Picking technique help

So I am a legato player and I’m starting to work on my alternate picking. I found I am downward pickslanter and can do downward pickslanting with fair ease but with odd number note groupings, I struggle a bit. I found this passage in the solo from “Under A Glass Moon” by Dream Theater and I gave it the old college try and I was able to play the passage but I’m not sure what it is that I’m doing picking wise, it’s not two way pickslanting but I feel like it’s not cross picking either. I really like what I’m doing however because it feels right but I want to know what’s going on “under the hood” so to speak.

Hopefully you guys and gals can help me out so I know what to practice picking wise to get smoother and faster with this!

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Hi - thanks for posting!

Apologies for the confusion in the terminology (i.e. “crosspicking”, “two way pickslanting”, etc.). We’ve attempted to simplify that over the past few years. In general, I’d encourage you to think about the pickstrokes you’re making, and which way they escape. Meaning, are you making single escape motions where only the upstroke escapes or only the downstroke escapes? Or are you making motions where both pickstrokes escape, i.e. double escape? Or are you mixing and matching combinations of them, as many players do? Once you know this, you can then ask, which joint motions are you using to do these things? And that’s your technique.

In general, I think you’re making a downstroke escape motion here, and I think you’re going D-U-D, U-D-hammer for your six note scale pattern. The hammer is not intentional. The upstroke motion you’re making is simply not coming back far enough to actually pick the note, so it becomes de facto a hammer by the pinky. This is how you can play this scale with only a single escape motion. I could be wrong, but I think that’s what you’re doing.

If you want to know for sure, point the headstock a little more toward the camera and get closer so you can see the pick on string contact. Also, film in 120fps mode. If you film in normal 30fps mode and then slow it down like you’re doing here, you’re not really going to see anything different than you would see if you just slowed down the YouTube player. But when you film in 120, and slow it down in your software, you’ll see all tons of detail. More tips here:

If you take another crack at this, happy to look at it!


Hey Troy thanks for the response! I redid it with a better frame rate on my phone and got a much better result with the slowed down version! I used the down the fretboard angle for this video. Also, I played the same thing I played in the previous video but at a slightly slower tempo!

Hope this helps!

Hi! Thanks for taking another stab at this. 120fps is indeed much better for this kind of work.

It looks like you’re swiping the downstroke string changes here, which you can now see thanks to the higher frame rate. I can’t say if this is what you were doing in the previous clip or not given that you’re playing more slowly here. In general, be careful about comparing different speeds, since your technique may change. Assuming you’re looking for a technique that works at all speeds, try filming some attempts that feel fast to you, regardless of what the tempo actually is (i.e. just “go fast” by feel sans click) and see what that looks like. At faster speeds especially, try to move the camera a little closer, so you can see string contact more clearly. This framing (i.e. angle) is great, you can keep that, just pull in a little tighter.

Despite the swiping I’m in the camp where if it sounds good, it is good. So if the line you are playing is only clearing certain string changes and not others, but the muting takes care of it, then so be it. Also, the actual motion in this second clip looks like a double escape wrist motion which in theory can do these kinds of string changes without swiping. So it’s possible that you can clean these up now that you know how to film yourself. Either way if you like what you’re doing, then just double check and make sure it works at all the speeds you need.

More generally, if your primary question is what technique you are using, then it all boils down to which pickstroke type you’re seeing on video (usx, dsx, or dbx), and which joints are actually moving to create those. Because that’s what every picking technique boils down to ultimately - some kind of joint motion that produces a certain kind of pickstroke.

Nice work here.