Trying to correct whatever is happening here... TC

I’ve identified what is my achilles heel of picking. I’m doing this very straightforward excecize just because I know that on the most basic playing this is where I have issues. Whenever I’m playing a single string fast, and then switch to another string, it doesn’t feel natural. It feels like I’m not in control and that it’s almost as if the pick is slipping to the next string or like I’m quickly brute forcing it.

The other problem I’m having is that I’m having trouble identifying what kind of hand position I use, let alone correcting it. Switching strings is hands down what is holding me back from playing faster songs. I want to emphasize that it’s not that I can’t move my wrist fast - it’s that when I try to play something fast and switch strings it becomes like a traffic jam. I mess up the first note, so the next note is out of time and so on.

I posted the link below. Any help would be much appreciated because I feel like I’m having issues identifying my core problem and what to practice.

Thank you!

Hey man, I’ve been working my way out of a similar predicament. Good, relaxed and fast tremolo speed but something just wouldn’t feel right changing the strings. No matter how long I practiced I would get a clean and effortless string change maybe 50% of the time.

I think what really helped was changing my mindset. You have to remember that there are kids out there that have figured out how to play passages at 200+bpm effortlessly without guidance, yet we are here focusing on micro-movements with the metronome. Analysis paralysis. Maybe try working on turning off that part of your brain that keeps you tense when the string change comes and almost tell yourself “I’m going to play this as lazily as possible”, eventually you will find a way to complete the motion that feels effortless.

Not sure if this helps but I’ve been practicing like this a few weeks and have made a lot of progress.

You didn’t describe the motion that you think that you have. Can you share that?

So if I’m playing naturally, I definitely play with a downward pick slant and not in the video, I have a habit of string hopping. While I’m listing things I will mention that as I go up to lower strings I have a bad habit of pick scraping as well. So, basically picture if Eric Johnson bumped down to an intermediate level player.

You kind of hit the nail on the head. It’s just super frustrating identifying the issue and not really knowing how to go about correcting it.

So you have USX. Can you easily change strings when there are an even number of notes per string? In this simplified case, do you exhibit “string hopping?” If so, why? What’s “pick scraping?”

String switching for single-escape techniques like USX and DSX seems to come in three levels of difficulty:

  • Easy 2, 4, 6, 8, … notes per string.
  • Medium 3, 5, 7, … notes per string (a HO or PO can turn it into the “easy” case).
  • Hard 1 note per string.

@mstarktv your problem is that you’re playing a phrase that requires escaping on downstrokes and upstrokes. This is non trivial. The number of players that can actually do this at high speeds is surprisingly small. If you asked Yngwie Malmsteen or Eric Johnson or Andy James to play the same phrase you’re playing, none of them could do it at the top speeds we’re used to hearing.

Try updating the phrase so that you play 4 notes on each string. If that’s hard, it means you don’t have a USX motion. Which is fine. You probably have a DSX motion. So you could probably play the 4 notes on each string starting with an upstroke. Many players who aren’t used to it report that as being “hard” too. So if that’s the case, no problem. I’ll get you a different pattern to test drive:


Your problem is not that you can’t change strings. Your problem is that you’re trying to play something that requires changing after upstrokes and downstrokes and that really hard. Troy does not recommend that as the next step after finding your fast motion. He recommends phrases that only change after up OR downs strokes, as per the implications of your motion.

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So I am finally able to reply. What is crazy to me is that I didn’t even realize that I was trying to play a downstroke after an upstroke. By feel, it just inherintely felt like I was doing a down stroke into another downstroke.

Playing 4 notes on each string starting with downstrokes is easier than starting with upstrokes. Starting with downstrokes feels like I’m trying to play backward :D. Thank you for pointing this out!

Using “exercises” and trying to speed them up doesn’t do anything. As @joebegly is pointing out, either the technique you’re using is appropriate for the phrase you’re trying to play or it’s not. If it’s not, no amount of practice will do anything.

This is because, as Joe points out, not all picking motions can play all phrases:

This is a solved problem. The most common picking motions can only play phrases with all-downstroke or all-upstroke string changes. This phenomenon, which we call “escape motion”, is not related to which pickstroke you start on. Here’s the Primer overview on this subject. You may not have seen this yet, that’s fine here’s the link:

And here’s a slightly more technical reference:

Have you filmed your tremolo and determined the escape? This will tell you which phrases pair with it. Once you have that, you can try to play phrases that have that escape, and only that escape. They should feel easy and have few or no mistakes. That’s the test. If they don’t, something is wrong.

If you get hung up, make a TC on the platform, we’re happy to take a look — it’s what you’re paying for! Just remember to include high frame rate video of your tremolo. Make sure it’s a true high-fps video. Here are some general guidelines:

I’d also consider letting a little more pick be exposed in your grip. If I can barely see the pick, even with Magnet video, that a really small amount of pick. It just increases the likelihood that fingers are going to unintentionally mute strings.

Along with this, consider trying a slightly more extended index finger grip rather than completely curled up trigger grip. Trigger enforces the flattest possible arm position and this doesn’t give you a whole lot of room to do the “ergonomic mouse” form we talk about in the reverse dart lessons. This is, btw, the technique you are using, so you may as well get the most out of it. Here’s that link:

Why though? We already know which picking motions can handle which types of string changes. And we already know how to determine which motion a player is making. All you have to do is film your tremolo and look at it. Whatever escape you see, that’s the type of phrase you can play with that technique. Play those phrases, and not other phrases.

Anything else is just asking someone to fumble around in the dark with pure trial and error. I get that this was the only way 20 years ago, but we have much better information now.

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Thank you, Troy! I think I kind of consumed all of the videos so it is a lot to take in. With each video I’m convinced I changed which form I thought I was using.

I think I also didn’t consider I was able to “choose” the picking technique to use. I thought that I was more or less stuck with whichever category I fit into.

I can’t overstate how much I appreciate all of the help from you, and everyone.

One last thing regarding the small amount of pick I use(On a Jazz 3!) - this probably explains why I feel that I have more control if I switch to a Flow pick. Again, thank you!