String Tracking methods

So I have three ways of string tracking, and I’m not sure which one is best for me in the long run. Was wondering what you guys would recommend. First off, I have the technique where my hand largely stays in the same plays and just plays at different angles:

This is probably the most firm anchor, but it can be very tough to really hit the lowest strings properly.

The second is one where I move the elbow to attack the strings at roughly the same angle:

This one feels the most logical but it actually feels the stiffest out of them all, and can be a real workout for my arm

The third… hard to explain, but I’m basically just following the natural clockwork movement of my arm, pivoting from the elbow.

This actually feels the most comfortable and natural… except it’s also the most messy, and since I’m not anchoring on the bridge, I now have to anchor a bit on the body, and this can cause my palm to accidentally hit the strings.

I’m aware the answer is always “whichever works for you” but is there a really good way I haven’t tried? Do you think one generally works best over the others?


I sometimes regret that we created the term “string tracking” because people seem to worry about it way more than they should. For most things, it’s practically impossible to separate string tracking motion from picking motion anyway, even if you wanted to.

Short story, for small string distances, like phrases that occur on two and three strings, just sit in one spot. For larger string distances, like 4-6, move to the new spot. And above all, try not to think too much about it!

I hope i am not overthinking but like Suhrite i feel that stringtracking has a lot of influence on my playing:

There is a repertoire of fast runs i can perform reliably when i practice them in isolation. However, i will mess them up most of the time when i try to incorporate them in a riff. Starting runs at low strings during rythm playing doesnt cause any problems but switching into a 1 string run on the high e after playing, idk, powercords on the lower ones messes up my playing. I can think of no other reason than weird stringtracking causing this.

When i focus on moving the whole arm to the higher strings (as you do in the second video) the shifts seem to work better. So that might be an advantage of that specific string tracking method.

More natural learners might think of this consideration as overcomplicating the issue but when do i large jumps the way they seem intuitive i just end up in weird hand positions.

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I don’t necessarily think there is one answer for each player, especially if you mix things up in terms of mechanics - for example when comparing scalar 3nps (1WPS and 2WPS) and 1nps double escaped arpeggios. String tracking happens after more notes on the former thus can be more easily anticipated and can be done with small wrist switches (between 2 to 3 strings) and then a larger (arm) switch to get to the next set of strings. With the latter, the switching is more frequent where the small and large switches are kind of blended and more varied.

The again, maybe it should be the same and thats where I’m going wrong.

As @Troy states, we are probably overthinking it. What I do think is important (and something that I’n struggling with) is maintaining the ulner offset when tracking to new string sets - I don’t think I’m maintaining it on the 2 lowest strings. Which could be why the below happens

Switching between rhythm and lead back and forth is something a lot of players struggle with. In my experience it’s not so much the string tracking as it is the hand position on the bridge.

For example, let’s say I’m playing a funky rhythm, say a Em7 on the 7th fret, 16ths feel. Let’s say I want to play one bar of this and the next bar I want to play a lead phrase on the 12th fret and then back again to the rhythm.

I found it very difficult to do at first and it annoyed me because I couldn’t figure out why, since I could play both the rhythm as the lead parts well in isolation, but not in succession.

I found out that my right hand position was the main problem.

When I play funk rhythm, my hand sort of hovers over the strings, while when I’m playing lead I rest my hand on the bridge.

Switching between the two instantaneously took me a while to do seamlessly.

As far as string tracking goes, as long as you don’t apply too much force on your right hand when resting on the bridge and you make sure the pick angle is the same on every string, you will find that the string tracking goes automatically.

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Thanks for the advice!

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