Picking issues - feedback appreciated

Greetings everyone,

since for last couple of years I’ve been struggling with certain picking issues, encouraged by the mighty CtC team, I’d like to post these videos of my picking habits. Excuse the quality - I’m a total newbie in terms of movie editing. I hope anything can be made out of them.

Regarding the aforementioned issues - I’m not sure if I should describe them right away or maybe it’s better not to make any preassumptions before the videos could be watched. I think I’ll leave it as it is for now.

Any kind of feedback would be greatly appreciated - thank you in advance.

Standard speed:

Half speed:

Edit: edited the links to the videos, so that they work properly.


Looks to me like you have pretty badass foundations for both DWPS and UWPS. The UWPS-oriented stuff at the beginning looks especially slick. I think it’s just a matter of tweaking angles slightly to ensure you’re clearing the strings on your “escape” strokes in both your DWPS and your UWPS techniques, and maybe working on stuff with fewer string switches in a row to focus on getting the switching nice and smooth.

If I were you, I’d start with just tidying up the UWPS approach you start the video with.

Edit: Another thing contributing to the sound of your attack is that you’re using very little “edge picking” and as a result you get a sort of rigid and staccato sound. That can be a valid stylistic choice, but if you want to produce a smoother sound, you could try twisting the pick a bit more so that it strikes “edge first” rather than the flat part of the pick striking the string head-on. You’re hand position looks like it favors “trailing edge” picking, so if you aren’t already aware of doing a bit of trailing edge picking, I would say if you want to increase the amount of edge picking, your position seems more favored to “trailing edge” than “leading edge”. If you wanted to do “leading edge” you would have to make a significant change, e.g. adding a sharp bend to the thumb.

And in this video, it’s a little hard to see what’s happening at pick/string contact. Troy posted some “filming advice” in another feedback thread recently, re: camera angle etc. that would also apply here:


Thank you very much @Frylock. I think this is very accurate diagnosis.

First of all, I believe I hold the pick a bit different than most players. I hold it between my thumb and the very fleshy part of index finger, like this:

NOT like this:

This naturally tilts the pick so that it hits the strings with trailing edge and favours UWPS. As far as I can tell, I pick with wrist deviation exclusively.

The way I see it, this also makes DWPS a bit difficult for me.

The 3-note per string patterns seem easy as long as I:
-start with a downstroke (which is natural for me)
-stick to UWPS
-tilt my forearm inward a bit (pronation).

But 2- or 4-n-p-s patterns are difficult because of the UWPS, and playing them with DWPS doesn’t feel comfortable. Incidentally this also makes difficult for me to play a lot of riffs, if they’re written and arranged to start with downstroke and DWPS.

Another thing, the sound is more trebly than I’d like to. I think it’s because of angle in which the pick hits the strings.

Last thing, there is not enough string hopping - my forearm stays flat and tense in one position when picking and I’m having difficulties with changing this. This makes 1-n-p-s patterns especially difficult. Sure I could sweep them but sometimes I’d prefer a different kind of articulation.

Now, I wonder if I should:

-get used to starting 2 or 4-nps patterns with an upstroke and use UWPS? It seems effective, but unnatural for me since I’ve trained myself for a long time to start with dowstrokes mostly

-tilt my fingers in a different manner in order to change the angle of pick (sort of forced DWPS)? This is something I try to do at 0:47 (std speed) and 1:34 (half speed) of the videos.

-tilt my thumb down? (feels very unnatural, hardly possible)

-or maybe relearn how to hold the pick in a different manner? (possible but this would require a lot of time, not sure if it’s worth the effort)

And I’ll definitely post more videos, I’ll try to do that tomorrow.


I think this would give you the most benefit in the least amount of effort.


@Frylock, yes, definitely and I plan to work at it but it will solve only some of the issues. Maybe learning how to hold the pick in a different manner is the only solution?

I’ve made another attempt at recording various kind of sequences using Troy’s video tips, not sure if it’s good enough though. On the last two videos I try to play with a different pick grip but it’s a complete disaster :slight_smile: :

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I still can’t quite tell from the new videos, but I think your main problem is that you’re simply not clearing the strings all the time when you try to make changes. Maybe someone with sharper eyes and ears than me has thoughts here?

Another possiblity is that you’re doing some unintended muting with part of your thumb, finger or hand that is causing to pick attack to not produce a cleaner sound.

Yet another possibility is that the synchronization with the fretting hand is not quite there, and notes are getting “choked out” a bit due to lack of synchronization.

One simple test would be to just tremolo pick a single note and see how it sounds. If you’re happy with that, move on to test a six-note pattern on one string, and see how that sounds. If you’re happy with that, try a test where you move a six-note pattern across the strings, one adjacent string at a time. The point is to figure out whether the thing you don’t like in your picking is still present in the simpler tests, or if it only arises in more complex things.

Posting videos of those tests should help give us clearer evidence of where your difficulties are coming from.

Or maybe this is something @Troy has encountered a thousand times before, and he can diagnose you just by faintly hearing your playing through a wall. :wink:

Since your wrist movement seems very fast and smooth, to me, if the problem is that you’re not actually clearing the strings, the solution would be to change your arm position to produce a steeper pickslant; in the case of UWPS, this would mean having the forearm rotated slightly more inward (pronation direction) so that your wrist-oriented UWPS downstrokes lift “away” from the guitar more. This might result in your wrist having a slightly more extended bend in it, but it should still be manageable.

Conversely, you could try to take the wrist-based picking technique you have and use it for DWPS by rotating the forearm slightly more outward (supination direction).

The goal is to ensure that pickstrokes in one direction (upstrokes in DWPS, or downstrokes in UWPS) escape the plane of the strings without hitting any unintended strings on their way out.

If you have strong evidence that you’re already clearing the strings, but the sound isn’t to your liking, then it makes sense to experiement with changing the orientation of the pick itself to get things to sound the way you want, which could include something as drastic as changing how you hold the pick.


Just out of curiosity, is not clearing the strings a common problem? I haven’t seen it mentioned on this forum in the threads I’ve read, until now.

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I don’t think it’s super common on the CTC forum, but I think it has come up at least once here. I think a lot of the folks who ask for feedback here don’t yet have a machine-gun fast motion mechanic, so they’re less likely to having string-clearing issues.

Outside the halls of CTC, it’s probably very common, and essentialy seems to have been the inspiration for the creation of Cracking The Code. Either that, or people whose care to clear the strings without having an effective strategy (i.e. what Troy describes as the “villain” of CTC: stringhopping) limits their ability to build speed.

In the wild, it’s probably more common that two-way pickslanting licks trip people up, since a person stands a much better chance of “intuitively” stumbling into a one-way pickslanting approach versus two-way. I think that’s why so many people talk about challenges of “inside picking” versus “outside picking”, which boils down to getting a knack for two-way pickslanting.


Again thank you @Frylock. Rotating the forearm rotated inward (pronation direction) in UWPS shouldn’t be a problem at all. Rotating it outward seems a bit more difficult because the pick goes too high over the “plane of strings” but I’ll try to compensate with lessening the curl of my thumb a bit.

Gotta test the clearing the strings thing out. I shall also post new videos - in order to make them as clear as possible I plan to use a different phone - and a pick with different colour too :wink:.

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Thanks for posting!

Bingo. You are swiping. And it looks and sounds almost exactly like Jorge Strunz, including the trailing edge grip:


Or for a condensed public version:

In other words, as Frylock points out, you are simply not attempting to get over the strings. This is sort of what we all thought picking technique was before we started realizing that some kind of deliberate motion that gets you over the top of the string is necessary. What this means is that most players pick either on a some kind of diagonal pathway, i.e. pickslanting, or a semicircular pathway, i.e. crosspicking, when viewed “down the strings” as we like to film in Cracking the Code.

Amazingly, “not getting over the strings” can work pretty well. In a mix, you really wouldn’t know Jorge was doing this. In person, I could tell it was happening, but not quite how much it was happening. It’s a combination of muting deading the swiped notes, and the notes that are sounding being louder. This is especially true with a high gain amp, as the played notes push the noise floor down thanks to the extreme compression. That’s why EVH doesn’t mute during tremolo, and MAB doesn’t mute during scale playing. It’s not necessary so long as the noise isn’t super crazy.

Where swiping becomes impractical is when the muting fails, or when you have one or two note per string phrases with constant string changes, or any kind of arpeggiated open string phrase where you can’t just play through the adjacent strings. The solution is to adopt a pickslanting or crosspicking approach, which is… a journey.

You can probably keep aspects of what you’re doing, that’s up to you and experimentation. More than that is beyond the scope of this thread I think, but we’ve put out tons of stuff on how to do this in a somewhat haphazard way over the last three or so years.

We’re currently in the process of updating the Pickslanting Primer with a much clearer set of foundational “how to” things related to picking movement, particularly as regards establishing a pickslanted motion path. That will be up over the next month or so and then we’ll have a much more concrete thing we can point you to.


Well, well, well. How do you say that in English - you’ve put a lot on my plate? You have me at a loss?

I knew I was swiping a lot ever since I started playing guitar seriously. I realized this precisely some 5-6 years ago when I made a decision to rework and refine my picking technique. One of changes I adopted back then was to tilt my pick more upwards which actually resulted in UWPS. Another discovery I made, was that when I forced my forearm down (supination direction) 2nps phrases became somehow easier (ie. DWPS - though I’ve never became as conscious as to precisely pinpoint this). But the bottom line is that I thought I managed to override swiping somehow.

Since it’s most likely still there, I am prepared to begin my journey of mastering crosspicking. Those seem like a good start for me:


I think I’ll still post new videos of test @Frylock wrote about, if you don’t mind. I’m going to ensure they’ll have better quality. I shall be very much looking forward to the updated Pickslanting Primer too.

And I wanted to say that - @Troy, @Frylock - you are so amazing. Thank you very much. I can’t tell how cool is to have your technique analyzed by the most renowned experts on this planet?

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Glad my feedback helped. In case there’s any misunderstanding, I’m just a happy customer here who talks a lot. :wink:


I’m aware that you are not a member of CtC team, but I will back up what I said. I did read a lot of threads before posting and it’s all in there - you talk a lot and your talking makes a lot of sense :wink:.