Pick Attack - Some Conceptualizations?

Pronated Wrist Deviation (9 to 3)

  1. The muscles responsible for the downstroke activate. The pick moves towards the string.
  2. The muscles responsible for the downstroke take up tension, as the pick contacts the string.
  3. The pick pushes “through” the string, and the muscles responsible for the downstroke subsequently relax.
  4. The muscles responsible for the upstroke activate. The pick moves towards the string.
  5. The muscles responsible for the upstroke take up tension, as the pick contacts the string.
  6. The pick pulls “through” the string, and the muscles responsible for the upstroke subsequently relax.

Elbow Flexion and Extension

  1. The brachioradialis, bicep, and tricep “engage”, or, more specifically,
    take up sustained, rather than intermittent, tension, but do so before the pick even contacts the string.
  2. The elbow extends the forearm, and the pick moves towards the string for the downstroke
  3. The pick touches the top of the string
  4. The elbow continues to extend the forearm past the string until the elbow flexes the forearm
  5. The elbow flexes the forearm, changing the picks direction, moving the pick towards the string for the upstroke
  6. The pick touches the top of the string
  7. The elbow continues to flex the forearm past the string until the elbow extends the forearm

Notes

This outline doesn’t necessarily apply to all mechanics, other than the two specified above. Even then, it’s really only a concept I am working on for quicker tempos, playing lines within specific subsystems, mainly a DSX subsystem, with an alternate picking articulation.

One of the key ideas here is that when the tempo is increased, and the player is using a pronated forearm setup with a (9 to 3) wrist deviation motion mechanic, pick depth and displacement are also increased. In other words, for the wrist mechanic outlined above, when one is playing at a higher rate of speed, more pick attack should be added. Yes, you read that correctly. As a consequence you will get a bigger volume, especially when playing on a clean channel. For elbow flexion and extension, pick attack is removed and you will inevitably lose volume when playing with a clean tone. I find that the elbow mechanic works best with distortion and a decent amount of gain.

Additionally this concept implies that for both of these mechanics there is no such thing as being completely relaxed at all times, and with the elbow mechanic there is actually tension that necessarily must be maintained until the motion is stopped. For the wrist mechanic outlined above, tension is something that is ideally occurring intermittently only when the pick is contacting the string.

One final note is that the pick does not literally “push ‘through’ the string” when using wrist deviation. This is an analogy I am using to express the differences in attack one gets when using a wrist deviation mechanic versus an elbow mechanic.

Conclusion

I created this post partially as a hypothesis and partially as a question. I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about pick attack. These are simply ideas that I have been working with, and it feels like I’m on the right track. I am looking forward to seeing responses from everyone. I am looking for feedback, corrections, and additional ideas on this topic.

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