns using 1nps but stayed on adjacent strings were much easier for me in the beginning.

Best of luck!

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Ah gotcha, I see what you thought I meant - like a full escape for every single pickstroke (opposed to the last stroke before a string change only).

I’ve interestingly found the 3 note banjo rolls to be pretty smooth, but anything more than 3 notes and I implode terribly. I am almost certain this is a string tracking issue, as I am not sure whether to pivot the wrist to reach the high and low strings, or track the whole hand across the strings. Both ways seem to be a hangup for 1NPS stuff. (Note that I usually pivot and don’t have an issue with this in any other scenario - just 1NPS)

By the way - to you or anyone else reading this - is Troy’s Magnet available for purchase yet? On the Kickstarter, I can’t tell if it is still in production or if units are being shipped out. Just wondering as I absolutely need to get some videos up here for you all as that will be the best way I can show my current mechanics.

That’s pretty normal. I still have an issue with the low string on some guitars. Make sure you’re correctly centered in the middle of your range of motion. It’s likely you can reach a four or five string span if you are correctly centered.

You can work on different three string groupings. It’s probably best to get a feel for the motion first, then add the tracking component later.

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Great thanks, good idea about being centered in the middle. After messing around with this, 4 strings feels a bit more comfortable now as well.

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