Ok lets try again

I’ve been playing for ever, 40 years… For what ever reason my picking sucks. The pic always seems to get stuck in between strings. How do we determine what the best strategy is to change to a different style of picking? I’m currently studying Jazz but grew up on Southern Rock and Blues.




Yo! Any chance you have some video clips? It would help provide feedback.

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The simplest answer is, can you cross strings playing a pentatonic scale, does the pick get stuck there, or can you play that fairly quickly? Can you play a chromatic four note scale and cross strings (78910, 78910, 78910)? If you get stuck doing these two things, then chances are, you are a downstroke escape player. If you CAN play these, you are an upstroke escape player.

If you are an upstroke escape player (Yngwie, Eric Johnson, Gypsy Jazz guys), then know that when you are playing scales, you need to focus on changing strings after an upstroke.

If you are a downstroke escape then 7 8 10, cross strings 7 8 should feel smooth. If this is the case, know that you should change strings after playing an odd number first, but then every change after happens on an even. This is because the pickstrokes are: D U D (change) U D, (change) U D. It took me ages to figure that out, but it does smooth things out.

Hi Shredhead,

I’ll try and post a video, can I post it in this thread?


Heres a video

hopefully this works…thanks

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I just posted a video in this thread

It looks to me like you’re using ‘leading edge picking’ (this is where your pick is angled forward toward the neck). This is all good, a number of notable players hold the pick like that - Marty Friedman comes to mind. You flex your wrist a little bit like a DWPS approach, but there’s a lot of sideways wrist movement that IMO conflicts with that setup. Have you tried experimenting with forearm rotation? Basically, instead of moving the hand at the wrist, rotate the entire forearm (like you’re turning a doorknob or shaking water off your hands). That’s my preference but I’m sure others may have different solutions.

I agree with Lucky Mojo, it does look like you have a bit of a Marty Friedman style going on. This means that even number patterns are easier for you to cross strings.

If you are trying to build speed, what is your tremolo speed limit, one note as fast as you can?

Going with what you have, a lot of jazz players and Marty too, will play more pull off based licks. Think of a pentatonic shape, G string 14th fret, downstroke, play B string 12th downstroke, B string 15th upstroke, pull off to 12th fret and repeat the lick. Marty takes that idea across everything. Triad, B string 12th fret, E string 10th fret, upstroke on 14th fret E string, pull off back to 10th. etc.

The key is two things, how fast can you pick one note and then how fast can you play a single string legato lick. Work on marrying those two top speeds together, then change strings after an upstroke.

Edit: you’ve got a real nice tone going on, which is what most any one outside of us cares about.

I think you need a bit more pick angle; it looks like the pick is close to parallel to the string. Based on how you’re holding it, trailing edge picking would suit you well (George Benson comes to mind). Having the pick “slice through” the string closer to 45 degrees would probably feel noticeably better.

Edit: meant to say parallel in the first sentence

Thanks for the input guys, I just wish I had some exercises that I knew for sure would get me there. I do think when I angle the pic it doesn’t get caught in the strings as much

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Lucky Mojo just published this amazing transcription of Yngwie’s Japanese instructional video:

The very first example is what I cut my teeth on 30+ years ago. You do not have to be Yngwie speed, or have the expectation to ever have it. The key is that it is a great exercise for single string playing and picking. Your picking style is closely related to Yngiwe’s, you both tend to have the pick pointed down, allowing for upstrokes to escape. All of these examples should be a perfect building block for you. If you are a member, Troy has more jazz specific examples available, but the right hand mechanics are all the same.

Edit: I know it is not common in jazz or on a hollow body to mute the strings with the right hand, but I personally find that I can play fast if I mute the strings with my picking hand, like Al DiMeola. It makes the strings tighter, thus they don’t vibrate as much, so you can have a tighter picking pattern.

I might be wrong, but it looks like you have a bit of a George Benson style grip. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I have a more conventional grip. I believe this might affect a couple of the topics mentioned…

  1. Palm muting - might be more difficult with the wrist in that position.

  2. Edge picking - was going to say, you might find the angle of a conventional grip makes it easier to get an edge angle, but on rewatching you, I realize, you’re getting the opposite angle with that grip (trailing edge vs leading edge), so not really an issue.

Also I like doing a lot of hybrid picking, which I think is also tougher with a Benson grip. But GB and a lot of others make it work; just something to be aware of.

But to get to the pickslanting, I would agree that you appear to have a pretty neutral stance. That forces you to focus on not dipping in too far with the pick, and jumping the strings with probably a bit of a string hop. Things that may be causing the tension you feel.

You could do far worse than to go through the downward pickslanting (okay, USX) material featuring Eric Johnson and Yngwie. This is the technique I adopted once I discovered this material, and I feel very comfortable with it. One thing that really makes it tension free is the fact that it is oriented to the downward rest stroke. Like Gypsy Jazz techhnique. Not only very relaxed in feeling, but gives you a natural connection to the strings, so you always feel where your pick is.

And keep in mind, this is also the kind of technique used by many traditional jazz greats like Joe Pass. And Benson for that matter.