Sooo.. Is Pickslanting still a "thing"

So is pickslanting still a thing, or is it useless info now that y’all are into the “escape”? Just curious… Not that it matters, I can’t make any sense of any of it… lol

Pickslanting still exists but it’s no longer synonymous with pick escape.


So obviously pickslanting still exists - but it would be nice to see some sort of explanation as to how it’s relevant, or if it still is, and if it’s a factor that is still in play. If it is still a factor, then I’d love to see a “Pickslanting, where is it now” video or something… lol

Well, it matters depending on what kind of grip, arm position and motion you are using. Pickslant now refers only to how the pick is oriented, whether the tip is pointing to the ground (upward ps) or to the ceiling (downward ps). It is just an orientation, doesn’t cause you to make one motion or another, doesn’t make you generate a certain escape trajectory. In general, to acheive smooth pick attack, pick should be slanted perpendicularly to the motion trajectory (not parallel to the string as many of us were taught). If you look at a playing style like supinated USX + trigger grip, wrist or forearm, the pickslant kind of takes care of itself since your forearm rotation degree affects the pickslant in a way that is correct for this kind of trajectory (USX works smoothly with DWPS, DSX with UWPS). You can also be supinated, have downward pickslant and generate downstroke escape motion (which used to be called upward pickslanting). Andy Wood plays like that. In this case there’s a mismatch between slant and trajectory that is usually smoothened by adding edge picking.


Okay, well my grip is probably wrong, the motion probably wrong, and the angles probably also all wrong;

I’ve been here before, and tried to ask some questions but it seems like there’s a lot of ambiguity around this… lol like some cats are given the magic formula, and others, well not so much - even if they pay the fee! hahaha

I was hoping that I could avoid a “restart” and maybe leverage what I already do technique-wise. “Even” notes per string aren’t an issue (well maybe they are, I just don’t know); straight 16ths at 250 is the best I ever could do on a chromatic 1-2-3-4 and it’s a real physical feat that’s on the edge of collapsing at any moment. I don’t need to play that fast though, but I’d sure like to tidy things up. I play Caprice No 5 and it’s a bit sketchy rhythmically speaking in spots…

I have been practicing this stuff for quite some time but I can’t seem to make any sense of of what you guys are presenting. For instance Pentatonic 5’s (I even did some in Harmonic Minor) I’d sure like to maybe improve my tempos a bit, clean it up etc but I think that this might be as good as it gets. lol There’s some weirdness ascending with 5’s, and I know I’m an “elbow” person…

Anyways, Let me know your thoughts. Any input guidance is welcome.

Isn’t downward pick slant where the pick point is pointed upwards?

So like Marty Freidman, downward pickslanter…

I think that I usually have an upwards slant, not sure exactly what impact that has on things, though… From the video it’s sort of hard to see because of my weirdo grip…

Yes, that’s what I’ve meant by “tip of the pick pointing to the ceiling”.
It’s hard to tell because video is a bit blurry, but there are two things I’ve noticed. You are using elbow motion which is a downstroke escape motion. You are also playing descending economy picking which is a natural thing for DSX to do since upstrokes rest stroke. You can’t play things like Paganini’s 5th caprice with this kind of motion. Pentatonic 5s are an upstroke escape lick, they require the opposite kind of trajectory of that generated by elbow motion.
I think for now you should keep your elbow motion and focus on even note per string phrases starting on an upstroke, because that’s something that DSX does well. 1234 excercise, pentatonic scale, anything that has an even nps count. Try it out.

1 Like

I still think “Pickslant” is the most simple and elegant way to describe the basic orientation of pick direction and the interaction with the string. I get Troy’s reasoning for wanting to reorient things to the “escape” side of things, but it feels backwards to talk about a downstroke rest stroke as an “upward escape stroke”. Technically it’s true, but also very unintuitive IMO. Like the thing I’m doing is a downstroke, and the upward escape is a reaction to that movement, as well as a preparation for another downstroke.

For me as a mostly economy player, the directionality of the pick is always in the angle of the pickslant. If I’m ascending from low to high strings, it’s all DPS. Descending is reversed, all UPS. In a direction change I’m sure there’s some rotational movement that might break the rule (ie. a downstroke escape to switch from DPS ascending to UPS descending), but that doesn’t justify adopting a whole different conceptual framework to accommodate that particular scenario. You can see Frank Gambale’s interview for a textbook example of this approach.

Of course, for alternate pickers, there’s a whole different bag of mechanics. I guess Troy found that this vocabulary didn’t really capture the motions guys like Andy Wood use, so hence the major shift in terminology on the forum.


I must of missread sorry lol

As I understand it, the biggest issue was that a great many newcomers were fixating on the orientation of the pick in space, and missing out on the interaction with the string in terms of “escaped zone” and “trapped zone”. Anecdotally, I know that when I was a beginner, I often did what we now call “escaped downstrokes” with what we now call a “downward pickslant”. I sometimes do that still, but it’s not what I’d do today when I’m trying to play fast alternate-picked licks. It’s also true, as you observed, that there are some instances with elite players where describing the slant doesn’t adequately describe the interaction with the string. If I recall correctly, Mike Stern is one example.

I guess I didn’t get the memo; I thought I just played pentatonic 5’s… I just checked with a metronome and 16ths at 168 for that, although I suppose I could go faster.

I have been playing for close to 40 years, so is this code for “you suck”, or because of how I “look” like I am playing I am not allowed to play some stuff? Sounds to me like you are telling me that I should start all over… And actually, Troy has given me that advice too in previous posts, so maybe my playing really is that bad. But I swear to god I have thrown myself at this stuff and have made literally zero headway so I just keep going back to what seems to work… I’ll leave a link to a tune I made up, I’m pretty sure that there must be some aspect of what I do that’s useable, yes? Or do you really think I should only play 1-2-3-4 and groupings of 6 YJM things? Not mad, just curious… If “suck” is the impression people get, then I guess it’s back to the drawing board. Some kids just don’t get to play cool stuff I suppose.

So am I backwards in what I think downward pickslanting is? I thought it was where the point of the pick points up, mine’s neutral and sometimes points down…

No idea how to do an upwards escape vs a downwards one, pretty much totally confused now.

That is totally not what I wanted to tell you. You don’t suck. All I wanted to tell you is that elbow is a joint that generates DSX motion (which used to be called upward pickslanting) and you are using elbow. Pentatonic 5s are an USX lick (which used to be called downward pickslanting). Elbow motion and 5s lick just do not match. DSX motion works in a way that the last note on the string has to be a downstroke, that’s why I suggested you to play some patterns that utilize even number of notes per string and start on upstrokes.

A very quick summary: Let’s look at the escapes. If you escape on the on an UPSTROKE (UX), you likely have DOWNWARD pick slanting (DPS). If you escape on a DOWNSTROKE (DX), you likely have UPWARD pick slanting. When the pick is escaped, it is away from the guitar body. When the pick is trapped, it is close to the guitar body, where the point is between the strings and the paint.

There is a “double escaped” motion that starts and stops with the pick away from the body, but most of the faster motions seem to reciprocate between away from the body and close to the body.

Did this help or make it worse?! :rofl:

This is my sense too - it’s not that “pickslanting” was wrong, exactly, but it was less ideal in two ways - one, it gave the impression that it focused on the orientation of the pick to the strings, and not the trajectory of the pick relative to the strings, and while they were often related, that isn’t true 100% of the case and it’s absolutely possible to have an escaped trajectory with no perceptible slant to the pick. And two, it’s kind of like looking at the wrong half of the motion. The thing that makes it “work” is that in one direction the pick rises up above the plane of the strings, so why not focus directly on the critical part, to avoid confusion?

I know that when I first signed up here it wasn’t entirely clear to me that it was the escape that was the really important part.

1 Like

The double escape still confuses me. How is it different from string hopping? Is is it just a distance thing? And if someone has a downward pick slant tendency (escaping on the upstroke), do they have to make a conscious shift to update when doing an odd number of notes per string before changing strings? This is really counter intuitive. This study of pick motion is fascinating, but hasn’t really helped me yet.

The difference between stringhopping and correct double escape is muscle usage efficency. Stringhopping uses wrist extension on both pickstrokes to lift pick out of the strings, that’s inefficent muscle usage. A true alternate picking technique works in a way that during downstrokes muscles responsible for upstrokes are not used and vice versa. If you look at a guy like Oli Soikkeli, in his case the movement that lifts the pick up on downstrokes is wrist extension and the movement that does the lift on upstrokes is forearm rotation, there’s no muscle usage overlap between downstrokes and upstrokes. That’s how correct DBX works.


I think of it as a pendulum, the point swings down, smashes a string, and climbs back up, never being trapped! I believe Steve Morse and Andy Wood can do this at pretty high rates of speed.

This technique is flexible because it can trivially support 1nps. All of the techniques that involve being trapped often get into contortions when 1nps is involved.

The usual “escape hatch” is pretty easy to apply: If there are 3 notes per string, pick any two and use HO/PO to get the third. This is surprisingly natural to do, although it doesn’t sound so easy! I do this subconsciously despite usually switching between DWPS and UWPS.

And if someone has a downward pick slant tendency (escaping on the upstroke), do they have to make a conscious shift to update when doing an odd number of notes per string before changing strings?

I don’t do two-way (not that there’s anything wrong!), but regardless I have very little interest in planning for a certain number of notes per string, as improvising is too important to me. So here’s how I view the one-way DWPS style (if I can still call it that) working well for me.

There are four types of string changes, the various combinations of ascending vs descending, and coming off a downstroke vs upstroke. Ascending is golden, as you can just economy pick. Descending is half-covered, as the upstroke is escaped.

So 1 out of 4, descending off a downstroke, is the only problem. Not bad. I am not opposed to using slurring to avoid that pick stroke on occasion, but I prefer to be able to pick every note if I want to. I do this by making a special motion to jump the string. V shape, 1:30 on the clock, something like that. Only for that situation; otherwise I enjoy the benefit of simple wrist deviation (that’s what he said!).

It seemed like it would be a confusing thing to do at first, but I focused on being aware of the feel when I was leaving a string on a downstroke descending. And it has become a pretty ingrained habit for me. Pretty much like the Gypsy Jazz guys (I do love down rest strokes) except it’s alternate picking, not double downs.

Thanks for the input guys. I am really hoping that I can have an “a-ha” moment at some point here, but for the most part I am pretty baffled

Sorry, I am notoriously dense… I just don’t understand how to physically execute what you guys are talking about. I mean, I got a wrist picking thing going a few years ago, but boy did it feel awkward changing strings, and it just didn’t seem to be obvious how to do that efficiently. I had a tough time seeing the benefit of doing that instead of what I already do because although I may sound like crap doing things the way I do them, it’s a lot worse doing things differently; maybe because I am misunderstanding some basic things about what you guys prescribe here.

As far as escape goes, wouldn’t it be kind of trapped between the strings anytime I am playing “in between” strings? The exception being High E and Low E, because there is no string above the Low E, and no string below the high E? How am I supposed to make a pick do a pendulum motion with any kind of efficiency? I do an extension for one stroke then a rotation for the next? I’ll try it but it seems pretty ungainly.

Anyways, I made a video showing y’all that I can play, and all the “basic things” you guys talk about are pretty under control. Even notes on a single string, across strings, etc. is no sweat. Alternate picking odd number of notes is kind of a hang-up, but if I am good and warmed up I can do an ascending 3nps scale pretty quick with strict alternate picking. My go-to for that is to kind of Gambale style it and sweep it; I didn’t do that in the video because I want you to see my alternate picking. No warmups, no rehearsal I just want you guys to see what’s what. I think it’s a realistic representation of what I have going on. Far from perfect, I know.

I can play pretty much anything I want, but I have to move the notes around a bit - so saying that pentatonic 5’s are impossible with “elbowers” is inaccurate; I just did them again in this video repeatedly.
2 nps things are very difficult, and I almost always need to do a workaround with the notes to make it 5 on a single string, or 3 on one string 2 on the other, and sweep some notes to not get caught up in the strings.

I am happy to put in the work - but not if it isn’t going anywhere. I’m happy to pay the site membership also, but not until I make some sort of step forward with the information I already paid for.

Thanks for any input, and yes I massacre notes sometimes lol