Blimey! Looks fine to me. Maybe if you slowed things down a bit, so you get the feel of what it’s like to play that a bit cleaner, you might be nearer to what you’re after, but in a nutshell, well played!
My DWPS looked really similar to yours. I was able to clean it up by using rest strokes to help with control. I noticed I used rest strokes with my UWPS which is my primary pick slant. At the higher speeds, the rest stroke almost acts as a break or speed bump which helps to control the motion of the picking. Some might think of using rest strokes when playing slow, however, when I’m playing at high speeds, even tremolo picking on a single note, when I play through the string I’m tremolo picking and go below the plane of the strings, the pick hits the adjacent string which stops its momentum. I then play the string in the other direction bringing the pick above the plane of the strings. So whenever you play below the plane of the strings, the pick should ‘rest’ on the adjacent string before returning to complete the next pick stroke. I know Troy did a video on rest strokes also.
I’ve already been able to make significant adjustments, based on the feedback here. When the changes become consistent, I’m hoping to upload another vid, to give an “after” perspective against the “before” one above.
Here’s a vid of the same exercise now, after making adjustments… not sure if the difference will be super visible, but I assure you that my right hand is much more relaxed and a good deal more accurate than in the first video… definitely more comfortable and actually enjoyable to play now, with fewer “micro-tensions” in the thumb and curled fingers!
Still not perfect, so any additional insights would be welcome!
To put a bookend on this thread (even if just for myself) here’s a video of where things have gotten to, after a few months and lots of refinement / improvement.
Faster, more relaxed, better articulation and dynamic control.
Pickslanting works Praise @Troy!
Nice work! And your cat seems quite impressed as well.
I would point out that “pickslanting” isn’t only what you’ve been working on per se, it’s your picking motion and the smoothness thereof. I know we’ve been a little sloppy in referring to them both indiscriminately using the same term, but we’ve become a little clearer on the difference between the two. This is a good case in point. Strictly speaking your “pickslanting” was fine in the first clip. But the motion needed some smoothing, and it sounds like you’ve done some excellent work on that front.
This latest clip and the previous one from May look pretty similar. But they both look and sound markedly more smooth than your initial clip in April. What did you do between the first clip and the second clip that you think made a difference? And what have you done between May and now that made things smoother for you?
Again, good work here.
Thank you! No, unfortunately the cat is a stone-cold ‘feel’ snob. I get nothing but the ‘silent treatment’ at these tempos.
Fair enough and completely agreed. I am aware of this evolution in thinking, but the old/original assumptions were very helpful to stick to, as a combined pick slant and picking motion, to train towards.
I lost track of the debate, of how to update the original ‘slanting’ terms to include motion a while ago… Has that been resolved? I was toying with the idea of suggesting tDWPS or tUWPS, to signify ‘traditional’ combinations of pick slanting and relevant picking motion…(not sure what the opposite combination might be called yet)… what about dDWPS and rDWPS for “dart-throwerDWPS” and “reverse-dart-throwerDWPS” respectively… same for rUWPS, etc?
Apologies for the length of this post. Maybe it’s simply too long. But I love the detail in the instruction on here… and there’s a lot to tell…
A LOT happened over these few months of practice and the short answer is that the difference between the last clip and the second last, is that the last one was done in one take. The second last was the absolute best, after many takes. That’s a big improvement for me.
But I have plenty of positive feedback for you guys here and hopefully I can provide useful, even if only anecdotal, detailed insights into how this progress was made.
Strap in, we’re going deep.
I can break this down into (fairly chronological) ‘key’ phases / “aha-moments” / change of mindful perspective / discipline chunks:
I initially “generally” adopted the tDWPS (traditional - see above) pickslant and motion combination. Before all this, I was problematically inconsistent, with a DWPS slant and a ‘downstroke-escaped’ motion causing unwanted swipes and slip ups at high speeds (eg completely missing a string for a note).
After a relatively quick improvement, I made the first video at 170 bpm ‘target’ speed (resulting in some ‘hard-to-identify’ sloppiness / inaccuracies).
I can not overstate the value of using mirrors or any reflective windows etc at EVERY available opportunity when practicing this stuff (or even when just noodling) both sitting and standing - because I play standing on stages. Occasionally using video and slow-mo from my phone, sometimes with the ‘Magnet’ was also incorporated, whenever it wasn’t impractical / when I wasn’t being lazy. This objective feedback was absolutely crucial, because I spotted awkward / excessive tensions in my thumb; also I could compare closeups with yours and look for differences (like those ‘spot the difference’ games on the back of cereal boxes of old).
Based on the feedback from my own videos and the forum-post responses, I got pretty enthusiastic and spent some time thinking about it all and letting it sink in over a few days.
I watched the Teemu interview (your suggestion), aped his form (which you pointed out was kinda similar to mine - very helpful btw) and learned some of the licks in that video. Aping him allowed for almost immediate improvement, especially by seeing how genuinely relaxed he was playing those sweep/economy patterns of 7th arpeggios).
At this point I made a huge realisation - I remembered something from an a closeup of your tDWPS… I rifled through lots of videos until I found the exact clip/angle… Your picking hand fingers were anchored against the body, but the inside/fleshy/palm-muscle part of your thumb was ‘distant’ from the strings at the top of your upstroke, but ‘close’ to the strings at the bottom of your downstroke. This meant the motion was maybe not a straight line from 9 to 3 o’clock, or even 10 to 4 (or whatever) There was a small HINT of pronation happening somewhere along the pick stroke. Maybe like 10 to “0” to 3 - a slight curve.
I experimented for weeks with an exaggerated picking motion of almost 100% pronation-supination movement, and minimal wrist deviation. This guaranteed an upstroke-escape.
Eventually this strengthened / activated the relevant muscles enough so I was able to return to a picking motion that included more deviation and this was a remarkable improvement. It felt like it made more sense.
Then I realised there was a ‘knocking’ happening with each pickstroke I made. It was the knuckles of my closed picking hand physically knocking on the guitar body (i.e. raising away on upstrokes, and returning to collide with the pickguard on downstrokes). This made picking on the higher strings especially sloppy.
To combat this, I experimented with letting my curled picking hand fingers just hang down, anchoring extremely loosely against the body of the guitar. This revealed some micro-tensions that were clearly less than ideal. I was able to eradicate them quickly, now that I was aware of them, and curl my fingers in again.
I returned to having curled / coiled fingers in my picking hand for many reasons - I prefer how it looks and it feels more stable/stronger as a unit.
Anchoring my picking hand knuckles to the guitar body felt good, eradicated the knocking and gave a ”stabilising” feeling to my whole picking motion form.
At this point, I had been going to the gym now and then (completely separately) and remembered what I had learned about the benefits of myofascial release massage for my knee, with a small gym massage ball. (different story, but relevant). Instead of an expensive, larger gym massage ball, I went to a toy store and bought a small bouncy ball (about the size of… your ankle bone… can’t think of a better example) and rolled it along the tense parts of my forearm (top and bottom). This immediately released a bunch of tension that had built up from guitar practice, laptop work and games console playing.
This was the next HUGE realisation. There were simply bad habits/posture/muscle imbalances to be erradicated. This bouncy ball massage allowed me to just ‘drop’ my picking hand in the most relaxed way yet, onto the guitar. It landed in the perfect starting position - no more thumb tension or awkward angles…
I set aside a whole evening, with zero distractions of any sort, to go over my picking motion, as slowly and as carefully as possible, after rolling out my picking forearm with the rubber bouncy ball. I was mindfully looking to combine all I had picked up along the way, scrutinising every bit of the movement, starting at the slowest tempo possible (without reverting to a different picking motion for slow play).
After this detailed, patient and honest scrutiny, I was able to jump back up to higher tempos surprisingly quickly. Again with even less ‘micro-tensions’ than before and much more dynamic control. I was even able to accent the downbeat notes - this was always elusive to me before now!
The last big realisation was to do with a focus on being able to ‘feel’ the tip of the pick’s contact with the strings in great detail. The curled knuckles being anchored against the guitar body allowed me to get really consistent and detailed feedback on the pick’s contact with the string by just feeling it; enabling minor adjustments and experimentation with tiny changes in angles. It was a mental focus on the attacking tip of the pic.
Finally, I should mention that I was not exclusively practicing this Petrucci 2NPS ‘etude’ in the videos above. It was just the benchmark which I returned to preiodically, to take stock of where things had gotten to. Instead, I decided on a handful of my favourite “elusive chunks”, which I knew must require dDWPS. These were scalar, or pentatonic, or whatever, 2, 3, 4 and 6 NPS patterns / chunks / ‘rudiments’ that I figured are must-have’s for my future toolbox. And I did every ascending / descending / string skipping version of them with no particular discipline or overly strict routine. I just worked on whichever chunk i felt like trying. I also jammed along to everything on shuffle on my Spotify list, turning each song into a 2NPS arpeggio-playalong exercise. This helped me study composition/arranging at the same time as picking.
I’m far from finished with all this. But these have been the approaches and the things I did so far, to make genuine progress.
Thanks. The things we do for rock.
Wow! Beautiful to read and thanks that you took your time to write this. We all have our very specific journeys but I could definitely recognise some of your experiences. Damn, I love this place!
Great post; thanks for sharing! Lots of awesome detail here and I like the list format of “timeline + progress/insights”, really cool way to give us a glimpse of how the learning process unfolded