Upstroke escape critique

Hello @Troy, CTC crew and everybody! Thanks so much for the hard work. I’m excited to be practicing with Pickslanting Primer. Here’s my first video for critique:

I’m trying to find a reliable picking motion, angle and grip for upstroke escapes, and be able to keep the motion trajectory solid. This video has 3 different view angles (they’re different takes) and I think I did mostly alright in the first two. The third one isn’t that good, you can see my form breaking a little, thumb wrapping and missing some upstrokes. What do you guys think overall?

Pick grip:

The problem that sometimes surfaces is that when I go to what I think is “fast picking”, my picking trajectory can start fluctuating and become this random crossfiring pattern. I think my form has probably broken at that point and I just don’t recognize it, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it has. My picking can sometimes go parallel with the strings, disabling any escapes.

At higher tempos I pick with a smaller motion and I need to check constantly visually that my picking path is still such that it could actually escape on the upstroke if I wanted. At this time, playing with a wide picking motion feels pretty clumsy at higher tempos.

In concrete terms, one of my goals is to develop a technique where I can easily use cool alternate picked, 3-notes-per-string 16th or sextuplet runs that lead into the “main notes” of solos (like in basically every John Petrucci solo ever), avoiding stringhopping, changing strings cleanly, without banging into adjacent strings and losing control etc. Same goes for fast riffs of course. I’m big into progressive metal and I love music like Dream Theater, Haken and Symphony X, but my alternate picking is too random and I’m not handling string changes properly to sound clean.

Thanks for any feedback and keep on rocking!

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Totally normal! Textbook, even. This is exactly what we would expect when you’re new with a motion. You haven’t learned what it feels like when it’s totally correct at all speeds, so you will indeed see this kind of flip flopping. However what you’re doing so far looks right on target. First fifteen seconds of the clip, that’s fast enough for a lot of music right there.

The name of the game is feeding this with variety of musical phrases over the next six months or so. Mixing up the music mixes up the patterns and the tempos and helps you get it sorted in your mind whether it’s really working correctly. It’s more of a scattershot thing where the whole basket of things you play gets gradually smoother, cleaner, and more confident over time.

Specifically, regarding the flattening out of the escape, simply playing multi-string phrases is how you can check for that. And flip flopping between fast speeds that maybe have the issue, and slightly slower ones that don’t, to see if you can recognize by feel what is right about the slightly slower ones that isn’t quite happening correctly at the faster ones.

All in all this is an excellent start. Were you doing this motion previously, or something else?

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See, now I feel like this is how my wrist should look when I pick, but it doesn’t seem to be clicking… Great video, thanks for sharing! Oh - what the heck are you using for your camera? I am just using the isight in my iMac right now, but I’d sure like to get some better fidelity…

Thanks Troy! Good to hear. Would you recommend starting to practice all the different escapes and motions, or just sticking to this one until I have it well under control? I’d probably do the latter, but I’m interested in your view on this.

Edit: For reference, John Petrucci’s Rock Discipline has been my guide/philosophy for basically all of my technique practicing.

Before I found CTC, I was probably using some kind of crosspicking. I did anchor with the pinky. I was practicing regularly, working on a few phrases, but I wasn’t aware of the pick angle or path that my pick was travelling. I was focusing on hand synchronization, proper right-hand muting, small amount of pick tip and moderate strength I was using to hit the strings. I really liked the tone I was getting, especially when I was making an effort to connect each note very smoothly, eliminating all “empty downtime” between them. But changing to another string was still troublesome.

When I found CTC, I kinda tried taking a shortcut straight to 2WPS, quite inspired by the Michael Angelo Batio scale running stuff. But then I thought I should probably start from the beginning… :sweat_smile:

Thank you! I’m just using my OnePlus 3T. I had it propped up sideways on top of a few boxes. I used half the phone’s width to lean it back against something to keep it up. That left the other half of the screen still visible, and so I monitored it by looking via my practice mirror. And I was sitting right in front of a window, that helps a ton. Also fidelity tip: lock the focus on your hand, and lock the exposure by measuring a bright spot in the picture.

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My best guess is that acquiring new skills works best with continual variety. In your case, you’re experiencing the flip-flop between the various competing motions and movements, and you’re trying to figure out by feel when you’re doing one versus the other, so you can control them. It only makes sense that the way to get better at distinguishing them is by continuing to compare what they feel like. If you only do one or the other, then you’re not getting as much of a sense of what the difference is.

In actual practice, a buffet-like approach, where you do a little of each, as your interest dictates, is what I personally do. I try to avoid heavily repetitive practice, as in, same phrase, one hour, repeating it like a gym routine. Instead my favorite mental space is more like focused jamming. If a phrase suddenly works more cleanly or smoothly than before, I’ll try to do it a few times the same way before I “lose” it. I might try to film it, just for reference, but not always, because what it feels like beats what it looks like. Then I’ll put the guitar down and come back two minutes later to see if I can reproduce it. If I can, awesome, I might do it some more, and then call it done and come back tomorrow. If I can’t, and it’s gone, then it’s gone. I don’t sweat it. I might play something else, or I might still put it down and come back later or tomorrow. I’ll do this for maybe 30 minutes at a clip, depending on how much time I have. If I spend a long time with the guitar, like an hour, it’s because I’m enjoying playing, not because I’m “practicing”, per se.

We’ll have more structured thoughts on this in the Primer shortly, but this type of focused looseness, if you will, with an emphasis on variety and smoothness of feel, is the most rapid way I’ve found to acquire new skills.