Slow but sloppy USX

Tremolo on G string. I hit the B string on the downstroke and upstrokes are escaping. So this should not be string hopping I guess? Yet I can’t get any faster than this (about 16th’s @ 120bpm) after working on this for a while now.

I have really tried to find a motion that would be fast, but I simply can’t. If I try to go any faster I will stop escaping on the upstroke and all sorts of extra flabby rotation motions start to happen, this can be seen after the slowed down video part after 57 seconds mark.

So in addition to trying to find a fast and correct motion I’m also trying to start slow with a motion that I hope is correct and build the nervous system to support it. For the 30 years I’ve played so far I have always tried to play faster than I can and got nowhere with that approach so why not try something different for once. But hitting a ceiling at 120bpm makes me think this motion is actually not correct. What do you think?

Sorry about the watermark on the video, still evaluation different editing tools and haven’t found easy and good enough yet.

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Sorry for the delay here! Somehow we missed this when you orginally posted it.

You’re right! The motion is not correct — it’s stringhopping. This is the problem with the “start slow, get faster” method. When you play slowly, it’s much harder to know if your motion is actually correct, because slow motions all feel kind of the same. Even if you are doing something correctly, the only way to test for that is to see if you can go fast, because only the correct one will speed up. So you’re back to square one of basically starting out with something that’s fast.

Believe it or not, the best part of this video is the bit at the end where you start going fast and everything gets random. Because that randomness is your body trying to find a way that is smooth and consistent. You’re basically demoing all these different motions when you do that — different wrist motion, bits of forearm, bits of elbow, all start creeping in. That’s your body trying to learn. And in there, around 1:01, is a nice looking DSX motion that is trying to emerge. It’s only just poking its head out, but it’s trying break free. If you can learn to recognize and encourage just that motion, it’ll start clicking at this speed and most likely faster.

This is what it’s like when you’re still in the initial stages of learning a new physical activity. It’s random and awkward and it’s hard to differentiate between all the motions that are happening. But now you know what you’re looking for - which is any motion that’s fast and consistent, doesn’t matter if it’s USX or DSX. Take whichever one is working and go with that.

Also, take a look at your form, specifically the range of motion. You’re moving on the radial side of the joint here. You want to be on the ulnar side. Here’s the overview:

If you don’t know what ulnar feels like, try this. Sit down in front of a mirror. Using your current form, play a downstroke on the G string and freeze with the pick at the lowest portion of the downstroke, resting on the B string. Do your arm and wrist appear straight in the mirror? If so, this orientation should actually be the start of your downstroke. Without changing anything, now play a downstroke on the B string and look in a mirror while you do it. Do you see an ulnar bend in the wrist? If so, that’s the correct range of motion — straight to ulnar and back again.


What do you see that tells you this is stringhopping? I see gazillions of videos here - some @Troy says are stringhopping others he says are perfect motion. But I can’t see the difference! What should I look out for?

You shouldn’t really have to look for anything. I’m looking because people ask me to. But the best test for stringhopping is clinical, i.e. can you move fast, does it feel smooth, do you feel no tension. If so, the motion is correct. If not, then looking at your hand isn’t really going to fix it anyway. This is a feel thing. You need some kind of guidance or instructions for doing a motion correctly, then you need to keep trying at those instructions, maybe making small changes or here and there, until you do it at least once correctly and feel it “click”. This doesn’t have to be the best, fastest, cleanest playing in your life, but it has to be immediate or you won’t recognize that it’s right.

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