Thanks for putting all these up! Great playing. The Benson clip really gets the vibe. Re: trailing edge, I was hoping all you backwards-picking weirdos would just get back in line and hold the pick the “normal” way!
Kidding. You are correct, it’s totally something we haven’t addressed in this update, in our aim to shoot for mass, and get the most people covered. But plenty of players play this way so we’ll probably add in a trailing edge chapter to this section at some point.
In the mean, here’s a quick medley of things to look at:
First, single-escape pickstroke done fast. I’m doing downstroke escape but either will work. Notice that the pressing and wrapping of the grip does smooth things out here. Except of course that in the trailing edge world, we’re really looking at varying degrees of pressed. The more pressed, the more edge picking, the more smooth. The way I’m doing it here, I’m getting garage spikes when I go too flat. There may some other change I can make to my arm to get flat to be smoother. You don’t specifically need edge picking to be smooth, you just need the attack to be the same on the upstroke and downstroke.
Second, some country-style improv and you can see I’m using a mix of things here, but it looks like mainly upstroke escape, like Benson, with some occasional double escape — also like Benson. I think this is basically when a Benson-style player would look like up close.
Third, crosspicking. Technically this works fine. And on electric it sounds cool because you have the amp and your treble controls. But trailing edge playing is usually high edge playing, and honestly, with this amount of edge picking, I don’t know that you’re going to get a very “bluegrass” type of sound. It’s gonna be pretty dark. Of the grass players we have interviewed, David Grier and Molly Tuttle both go for a lower-edge sound with more treble, and to me, that tone is the most traditionally “bluegrass”.
So, where do you go from here? Number one issue I’m seeing is that you don’t have a fast single-escape pickstroke yet. Doesn’t matter whether it’s USX or DSX, but you have to have at least one. Otherwise, you’ll never really know what it feels like to be fast and fluid. I can almost guarantee it’s not a “speed” issue, per se, because I can see you’re ready to go in your tremolo clip. You just need to get the edge picking / angle of attack smooth by fussing around with your grip and arm position. Hopefully some of the closeup shots in the medley clip will give you an idea what to shoot for.
Second, try some of the leading edge grips in the lessons. Even if you don’t want to play that way, learning different grips can be hugely instructive, because they feel different, and sometimes lead to slight changes in your form. Sometimes, something that wasn’t working at all with one grip can suddenly pop out of nowhere with a different one. And once you have that, it will be only a matter of time until you get it with all of them.
But single escape speed is the first step. It should be at least 150-160bpm and feel smooth. Don’t try and drill this with exercises, but do make many varied attempts with different arm and grip adjustments until you accidently or otherwise get it right. Even a few seconds of “right” is enough. At least then you have something you can try and reproduce.
Let me know if any of this is helpful.