Scale picking analysis - two way pickslanting on repeated loop


#1

Ok, I haven’ t posted one of these in a while, and after watching (finally!) the Anti-Gravity seminar some of the stuff that I’ve started to notice myself doing started to make sense… But I want to make sure I know what’s going on here.

The tab of the two sort of Gilbert-y patterns I’m playing. Definitely a little bit of red-light-itis going on here, I promise I can play this smoother when I don’t have my phone on a flexible tripod wrapped around the upper horn of my guitar!

30%20AM

…and the video:

Looks like I play the 3-string pattern twice, start looping the 2-string pattern, and then when it goes to slo-mo start back in on the three string pattern, do that maybe three times, then start looping the two string pattern for the rest of the clip.

So, near as I can tell, while I’m not seeing a pronounced slant or overly overt escape motion - if anything, here and in other clips I’ve shared, there’s a bit of a cross-pick-y arc going on - I seem to be escaping on downstrokes. coming off the first string in the three string pattern, I don’t see my hand doing anything all that unusual going from the A string to the D string, but coming off the D to the G I’m seeing my wrist kind of “wind up” or “cock back” on an upstroke, in preparation for a downstroke onto the G string. My pick seems to need a little extra help on upstrokes to clear the string; thus, probably a slight upwards slant. There’s also the slight doubling of the E on the G string on the second repetition at speed before the video drops into slow-mo, which I’m guessing is a too-audible swipe across the top of the G string on its way to an upstroke on the D.

Sound about right? Anything I’m missing? The basic mechanics seem to be working ok, if anything the biggest issue I’m seeing here is I need to be more coordinated so a lot of single-string repeated pattern drilling is probably in order.

And, I guess, as a related question - with a deviation-based pickstroke, I suspect I’d get a clearer upwards escape if I cultivated a flatter wrist angle (right now my wrist angles up slightly towards the neck in neutral). Is that worth trying to cultivate, or is this a matter of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?


#2

This sounds good to me, you’re basically at the last 5-10% of refining it for perfection. All of the necessary ingredients seem to be there. From my own personal experience on drilling picking for the past few weeks a lot of the “extra help” on upstrokes or downstrokes or whatever tends to iron itself out without you having to, as you say, cultivate anything.

There is a clip I can’t find right now where Troy says you can’t really analyze your way to guitar technique mastery. What he means by this, I think, is that you can’t micro-control your technique. Worrying about a flatter wrist angle or what not is not something you are going to be able to control likely without introducing overexertion of the muscles. It happens as a consequence of numerous factors - guitar body, arm position relative to body, string gauge, picking pattern, etc. You quite obviously have all the basic ingredients down, so I would just keep drilling the pattern because you already sound professional and further practice will whittle things down.

I hope that is liberating because it should free you up from the idea that you should be consciously “making” movements during practice. As long as the pickstrokes are sequenced properly you’ll get there without having to change much, if anything, of what you’re already doing.

edit: Just wanted to add that controling movements or forcibly “making” a movement can be useful for beginners, but I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to watch your clip and say you’re anything other than advanced in your technique relative to most players.


#3

First, thank you, especially for that last bit - tha’s incredibly kind of you to say!

I’m not sure I can completely agree with this, though - nothing you’re seeing here (I think) is really new in that this is just kind of what my picking hand does when left to its own devices. For me, I think the single most helpful thing about CTC has been the awareness of what my picking hand is doing - knowing what’s up with that weird subconscious little wind-up motion that I’d never really noticed until I filmed my picking technique, being aware that my downstrokes escape more than my upstrokes, and therefore stuff like the Gilbert 6’s motif and related patterns should come pretty quickly to me with some woodshedding (I suspect it’s no coincidence that for a while there whenever I wanted to work on altermate picking, it was Technical Difficulties I’d try to play), etc.

So, today, I’m both aware of what these movements are, and can feel them happening. I’m not sure how easy it would be to take the next step to actually consciously controlling them - I suspect not, at all - but oyu never know, and if nothing else I suspect it’s possible to design drills that make it wasier to bring something out/downplay it.

Bare minimum, things like being a little more concsious in choice of wrist angle should be a pretty easy fine-tuning to make to your technique - one of the interesting things I’ve noticed is that given a wrist deviation based mechanic, while downward pickslanting still doesn’t come terribly naturally to me, it seems like by just adopting a more suppinated/open wrist angle, I can take what’s otherwise 99.5% of my default pickstroke, and make it work for downward slanting licks. Which is actually kind of cool, and very much something I can consciously do on the fly.


#4

Another video update - 3-string 3-note-per-striing pattern in, I think, D minor, starting on th 2nd and ascending up an octave to the 3rd and then back down. Again, extremely mimimal slant here, and in places it actually looks more like a downward slant - the rest stroke right as I go to slow-mo, the swipe across the top of the B string just after… but still the pronounced wrist flick on a downstroke, more akin to an upward pickslanting motion, at 0:12 and around 0:23-24 or so.

It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if simply consciously flattening my wrist would lead to a more efficient mechanic. Anyway, the gist of this was I was hearing some extraneous noise when descending this pattern, coming off the B string, and actually ironically I’m not having any trouble with it here in the slow section, but if I slow down the first part I can see myself just nudging the tip of the pick against the B string on the first downstroke on the G string, second note after descending from the B, and it ringing out a little. Better muting seems to be part of the answer, but aside from that, any suggestions?


#5

Yeah I definitely see what you’re saying. There was a recent thread on the idea of awareness being one of the stronger benefits of CtC, and that has been my experience as well in filming my own playing. Just the idea of knowing why something is happening is a pedagogical tool for the brain to explore in and of itself. I was just unsure of that particular wording in your post because on this forum it’s not uncommon to see players who are struggling with picking try to over-control the motions; for me, that’s always been a one-way ticket to tense and stilted playing. Relaxed awareness on other hand, especially while filming, lets you know you’re getting better over time.


#6

Funny you should bring up that B string nudge. I was doing the first sixes pattern (that one generic inside picking pattern) from Antigravity and had a problem where I would overshoot the B string and hit the G string, causing an ugly sound. It eventually disappeared almost entirely as of last week, following about 3 weeks of practice. I like Troy’s recommendation of evaluating on a week-to-week basis. Your playing in that clip sounds very clean, maybe a slight drag of the pick into the string from too much pick depth, but I suspect that will go away over time. Maybe that extra depth adjustment will get rid of that noise? I don’t think there is a way to actively get rid of it, which goes back to my point of your playing being advanced enough to where any improvement in techniques are likely out of your conscious control.


#7

See, the analyst in me hates the argument that you can’t consciously reason your way into technique improvements. :smiley:

I think my single biggest issue here is fretting hand/coordination, and I should probably do a lot single string picking and legato practice against a metronome to straighten that out. I’ll keep driilling this 3-string motif though and check periodically to see if it’s smoothing out, and work on the string tracking component to extend it to a six string pattern.

As far as pick depth, this actually looks unusually deep for me, but I suspect you’re right - lately I’ve been doing a lot of going back and forth between relatively thin picks (these are jazz-sized 1.0 tortex) and seriously thick ones, either Ultex Jazz IIIs or a bunch of 2-4mm wedge shaped Winspear picks (which, that wedge shape is actually insanely comfy, they’re just a little thicker and a little larger than I like) .

As far as the mental side of this… What I THINK is happening is this - now that I have a better understanding of what’s happening, there are some minor “macro” things I can do to help - for example, I think my hand position isn’t always 100% consistent when I rest it against the guitar, so being aware of that and making sure that when I lock my hand in, I’m flat enough to allow for a clean upwards release.

However, this also involves a lot of “micro” stuff (and I’m using these terms in the economic sense, if that makes any sense) that I can’t necessarily consciously control. What I can do, however, is not consciously fight them, and relax my hand and allow the actions to happen as smoothly as possible. Specifically with the two-way rotation, now that I know it’s not a mistake, when I feel it happening I’ve been trying to keep my hand relaxed and just let the wrist rotate smoothly and naturally, rather than trying to keep it tense and in position, and just letting it flow better. And, the motion certainly FEELS smoother for that, and is probably more efficient. I’m probably explaining this poorly, but I do think the awareness of what’s happening helps you not fight what’s happening, and can promote a more relaxed, aware picking hand.

I just wish I had a couple extra hours in the day so I could get in more practice time (as well as spend more time training on my bike, cook more, sleep more, and spend some more time practicing ways to become more musical on the guitar, rather than just smoother and faster, lol).


#8

That’s what I do for this. Playing circular patterns with legato is a really great warm-up.

And I tremolo before doing almost everything… even when I am picking something slow and easy. I really need to have my picking motion completely ready and in muscle memory.

And when I do the final product (ie the picking/fretting together)… I really only focus on the fretting. I just don’t have the capacity to focus on both at the same time… so I figure that the fretting part requires a bit more ‘real-time’ focusing.


#9

Could you give an example of what you mean by “circular patterns?”

I guess I hadn’t considered the solution of synchronizing left and right hands by working them independently. Interesting idea.


#10

It’s just how we refer to things like this:
E|--------------------------------------------------
B|--------------------------------------------------
G|--------------------------------------------------
D|----------12–15–12--------------12–15–12------
A|–12–15--------------15–12–15--------------15–
E|--------------------------------------------------

or this:

E|----------------------------------------------------------
B|----------------------------------------------------------
G|----------------------------------------------------------
D|--------------12–14–15–14–12----------------------12–
A|–12–14–15----------------------15–14–12–14–15------
E|----------------------------------------------------------


#11

Ok makes sense. Thanks!


#12

Divide and conquer. If your hands can’t perform a part in perfect meter independently, they’ll never perform it in perfect meter together.

Taken a step further, while I’ve never been a great alternate picker (and never really worked THAT hard on it, until fairly recently), I’ve had a lot of success by working through technical limitations by methodically figuring out what the exact technical challenge I’m trying to solve is, reducing it to its component parts, and finding a way to drill on just THAT.


#13

That makes sense. My solution has always been to break down whatever the issue is to its smallest component and drill that, but never with the hands independent. I can see the potential value in it though