USX + “thumb thing”

So ever since the USX video went up a lightbulb went off in my head as far as some hurdles I’ve been trying to pass. I think I naturally find speed from wrist deviation, and the kinds of licks I’m trying to learn are DWPS Yngwie “volcano” style licks. I used to keep my fingers out and always had problems
With swiping and string hopping but pulling my fingers in made it feel easier.

Thing is, I developed the “thumb thing” as Joe Stump calls it, and I’m wondering if the two motions are co-habitable or if I’m not on the right track yet.

Here’s a lick I came up with on the spot trying to combine everything.

Hopefully the angle and lighting is good enough. Also, I cannot for the life of me get comfortable pulling my thumb in as close as Troy does in the USX checklist. Is this mandatory?

So… am I on the right track here?

1 Like

Thanks for posting! This looks good. The most important thing is that you have no stringhopping problem. It looks like you’re doing some kind of double escape motion when you play slowly in the very beginning of the clip. Whether that’s stringhopping or not who can say. But it goes away when you do the faster motion so it’s a moot point. Andy Wood also does this, for example. The double-escape motion comes back when you do the pulloffs. Technically this isn’t necessary because you should just be going trapped-escaped for those two pickstrokes. You can try rest-stroking those if you want to make that go away. But otherwise if it’s not hurting anything…

We’re seeing a lot of players getting stuck at the stringhopping motion even when they try to speed up, and that doesn’t seem to be an issue here. Good work on that.

The approach angle looks a little high, which technically doesn’t affect the way your wrist moves. But it does force you to use a lot of edge picking when you combine this with the ulnar offset. You might try lowering the approach angle. This way you can stay on the ulnar side and have moderate edge picking. And that ulnar-side motion is where the escape switching comes from, without requiring all the arm twisting and turning do things like three-note-per-string scale playing.

As far as whether fingers are ‘wrong’, no I wouldn’t say that. I’m sure if we had picking technique Cerebro (which is a device I really, really want), we’d see that just about every combination of motions exists for some player somewhere out there in the world who blazes with it. It’s more about if you feel things are smooth and if they’re working. If they are, keep doing it.

Finally, try going a little faster. You may find it unlocks some more smoothness, especially if you get to some of these phrases where the double escape starts to intrude again when it doesn’t need to.

All in all good work here, this all seems to be working.

1 Like

Thanks Troy! I recognize that I’m doing something different when I pick slower and do the pull offs, but I wasn’t able to tell if it was a string hop or double escape. It didn’t seem to impede me, so I figured it didn’t make too much of a difference, but I’ll try to eliminate it on the down-up-pull descends, as well as adjust my arm angle, before posting a follow-up.

I think your form looks pretty good, nice and smooth.

As far as the thumb, I love using the thumb along with wrist mechanics.

I’ve found that there are certain combinations that work very nicely together, and sometimes, those combinations can create a ‘hybrid’ sorta mechanic that has both speed and accuracy. But it’s different for different people.

Incidentally, Eric Johnson always said that it wasn’t until he figured out how to use his finger/thumb in combination with his wrist where he had his technique breakthrough. He implies that the combo helped him ‘escape’ a bit more from the strings, which made high-speed 2nps runs much easier and better sounding.

1 Like