USX wrist motion and garage spikes problem

Hi Ctc forum,

I am a beginner guitarist and I started playing guitar by mostly practicing rhythm guitar. After getting the basics, I want to learn how to play lead so I found this site (gladly) and I watched the Pickslanting primer to develop a solid foundation.

I am both comfortable with wrist and FW combination movements but I picked the wrist motion as my core motion. When I first started the speed test, even 140 bpm 16th notes felt very awkward but after a week or so I managed to increase my speed to 160 bpm but for the last 2 weeks I have been stuck at this tempo. I can pick like 10 seconds comfortably at this tempo but after that the pick starts to get caught between the strings (almost always in upstrokes). So I am getting a garage spikes problem especially on the upstrokes after a while, and that throws me out of time.

I use DWPS, USX, a lightly supinated forearm position, 9-3 wrist deviation movement and a trigger style grip, (similar to Mike Stern’s approach). I still haven’t figured out the reason for the garage spikes problem on the upstrokes so what could be the reason here?

I can also post a video here if its going to help to solve this problem.


Hey welcome, @Kaaan !

I’m no good at diagnosing problems, but the experts on here are going to need to see a video. I do know that we aren’t always doing what it feels like we’re doing. The only way to know is to post a video and the experts will be glad to help. Here are the suggestions on getting good video:

Thanks @joebegly
Here are 2 videos from 2 different angles:

First half of them are normal speed and the other half are slow motion

Hi Kaaan! Thanks for signing up, and thanks for posting.

Re: garage spikes, that’s not something that should happen “after a while”. It’s either happening or it’s not. In order for your pick attack to change from non-spikes to spikes, something about your form would need to change to cause that. And only you would know what that is. Like maybe you’re changing your grip to create more dwps than you need. Possibly. But honestly, that’s a very “in the weeds” type of thing that I wouldn’t worry about too much just yet. If you’re new at this, then any number of things can change as you tool around with different things to find out what feels and sounds smooth.

More importantly, I’m not seeing much in the way of escape. Wrist motions can be flat / shallow for sure, but there still needs to be some escape to get over the strings. Yes this looks like a deviation motion, and for that to have escape there needs to be some kind of forearm tilt. The arm can’t be totally parallel with the strings. So one thing, if you want to keep going with this motion, is try a little more supination in your setup. Alternatively, keep the setup you have and do DSX instead. This setup is perfect for that. The wrist motion just needs to go up in the air a tiny amount. Not via arm tilt, but by way of the motion itself moving on an angle. That would be your “2 o’clock” motion, like Andy Wood or John McLaughlin.

Whichever route you choose — or both — try playing simple multi-string phrases, and juding by feel and the occasional video check whether you’re actually getting over the strings. That’s really the only way to do it. You can only learn so much by playing a single note on a single string. The feel of errors as you attempt to do the more complex stuff is how you will learn to adjust your technique to be more correct over time.

Second comment, are the other motions faster or easier for you? 160 isn’t slow by any means but it’s still slow enough that if you tap on a table you can probably move much faster than that if you had to. What does the wrist-forearm motion look like when you try that? Is it any faster? How about elbow? If either of these are faster or smoother for you, I’d recommend going with them first. You can always learn multiple motions that’s not a problem. But it’s super helpful if you can get good with at least one of these, because that gives you a nice reference point for what “correct” feels like.

If you have footage of any of these other motions feel free to put them up. If you can get a little closer with the camera in the second shot, that would be great. It’s tough to really see what’s going on from that far away. The camera angle looks pretty decent though, so you can keep that, just move in a little closer.