Struggling with 1WPS

in short, I’m struggling to practice & implement material from the Pickslanting Primer.

my background is that I’m 31 years old, and I’ve been a string jumper for a long time for at least a decade (if not nearly two decades). it’s uncanny how much of my playing I heard immediately in the string jumping example from the Pickslanting Primer. seriously, give me any '80s King Crimson odd-time arpeggio and I’ll string jump the shit out of it for you (within reasonable tempos).

given my love for odd fretboard patterns like you find in King Crimson’s “Discipline”, I had half a mind to immediately start working on learning two-way pickslanting.

but, I decided to start with one-way pickslanting, so as to take things step-by-step and not try to take on too much all at once.

having tested myself as suggested in the Pickslanting Primer, it seems pretty clear that my primary motion is wrist motion. however, it’s a little harder to tell which way I might prefer to pickslant.

downward pickslanting is comfortable, because I like to start with downstrokes, and I can do the motions reasonably fast. my main struggle with downward pickslanting is that I can’t seem to figure out how to do the USX at high speeds. instead, at high speed I revert to this awful habit where I rest stroke on both adjacent strings, and my escape is trapped on both sides. another problem I have with downward pickslanting is that the pick just doesn’t feel stable between my fingers, unless I squeeze it tight - I seriously can’t imagine how Mike Stern seems to manage his pick flopping around so easy.

I found some advice from Troy and Tommo that I could try a different pick grip and see if that might help me to avoid the old double rest stroke/zero escape habit, so I went with the side-pad trigger grip that Troy describes in the Pickslanting Primer. this grip feels pretty unnatural compared to my old grip is thumb and index pad-to-pad, forming a big Steve Morse-like hole, and it doesn’t seem to help me do USX at high speeds. I feel pretty discouraged about this. I suppose that could also try changing to trailing edge picking, as I default to leading edge picking.

I’ve experimented to a lesser degree with upward pickslanting, although I’m starting to prefer it to downward pickslanting. it’s comfortable enough, and I seem to be doing the DSX motion. the main problem I have with upward pickslanting is that it feels awkward to start the Volcano lick with upstrokes (to anticipate changing strings on a downstroke). however, this problem seems much easier to deal with than the problem of learning how to do USX, which is the main rason I’ve started to prefer practicing upward pickslanting.

likewise, I’m feeling discouraged about upward pickslanting, because my fast volcano lick seems to not be getting any cleaner or smoother, and I’m not sure how to practice getting this better.

sometimes practicing the material from the Pickslanting Primer and from the Volcano Seminar feels a lot like practicing has felt for a long time - I sit there with my guitar and wonder if I’m missing some attention to detail, or super high degree of concentration, or maybe the opposite like some total mental free-ness. like sure, now I’m aware that I’d been ignorant of efficient escape motion mechanics, but am I still as ignorant as ever of the would-be secret sauce that enables players to get these movements under their fingers or even allows them to discover these mechanics for themselves in the first place? maybe this is an unhelpful way of thinking that I’m better off not indulging.

can anyone offer some suggestions or advice, or even ask some good questions that I’ve missed?

I’m currently in Austin, TX, if by any chance anyone might be available to try helping me out in-person. I’m going to start working with an Alexander technique teacher soon, in hopes that their expertise in movement might help me to help myself.

thanks very much to Troy for his work.

edit:
to summarize:
pickslanting: currently DSX. eventually I’d like to go two-way. when I try USX, I end up with no escape, just rest stroking on both adjacent strings.
pick grip: currently experimenting with thumb-to-index pad-side trigger grip, as detailed in Pickslanting Primer. historically, I’ve used thumb pad to index pad.
edge picking: leading edge. I’m not sure how to characterize much edge/slide I like.
pick thickness: I feel most comfortable with a 351 style .6mm pick. I’ve been experimenting with a Dunlop Prime Tone 1.4mm Jazz III, a Dunlop Big Stubby 3mm, a 351 style .88mm, and one of those rotationally symmetrical .73mm picks, but none of those feel very good, even why I try to adjust for their roundness by changing my pickslanting (less pickslanting if I want less slide, right?). I have one .6mm pick that’s slightly stiiffer than the Dunlop Tortex .6mm, and that’s the one I love the most.

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As far as pick grip, I can’t push against my index finger tip comfortably and I’ve gotten a lot of use out of trigger grip but pressing the pick against the last joint in my index finger before the tip, and tucking my middle finger up against the index so the same joint on the middle and index kinda press together for support.

Then I push with the thumb pad, I’ve been trying to adjust to pressing with any bony part of my thumb or closer to the tip as well. Just getting the pick situated between harder surfaces with more support from the middle finger. That’s been working nicely, I can pick much harder with a more relaxed feeling grip than before.

I can weigh in on the AT stuff-- I’m an undergrad college student (despite my username) and I took private lessons with an instructor through my school this past semester. They were very valuable in terms of life stuff but I do not think they would have a good ROI on your guitar technique in terms of time and money invested compared to what a good guitar teacher, online or in person, would be able to offer, unless your teacher specializes in guitar (mine had a flute background). I would do them if you’re interested in more effectively using your body in general but if guitar is strictly what you’re considering them for I’d say they aren’t worth it.

On pick stability-- try different picks and a higher degree of edge picking. I use the Andy James signature Dunlop Flow model with a lot of (leading edge) edge picking, hold the pick very lightly, and it doesn’t move around at all, because the pick (due to those two factors) faces little resistance from the strings. If I use a standard pick (like the ones with the turtles on them) I have to grip much tighter and this hurts my index finger joints.

On double rest strokes-- for both upstroke and downstroke escape wrist motion, try consciously making your pickstrokes exaggeratedly long (to the point where they are longer than the distance between strings and that, if you set up a mirror, you can clearly see them getting out of the plane of the strings) and doing rest strokes (on downstrokes with USX and vice versa for DSX). This is how I taught myself USX forearm rotation and mixed-escape wrist playing, by focusing on visibly nailing the escapes. Worry about playing efficiently and tension free and increasing speed after-- this shouldn’t take long, just hit 140 bpm 16th notes pretty easily and then move on.

Another suggestion is to try motions other than wrist. If you like downstroke escape players then try elbow motion, and if you like upstroke escape players try forearm rotation. Both are done with the wrist consciously still, and this may help your motor system to think it’s learning something entirely new instead of getting confused with your existing habits, which aren’t suitable for playing fast.

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Hey @vac welcome to the forum!

I think the best thing you could do is film the motions you mentioned. It seems like you have a handle on what’s happening, but…I’ve seen about 300 similar posts and a lot of times, even quite experienced players were not actually doing what they think they were doing. The videos proved it.

You’re definitely on track with wanting to conquer one-way pickslanting (single escape). Diving straight into 2-way is definitely not what Troy recommends.

My gut tells me if DSX feels comfortable to you, that’s what you should be concentrating on. It doesn’t mean you’ll have to do this forever. But chances are, you’ll get good at this much more quickly than you will get good at something else (USX) that feels unnatural at the higher speeds.

Also, nothing in that Volcano seminar is going to work (as tabbed) if you’re a DSX player. You’ll have to either refinger, start on an upstroke or add hammers/pulls in different places to make it all work out. And it can work out as the amazing @adamprzezdziecki shows us here:

To follow up on my previous point, I’m almost certain most elite players discover these mechanics for themselves because they think differently than the rest of us - they find something that feels easy, and they roll with it. Those of us who put in lots of work but still feel unsuccessful (myself), tend to focus on the things we’re bad at and practice those things a lot in the hopes we’ll get better at them. Once you get very good at one thing (like DSX) it’s very easy to reference other things off that. If you’ve never felt a fast, smooth, controlled motion at high tempos before…you don’t know what to base anything else off of. Once you feel it though, lots of doors start to open up.

Anyway, sorry for the longwinded post. Welcome, and I wish you the best of luck! You’re in the right place, you just need to get a solid plan going, some community guidance on your motions is step 1.

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thanks, all. I’ll get back to practicing now, and see where I’m at.

exaggerated motion and 140bpm - got it. those are useful tips!

I may try start mixing some forearm rotation practice in, for the sake of variety, of not getting hung up on the thing that I’ve got to nail at all costs, and of getting my brain into the learning mode (rather than the habitual mode).

I play lefty, so I’m quite used to adapting to these kinds of things. think about it, Troy’s wrist clock metaphor has to be flipped for lefties.

I also plan on sharing some videos soon.

I can weigh in on the AT stuff-- I’m an undergrad college student (despite my username) and I took private lessons with an instructor through my school this past semester. They were very valuable in terms of life stuff but I do not think they would have a good ROI on your guitar technique in terms of time and money invested compared to what a good guitar teacher, online or in person, would be able to offer,

I fear that finding a guitar teacher who can help me with Troy’s material will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. setting aside Troy’s material, I also fear that it’ll be hard to find a teacher with their own valid and useful teaching methods, given that this website’s contents seems so rare and cutting edge. is this fear generally inaccurate?

I’ll grant that there are going to be guitar teachers out there who would be able to help me out. it’s also possible that I might be able to expose a teacher to Troy’s material for the first time, and that they might be able to work with me on it.

or maybe there are a decent number of guitar teachers who are capable of high quality teaching, but need to be presented with specific goals and questions?

I’m not sure how to approach this, so I said fuck it, I’d rather look for a movement expert who’ll be willing to help me with guitar playing mechanics specifically.

do you (or anyone else) have any particular advice on how to work with a guitar teacher on Troy’s material? or, again setting Troy’s material aside, working with a teacher and getting more out of them than “practice slowly and gradually play it faster”?

Yes, but here are a few needles, and they are all pretty sharp :slight_smile:

@Tom_Gilroy

@JakeEstner

@Bill_hall
(not positive if he does virtual lessons or not)

There is also Teemu, who Troy interviewed and is very knowledgeable about Troy’s findings:

https://www.instagram.com/teemumantysaari/?hl=en
(link says message for Skype lessons)

Another Troy interviewee is Martin Miller. Same deal as Teemu:

I consider myself pretty experienced. I put everything I have into guitar/music and went to music school. I have degree in theory, composition and classical guitar performance. I’m also pretty dense and it takes concepts a while to sink in for me. I’ve had a membership to Troy’s platform for over 2 years and I spend a good deal of time on the forum too. I’m still wrong about all sorts of things and feel like every couple weeks I uncover something else I’m doing incorrectly (that’s a dig at myself, not Troy’s platform). We’ve seen lots of people post nice speed gains almost immediately after finding the right picking motion, but the concepts take a while to sink in even for good players (months). Point being, I wouldn’t pay someone for lessons who is in the ‘figuring it out’ phase. Get someone who understands Troy’s work and will steer your correctly, from the beginning.

Good luck!

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Thanks for the mention, @joebegly !

Just in the interest of public transparency, I wanted to note that as of this time, I think I’ve made a ton of progress with 1nps compared to how I used to be with it, but I don’t think I’ve really accessed the secret sauce of it, and probably still am working off some misconceptions (though I guess we all probably are to some extent.) To be simplistic I’d say my DBX movement used to be a hoppy mess, but now I can do a lot of stuff with it, but I’m not going to be recording my full tempo Tumeni Notes cover any time soon.

I can probably help someone problem solve a little bit if they are just starting out with it, or if they’ve already done a more thorough thread and they’re trying to make sense of the advice given.

For anything else, if anybody wants to reach out about availability/options, feel free.

Thank you for the mention @joebegly . Great line, by the way.

@vac, if you (or anybody else) would like to discuss lessons or technique consultations, please feel free to contact me.

I’m sure there are a lot of excellent guitar teacher out there, however

I’d really recommend against this. The most likely outcome is that you’ll end up spending your lesson times trying to explain the basic concepts and principles of CTC to your teacher, on your dollar. Even if you choose to work with a teacher other than myself, I’d recommend working with somebody who already has a working knowledge of the subject.

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