Shoulder movement in string tracking


Hey guys!

Just a quick question RE: shoulder movement. I’m in the middle of a practise session, working on some string skipping ideas (including some “economy skipping” - more on that later!) and I’ve noticed the best way to make it all work is with quite an active shoulder; something that I don’t notice when playing on adjacent strings.

How active is your shoulder during string tracking? How about when you’re doing crosspicking?



Interesting! It would be great if you could post a video of how that looks when you play. When in UWPS, my palm anchoring moves a lot to track the strings, but that is more of an elbow movement. I’ve actually had a lot of problems with that because the loose anchoring doesn’t feel very reliable. Now I’m actually working hard on DWPS and having an anchored palm. It works better for me for tracking the strings, although it comes with a lot of other problems.


Most of my picking falls within five distinct “modes,” all of which are primarily driven by some type of wrist movement, with the majority of string tracking achieved via elbow movement (I wrote a very detailed thread about these picking modes). In these modes, there is very little shoulder movement, and virtually no finger movement at all.

Recently, I’ve been training a elbow driven picking mechanic, and I’ve found that I require more shoulder movement for effective string tracking, as the elbow is already busy with the primary down-up picking cycle.


Good question. I actually had to stop using my shoulder when I switched to cross-picking.

Before cross-picking… I also used a LOT of shoulder movements… The shoulder and elbow together make a very smooth tracking…and can help keep your forearm at the same angle across the strings… and which is great for control and useful when doing economy picking.

However… I stopped using the shoulder when I switched to cross-picking, for a sort-of convoluted reason. My cross-picking form requires careful precise wrist movements… and if I deviate even a tiny bit from those movements… it falls apart. So I can’t use my wrist for any sort of tracking… which became a problem… because in the past… I used my wrist a lot when I had to alternate between two stings… since I couldnt track quickly enough between two strings using the shoulder/elbow combo. So long story short… I switched to elbow-only… which took a bit of getting used to. But its fine now. Sorry for the crazy explanation.

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Paul Gilbert actually mentioned using the shoulder in a recent video:

Paul Gilbert on Mechanics! Using the shoulder!

Thanks for the video link, it just me or is Paul talking sound weird?


Paul has been candid about the fact that his hearing is pretty badly damaged from so much unprotected exposure to loud amps over the years. It’s not unusual for people with hearing problems to develop speech problems, because they don’t hear themselves well enough to make minor corrections on an ongoing basis.



But it sounds to me more like a specific problem with the “S” sound. Maybe a tooth problem? I heard some other not so old interviews from him, I don’t think I’ve noticed such a thing.

Anyway, a bit off-topic. I hope he will be fine and making music for as long as possible!


He’s always talked like that.

I’m hearing a lot of digital aliasing on the high end. Sounds like a compressed to hell audio stream. Treble all jacked up.