Pickslant - only for speed runs or also for regular playing?


Hi all,
I have a question regarding the pick slanting technique.
I had trouble with alternate picking at high speed. Pickslanting has successfully helped me to play at high speed.
However, while speed run patterns are easy now, i am struggling with my normal playing. Its hard to always keep track of how the pick leaves the string (upslanted or downslanted) especially when improvising.

My question is: is the pick slant technique used only in speed runs or is it to be used all the time?

If all the time, kindly share some tips to help me get used to it.

Grateful for your replies…


I would recommend to just forget about picking technique for what you call “regular playing”.
I just enjoy to not concentrate or think about picking when just noodling around or improvise a solo. I don’t even know, how I pick, when I do it. As improvising is basically chaining parts of licks you learned at some earlier time I think it might be just the way I picked back then, when I learned that bits, but I don’t know and I don’t care.
As soon as I incorporate some special fast lick that requires some special slant I consciously do it that way or if it is burned in enough, I do it unconciously.
I think the goal for improvisation is to not think too much and just let it flow, listen to yourself and enjoy it. These are the moments that reward you for thousands of hours of woodshedding.



Thanks for clearing my doubts


Hi! I think this is a “forest through the trees” type of question. When you’re playing, there is no “keeping track” that’s actually happening, at any speed. Learned motions are memorized motions, even during improvisation where it feels like you’re making things up on the fly. This is true for fretting motions just as it is for picking motions. If you’re playing through the changes, you have to know in advance where those notes are in order to choose them.

If you can play a line and it sounds good to you then I wouldn’t worry about it. Just keep in mind that you’re always making some kind of motion, and that motion is probably memorized, even if you don’t know what it is!


I treat everything the same way, but I have some recipies:

  1. Isolated single notes suggest cross-picking, unless I optimize for a sweep (special case)
  2. Even number of notes/string: Preserve slant
  3. Odd number of notes/string: Flip slant

That’s about it. So when I am first learning a piece of sheet music there is a lot of cross-picking, but then it goes down as I have a better understanding of what I’m doing. I could be mistaken, but I think that cross-picking is more “delicate” (in the sense of error-prone), so it should be used as needed.


Thanks Troy… Your revelations have seriously upped my game :slight_smile:


could you please explain point 1.
I think thats another area where i still have problems


If you have 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. notes on one string it might not be worth bothering with cross-picking, as DWPS or UWPS will work.

If you have 3, 5, 7, 9, etc. notes on one string it might not be worth bothering with cross-picking either, as 2WPS will work, as well as one “legatto” note and then just DWPS or UWPS (so the number of picked notes is now even).

If you have just one note, however, then cross-picking makes a lot of sense, unless the special case of a sweep comes up, and in that case, why bother with cross-picking…

I hope that this makes sense. I like cross-picking for low speeds because it is very general, but when I go faster or know a piece I usually use 2WPS with cross-picking as needed for “ugly” places with one note per string and bad options for sweeping.