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.
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.