Trying a double escape again...close up video

Ok, hope I’m not turning into an “ask-hole” - I’ve been revisiting the double escape concept, this time trying to be more methodical, reviewing Troy’s vids and posts,etc. I’ve posted some videos before (like here ) and recognized that my movements were essentially ‘way off’ , more or less, but had to temporarily conclude that I couldn’t afford to spend the time required to really dig into the technique. (Helllllo coronavirus!) I want to thank everybody who chimed in on that thread and the previous one as there’s a lot of good stuff in there for me to continue to work with.

Is this ballpark? I’m just playing a three string roll over and over again, it’s about 10% speed.

I still have plenty of videos and threads to view/read/revisit, but I’ve been trying to do a lot of slow mo vids of myself like this to see if I’m doing what I think I’m doing. In this case, I was trying really hard to make all the motions a ‘side to side’ wrist movement like Troy describes in the May 2018 ‘crosspicking with the wrist’ members video, and avoid forearm rotation which I think is usually a big part of how I pick stuff.

Thanks in advance!

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In general this looks good to me, but it’s a little hard to tell in super slow mo. Slow motion is good for seeing what path the pick is moving and which strings are being picked / not picked. But it always helps to see a regular speed version to get a sense of the speed, motion smoothness, and of course sound.

In general, when you do this, you shouldn’t be able to perceive any semicircular motion of the hand. It should just feel like the hand is moving back and forth in a straight line with no effort or resistance to going faster. If that’s what it feels like, then it’s good!

Also, does your phone have a 120fps or at least a 60fps mode? Because all the blurriness you’re seeing here would go away in those modes. It’s not just the fact that slow motion is more detailed, it has less motion blur, and also has less “rolling shutter” which is the jello effect that sometimes makes the hand look distorted. This a problem that all digital cameras have but it’s reduced when the camera is working more quickly. In short, if you have a slow-motion mode, it’s absolutely worth using.

This is more of an aside, but you are using the least amount of pick grip exposure (amount of pick available below the fingers) that I’ve ever seen, less than anyone we’ve filmed. Maybe it’s just the motion blur but I really can’t see any pick exposure at all. I would think this would make it harder to pick notes without also hitting them with the flesh of the fingers and unintentionally damping them, particularly when the strings really get vibrating as they have a tendency to do with roll patterns. If that’s not an issue then no worries. But experimenting with different grips, even ones you have no intention of staying with, is a nice way to introduce mechanical variation that can really help make it clear when a motion is really working and when it isn’t. If you can do a thing a few different ways, this helps cement the feeling of what “correct” actually is.

Awesome! Glad to know I’m at least getting the general idea here and not a million miles away.

Re: normal speed plus slow mo-mode, see:

new clip, 10% speed:

same clip, normal speed:

strings are muted intentionally by a shirt wrapped around the neck, so that I wouldn’t wake up my wife when I was making the clip this AM.

front facing clip playing some notes:

might have been a little unintentional ‘thumb pump’ in that one.

overall what I think is happening, what I’m aiming for this go is the little forearm ‘slope’ mentioned, and the 902 wrist movements. I’m not sure if that’s happening, and not sure how much forearm wiggle is too much.

In these clips I’m aiming to get the correct movement and accepting wrong notes/missed notes/etc as A-ok and ‘clean up later’ rather than being precise but with my more familiar movements

In general, when you do this, you shouldn’t be able to perceive any semicircular motion of the hand. It should just feel like the hand is moving back and forth in a straight line with no effort or resistance to going faster. If that’s what it feels like, then it’s good!

It’s a little hard to tell. I would not say it feels comfortable but in part I have some issues with my hands/arms/wrist/neck that make more or less everything at least slightly uncomfortable, so there’s that. Also, I do feel like I can set up in this position and do a fast strum across 2-3 strings, but I can’t say with certainty if I start doing a different kind of movement once I start picking the individual notes.

Another variable that makes it tricky for me to assess that specific issue is that I’m very comfortable with all the patterns and the music, alternate picking wonky things, just my normal movements have that low tempo ceiling. So as I try to speed up something gets in the way but I’m not sure what it is, and whether what it is is a problem or not. Obviously I don’t expect it to just click and then I’m doing the roll at 150bpm or something. I definitely would say this feels like a much more comfortable way to alternate pick 1nps stuff for sure.

This is from last week:

And this is from four years ago:

So things definitely look and feel smoother, so I’ll keep at it

Also, does your phone have a 120fps or at least a 60fps mode? Because all the blurriness you’re seeing here would go away in those modes. It’s not just the fact that slow motion is more detailed, it has less motion blur, and also has less “rolling shutter” which is the jello effect that sometimes makes the hand look distorted. This a problem that all digital cameras have but it’s reduced when the camera is working more quickly. In short, if you have a slow-motion mode, it’s absolutely worth using.

Damn, thanks for that…I feel so silly that I forgot about the slo mo mode. That’s much better.

This is more of an aside, but you are using the least amount of pick grip exposure (amount of pick available below the fingers) that I’ve ever seen, less than anyone we’ve filmed. Maybe it’s just the motion blur but I really can’t see any pick exposure at all. I would think this would make it harder to pick notes without also hitting them with the flesh of the fingers and unintentionally damping them, particularly when the strings really get vibrating as they have a tendency to do with roll patterns. If that’s not an issue then no worries.

Interesting! I’ll throw that in the pile of things to play with. In today’s clips I had the pick sticking out a bit more. I’ve been trying varying pick sizes too - I don’t think I’ve had any issues with finger flesh touching the strings, however base of the thumb flesh definitely gets on there and mutes, but I figured I would see if I can get that big picture happening first and then iron out those sorts of details - unless the base of the thumb hitting the strings is indication of something else that might be getting in my way.

A bit more?? Dude I have fingernails longer than that! Hilarious. It really looks like you’d be hitting the strings with the fingers as you do this. As you can see Molly’s got way more leeway to get the strings moving. Not a big deal, if it’s not a problem it’s not a problem.

These look good. I saw the recent Insta clip and it also looked good. Yes, the older clip is stringhopping, massively different than this. So you are on the right track. In general:

…yes, given your level of playing ability and generally speedy motion, this should be what happens. It might not be clean. But you should be able to put your hand on the guitar and move it at exactly that tempo or the general ballpark, across three strings, and feel no resistance, prior injuries notwithstanding. Obviously if you hit some random strings that’s fine. But it should still be different from strumming where you’re intentionally plowing through the strings.

Also, this fast speed is just a first step. It’s like a reminder of what “easy” should feel like. Once you have that, you’re going to go a little slower, to the next slower speed where things get a little cleaner. And then youy can go a little slower to where things get a little cleaner from that.

Just keep in mind that when you go too slow you start playing mind games with yourself. You’re like, yeah, I’m really working on this, getting those notes accurate, making that my excellent form permanent and putting in the time on this. It doesn’t feel easy but that’s only because I’m really concentrating now, trying to be accurate. But then you try it again at 150 or whatever, accuracy be damned, and you’re like, oh, that’s what easy feels like. That’s when you realize, ok, yeah, I’ve just been doing it wrong at those slower speeds. So you keep ping-ponging around like this between the super easy and the slightly slower but hopefully still easy, but a little more accurate. Don’t waste time by putting lots of hours into something if it doesn’t feel easy, because if it’s not easy it’s likely wrong, even if it’s only in some small way.

Also, try not to think of this as an arpeggio picking technique. It’s just a wrist motion, and the best way to learn it is to play as wide a variety of things with it as possible. What happens is that in the end game it will not be one motion, where you do perfect double escape semicircles all the time. When you film Andy Wood and slow him down, you see all kinds of little tweaks depending on the phrase. Some parts of the phrase will look more upstroke escape, some will look more downstroke escape, and some will look double because they have to, to get over the string.

So ultimately you’re not concerned with making a semicircular motion all the time, you’re just concerned with maintaining this arm position, and making a motion that feels like a straight-line, back and forth motion all the time, with ease and fluidity. If you feel your arm jerking around or trying to twist or turn on you, that’s not wrist motion, that’s forearm motion. You don’t need it. Over time, you will learn to make the correct motions with the wrist alone by judging the smoothness of feel and the accuracy of sound. Occasionally you can verify with the camera, as you have in these excellent clips, that hte notes really are as clean as you think they are while playing. They won’t always be, but that’s good feedback to have. Sometimes the video will even look better than you think. An occasional spot check is always helpful.

Anyway nice work here. Any more video of interesting stuff we’re always happy to take a look.

A bit more?? Dude I have fingernails longer than that! Hilarious.

Mods!! I’m being harassed!

Kidding - actually, giving it a few days experimentation I’ve found my flesh WAS hitting the strings at times and, long story short, having more pick exposed has led to some other positive things.

…yes, given your level of playing ability and generally speedy motion, this should be what happens. It might not be clean . But you should be able to put your hand on the guitar and move it at exactly that tempo or the general ballpark, across three strings, and feel no resistance, prior injuries notwithstanding. Obviously if you hit some random strings that’s fine. But it should still be different from strumming where you’re intentionally plowing through the strings.

Interesting. I’d say I have not experienced something that feels like this while doing the set up I’ve displayed in these videos. Basically, with this set up displayed in these vids, I can maybe strum the strings quick, or move my pick entirely above the plane of the strings back and forth and occasionally reach under and grab one, but I’m guessing that doesn’t quite even meet the criteria of ‘fast and sloppy.’ If I want to start hitting any individual strings at all it seems I have move my forearm around at least a little - but I’ve found it’s definitely not twisting, it seems to be more so creating some degree of the ‘ceiling to floor’ type of movement required in the whole thing. I think this is a big component of any other type of playing that I do that involves speed and switching strings. but A. I could be wrong about any of that, and B. I’ll continue tooling around with the wrist-only approaches.

Otherwise, all your comments on speed here are super helpful and I’ll keep tooling around.

I’m trying to wrap my mind around a few things anatomically/physically, and I might struggle to phrase the question(s)

Is my basic understanding of string hopping as it relates to 1nps stuff correct here? It’s hard to pick 1nps arpeggios at ‘fast’ tempos if we use wrist extension to bring the pick out of the plane of the strings on both the downstroke and the upstroke. Because if we use wrist extension to leave the strings with the downstroke, then wrist flexion to bring the pick back to the strings, then extension to leave the plane with the upstroke, then flexion to come back to the string and start over again, we’re asking that group of muscles to perform a task that pretty much everybody finds pretty tiring for any of what we consider ‘fast’ guitar playing. And this is true regardless of which muscle group is pushing the pick through the string for the ceiling-to-floor component of the movement - the wrist still has to go out and back fo every single note. And this would also be true of some other muscle groups that could bring the pick in and out of the plane, like if we used the same finger movement to go in and out on both the downstroke and upstroke. Or hypothetically even movement from the shoulder to move the whole arm (kind of like a cartoon/movie robot) , we have the same issue of asking the body to do a lot more work per note, in comparison to the layout we’ve observed from people like Tuttle, Morse, Wood, Miller, etc.

Do I have that all correct?

Forearm pronation/supination may not result in the same kind of string hopping fatigue issue because both pronation and supination can do both bring the pick out of the plane and also back to the string. So with pronation/supination we can hypothetically have pick strokes that go: pronation on a downstroke, leaves the plane of strings, supination to bring the pick back to the string, supination to keep going through the string for an upstroke, pick leaves the plane of the strings, pronation to come back to the string, keep going for the downstroke, etc. But that excludes other problems with ‘forearm turny’ movements, I’m just trying to wrap my head around the anatomy.

In the set up laid out in the May 2018 live vid, we get some extension and some ulnar deviation (or wait, all extension?) on the downstroke, and pure radial deviation on the upstroke. In this set up, the extension both produces the pick stroke (the ‘ceiling to floor’ movement) and also puts the pick out of the plane of the strings. And the same is true of the deviation/up stroke , one movement from one joint to both produce the upstroke and also to leave the plane of the strings. So the wrist extension muscle has 1/2 the work it has to do in comparison to the string hopping set up I tried to describe above.

Yes?

And my understanding is you advocate this set up as a good first one to try as it has the least margin of error, the simplest one, relatively speaking, for just having a blunt distinction between doing it vs not doing it. If we involve other components like finger, elbow, shoulder, etc, there become a dizzying number of variables, especially when we have something like a downstroke that has some set of muscles responsible for bring the pick out of the plane and a different set of muscles responsible for bring the pick ‘down’ to the floor to go through the string.

Part of the reason I want to double check all that is because the most ‘eureka’ moment I’ve had so far has been getting some roll patterns going with a bit of what I think may be additional forearm movement to go ‘ceiling to floor’ , to push the pick through the strings while it may be the wrist extension/deviation combo to bring the pick in and out of the plane of the strings. Something sort of clicked when I was playing the other day and I had some moments of the 3 string roll feeling very smooth and loose, sloppy, but fast and still mostly hitting the strings. I put it under the camera and slowed it down and to my eyes it looks like what I just described , yet it’s hard to recreate since I’m not exactly what it is/was and whether I’d be going down the wrong path to keep pursuing it

After I typed the above paragraph I grabbed a guitar to see if I ‘had it’ this morning, and I think this is more or less what I’ve described but maybe there’s also some finger movement and arm pronation/supination , had to use the front facing camera so no slow-down mode:

normal speed:

10% speed:

I’m continuing to work with various different movements and also the strict wrist set up, but it seems like as odd as this combo shown might be, and seems to look very much unlike anything any of the successful crosspickers do, I shouldn’t ignore that this meets many of the checkboxes: doesn’t feel tiring or tense, feels comfortable and controlled.

I’m trying to phrase things carefully here because I don’t want to come off like “Hey Troy, thanks for taking all this time to explain to me how to use the wrist and avoid extra arm movement, after spending years researching and thinking about this and explaining it to so many different people, including many conversations where you’ve repeated the advice to me about avoiding arm movement for this, but hey what do you think about me using a bunch of arm movement, eh, that’s probably good right? Yeah cool I’m gonna do that!” You know that I’m a teacher and that kind of s*** drives me up the wall, so apologies if it comes off that way!!!

What I’m really trying to get to the bottom of (if there is one) is which elements of arm movements are “bad” and why, and which might be worth pursuing further if they seem to be working to some degree. Because as I understand it, the discouraging of arm stuff, to me, has been more about keeping it simple and finding a combo that’s easier to work with, manipulate, explain, discuss, etc?

Grateful always - starting to feel like I might finally be breaking through something here…

Everything you’ve written technically here is spot-on about stringhopping and how we have defined it, i.e. inefficient muscle reuse. I’d only add to that that this may not be the only reason we see some people playing slowly. For example, if you think about it, a “9-0-12” wrist motion would technically not be stringhopping because it wouldn’t have the reuse, but it would still be too v-shaped to do quickly. I think a lot of the examples of slow playing we see on here may also fall into that category.

But you don’t have a stringhopping problem. If you’re just musing about these topics for academic curiousity that’s totally fine, but you really don’t need to worry about whether anything you’re doing is or isn’t stringhopping, since none of the clips you’ve posted are that. I think at this point you have probably developed a sense for when something feels that off and you just don’t do it any longer. That’s a big step! Your old clips were basically a classic example of stringhopping.

The new clips here are actually wrist-elbow, not wrist-forearm. It’s a blend where the elbow does the tracking from string to string and the actual picking motion is still wrist. i.e. If you look at what the wrist is doing, it’s still the same set of motions as before. Carl Miner does some of that, so did Doc Watson.

Your example here looks fine. It’s not better or worse, just different. What’s happening here is you are flip-flopping around as you discover all these slightly different ways of accomplishing the same thing. You can choose to pursue them both, but it would be a bit like learning Italian and Spanish at the same time — related but different, and more work. That’s up to you.

So long as you don’t get bogged down, I think this type of experimentation can be helpful in learning what all these joint motions feel like, so that you can turn them on and off by feel along without looking. But at some point you need to move past the flip-flopping to where one or more of these motions actually gets good enough to play a variety of lines that way. That’s what I mean by not getting bogged down.

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Ok this is awesome - I think I developed a misunderstanding somewhere along the way that any of my arm movements were ‘bad,’ and/or that the arm should only come in on very wide string tracking, but I understand now that’s not really the ‘bad’ thing, at least not for the reasons I thought. I rewatched the “start with speed” youtube video as well as the one about trial and error, and Andy’s comments about just assessing whether it seems like something will physically work or not, and I’m feeling very confident now about what I need to do. It seems like at this point if it feels good, it is good, and I’ve been basically trying things fast and smooth and just trying to notice what happens when I either feel locked up or I don’t escape the plane, and making lots of good observations now about what seems to be working and not working.

Past few I’ve absolutely been getting some 1nps things smooth, clean and faster than I ever have, even though the tempos may be not be virtuosic yet, the fact that I don’t feel like I’d have to muscle through or tense up to squeeze out more BPM is extremely encouraging.

I’d only add to that that this may not be the only reason we see some people playing slowly. For example, if you think about it, a “9-0-12” wrist motion would technically not be stringhopping because it wouldn’t have the reuse, but it would still be too v-shaped to do quickly. I think a lot of the examples of slow playing we see on here may also fall into that category.

Understood. It’s been helpful to remember that this ‘curve’ or “not-straight-line” only needs to be not exactly equal to 6 hours, so theoretically a 9:00 - 0 - 2:59 can work if you’re using a theoretically small amount of pick on the string very little of the pick. I think for years the ‘curve’ tripped me up but in execution I feel what you have said about not perceiving any curve or in/out action - the distinction between a flat curve and a straight line at these tempos, with roughly the recommended amount of flatness, is just hard to actually notice when one is doing it…I think I’m getting that now

I think now what I was driving at with the ‘strum escapes’ thread was that there are arm movements I use when doing that kind of strum stuff that feel natural and also allow me to grab some single strings, and the movement that has been feeling good for the double escape single notes has some similarities, for me, to what I’m doing with that strum stuff. But now I also get the similarity doesn’t really have any direct practical application.

Hey so this is a little follow up progress post for anybody who might be lurking on this thread or curious about possible progress with double escape stuff

I’m happy to say that I’ve been making big improvements with this stuff over the past month or so, which is real exciting. I’m no Steve Morse yet, but so many things feel 10x smoother than they did just a short while ago.

Here are some clips

intro and verse of Molly Tuttle’s ‘white freightliner blues’:

It’s not perfect

  • some strokes that hit multiple strings when only one is intended
  • dynamics and control of tone/attack isn’t really on point yet
  • gotta work out some slight hand sync issues
  • this is a hair below her tempo, maybe like 133 vs her 142

But like I said, I was nowhere near this a short while ago

It was a big ‘aha’ moment when I realized that in her ‘roll’ pattern, when performed she doesn’t actually hit all 8ths of the measure, there are some longer notes. So in a sense this makes it easier, but also more confusing to analyze on video, as some strokes can be lazier as there’s 2x or 3x as much time available to get to the next string.

What’s also a little tricky or confusing is that she doesn’t play the exact same pattern each time, so the ‘student’ has to decide whether to distinguish between 4 extremely slight variations, or just pick one of them and practice that.

Anyway, here’s the roll up close at a moderate tempo:

Same thing slow speed (sorry, not the high frame rate):

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Man, that looks and sounds really good.

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