What I "Think" is wrist picking... (pop tarts content)

Okay, so I have been working on keeping this wrist thing disciplined… I think I followed the instructions, and I think I am doing this right… On a single string it’s actually really, really fast alternate picking. Here, I did the pop tarts lick at a speed just below where I kind of instinctively engage an elbow/arm thing… Not that that’s bad, I just want to develop a definite wrist picking mechanic… I am sure I am close

Now I think that I am using a wrist deviation, and that is the motion that works very, very well on a single string, but once I introduce a string change, I sometimes do a sort of flex/extend to cross the strings (might be subtle string hopping?) Which I would be cool with except it’s slow as molasses… lol:grinning:

However… I think I am having troubles with my string tracking… that is, how the heck do you practice string tracking…? I feel like as the tempo increases my wrist alone can’t seem to track fast enough so the forearm or arm jumps in and compensates…

I am open to any ideas and all suggestions and corrections… Most importantly, especially if I am doing it wrong ( lol happens to me all the time!) OK, peace out - lemme know dudes!

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And here is a thing from a couple weeks ago that I 'thought" was wrist picking, well it is in a spot or two but when I try to play fast you can see the elbow lock up- and there’s a few crash and burn moments where I just can’t seem to react at the tempos I’d like to be able to… I know that string changes were an issue here, and although I have since made a bit of progress on the wrist picking thing and gotten a lot more disciplined, or rather 'aware" of when I am not doing it if that makes sense…

I am also wondering if the positioning of the guitar itself and my picking hand are also part of the issue, any insights are welcome… Thanks in advance guys!

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You are! :slight_smile: If you’re following the primer, the thing that’s missing is the ‘ulnarization’, i.e that slight tilt toward the pinky side of the of the wrist. The next step is to see if you can do this fast, even if it’s sloppy. On a single string is fine while you get the wrist motion itself locked down.

I think that if you try to play after introducing a slight ulnar bias to your wrist the neck angle might give you a challenge. By that I mean that you might not get the note to sound as it’s picked (pick just glides along the string), or the pickstrokes aren’t symmetrical (one feels pretty smooth but the other doesn’t). The primer gives some clues about how to deal with this by varying the amount of edge-picking and pick-slant. You could probably also tweak your approach angle a little.

All of that is really to say that it might be easier to just copy to physical setup in the primer to a T, so you have clear instructions to follow, and then once you have the motion down you can move it around to whatever with ease:

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Hi! Thanks for posting, and thanks for following all these instructions!

The first clip is certainly wrist motion. But this is really too slow to know if you’ve found the sweet spot where it’s working quickly and smoothly. Can you do this on a single string, faster, with smoothness? Is it still only your wrist moving? Do you still have the upstroke escape when you do this?

Also, as @lars is pointing out, when you get down to the low strings, you’re going super radial, i.e. toward the thumb. We don’t want that. For the arm position you’re using, we want all the motion to stay on the pinky side of the arm, returning to straight when you finish the upstroke. Don’t move past straight.

The reason you’re going past the striaght point is because your anchor point is closer to the high strings, and you’re not moving it. So when you get to the low strings you have no choice but to bend the wrist in that direction. Either reposition your anchor point up higher on the bridge to start with, or move the arm when you get to the lower strings.

But for now, just give it a shot on a single string as a test for smoothness and speed.

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Thanks for the replies, and the help - I really want to figure this out, so I appreciate the time you take to watch the video, analyze and comment

Ok, so I gave it a shot on a single string, to test smoothness and speed… Now, I haven’t made any changes yet to the picking, but that’s coming tonight - I just wanted to try out the single string and see what’s what… is it me or is there a hint of, ummm “forearm” powering this when I start playing actual notes as opposed to the open string? and I think I am doing ummm string flopping trying to change strings hahaha I mean I guess everything is interconnected (wrist/forearm/elbow/shoulder/etc) and I swear while I am playing that it’s at least 95% wrist driving this, but (don’t laugh) I don’t know if I can trust myself hahaha video never lies…

As far as the “upstroke escape” goes, I don’t think I have it here… I get “caught” it seems when I try to do a string change, which I am thinking is evidence of not a downward pick slant which means I need to do what you described and go ulnar… I didn’t really realize how umm, “radial” I was until I read your posts guys (Thank you so much!) I am going to work on getting more towards the “pinky” side of the arm, and keeping it straight/returning to straight. Hopefully that kind of solves a thing or two, and creates a nice base to build upon…:grinning:

Ok so here’s a quick update; I reviewed the wrist picking checklist again, because well sometimes you only see/hear what you want to and it’s important to get this right I think…

  1. I got the “ulnarization” of the picking sorted. The hand is oriented towards the pinky side, as mentioned and I am working on keeping it consistently flat. It took me about 3 hours of playing on and off to get acclimated to the feeling, and then to consistently make it happen on an open string - Had to start at 8ths at about 90bpm and work my way up to 200, which I did this morning - so after a break I think I am going to drop the metronome down to 90bpm again and run it again, only this time with 16ths. Much more pronounced downward pickslant, and a lot less pressure on the string from the pick… I wish I had learned this in, like 1987… :grinning:

  2. So as I am working on my “many variations of tremolo picking open strings” I am trying to use my arm to change position slightly when I change strings… Is that an efficient way of going about it? Or does my entire um “guitar posture” need “rewiring” do you think in order to better facilitate string tracking?

OK, back to practice!

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Thanks for doing this! This latest clip looks great. I can’t tell from this perspective if you’re escaping, but that’s actually somewhat secondary. In this USX motion, the escape actually comes from the arm position. So the biggest step is just getting the wrist moving back and forth with fluidity. To get the escape, you just have to tilt the arm a small amount.

We’ve updated the checklist this weekend with a bunch of new details and images that flow directly from “Technique Critique” posts like yours. You’re already doing most of this, but if it helps gel in your mind, here’s the new checklist:

Are you referring to tracking, like how do you physically move the hand from one string to another? Or are you talking about how to get the escape motion?

The escape comes from a fixed and very slight tilt of the forearm. You just lock that in and leave it. You can use this same fixed slight tilt for both USX and DSX so there is no need to change it.

If you’re referring to tracking, most people use a blended approach for this. If you’re only playing on two or three strings, you usually don’t have to move much or at all. The wrist can cover that distance on its own. If you’re moving across more strings, some combination of elbow and shoulder motion is what most people use.

When you get to the very low strings, if you don’t track enough, there is a tendency to go radial again. I’m seeing that in your latest clip. Don’t be afraid to move the whole hand up far enough so that your form is similar to what it is on the upper strings. Yes, you’ll be on the body at that point, but that’s ok. The motions still work from up there.

Nice work here.

Cool, thanks so much!. On it, reviewed the instructions again - and I realized that I was STILL really radial, straight to ulnar and back is what I’m shooting for. Got the metronome up to 16ths at 200bpm on the “open strings song”, and have now ditched the metronome in favour of just kind of feeling it out as per the instructions. I was still having troubles on the Low E and A string, but once I moved the whole hand even further onto the guitar body all seems well. It really seems to boil down to whether I am doing it right, or not - end of story. Becoming aware of what that picking hand is actually doing vs what its needs to do to succeed. :grinning:

Getting closer, I am going to sit with this for a week and see where I get. Also, even though I am kind of a practice lunatic I am trying to “burst” it and kind of do stuff for 10-15 min and then come back and practice it for 30 minutes or so. Tried it on mandolin and my acoustic as well…

Sounds good. I wouldn’t worry too much about speed (metronome or not) and “bursting” — you’re at 200bpm! That’s more or less where I’m at on most days and only then if I’m specifically trying to go fast. Batio played mostly around 190bpm in our interviews with him. The point of the speed test is to make sure you have a motion that’s not stringhopping, and that you’re moving in a way which is smooth and fluid. You’ve passed that test with flying colors.

From here on out it’s really more about polishing the form by playing musical phrases that move in different ways. If this is a USX motion then you should be able to use it for lines that move across the strings when the last note on the string is an upstroke. I would assemble a basket of musical USX phrases that you like, including a lot of variety, because some phrases may simply feel weirder and work less well than others.

For example, you’ve already figured out that sometimes moving to lower strings in a certain way can affect your form. These are all the little kinks that get ironed out over the “long tail” as you notice and correct more things about what you’re doing. As you do this, you’re playing at a variety of speeds, moderate and fast and everywhere in between, to make sure things sound good and feel fluid. Consistency and smoothness while playing a wide array of music is what you’re after.

Thanks Troy! On it! See ya in a week!

Okay, so this week I went through a bunch of stuff, mostly things to kind of “pressure test” the wrist picking stuff and try to see if I can “land” it. I have to say, this is as alien feeling as it gets but I am liking where it’s headed - small gains kind of explode throughout my playing, 6 months from now I will likely be a much different guitarist…

Troy - as per your recommendations, I tried a bunch of stuff at a variety of tempos and some definite improvements are coming to light, single string stuff is a lot more natural, and string changes (string tracking) are doable although a sloppy mess if I go too fast - kinks to be worked out on the string tracking front. I am noticing some habits, though… in an effort to isolate it to my wrist I am pressing down on the actual pickup poles so that’s new hahaha Synchronization seems to get a bit screwy as I change strings at faster tempos…

Also, I notice my forearm moving despite my best efforts to isolate it to ‘only’ the wrist. I am finding myself second guess whether I am doing the motion right or not, and lastly it has to be a conscious effort for me to keep that palm down on the ulnar side, and keep track of where my RH fingers are at, knuckles brushing the strings, etc. And yeah how about that pick chirp? gahhh:grinning:

Any thoughts, suggestions practice tips or insights are totally welcome and appreciated - thanks in advance, guys!

Thanks again for the updates. When you say “forearm” do you really mean elbow motion, i.e. the back and forth motion of the elbow joint? If so that’s pretty common with wrist techniques. You’ll see some elbow movement in Andy Wood’s technique, for example. If things are working I wouldn’t kill yourself trying to get the elbow to stop moving. You’re looking for what feels smooth and natural.

Others may have mentioned this but as far as pick attack, I feel like some notes are getting almost more chirp (or other noise) than note. As far as tone, chirp or no chirp is up to you. But whatever you choose it should be smooth and consistent. If it’s not, there may be something happening as far as the grip or attack that’s causing some notes to land more squarely than others. It looks like you’re using a high degree of edge picking here, with the thumb “wrapped” i.e. bent at the knuckle. Can you try out some other grips and see if you get different results? Chapter 2 in wrist motion is all about those other grips and arm positions. Could be worth doing for the learning experience as far as feel. Sometimes a grip change can open a few doors to things that work even better which you might not have tried. You can always go back to this way, but if you don’t try others you’ll never have those options.

Since you’re into this I’d also think about budgeting for a better camera. Even a cheap / used phone from a few years back will have much better video quality than this. It’s not even about the pixels — the motion blur is what’s killing you here, you can’t really see what’s going on. A phone filming in 120fps will have much, much less of that.

Otherwise I’d try a different grip / less edge picking and see if you can get more consistent smoothness on the attack. And again, amp up the phrase variety. Doesn’t always have to be the Yngwie six note pattern, could be anything where the last note is an upstroke.

Oh, and finally, have you tried DSX wrist motion yet? This is not about mastering one thing before moving on to the next. Everything you get helps everything else you can get. If you can throw a few different things into the mix, you never know which will work better.

Thanks again for posting.

Well thanks so much for the cool site and the great feedback to help me try and figure this crazy picking thing out! It’s really appreciated!

Hmmm, Maybe it is my elbow, now that I look at it, I think it is? I do know that I have been killing myself trying to isolate the wrist movement to a “wrist only” kind of thing, when maybe perhaps I am closer than I think by not restricting the movement. I know it’s a lot smoother sounding (and much easier) if I let the elbow do it’s thing. Noted, I’ll give this a try!

Right? I was thinking the same thing, pretty chirp/thwappy plus my knuckles sort of rub on the strings especially when I am trying to “restrict” to wrist only. And nope, I hate that Chirp - it’s killing my chi… I am not emotionally attached to any one grip, I am literally just trying stuff out to see what happens and better understand what the heck I am doing/not doing! It might be high time to hit Chapter 2 again and see what we can do about grip arm options. And yeah, I notice there is a big-time “edge” picking thing going on not sure what’s up with that or how it’s come into play - perhaps I’ve just been so focused on getting this wrist thing that I didn’t even worry about what was going on with the pick. I shall review…

Yes, I have a GoPro and an iPhone XS, but the GoPro is a huge pain in the ass to set up (:grinning: Sorry, lazy) and it has this weird kind of fishbowl thing that I don’t love, and I am still working out the kinks on my DIY Magnet design so that I can use my iPhone camera (which is quite good) lol Sorry, I have been using the isight camera in my iMac hahaha The next vids will be much better, I promise!

You know, I haven’t! I have this horrible attitude of “gotta work this into the ground for 7 years with a metronome” self induced slavery thing going on, that I am working on changing… You know, myths about practicing for 10-12 hours a day or you suck hahah that sort of insanity… I will try it, and the more I go about figuring this stuff out, the more I think that there may be a degree of self-sabotage at work here! :grinning:

Okay, lots of stuff to get cracking on - Time to get researching, there is a lot of work to be done! I appreciate the suggestions, I will work on grip and arm and see where that goes and also DSX wrist motion. Thanks again for your input!

Re: knuckles I don’t curl them under to where they would hit. It’s not a fist. They’re somewhere between curled and very slightly raised. But I don’t feel any strain in keeping them in this position so any raising if it’s there is very slight. Reference the photos in the checklist and maybe give that a shot.

With a straighter thumb and the pick against the side of the index finger you should get a more moderate degree of edge picking. There is no need to wrap all the way around the index with the thumb. Check out the “Setting the Pickslant” chapter for more closeups of this.

You don’t need a magnet. A phone on a cheap tripod with a cheap phone holder thingy and pointed generally down the strings is perfectly fine. The XS is a killer phone it’s crazy not to use it. For now you can just masking tape it to a chair if you want. Just make sure you put it in 120 mode not 240, that requires too much light.

lol Okay, hahaha iPhone camera it is from now on! Yep, the XS is a good one! Sorry, very lazy hahaha

So yeah, I have this weird almost fist thing going on, plus what I am pretty sure is a death grip so that needs revisiting… Also, I was resting right on the stings with the pick hand, so that ended up with quite a mute/thwap sound… I have watched through the pick grip vids and I think I am going to try the “angle pad grip”, except I am a bit concerned… Please don’t laugh but my picking arm bicep seems to be kind of umm pumping with the pick rhythm, seems a bit weird, but what the heck I will give it a whirl…

Also, I have always played with my guitar resting on my fretting hand leg, and I notice that most of the folks in the videos hold the guitar on the same leg as their picking hand… Do you think that might be a factor?

Checking “Setting the Pickslant” now… Thanks again for the feedback!

We cover trigger, angle pad, and middle finger in Ch2 In wrist motion so you can see all three with USX motion. Try them all!

You can rest on the strings that’s fine. If you are muting just slide so that you are half on half off the bridge that will open it back up.

Don’t worry about left leg Andy Wood does that when he wants to and it’s fine.

Check this out, it’s very revealing - I was just messing around and it is NASTY what I am doing, oh well at least I can see it for what it is now… I see now that the best video footage you can get of yourself, the better.

Sorry about the bad angle, but was holding the phone while I picked… I’ll get that sorted out I promise, I took about 40 videos last night - this is the first one, and video doesn’t lie… Also, I was just kind of experimenting a bit. Angle pad grip ver 1.0 is underway for the next batch of critique… (next week I think lol )
Looks like 3 things to address immediately -

1) No pick slant (Or very very little); makes sense because it feels like I am literally sawing through the strings, and if I use a pointy pick I tend to edge pick to the point of “slicing”. I am thinking a “garage spikes” issue is at work here, pretty much exactly as described in the “Setting Pick Slant” video, and I am compensating for lack of slant by adding copious amounts of edge picking. It explains my addiction to Jazz III’s since '95 lol

2) My picking path is not diagonal, it’s a lot more, umm 90deg to the strings when it looks like it needs to go, umm more 45deg-ish, this seems to allow more of a slant if I stay conscious of this, so we have a few issues that are pretty interconnected…

3) Now it’s kind of hard to see in the video, but my wrist here seems to be pretty much radial to straight on each pick stroke, and I am thinking it needs to be more straight to ulnar on each stroke if that makes sense. On the other vids as I got lazier with my playing this became more evident… Also I notice I curve my thumb, and it’s quite tense so straightening and loosening is one of the easier things to check off the list.

One thing leads to another, eh? :grinning:

Funny story, I used to be a trailing edge player too, but still elbow driven, and have been working at trying to figure this picking thing out for probably the last 5-6 years… This is my first swing at trying to get a wrist motion going!

Please let me know if you see any thing that I am missing, and PLEASE let me know if my conclusions/theories about myself are deluded hahaha

I’m not a pro but it seems like forearm upslanting. At least it seems similar to what I do. And I can’t play pop-tart lick also )) though I could play 3nps scale 160-170 bpm

Sorry, much better video footage here - this time trying to further evolve towards an umm, extended “anglepad-ish” grip I guess… working towards it, these are 3 of several attempts… I must say it’s interesting to look at the footage. I am having a lot of trouble with this one, and still working on refining the regular pistol grip wrist picking as per the instructions. Thanks, guys!