Pop Tarts Lick: difficulties maintaining USX

First video upload to the forum! Huzzah! :partying_face:

I love guitar and have played for a number of years but have always been frustrated by my attempts to develop the sort of speed and articulation that first drew me to the instrument. Prior to discovering CTC the degree to which I was reliant on the metronome to gradually increase my speed never struck me as something that could conceivably be holding me back. Now I know better and have seen improvements that have historically eluded me. That being said I have a long way to go before I feel like I can truly express myself on the instrument.

I’m looking for feedback on:

  • how to achieve a greater degree of comfort/ability maintaining USX as I go from the higher strings to the lower (right now that feels very awkward to my picking hand)
  • how to improve and maintain fluidity throughout the execution of longer passes; don’t want to be a “Machine Gun Kelly” picker that can only sprint short distances
  • how to become less reliant on anchoring

Thank you for your time and feedback.

Pop Tarts Lick: Front View - Normal Speed

Pop Tarts Lick: DIY Magnet View - SloMo


Welcome to the forum @DLoVe !

My first impression is that you are actually using a (pretty solid and consistent) DSX motion - the “upside down” version of USX. So, the pop tarts lick starting on a downstroke is pretty much a worst case scenario for this.

But here is the good news: if you were to start the lick with an upstroke, all the string changes should become perfect for your DSX form. Let us know how that feels :slight_smile:

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Hi DLove!

Welcome to the forums (-:
I’m also a stundent here, so please take anything I say with a grain of salt.

Firstly, Tommo seems correct to me - the trajectory of the pick against the strings is actually DSX, which goes agaisnt the string switching direction of the passage.
I think I can see on the switch between some strings (especially from the 2nd string forward) a very slight jump of the hand to hop over the string, like a small twitch upwards (wrist extension if to use Troy’s terminology).
It seems to me this hop kind of blends into the moving of the anchoring as you switch strings, so maybe eliminating the hop (by adjusting to the appropriate escape-motion to the passage I guess) will help get to a better feeling on the anchoring and going down the strings smoother, which relates to your first question.

As to your second question, I can recommend an exercise I started doing which has helped me tremendously. (maybe I’ll make a post on it on the forum). Basically I want to have a practical way to look for the smooth ‘bouncy’ feeling at speeds that are still beyond my control, or even beyond what my experience of knowing what feeling to look for…
So what I do is put the metronome at a speed that’s a little high for me for 16th noets (or also at speeds a little under my comfort limit, just playing around that area, searching for the bouncy feeling), and then establish an ongoing tremolo comfortably in 8ths, looking for the bounciness, and then every now and then sneak in a quarter note worth of 16s. First I hear it in my head, audiate it, ta ka ta ka takataka ta ka, kind of absorb the sound of that rhythm, and then start playing, again looking to maintain the bounciness and smoothness, while improving the control and acuraccy. A lot of things come up this way. It’s very easy to isolate things that come up in such short bursts, and easier to understand what feeling your looking for on the good bursts of 16’s, and work with that.
Then, as I get more comfortable with the single beat 16’s burst, I do the same process but this time with a 2 quarter note burst. (I don’t like thinking about it as a burst, but more like chipping away at the smoothness). From 2 beats to 3 and 4 etc.
Then I’ll try to hold the 16’s for exdended periods, focusing on staying inside the feeling of smoothness, that bounciness I guess. I’m trying to hone in on what it is I’m looking for (in terms of feeling, movement, whatever element it is) that happens during smoothness. So when I’m practicing the extended 16s, a big part of what I’m paying attention to is also to notice as soon as I lose the feeling of smoothness.
Another benefit is that since I’m going back and forth between 8s and 16 notes, I can make sure my technique is homogeneous, at all speeds, and kind of use the 8 notes to simulate what I’m going for in motion and feeling at the higher speeds, and then compare them in real time and try to eliminate tension and all that etc.

Regarding dependency on anchoring, try working on forearm picking! Try getting familiar with gypsy style (big wrist flexion, no anchoring). You can also dial down the flexion to different degrees as much as you want, but the combination of forearm motion really lends itself to anchorless playing. Maybe getting a feel for this motion can get you towards freer anchoring on pure wrist motion as well?

Hope something in all of this helps, haha. Cheers man


Thanks Tommo. Starting anything on an upstroke is such an alien idea to me that I tend to overlook how it’s a completely valid and logical approach given the number of picked notes on a string and a DSX player’s approach to picking. So I’ll be working on that. Thanks?

Other than that I would like to become more comfortable with USX but am struggling to overcome the DSX that my picking hand wants to default to.

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I understand, it also took me a while to get out of my DSX-comfort zone!

To get some possible ideas I can recommend a recent topic by @element0s (I’m linking my comment but you may find a lot of useful input in the whole thread I think). Let me know if it helps :slight_smile:

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Hey Ellman, thanks for the feedback and ideas man! I haven’t had time to digest all of them yet but I wanted to say thanks for taking the time to respond. I’ll spend some more time going through them and trying them out tomorrow :slight_smile:

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Will do. Thanks again! :+1: