Upstroke VS Downstroke: Tommo's Mixed Escapes practice

I tried to chitchat in this video to explain some difficulties I have with inside and outside picking. I hope my accent is understandable :sweat_smile:

In short: these days I find ascending outside picking and descending inside picking harder than the remaining two combinations! Maybe something to do with how I accent the phrases, which has an impact on the mechanics? (somehow I hope not because I feel it would be hard to change my accenting habits).


Wow, great tone! Bonus points for doing this on an acoustic to boot.

I don’t know if this helpful at all, but when watching the clip I noticed you seem to get more rotation happening with two-way pick slanting when you start with an up-stroke. Conversely, when you start with a down-stroke I didn’t observe as much change in the pick-slant angle as you moved across the strings. It may not have anything to do with making outside-picking feel easier, but it’s an observation I thought’d I share.


Thanks for your kind words! This is a Yamaha Apx-4A, not super expensive but I love its tone (also the elixir strings help).

Thank you that’s a good point! I’ll try to increase the amount of rotation in the downstroke-first case and see what happens! If not for the outside picking, this may be helpful to reduce the difference between my inside ascending and descending sixes.

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Cool Video Man. So you are UWPS?

I have a Baby Taylor with Elixers. It sounds awesome. lol.

Thank you! You know, I’m not sure anymore :sweat_smile:


I tell you I have done this alot and I agree with you on the feel that i like inside better than outside but still think your feel better with the inside cause you default to upward pickslanting at the end. I think you should try three string sets so that you can incorporate starting on a string with a downstroke into the scale chunk so that it will flow better.


This all looks and sounds totally great! Couple answers to your questions:

Yes, it’s true that a three-note-per-string scale is going to require inside and outside picking no matter which pickstroke you start on. But that doesn’t mean both versions are the same thing. You didn’t learn a scale as a collection of individual pickstrokes. You learned it in chunks of six note units: one that starts on an upstroke, and one that starts on a downstroke. These are (probably?) separate motor programs in your mind, because that’s how you learned them. I’m not saying they are as different as throwing a ball as a pitcher and hitting a ball with a bat, but they are still different motor programs.

When you start a scale on an upstroke in the pattern you are playing here, you are asking your brain to string together four repetitions of the “upstroke chunk”. Let’s say, four repetitions of hitting a ball. When you start a scale on a downstroke, you’re stringing together four reps of the “downstroke chunk”, or four reps of throwing a pitch. It’s not a perfect analogy, but you get the point. They are two different activities, so it’s not surprising they might feel different.

Why are you better at batting than throwing? That’s the question.

The only specific mechanical guess I will make, which I’ve mentioned before, is that there appears to be a finger component to your technique. This was more obvious in an earlier clip where I believe you were playing 2nps type lines. It could be that differences in the type and amount of this finger movement may be related to these differences that you are feeling in the two motor programs you are comparing.

I liked the look of it in the pentatonic scale, it looks polished and consistent. Maybe take a look at that and see what you come up with. Also, when you sense that you are really good at a particular thing, I would definitely pursue more of it. Like, come up with other “inside motor chunk” type phrases that use this, and see how far you can take it.

In general, this is really excellent progress. You’ve surmounted most (all?) of the big obstacles and you’re getting to a point where all the polishing now happens at the level of small adjustments that you may not be able to see clearly, and that aren’t even always as awkward as you think they are going to be - as happened a few times in this very clip.

Great work!


Thanks Troy, it all makes sense!

I think I needed someone to tell me this :slight_smile: Funnily enough, I almost never practice the `upstroke’ chunks! I spent countless hours practicing the downstroke ones, I certainly improved them a bit (not quite enough considering the time spent) but at the same time I increased my frustration (I started to approach them with some sort of tension both in my hands and head).
I think now I’ll try to spend some time having fun with the things my hands want to do… ehrm that may be open to interpretation :smile:

@Judmeister good point! These upstroke chunks indeed start and finish with UWPS (probably my comfort zone in many situations), with the DWPS part “hidden” in the middle.

For me they feel totally different as well…

I also have problems with ascending outside picking. I still cannot do 2 note per string ascending outside picking nearly as clean or as quick as ascending inside picking. I still feel like i’m ‘fighting the inertia’… but its getting better though.

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A small update on my TWPS practice! I recorded this to a 120bpm click yesterday, just one take (after a good warmup). I left warts and all like in the previous video to give you an idea of where I’m at.

Comments: overall I’m reasonably happy with my progress. Hopefully I’m getting there, but so far not bad for a hobbyist :nerd_face::v:

I have decreased the amount of edge picking which has reduced a little the difference in feel between outside-inside picking (but I still feel a difference, also between ascending and descending). This may be related to the thumb movements I make (which Troy spotted). I am also gliding the unused RH fingers instead anchoring them, this makes me feel a bit more floaty over the string, but it reduces the effort in changing between UWPS and DWPS.

The speed is close to the point where my technique falls apart for these scalar licks (~130 bpm) - but this slow enough that I am - say - 70-80% reliable.

I can notice the occasional swiping + poor left hand muting which makes the open strings ring here and there. I also notice that sometimes a poorly coordinated TWPS rotation makes me lose the beat.

As you can see I go for a very soft attack :smiley: This is further emphasized by the reduced edge picking, almost to the point that I make the picked notes go too sharp - but I kind of like it.

PS: my objective for these scalar licks is to play them in 6s at approx 130bpm - I want to get them clean, repeatable and hopefully pleasing to the ear. This would enable me to play a good amount of Vinnie Moore’s material


This is sounding great and looking smooth! Well done!


Damn bro looks and sounds great! Very clean and fast.


Looks great to me.
Hope you get it down to point that you don’ feel any drawbacks anymore.
As far as I can tell that should be a solid base for some grreat playing!


Thank you everyone :slight_smile:

This is definitely miles better than where I was a couple of years ago! I still feel there’s some cleaning up to do but I am certainly happy with the progress so far (well, I still have “bad guitar days” but I am happy on average).

Hopefully I’ll be able to record a meaningful song in the not too distant future, otherwise it may seem I only play scale patterns :sweat_smile:

PS: then there’s that thing called “crosspicking”… one day!


Very cool bro… I’m trying to learn the 2 way pick slanting… I cant see ur hand switching from dwps to uwps. So how does it work if playing 3 note perstring pattern? Thanks

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I must have missed this when it went up a few months ago but I would like to echo what others have said - this is indeed some awesome playing!

More specifically it’s Andy-like in the combination of movements you’re using, i.e. mostly wrist with forearm involvement most pronounced on ascending inside string changes. The corresponding “2wps” string change, the descending outside one, either isn’t forearm or just uses less of it. Either way, I have questions about why this is, because we’ve seen this now a few times with players like Andy, you, and I think @Tom0711 IIRC as well.

Do you have a slow motion mode on your phone? Get some shots of this in better lighting, could be interesting to look at.

Nice work on this.


…but definitely watch this first, and get a handle on at least one of these basic movements, before doing anything else:


Just wondering, what are those licks you’re playing? I would like to get hold of the tabs for them.


That looks and sounds great @tommo! Nice work!!!


Thank you everyone for reviving this topic, it’s encouraging to get all these positive comments! However, I must say that some days are better than others, I guess that particular recording was on a good day!

@Troy I’d be super happy to try and make some slow motion stuff for you, also because I recently bought the instructions & parts and put together a good approximation to the magnet :slight_smile: . I’ll try to do it in the next few days. I must warn you that my technique is not so consistent from one day to the next, it’s still under construction, I’ll do my best!

@ForeverSATCH Thank you! In this video I think I’m playing with primary-upwards orientation, so I only need to rotate to DWPS every 6 notes, for these kinds of 3nps scalar patterns.

@aliendough I’m playing a Gminor scale mostly in 2 positions using “symmetric” fingerings without stretches, to make it as easy as possible for the left hand. E.g. the ascending portion reads: