Successful transition to USX from DSX

Hello! So after about a year and a half, I managed to get my usx down :slight_smile: I thought I might share some of my story here in case anyone finds it helpful.

This is a video from 2022 demonstrating my elbow dsx technique. This was the way I played ever since I remember myself.

This is me now, stay for the fast version at the end :slight_smile:

Main consideration for switching : Tone. I always thought my attack was weak and even when employing upstroke rest stroke in dsx, I couldn’ t get Troy’s massive and aggressive accent.
So here are some tips others may find useful:

  • The first time I managed to do usx tremolo was with a fully flexed wrist and fingernails grazing the pickguard. The gypsy style technique allows one to engage the forearm and minimizes the impact of secondary movements like wrist, thumb flex, at least in my experience. Maybe use a fretwrap initially to avoid distractions from string noise.

  • The sticky upstrokes problem : I found this can only be solved with time and continued practice. As the motion sets in, the upstrokes will stick less frequently. One thing that helped me was using a very thin and flexible pick. I am using a .50 mm pick in the usx video. I also prefer the tone from thinner picks now, more top end and some natural compression.

  • Stick with it. It will eventually work. If I did it, so can you. I gave up for almost an entire month at some point and went back to dsx, then one day i decided to try usx for the lulz and the motion was there, like it was learned in the time I wasn’ t practicing it.

A big thank you to Troy and the CtC team :smiley: I am enjoying the instrument more than ever thanks to you guys!
Here’ s the first thing I recorded when I finally felt comfortable with usx:

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This is an awesome success story. You mentioned him but you ought to tag @Troy directly to make sure he sees this. Congratulations on your motion!

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Thanks! And thanks for tagging Troy as well :slight_smile:

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Awesome playing!

I just want to point out, this specific phenomenon has happened to me and people I’ve observed so many times in large and small ways. My partner is a classical violinist who has become a very good classical mandolinist at this point. Her technique is reverse dart mixed escape / double escape. Plays all the arpeggio picking stuff, like the Chaconne and so on. She sometimes goes months without playing but sounds better each time she picks up the instrument. We talk about it all the time.

I’ve come to think there is some type of rewiring going on in the downtime, especially when it concerns trying to “figure out” (consciously or otherwise) unknown / unfamiliar techniques. Like the baking isn’t finished. But the system needs to be fed with lots of substrate beforehand — all kinds of different attempts at doing the thing, so it can sort it all out.

My partner’s “practice”, if you can call it that, is particularly suited to this because she sightreads large amounts of stuff in no particular order, jumping around from piece to piece as her interest dictates, with very little emphasis on trying to learn specific techniques, just playing parts. The reading really helps with this. Grab a book, open it up, start playing. Not like doofus guitar players who have to figure out patterns to practice or write licks. Hundreds of years of composers wrote all the good stuff already — just reach in at random.

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Sounds like when I would get stuck in a super hard part in a video game as a kid. I would come back months or even years later and it wouldn’t be hard for some reason.

siisx, similar boat here, long time DSX player, I’ve been practicing USX for about 16 months, around 6 days a week, it’s become a default for a lot of stuff. My USX speed is slowly increasing, now it’s almost as fast as my DSX was 16 months ago; I’ve been practicing so much that my DSX speed increased as well so my USX if forever playing catch up. Do you notice different speed limits between the 2 forms?

That’s interesting that your USX is louder than your DSX, mine’s the other way around. If I was possessed to intentionally break a string, DSX would be the means.

Yes, my usx tremolo picking with flexed wrist forearm rotation (gypsy style) can go up to 220bpm and it feels smooth and relaxed, this was also what tipped the scale heavily in favor of fully adopting usx, this motion had a fluency and attack that I always wanted. My dsx goes up to around 180-190 with elbow and never felt very comfortable or controlled.

Granted, I can’t really play at 220 with usx either, lack of coordination between the hands, but I can do stuff like van halen’ s tremolo from eruption and it’ s nice for ‘reconfiguring’ my motion when secondary movements start creeping in after extended practice periods, like thumb flexing (although I’m not entirely sure this is a bad thing after watching Teemu’s interview :stuck_out_tongue: - I think the best thing to do when this happens is to take a break and let the ‘rewiring’ happen )

I did this gallop video for a student recently where i’m playing the same riff both usx and dsx, I feel
there is a slight difference in tone, but would it ever be noticeable in a mix? Probably not .

There’s more stuff to consider when playing leads though, for me ascending scales with usx sweeps sound more articulate than hammer-on assisted runs with dsx

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Great playing! Congrats on your progress!

And that video of you playing the galloping riff is so revealing! The change of motion is crazy drastic and that makes it even cooler.

Btw, with which part of your hand do you palm mute? I guess it’s with the area where the pinky meets the palm of your hand?

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Yes, and with dsx it’s the thumb side. Everything I do is pretty much stock CtC instructions :smiley: , except maybe the thumb wiggle which tends to occur sometimes with usx.

I get some more string noise with usx when playing my ibanez compared to dsx, maybe it has to do with the much hotter pickups and the fact that the thumb side of the palm is closer to the neck pickup, where the strings have no harmonics that tend to ring out.

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Hey congrats on learning a new escape motion!

I have been able to do the same, dsx to usx except for one issue. The down sweep. How the heck do you keep it in time? I can do it at super high speeds were the space between notes is imperceptible l, but at high speeds of like 180-220, keeping that sweep in time with a rest stroke has escaped me. Did you encounter any difficulties with the sweep stroke?

Isn’t 180-220 considered super high speed already :stuck_out_tongue: ? I’ll dare to say the unthinkable: Time for slow practice :open_mouth:

Seriously though, refining the motion is a longer process and it makes total sense to slow down in order to iron out these problems. Personally didn’t encounter this issue, but that’s what I’d do at this point.

This is really fantastic to hear, congratulations on your progress!

I have battled with the exact same issues, particularly the frustration of low string playing and palm muting forcing the palm to overhang on TOM style bridges when using DSX (which is my natural form). Also when attempted USX the thumb tends to get involved and I can’t pick consistently or quickly.

I too have found the only way to comfortably achieve USX is to do as you also described: use an angled wrist, with the palm away from the body and the fingers brushing on the body/pickguard for support. Because this form could not achieve string or palm muting, I haven’t pursued it any further, but your experience is showing that maybe I should be practicing it more.

Thanks for sharing your findings!

I definitely recommend revisiting the flexed wrist form. This is all I did for quite a while, I used a cloth as a fret wrap to mute the strings so I could practice pure forearm usx undistracted. Over time and as the picking became more precise and with some strategic barring from the left hand, I found the noise was minimized even without the wrap.

From there the goal became to slowly bring the wrist in while maintaining the rotational mechanic. This took the longest amount of time, thumb wiggle would constantly creep in sooner or later and I was never able to play more than 2-3 fast notes on a string before getting sticky. Patience and persistence is all I can advise at this point, but sometimes a break from practicing may be the best thing to do, like troy said earlier.

My fingers still graze the guitar body at all times, even when playing the gallops. At least the ring finger is always in contact. On the higher strings, I will even anchor with more fingers. I don’t feel comfortable with a totally free hand and usx. Hope this helps :pray: happy practicing

Really interesting you say that, that’s the same way I got my motion. Started in a floating flexed gypsy position and I slowly brought the wrist in to the bridge over time :grin:

Do you have any more footage of your motion where you are not wearing sleeves? I’m not seeing much forearm wiggle so I’m wondering if you’re motion is the wrist-based variant of RDT USX you see in players like Mark Tremonti and Igor Paspalj (though sometimes Igor has a bit of wiggle). I’ve been trying to experiment with this more recently!

EDIT:
It’s weird, I feel like I might see some forearm wiggle in Malmsteen Style Lick video but not so much at the end of the Rising Force video, I know USX players have been known to flip-flop between different variations of USX so maybe that is what’s going on here?

I too started learning USX with a bent wrist, gypsy jazz/Doug Aldrich-esque sort of form. At first it was the only way I could achieve USX and I rejected it thinking I’d never be able to palm with it. I finally gave in and practiced wity that form despite it seeming there was no path to palm muting but over time I was able to do a similar USX motion with palm muting thanks to allowing myself to practice that form. I still do non palm muted lines that way. Regardless of whether or not I’m palm muting, the pinky is anchored and the ring and sometimes middle finger graze the body, those fingers actually wore the cheap finish off my guitar.

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Yep that is almost exactly the same with me, I could only do it on the high e string to start with but moved onto the others strings through a series of months while slowly making my hand flatter. Eventually I want to achieve complete USX mastery by being able to switch between wrist, wrist/forearm and pure forearm all on the fly depending which suits the line best :grin:

I think this is what Yngwie is demonstrating here, pure forearm for super fast primarily single string lines and then wrist/forearm when the lines are more complex:

Also, he use to do more finger motion back in the day but occasionally still does some now and then I believe he has a wrist/forearm DBX motion for his pedal point stuff as well, so throw all that on top! Insane! :laughing:

You might as well be right, it’s totally possible I made modifications to the form without being entirely conscious of them. I always thought about forearm rotation, but there’s probably a rather significant wrist component to the motion as well . Here’s is an unplugged usx tremolo video with rolled up sleeve. This is the fastest I can do this without flexing the wrist , and I missed a couple notes here and there :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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I’ve never tried learning a pure USX form, but I find it very interesting that many in this thread report starting with one form which then morphed a bit into something else over time. As if doing the most ‘dramatic’ version of the technique was what helped unlock it, almost like a ‘training wheels’ kind of situation. Are there dramatic versions for other techniques that could help unlock them?

Thanks for the video, this is all fascinating to me!

For DSX I started with an upward pickslant before working out a zero-degree pickslant but the change was way less dramatic :slight_smile:

I believe @joebegly used a three finger pick grip while working out his DBX motion and that helped out his version with a regular grip, maybe that is another form of this taking place?

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