Something wrong with my forearm rotation


I think my usual picking motion is wrist deviation but I decided to explore forearm rotation. I’ve been working on it only for four days and it starts to feel more or less comfortable. However, as I record myself, the path of the pick looks a bit too angular to my eyes. As in string hopping. Even though I am very sure I do rotate my forearm. I am a bit less sure whether I move only my forearm. Perhaps some other joints and muscles chime in without my conscious permission. Or perhaps the camera angle creates this illusion of sharp pick path. I welcome your comments and advice.


This does look like string hopping although I’m not really sure. To me the rotational movement should feel like shaking water from you hand or the movement you do when you’ve burnt you hand. That is a really quick movement and should be applicable on the guitar and be just as fast.

Is this the fastest you can go on a single string with your current movement?

Your movement seem very “controlled” almost like the pick isn’t allowed to move too far from the string at any point. In my experience this often leads to string hopping. Something that’s often suggested here and have worked for me is to use rest strokes for either down or up strokes. This makes sure that the movement is more straight and also isn’t too controlled. Sounds backwards but it really have worked for me.

Also to me, when doing det rotational movement I tend to do more of a supinated DWPS tilt which gives the hand more room to rotate.


On the low E, you are doing UWPS, but after just a couple of strokes on the A string, you aren’t escaping in either direction, so there is no longer any string-switching benefit.

I agree with @Troy’s assessment that a lot of what we’ve been describing as “forearm rotation”, especially in the case of DWPS guys like Yngwie, is actually a compound movement that has both forearm and wrist components. The high profile exception is Eddie Van Halen style locked-wrist forearm rotation tremolo picking, though Eddie doesn’t use that as his “main” alternate picking technique. Point being, it probably isn’t particularly productive to strive to do isolated forearm rotation.

If you specifically want to develop a “forearm rotation” DWPS technique, for whatever reason, look to gypsy style pickers like Joscho Stephan as a guide. But if you have already discovered something else that feels more comfortable/natural for you, whether it’s a DWPS or UWPS approach (with whatever motion mechanic), consider exploring the limits of that before you decide you need to actively attempt to change your technique.


Does the little string hopping movement go away when you pick faster? My picking at that speed is a combination of wrist and forearm rotation and looks a lot like yours, albeit in a more DWPS position. The faster I pick the more the forearm rotation takes over and the string hopping movement goes away.


For the stringhopping I’m not sure, but my impression is that the hop is caused by string resistance, which wouldn’t be bad, a relaxed system is desirable.

In first case I agree with qwertygitarr, it seems to be fully controlled, which might be a problem.
For most people this disables speed, my interpretation is that the forward motion targets a small range and therefor doesn’t build up momentum. The common way is that the backward motion stops the forward motion, and the smaller range is the result of speed. Troy mentioned that in an other post, and it matches exatcly my personal experience.
Anyway there are some econmy pickers out there that seem to be able to that controlled thing lightning fast, so I’m carefull with treating it as a bad thing at all.

Another thing I experienced for me (so no general statement) is that I can’t do that rotational movement fast if I dont blend it with another, for me letting the wrist push the hand to rotate (trying to describe how it feels) works fine.

I’d try find a motion that feels comfortable and gives you the speed you desire and then try to add ‘components’ like rotation or finger movement.



Honestly, I would simply say that this is not correct. Small jumpy movements are pretty much the opposite of what “forearm” is about. It’s really about big, easy, relaxed movements. And as @Frylock has pointed out, very often, those big movements are not pure forearm, and include a healthy amount of wrist movement, either deviation (side to side) or more up and down (flexion / extension), depending on your arm position. This wrist component is one thing that contributes to the size of the movement that players like the Gypsies achieve.

If you are trying to do dwps, I would start over. Rest the pinky side of your hand comfortably on the bridge. Then make a picking movement which begins high in the air, comes down, plays the string, and rest strokes against the next string. Don’t worry too much about whether your arm is “rotating”, just try to make a large relaxed movement with a rest stroke. If your arm moves when you do this, that’s fine, but don’t focus on making “rotational” movements. You might feel your hand swinging a little when you do this:

…like that!

Also, when you’re working on picking motions and you want to film yourself, you’ve got to film your arm too or you won’t be able to see what’s going on. So place the camera far enough back to see at least a good portion of the forearm when you set it up.

Sorry for the negative feedback here! No offense intended, I just want you to get on the right track and not waste time. Thanks for posting.


"Is this the fastest you can go on a single string with your current movement?

Your movement seem very “controlled” almost like the pick isn’t allowed to move too far from the string at any point. In my experience this often leads to string hopping."

If this isn’t your fastest, record yourself picking your fastest that is still under control.

Your new picking motion may be causing the pick to be bouncing around a little; in that sense you aren’t under control yet. Hopefully as you spend more time with this new motion you’ll develop more coordination with it and the pick won’t bounce around anymore. As far as staying reasonably close to the string goes, in that sense your pick is under a fair amount of control. It’s not straying too far away from the string, although you could still be more economical with your motion. You’re not coming close to hitting any adjacent strings though so that’s good. Your control should improve as you get more practice with this rotational motion.

Being “very controlled” is hopefully what we all strive for. Control is the result of having built coordination by practicing. You certainly don’t want your pick to be out of control! Since you’re just picking one string, once you’ve picked the string with, say, a downstroke, then the next thing is to reverse direction and hit the string with an upstroke. Logically this saves wasted motion since once you’ve sounded the note, whether you go 1mm further or a third of an inch further will add nothing to the sound. The note has already been picked! Since your next course of action is to pick the string again, straying further from the string than necessary will only make you have to do more work as any unnecessary distance you have travelled away from the string on the downstroke will have to be retraced on the way to connecting on the upstroke. So moving say, 1/3 of an inch further than necessary on the downstroke turns into a total of 2/3 of an inch of wasted motion! Any questions?

Once you have sounded a note, no amount of extra distance travelled away from the string will add to the sound as the sound has already been created. It does nothing but create extra work for you to do to get back to the string. In that time you are just moving the pick towards the string you could already be picking the next note had you stayed close to the string.

Another problem with wild, uncontrolled, or wasteful movement is that as you move further away from the string you intend to pick next, you risk accidentally hitting an unwanted string.

Those are some reasons why precision, control, and coordination are things every guitarist must develop in practice.


I see where your coming from here but I think this line of thinking is more appropriate when you are refining an already working technique. When trying out new movements, my experience have been that it’s good for the body to exaggerate the movement you try to tech your body. Just like Troy mentioned, hit the string from far above and make sure the pick is really moving into the plane of the strings. This helps the body to feel what DWPS truly feels like.

What I meant with “controlled” is that often when you aren’t comfortable with a new technique, the body seem to try to control the movement in a unrelaxed way. In my thinking, this is where string hopping develops. I had a teacher actually telling me to work on always having the pick dig down and grab the string before every pick stroke. And this was for alternate picking. He told me this would give me control. What it really led to was me actually exclusively practising string hopping. So I don’t agree with the small-close to the string-line of thinking here.


If that worked for you in your experience I’m certainly not going to tell you it doesn’t work but the advice I gave is related to things that have worked for me. I have never gotten any benefit from exaggerating a movement to teach my body. The success I’ve achieved has come from doing the movement like it’s supposed to be done in an unexaggerated way. I think it probably worked for me because I was practicing the way I wanted to play which developed the type of coordination appropriate for that technique rather than an exaggerated variation of it.

I believe we have to be careful with our choice of words so that we make sure the reader will understand what we mean. Just a question, not trying to be contradictory, but just trying to make sure we’re sending the right message to the reader, would the word “rigid” have been more appropriate than the word “controlled” in that context? I believe so, because as far as I know, the meaning you are trying to impart isn’t the definition of “controlled.”

If you don’t agree with the “small-close to the string” line of thinking, that’s fine; you know what worked for you. I’m trying to explain what worked for me and then giving a rational explanation based on objective criteria ( mathematics) to explain why I think it worked and why I believe it will work for others. I believe in ingraining good habits from the beginning so a player won’t have to break bad habits later. It’s hard to argue with the logic of wanting to stay close to the string you’re going to pick next because ihat results in less work and therefore less time wasted making your way back to the string you were already planning to pick again. Stray 1/3 of an inch further from the string (when tremolo picking) then is necessary to sound the note by picking it and you have to retrace that 1/3 of an inch of wasted movement on your way back, resulting in a total of 2/3 of an inch of wasted motion - motion you could have been using to already be picking the string again. It’s basic mathematics. And again, once you have sounded that note, no amount of extra motion away from the note will add to or improve the sound of that note. After all, the note has already been picked.


Thanks for all the replies :+1: Much appreciated. Even if I didn’t quote and reply to you, I am thankful for your inputs.
I see that this happened to be a long-ish post. Sorry for inconvenience.

To the contrary! I am thankful for the insights. That’s why I asked for help here. If I wanted positive feedback, I would call my mom :wink:

Nope. I’ll record some tremolo this evening.

Yes, you are right, I consciously keep the movement small. I’ll try rest strokes, thanks.

I didn’t slant consciously but you are right, there is UWPS on low E. However, I can play both DWPS and UWPS. My intention is to apply forearm rotation to cross picking so I try to keep my slant more or less neutral.
Now I’m going to politely disagree about string switching benefit. I do feel like I can switch strings after any pick stroke. I can’t be sure whether I do the same movements and whether my pick slant stays constant for these string changes but my plan is to record some multi-string playing today so we’ll see it for sure.

I guess it is wise advice. Anyway, I’m not here to be wise :sweat_smile: I want to try different techniques and see how they feel. Since I am not a pro, I can afford screwing around and making no real improvement in the end.

It feels like my movement gets even smaller and string hopping disappears as I increase speed. But that’s only what I feel. I’ll record myself playing faster later this evening.

True, my movement is controlled. However, I wouldn’t say I am tensed. Perhaps these statements contradict each other but this is how I feel. Of course, I do catch myself tensing up here and there but I fix that as soon as I notice it.

I dig honesty :v:

Yes, that’s why I am concerned.

It’s my fault, I should have made this clear :sob: I intend to use forearm rotation for cross picking. I feel more or less ok with both DWPS and UWPS and I use mainly wrist deviation for those. One of the reasons I decided to attempt this way of picking was the Van Halen thread where @alexvollmer shared a video of him playing tremolo in the style of Eddie and you [Troy] suggested that it may be a way to cross pick. I had few other reasons and they all added up to me now struggling :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Yes, I am starting to realize this mistake. I will definitely add another angle for my next video. Thanks for advice :slightly_smiling_face:

Well… Personally, as I try to emulate these situations you described, I tend to flex my wrist (is it flexion? As in wrist curl.) I noticed that flexed wrist makes too flat arc and my pick strikes other strings if I increase the motion. If I keep the motion small, everything is ok but then I would have to add some other movement (likely wrist extension) to escape the plane of the strings. Perhaps that is the way to do it :thinking:

If I keep my wrist straight, the arc is too tight to hit any other string. In this case, I need to shift my hand slightly towards the targeted string as in string tracking. I accomplish this with a tiny elbow movement. This kind of string change feels more comfortable to me as opposed to the one described in a paragraph above.

Will do.

Thanks for encouragement. Yes, I am new to this motion and I do feel like bouncing a bit. Heck, I feel straight clumsy. I reduced some of the bouncing by holding my pick loosely. As I hold it tight, I bounce much more.

Yup, that’s how I started.

Well, it depends. I didn’t exaggerate, for example, tapping motion. But in this case the new movement was so alien that I had to slow it down and exaggerate in hopes of isolating and understanding what moves and what doesn’t move. I didn’t spend much time in that stage but I feel it helped me.


Yeah your right. I understand that my truth isn’t the same as your truth. It’s stupid to claim that one way is the only way.

That’s why I put controlled within quotations signs, as I didn’t mean controlled in the normal sense. It’s of course really important to be as clear as possible. And your right, “rigid” might be a better word even if it’s not really the right word I think. English isn’t my native language and therefore I might not be aware of nuances in the words I use.

Yes your right about the mathematics but it’s not always that simple I guess. Troy has been pointing out a lot of times that unless you are working with hyper picking speed, the size of the motion isn’t that important. And I believe that to be true. The important thing is how fast you can shift the antagonistic muscles, even if that of course can impact how big the movement get.

Picking Speed vs Motion Size - Explained

My turn to apologize! The instructions I gave you are for dwps forearm. Do not follow those instructions and do not do the rest stroke.

What you are requesting is information on a relatively new subject for which we have not provided tutorial material yet. To my knowledge only a few members here can even do the movement yet so please take any advice with a grain of salt. Like me, others probably did not realize this is what you were asking about.

That being said:

This is how it is done. “Forearm” crosspicking is not pure forearm, it is forearm plus wrist. And there are many slight variations on this movement depending on the path you decide you want the pick to travel. Some of these have more flextension, some have more deviation, some have more arm. Those are your three ingredients.

Generally speaking, the more parallel to the pickups you move, the more the movement is flextension and forearm. The more side to side you move, the more the movement becomes deviation and the other two components get smaller. If you move almost entirely side to side, the arm component disappears completely and you have only deviation and flextension, which is wrist crosspicking.

It’s a continuum. All these movements are great and work well - one is not better than another. Here’s one variant with more of a flextension / forearm mix:

And here’s Andy Wood with more deviation and a little less arm:

Some experimentation on your part will be necessary - and again, the more pickup parallel you move, the more flextensiony it will appear and feel.

Good luck!

split this topic #13

A post was split to a new topic: Picking Speed vs Motion Size - Explained

Picking Speed vs Motion Size - Explained

Seriously, I think that this is the most welcoming and polite community on internet :+1: Even when members disagree, they usually state their claims in a rather civilized manner. That’s absolutely awesome! You [CtC team] attract great people.

The video where you [Troy] play is simply beautiful. I totally love that pick path and that’s what I have in mind as my goal. It’s just that I am trying slightly different movement for that goal.
{few minutes have passed} Hmm…you know what, perhaps the technique I’m trying out isn’t that different from what I see in your video. The way I understand, you do forearm rotation and string tracking initiated by elbow, is that right? That’s exactly what I do. Difference is that my hand is totally floating in air while you have more contact with guitar. And I make smaller movements.

I took the advice given me here and recorded myself playing a bit faster and I also included a wider camera angle from two different positions.
Seeing myself from a distance helped a lot. First of all, it seems that I hold pick in UWPS fashion. It surprised me as I thought I don’t slant at all. Second of all, I don’t think I do string hopping that much, if any at all. To me, it looks much smoother when viewing from a distance. Perhaps my particular camera position created an illusion of hopping? Or perhaps it’s the other way around? Perhaps I do hop and the illusion is that I play smoothly? I’ll have to continue on observing my playing to find out what happens.

Anyway, I kind of feel satisfied with my current technique. I am still plenty clumsy and my movements aren’t precise enough. I also can’t play faster than what is seen in the video. That being said, switching strings feels surprisingly effortless.

I know I didn’t ask any specific question in this post but if somebody has any comments or advice, I would love to read and contemplate on them.

Is anybody doing UWPS using rotational movement?

Cool! Much better look at what’s going on. You’re using little to no wrist, and all arm, which is why you’re floating. I’m not saying this can’t work, and you might tool around with this to see where it goes. But I’ve played with this a little, and when I do, it looks and sounds pretty much like what you’re getting here. The generally stiff feeling and the lack of muting made me go another way.

As always, it’s the question of what are you trying to achieve. Is there something you’re trying to play that you can’t play currently? You are more than welcome to continue experimenting with this, and sometimes that produces great things.

But if you already have a smooth / fluid deviation type movement, why not use it? Just rest gently on the bridge and introduce some arm and some wrist, and see where that gets you. You can still float that type of technique, but in being a movement that includes some deviation, it may be easier to switch with what you’re already doing, and you’ll have more noise control type options when you want to anchor / mute as well.

Or not! Completely up to you.


@Troy and @Brendan I’d like to second that statement by @Medium_Attempt. I don’t belong to many forums now but over the last 20 years approximately I have been involved in my fair share of forums. For instance, I’m interested in Mixed Martial Arts, particularly The Ultimate Fighting Championship, and so I joined the largest MMA forum which exists. They usually have good news coverage but as for the quality of the typical poster there, it’s rather sickening. I would estimate that on average, out of every 20 posts I read there, only one or two have any intellectual substance and class. The rest of the posts either lack substance, they lack class, and in many cases they’re downright obscene.

The quality of people that The Cracking The Code Team has attracted to this place is very special. Finding a forum on the internet of this quality has quite honestly stunned me! Keep up the good work everyone - from the way everyone treats everyone else so well, to the way you really make an effort to make your posts meaningful and intellectually substantial. I feel very fortunate to have found this place :smile:

P.S. If Troy or Brendan would like to move this post and Medium Attempts post directly before it to a thread with a title along the lines of “Thank You Cracking The Code Team” I think that would be very appropriate.


Yes, muting concerns me a lot. I don’t think about it yet but that’s definitely a problem of floating style.
Anyway, I want to try the technique first and then I’ll see if I find it applicable. Example: I tried strict picking motion induced by fingers only. I didn’t find it overly useful. However, after that I noticed some cute finger movements creeping into my usual wrist deviation and I am not complaining. My fingers started doing something similar to what Martin Miller does. That’s cool! Perhaps floating forearm rotation will influence my usual technique as well. Bottom line: I’m merely exploring. And as my name suggests, I’m not too serious about it. It’s just a medium attempt - not a hard attempt :wink:

I guess that’s a recipe for getting a crosspicking technique comparable to what you played in the video above, correct? I think my end result might be somewhat similar.

Excellent advice! It sounds very much like something Guthrie would say about switching techniques and noise control. I will definitely take this piece of advice to heart…just not now. Call me stubborn but I want to spend some more time on this floating forearm rotation. Even if it is clearly inferior by many factors. Sticking to goal is important to me.

I didn’t leave many hooks for you to respond. I guess most of my confusions (namely, string hopping) have faded. I’ll just keep on practicing. I’ll update my progress some days or weeks later.

And of course, if somebody has any more comments, I will gladly read them :v:


So all crosspicking movements has some sort of Flextension for the lower half of the movement to escape on the downstroke, and then the top half of the movement is either rotational or deviation to escape on the Upstroke?


Just the rotational (i.e. blends of arm and wrist) and supinated ones. The pronated ones are the reverse - deviation below the string and extension above. This is what Molly Tuttle and David Grier do. The “dart throwing” motion is what pronated wrist extension looks like on a guitar - just make that motion in the air, pulling back the wrist to throw a dart, and place it on the strings - you’ll see Molly and David do versions of this when they play upstrokes.


Wow, wasn’t even aware there was a pronated version of crosspicking (I have not watched those interviews yet. I’ve Been going through the Miller, Bruno, and Stern ones). I’m going to stick to working on the Supinated version as that feels most comfortable currently. Correct me If I’m wrong but for the Supinated version the bottom half of the movement has to have some sort of extension movement, which either comes from the Wrist or the MP joint in the finger (possibly both). On the other side, the top half of the movement is either wrist deviation or forearm rotation (again, possibly both).