What do you do to minimize string resistance?

It’s never a problem with the downstroke, but the upstroke is another matter. Many times my pick gets stuck on the string on the upstroke. I have always felt that if you want to pick fast you must find a way to minimize string resistance. Yeah the pick is traveling up but the string is resisting it.

I’ve tried holding the pick at various angles and grips.

It doesn’t happen all the time but sometimes I still have the problem. I guess I’m not a very consistent guitarist.

But I would like to know how you guys minimize string resistance.

I assume you’re an upward-escape player. What’s your brand of pick? Can you show a photo of how you hold the pick on your guitar?

It sounds like you’re hooking the string with the pick and the string stops your motion as you try to escape. If you pick with the edge you basically have a ramp that makes it difficult for the string to trap the pick. With a pick like the Dunlop Flow that I use, with its broad shoulders, I suspect it’s impossible to trap the pick at all.

Most of the time I have used the red Jazz III. Now I using the purple small stubbies. I am holding the pick at an angle to the string, but I’m not completely convinced that is the way to go.

Ah, you use the 2.0mm purple Stubby? It looks to me like sufficient edge picking would avoid trapping this pick. I am guessing that you don’t have that much edge picking (and the sound does change). It would be nice to see a photo of how you hold the pick, and how much you “choke up” on it, etc. How many mm of pick gets trapped under the string when this happens?

This is most likely an issue with the motion you are making or something in your grip, which isn’t working with the motion.

I’d suggest posting a video as that should reveal the problem.


I will never be able to speed pick until I find a method of picking that works at a high rate of speed. I have yet to find it.

The string just stops the pick from moving on the upstroke.

I may be able to upload a picture of myself holding the pick.

Without seeing your playing, I would suggest trying a couple of radically different setups to see if the feeling of resistance changes.

If you use a standard pick grip, try a 3-finger grip (or vice versa)

If you usually keep the hand open, try to close it,

Etc etc

Basically, trick yourself into doing something radically different, instead of trying to do small changes around your usual way.

As soon as you feel like “aha, that was easier than usual”, you will know you are onto something


The closed finger - fist idea feels very wrong so I don’t think I can pick that way. Have not tried the 3-finger grip yet.

Almost seems to me that if you want to minimize string resistance you have to pick extremely lightly. Almost like skating on ice but you’re not digging into the ice. You are just skimming the surface really lightly (which is impossible for us to do. Only Jesus could do that).

Not at all, you should be able to dig in as much as you need without significantly impacting the smoothness / speed of your picking

I would not consider myself heavy-handed. But I have not discovered a consistent way to pick fast and make it sound smooth at the same time without getting bumpy on the upstroke.

Although I have had some practice sessions go better than others.

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I think I understand the feeling.

The most likely explanation is that your combination of pickslant/edge picking/pick point is not the optimal match for your picking motion.

In other words, the classic garage spikes problem.

That is why I think finding a completely different setup without this problem could give you good tactile insight on what is not working in your current setup

When I look at my picking really slowly, I thought I saw when I pick downwards the pick is rising upwards towards the top of the string, and then when the pick lands on the other side of the string and I pick the upstroke once again the pick is rising upwards towards the top surface of the string and then when I get through the string the pick falls back down to where it was when I was about to start the downstroke.

In other words, picture a boy climbing a small hill of sand and he is starting somewhere towards the bottom of the hill, and then he runs towards the top and then once he is at the top he slides back down the other side.

A rising-falling picking motion.

Is this wrong?

A double escape technique will do this, and that’s definitely not “wrong”, BUT it’s very subtle. It’s bad if in both directions you’re using your wrist to “extend” and make the escape. That’s stringhopping. If you can do this picking motion that you’re talking about pretty fast (around 16ths at 150 bpm or higher), then you’re probably ok. If you can’t, you’re string hopping. If that’s the case…

You should first concentrate on making your pick escape in just one direction because you’re going to be able to do that pretty fast. In one direction, it will be above the plane of the strings, in the other direction, it will hit whatever string is next in line. So it’s going to be a diagonal path in relation to the string. It should still be a straight line though.

In your sand hill analogy, you need a boy that’s riding a rocket up towards the hill but barely misses the top of the hill. After that, the rocket ship turns around and buries itself in the sand between the 2 hills :slight_smile: Then miraculously and injury free, the process happens over and over again.

As has been suggested, post (or at least take and watch yourself) a video and look at what your hand is doing. Just looking down doesn’t work that well for diagnosis.

What it sounds like to me is what (I think) Troy has termed bouncing. Instead of carving a nearly-straight path, the pick (or your fingers…your hand, wrist, elbow…whatever) is introducing an arc. With the string at the bottom (or top, whichever) of that arc. This is very different from a double-escape motion and something you want to minimize.

Seconding the recommendation for relentlessly trying different picks. I started off with playing with the ubiquitous purple 1.14mm Dunlop tortex picks, the ones with the turtle on them. I can’t tremolo pick faster than like 11 notes/second with them.

I use the Andy James signature Dunlop flow picks and I can pick at my fastest, 14-15 (depending on the day and caffeine intake) notes/second with them, because I get the least string resistance with them. I’ve tried other kinds of flow picks, jazz iii, you name it.

It’s worth mentioning that every shredder ever seems to use jazz iii picks, which I haven’t had too much luck with. They still have more string resistance than I like, but again, every shredder ever seems to swear by them. I mostly play rock and metal on electric, with a little bit of bluegrass flatpicking, and I use the flow picks for everything.

I’ve felt for a very long time that to pick fast you have to have a pretty light touch. You can’t dig in too deeply with the pick.

Claus Levin talked about just grazing the surface of the string with the pick. Now that is extremely light!

I’ve even though about that once or twice.

It’s kind of like ice skating without digging into the ice, which would be impossible.

But I want to ask you guys if that type of practicing seems ridiculous, to be practicing so extremely lightly like that?

I think it’s probably helpful if you feel your main problems are

  • Excess tension
  • Pick getting stuck

It could be a red herring as there are other things that can cause both of those problems. Claus is a great player. Rusty Cooley often mentions something about just trying to play on the “top half of the string”, indicating he’s not going for much pick depth. Still, that doesn’t mean this advice will make everyone better, immediately (or ever)

In most critiques we’ve seen, I’d say pick depth was not the player’s problem though. Post a video of yourself playing fast on just one note (tremolo) and we can tell for sure.

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If you are asking “is it necessary to pick very lightly to go fast?” the answer is a clear “No!”

More generally, it would be very limiting to only be able to play softly. So, as usual, I’d say that variety is good. In this context meaning: try a variety of dynamical levels in your practice (from picking soft to hard), and you should be able to get similar speeds with all of them.

PS: random instagram clips from Troy where you can see that a lot of pick is going through the string even though he is going quite fast:


Well I have had repeated problems with the pick getting stuck on the string on the upstroke. That is why I have thought about this just grazing the top of the string approach.

Hmmn, I have that same problem, but to be clear it’s when I try to SWITCH STRINGS, continuing strict alternate picking after an upstroke and that “other string I want to change to” forces me to be picking on the outside of the strings.

For me and my setup it seems to work best if I engineer my lines to do string switches after a downstroke.

Sweeping, hammeron/pulloff and hybrid picking are 3 ways to work around/with it I think…

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