Pickslanting Primer Update! Getting Started With Super-Efficient Wrist Picking Motion
New update to the Primer, relevant to the interests of all the wrist-experimenters on here. Of which I know there are a bunch! If you try any of this, and have feedback, we’d like to hear it. If you would like personalized feedback, feel free to make a Critique on the platform as well.
This series completely replaces the old one, so you will notice there is no mention of Molly Tuttle or dart-thrower motions of the non-reversed variety. We’ll be adding that back, not to worry.
I was (am still) pretty sick when I filmed this — nothing serious, just a head cold. I just barely made it while croaking out the last words of the last lesson. Hopefully it’s not too distracting. There are a few other odds and ends missing from this sequence, but I need to emerge from phlegm-land first.
Thanks so much for this @Troy! I appreciate all of the hard work that must have been put into this.
Apologies if I’m looking into things a little too much here, but I don’t really understand the section on mixed escape picking, and I wonder whether you could clarify. You mentioned that the form shown at that point specifically faces issues when it comes to downstrokes from an escaped position (which get “stuck”), but also pointed out that you can’t switch between the DSX/mixed version and the USX versions of this form in the middle of a phrase. If that’s the case, how do we think about the initial pickstroke in sections that start on downstrokes after an upstroke string change (excuse the word salad; I hope you get what I was going for)? I took a look through some of the Andy Wood clips to try and work out what was going on, and it looks like there’s a tiny bit of forearm rotation on such strokes in this 3NPS example: https://troygrady.com/interviews/andy-wood-workshop/electric-clips/scale-ascending/
Am I naive in assuming the above means there can therefore some small intra-phrase form change? Or is there something else going on there?
Thanks again, and I hope you feel better soon!
I wouldn’t worry too much about these motions you’re noticing. This subject is very technical and there is a lot going on if you know what to look for. However the real question is not so much what is happening, it’s what do you do to learn it?
In this case, from a large amount of testing and performing Critiques, we think the best way to learn this stuff is to attain one centralized form and allow the hand to learn, via trial and error, across a large volume of musical material, to make whatever string changes are necessary. You will notice in the tutorial that the more “vertical” ergonomic mouse postures seem faster and easier, in theory because they align more with the ideal RDT axis. So some experimentation is a good idea to make sure you’re really making the best and most comfortable motion you can make.
As you do this, you may notice small or occasional motions of other joints, which is fine. But focusing on maintaining overall consistency of form, comfort of motion, range of motion, and so on, is what you should actually do to produce the best results.
If you want to read more about the bits and bytes level technical description of the motions you are noticing, we’ve got a nice article right here:
There may always be some amount of these “helper” motions at play, especially during larger inside picking gaps, especially when ascending. This is what the footage tells us. However, you shouldn’t try to force this not to happen. The closer to “ergonomic mouse” form you can get, the more freedom the wrist will have to make these different motions happen, and the less relevant these helper motions need to be in terms of your conscious focus.
I was thinking you sounded ill. Wishing you a quick recovery!
Thanks. 'Tis the season for winter illnesses. If you can call 50 degrees Fahrenheit “winter”. So much for four yearly seasons.
Truly an excellent update, and you’re a trooper for filming it while under the weather! I’m going to tell everyone I use ergonomic mouse motion picking now.
That all makes total sense! Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, and thanks for such a helpful answer.
Shhhh — don’t reveal all our tricks!
We’ll be updating this material regularly with a few things we left out due to my voice giving out, but the goal is to keep it as hands-on as the current tips.
This update has led to me rediscovering how to do wrist dsx. It was one of the first motions I hit upon way back when, but I lost it quickly and pursued forearm and wrist blend instead as I already had that, to some degree.
Experimentation last night involved using a more extended grip with wrist motion, and that put me in ergonomic mouse zone and voila, there’s the motion again!
At some point, I must have changed to a more compact trigger grip which flattened my arm out and lost the motion, I didn’t know why at the time. Actually , I didn’t know why until last night as I watched the new videos
I’m working hard on my forearm and wrist blend for now, but I’m pretty keen on working on some mixed escape stuff in the not too distant future.
Great job with the update!
Excellent glad to hear it.
Yeah techniques change over time, and without being a mechanics expert these changes can easily sneak by. This has definitely happened in my case. I have old footage which we’ll probably include in updates where I was definitely doing things differently. I would probably catch those differences now, but not then.
I’ve been out of the loop for a few months, but I watched the entirety of the update and I think it’s the best pedagogy I’ve seen from CTC so far. Great stuff!
I’m working on it. Been using wrist deviation for the last couple of years, seem to have hit a plateau. After a few days, RDT shows great promise. Still working on the perfect pick grip to give consistent and even resistance between upstrokes and downstrokes. I’ll put up a TC soon with “before” and “after” examples.
Excellent, glad to hear it. This section will getting significant updates in the coming weeks to fill in some obvious gaps, but we’ll definitely maintain the focus on “hands-on, do this” type instruction, with some basic explanations of why these things are the way they are.
Excellent, interested in seeing those!
@Troy , this is fantastic stuff!
I am wondering though how this plays into the Mike Stern movements that you’ve covered before. I’ve used your material to try and cultivate USX Stern/Johnson form, as I was already good with down/down/up 2-string economy motions and initially had a tremolo motion with an almost neutral escape.
Stern and Eric’s forms don’t really seem to match exactly with what you’re describing or at least with what I’m seeing with the reverse dart throw. For example, even though Stern’s thumb-palm side isn’t squished into the strings like a DSX player, its much closer, sometimes looking like its grazing the strings, than in your RDT demo, and he also looks like his index finger is curved more, as opposed to straighter, which is what you described in the RDT pick grip.
Basically, the TLDR is, is the RDT an entirely different type of motion than the “side to side” wrist motion from the Stern analysis, or are they the same thing?
Mike Stern is a pretty textbook example of a wrist player, so I would say “completely different” is probably an overstatement. i.e. His motion and the ones we’re teaching here are all stilll wrist joint motions. Mike’s is just closer to deviation.
Eric Johnson’s motion is further afield since he’s got that finger component which shows up to varying degrees depending on the phrase and the strings he’s playing on. Contrast Eric’s technique with Joe Bonamassa’s — Joe looks much more like a typical wrist player, with the whole hand moving back and forth.
The degree to which any of this really matters from a practical learning perspective depends on what your current technique looks like. If your technique looks a like lot Eric’s, including the finger action, then you’ll probably have a harder time leraning to turn that off and become a “wrist-only” player.
However if your technique looks like Mike’s, there’s a lot less retraining, or perhaps even almost none. You’re still doing what feels like a “sideways” hand motion, just with a slightly different arm position. As an example, almost everyone who has some wrist skill with an index grip and flatter arm position, and then tries the three-finger grip, can do it nearly right away, often without even being conscious of doing anything different.
This is due to “motor equivalence”, the ability to get roughly the same outcome using slightly different groups of muscles just by changigng your body position. Otherwise, every single skill you know, like lifting a glass of water, would need to be relearned based on small differences in body position. While some amount of new learning is necessary when this happens, it’s not like learning the skill from scratch again.
Thanks for responding @Troy !
So basically from what I’m gathering the RDT motion update isn’t supposed to replace the wrist motion segments on Stern, DiMeola etc it’s just another way to use the wrist joint?
I’m actually unsure of exactly what I do, I just know that nothing really “clicked” for me until I tried modeling my technique after the videos of Stern and Eric. I was just wondering if the RDT segment is shedding new light on the same movements that were in the “clockface” segments or if this is something new entirely.
In theory, Mike Stern’s technique is less efficient, goes slower, and has less endurance than if he tweaked his technique to look more like reverse dart thrower. However this doesn’t mean that these things we’re teaching here are “completely different” or “completely new” compared to Mike’s technique. They’re all wrist motion, and any wrist player could implement them without feeling like their whole technique is different. This is the “motor equivalence” I was talking about. It’s simply that we’ve now learned how wrist players can maximize efficiency, ease, comfort, and speed by using certain overall form that places the wrist in a more advantageous position.
What should you do? I’m generally practical in our approach. When someone plays well and sounds great, and they’re happy with what they’re doing, that’s it. I certainly wouldn’t tell Mike to do something different than what he’s doing, unless he specifically wants to experiment. Otherwise, he sounds awesome.
If you have issues with your current technique that you’d like to improve, perhaps trying some of the tips in the new lessons can address those. Who knows, maybe you’re even already doing those things and that’s why your technique works well. You can always make a critique on the platform for feedback from us.
If not, then don’t worry about it!
On a related note, I was tooling around with the more supinated arm position arm and accompanying three-finger grip yesterday, which as we’ve discussed in other threads, always produces unexpectedly good results even though I don’t “work on it” as much as I probably should. When I looked at the footage, there was, as usual, some really good stuff in there:
I didn’t have a click going but this is around 170, maybe 175 or so sixteenths, i.e. 225-230 (Edit) 8th note triplets. Across a few takes of this there are some missed notes, where I “airball” and miss the string I was aiming for. But little in the way of swiping.
There is this tendency among those still learning (myself included) to assume that the biggest enemy is always swiping because “getting over the string” is the hard part. But I don’t think that’s really the case. When you use the correct form and set the correct range of motion, the escapey part should be somewhat automatic. You shouldn’t have to think your way through making the pick go up in the air, which would be impossible at these speeds anyway.