Upstroke VS Downstroke: Tommo's Mixed Escapes practice

I second that! @tommo, I’m curious about how you’d play a fours pattern as well using TWPS, when the pickslant changes at varied intervals. For example, the descending fours pattern that Carl Miner plays (although here he crosspicks it):


Damn dude…that sounds and looks GOOD!!


Hey all, I’d be happy to try and record some mixed nps stuff when I get the chance, unfortunately I’ll be away from guitars for a few days :sob:

But I can anticipate that I can’t play those things as fast as the good old 3nps patterns, probably I can get to around 150-160bpm 16th notes for things like caged patterns and inside gilberts (unless you allow me to swipe like a motherlover :slight_smile: ). These things are definitely more challenging.

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Awesome, and no hurry. Yeah, everyone has a ‘bias’ towards certain xfers… but 160 is nothing to scoff at for your weaknesses.


Just curious, but has there been any more discussion of “theoretical top speeds” of crosspicking compared to pickslanting? If there is, what would the mechanical reason be for the relatively lower speed limit?


Well yes, somewhat.

It’s around 10 to 11 notes per second.

On crosspicking, you need to escape completely the string on every pick stroke. It either requires a really flat pickstriking radius which has the side effect of needing a very long pick stroke (à la Steve Morse). Or, if you want a shorter pickstroke, you need more athletic power/stamina (à la Rusty Cooley), and when poorly executed you can experience string hopping.

Linear pick-slanted approaches (DWPS, UWPS, TWPS) requires you to escape the string only in one direction, and sweep/economy picking doesn’t even require you to escape the string at all! Well, minus turnaround points with odd numbers of note per string.


Man you should be making albums! Your paying is already amazing! @tommo

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It depends on the form being used for x-picking. Some methods have definite speed limits, but others don’t appear to. I can easily double escape past 200 bpm 16ths… but I can’t play 1nps at that speed, because I still lack the tracking skills… but I’m optimistic I can overcome that… I’ve come a long way.

But a double-escape method is useful for more than just 1nps lines. It’s really helped speed up my caged patterns, and it’s perfect for 7th arpegios. Also, I’ve almost completely stopped economy picking… which really helps me with timing, dynamics. But I am sure it’s different for every player.


@hamsterman, @Montreal543:

I finally managed to do a little clip which is not just scales up and down… well not too far away from that though :joy:

It’s a section of the erotomania solo which contains a sort of ascending fours pattern on the middle two strings. There are a few instances of TWPS with only a note on a string, but the tempo is not too crazy (probably between 150 and 160). For the usual mysterious reasons, I can play it cleaner with inside picking.

I’m still working on other things like blues scale and pentatonic TWPS patterns, but haven’t managed a good take yet… hopefully soon!


Looks great. It’s quite rare to see someone play those types of patterns cleanly like you did.

As far as the inside picking… I’m in the same boat. And yes, most people feel that Outside picking is easier for them, but not me.

I think it has something to do with our mechanics going either with or against the inertia of the movement. With my X-picking… I couldn’t let this anti-outside-bias continue. I’ve found its pretty much impossible to do unusual, X-picking type movements without feeling equally as comfortable with both switches.

The weird thing is… I didn’t know my bias was so severe… especially since I could do 3NPS runs fairly well… and those alternate inside/outisde. But 3NPS scalar patterns allow a bit more time to adjust between string changes.

I’ve spent about 5-10 minutes a day doing 2NPS ascending/descending using only outside picking… that has helped quite a bit. It’s still not quite up to speed… but its getting there. Also, I’ve spent time trying to play a lot of phrases that I’m comfortable with, but starting on the opposite pickstroke.


Awesome playing , @tommo! And thanks for posting it. That sure is is a good example of the ascending fours embeded in a solo, and you really nailed it. It almost looks like you’re doing some “cliffhopping” in the “slower” section before shifting gears to TWPS mode for the fours! I found a transcription for that solo so I may tinker with it and follow up with some more questions if you don’t mind. Great playing! And that song - Erotmania - is just a smorgasbord of all kinds of licks!


Tommo are you Supinated or Pronated when doing your Upward Pickslanting motion?

You have many different mechanics for string Crossing it seems.

Ascending Inside is Forearm Rotation (Which implies your normal pickstroke is A. pronated doing wrist deviation- 3 o clock. Or B. Supinated doing Reverse Dart Thrower- 2 o clock) to make this motion have a different trajectory than the UWPS.

I do see the rest strokes happening against the lower string- this implies Supination since this would not be happening if pronated using Wrist Deviation. Perhaps more extension is needed. Or more pronation if doing Wrist Deviation.

On the other hand the Descending Outside String Change there is no Rotation at all. It appears to be the Dart Thrower Movement (which implies Pronation to be not stringhopping since the Supinated UWPS via Reverse Dart Thrower also has wrist extension). Maybe I’m just blind but I’m struggling to see the finger movement everyone is talking about? When do you feel this the most?

Either way this is great playing and has made me come to the realization that 2WPS can be done by using the different wrist movements from a given arm position instead of having to change between Supination/pronation by rotating the forearm- much like Crosspicking.

Do you do any 2 Way Sweeping by the way? It makes the scales with mixed number of Notes per string much easier in my opinion by using the Jimmy Bruno Approach- combining alternate picking with economy. And the forearm rotation mechanic is how he changes his pickslant and Sweep direction at the turnaround.


Hey @DJ_Ddawg, I think you have analysed my TWPS technique much better than I could do, but in general I think you are right that my arm may not be pronated, as I often seek the feeling of rest stroke on the downstrokes as well as on the upstrokes (unless of course I need to cross strings after the pickstroke in question).

Also, I thik my technique may not be fully consistent across the various videos I posted in this thread, as I keep changing some details all the time, in my endless search for a fully comfortable technique!

Yes I tried it now and then, but at the moment this approach only works for me at medium speeds - say until 120-130bpm 16th notes. In fact, for these speeds 2-way economy feels more reliable than fully alternate TWPS, since the latter works best with some momentum. At higher speeds I can’t control my timing very well with economy picking and so I prefer to move back to fully alternate. If I could discover a “trick” to control my timing better, I would probably start using economy most of the time.

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This is awesome. You have become a two-way pickslanting ninja. Complimenti!

Looks like you put this up a while back but I’m just seeing it now. But this is a great example of several things we’ve been talking about recently, in our recent crosspick broadcasts, and on that very long thread about how the term “pickslanting” should be used.

Short story, you are supinated all the time here. Yes, there is forearm involvement, but like Andy Wood, it’s only taking you from more supinated to less supinated and back again. If you ignore the arm movement for a moment and just look at what the wrist is actually doing, you’ll notice the 9:00 and 2:00 movements for “dwps” and “uwps”, respectively, which we’ve been learning about. The arm just occasionally re-orients the whole setup slightly. We can ask why or even if that needs to happen. But it’s not changing the fundamental nature of the motions.

So we’ve come a little bit full circle in our understanding of what pickslanting really is and how many players actually do it. It is very often a wrist thing, and in those scenarios, the arm is just there to provide a slight orientation assist - for reasons we can speculate about. But the flip-flopping motion paths appear very often to come from the wrist, and they don’t depend on the “slant” of the pick, per se.

There are clips in the Pickslanting Primer where the actual arm involvement drops to almost nothing and still the pick escapes. You can take a look at this clip, for example:

…and you will see that the arm never approaches anywhere near actual pronation with respect to the strings. It’s just varyingly supinated. You can take a look at the third note, the downstroke on the top string, and note very clearly the 2:00-style movement that I’m using to get over the string. It’s a little embarrassing that as recently as a year or two ago, we were filming this stuff and not really appreciating what was actually happening.

You have mentioned that your approach can sometimes feel “subtle”, or “neutral”, but that is not really what’s happening. We have been overly focused on the appearance of forearm rotation in determining when “2wps” is happening. Instead, what matters are the motion paths. If you use different escape motions depending on the string change, that is really what the “two-way” in “two-way pickslanting” is all about. When you think things feel or look “neutral” I’m guessing it’s because you don’t feel arm involvement, and that’s how you interpret it. But that’s just what wrist movement feels like.


Since you say he is Supinated the whole time doesn’t that’s make his Descending Outside String Cross String Hopping because of repeating the Extension Movement since the UWPS motion is the 2 o clock wrist movement?

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In “902” family of movements, or any similarly supinated arrangement, the downstroke escape is 2:00 and the upstroke escape is 9:00. It doesn’t really matter which direction the string change is happening. Now if he’s using 10:00 for upstroke escapes at any point then yes that would be stringhopping — if it happens right before or after a 2:00. But I don’t think he’s doing that.

The forearm is providing an assist on certain notes and possibly even taking the place of the 9 on upstroke escapes. But at most that’s all that I think is going on here.

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Grazie Troy, troppo buono :slight_smile:

I didn’t think that I was already doing the 9-02 movement, good to know thank you! This is encouraging and I hope I’ll be able to adapt some of these movements for 1nps lines in the future.

By the way, I decided a more appropriate title for my thread is “upstroke VS downstroke”, as “inside VS outside picking” was somehow misleading. The biggest difference I feel is between “upstroke on the beat” and “downstroke on the beat”: for some reason the former option feels much better (e.g. this is what I did in the latest clip).

I’m sure that won’t be a problem. In fact, when you get a moment, can you try filming another example? A simple repeating sequence, ascending sixes, starting on a downstroke, two adjacent strings, single position. Any two strings that feel comfortable for you would be fine. Just do a handful of repetitions at whatever fast-ish speed feels clean to you.

Also, try using the “landcape” phone orientation, aka “vertical video”, as we do in our examples. This way you’ll capture more of what’s going in the wrist / arm interaction.

The idea here is to simplify the sequence to one that you are most likely going to be able to do with only wrist movement, so we can get a simplified look at what’s going on. If your movement is similar to what Andy does or what I’ve been doing in the tutorials then you should be able to adapt this to 1nps type playing. If not, maybe we can understand why.

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Hi @Troy, you picked one of the examples that always felt hit and miss for me, especially when I try to avoid swiping!

I tried this with my two main picking modes: in the first one I glide my unused fingers on the pickguard - I feel that this makes the “outside” string changes a bit harder, so my clean speed on this lick is not that high. It seems I can’t avoid forearm rotations here.

In the second mode I anchor 3rd and 4th finger on the pickguard - this allows me to go faster and reduce the forearm involvement, but it feels like I may be swiping on the descending string change on occasion. Looking forward to any comments! :sunglasses:

PS: I realised my phone does max 60FPS, and perhaps the lighting wasn’t the best here. Let me know if I should try again to get better videos, and I can try in the next few days.


This is awesome! Thanks for doing this. Of these approaches, take 2 is what I was expecting. What you’re doing here is two-way pickslanting, mostly via the wrist. If you look at the motion path of the downstroke that moves to the higher string, it’s a different path than the upstroke that comes back to the lower string. If you can’t feel that difference, that’s what I would expect. I really can’t when I do this either. Because wrist motions don’t really “feel” like much. But that’s what happening, i.e. you’re using alternating wrist motions to get over the string, like Andy does here:

Is it 902 or 1003? Well, we can test this. When you get into this setup, and you take your left hand and do the “ski slope” test (from the broadcast) on your forearm, does your hand slide down toward the guitar body? If so, then it’s 902. And that answers some questions.

If the result of the ski slope test says 902, then I’m going to suggest that the reason take 1 “needs” forearm is because you are trying to use 902, but from an arm position that is too supinated. So each time you move to switch strings, you need to use the forearm to reorient so the wrist motion escapes. In other words, you’re using the same wrist movements from take 2, but they no longer escape because they don’t match the arm position. Ergo, forearm helps out.

So basically, what I am suggesting is that what is happening in take 2 is that you’re still using a supinated arm position. It’s just flatter. The fact of the fingers anchoring is just what you’re doing to achieve that, but what is operative about the difference is the arm position.

Edit: If the result of the ski slope test says 1003 for take 2, then that’s a different story. Then I’d say simply that you’ve learned to do 1003 with no arm involvement, and again your arm position matches the wrist movements you’re making. Take 1 is up for grabs, maybe it’s 902 with a forearm help for the reasons I’m guessing above. Or maybe it’s something else. The upstroke string changes in take 1 are definitely wrist, and there’s a slight wrist flex so they could even be a shade less than 9, like 830.

I’m just spitballing here, but those are some guesses as to what’s going on. Try the ski slope test and let me know what you feel.

Again, great work here.