What is the method of discovering a DBX motion

Some of you may know me as the bluegrass wannabe. I recently, with the help of @Troy, found a motion that i think could work for me, it is a DSX motion, and i can do it super fast and smooth on one string. I have devised a bunch of DSX based bluegrass runs and i am practicing them and they are coming along, But i ultimately am still really intent on discovering a DBX motion that i can start experimenting with. To play improvisational bluegrass at about 130 bpm, and play the onps roles at that speed that all bluegrass players can do, you have to have a dbx motion. I know guys like grier and sutton at at blazing fast speeds (like 160 for bluegrass), they favor a one-way escape and maybe don’t really do 1NPS roles, but at normal grass speeds, like 130 bpm, they all have a double escape motion. Mine is stuck at about 108 bpm, because it’s string hopping.

The problem is, i don’t know how you check to see if you have found a dbx motion. If you do it on one string, it’s kind of hard to tell if it is double escaping, and if i try to do it on multiple strings… well, that just completely fails, so clearly i can’t do it. When i try to do it, it just feels like string hopping. even if my wrist isn’t really flexing, it still feels STUCK.

I want to at least try to start down that road, but i don’t know where to start.

What is the way to initially discover a DBX motion? How do i find it? Has anyone on here every gone from being unable to do it, to suddenly discovering it, or is it just a natural talent that some have and others don’t? i think anyone can learn 1 way escapes, but double escape seems like such a complex motion, you either have it or you don’t. maybe I’m wrong.


A frequent suggestion I’ve seen on this forum is to work on roll patterns like:


making sure that you are going decently fast. It’s not important that you get it clean every time - just some of the time for starters. But it has to be fast!

By the way, I’m still working on this as well :slight_smile:

Try not to overthink which kind of motion you’re making. You’re not looking at your hand anyway. They “method” for learning any new technique is entirely feel and sound.

Are you saying you can’t do the new DSX technique across the strings yet? Because if not, you have to get there first. If you can’t play smoothly across the strings then you’re missing a vital reference point. And if you can’t play with synchronization on one string, then you can’t play across the strings. So you have to get both of these things first.

Once you can do that, you can just wing it and try any other line you’d like. But you have to get these two things. How is that coming along?


Hi Troy - best part of COVID-19 is that you’re online all day!

Anyway, i actually have made some progress with the DSX stuff, believe it or not!. See here

I know it’s not that fasst yet, but it’s actually left hand speed/sync that’s holding that back mostly.

however there is also one part that gives me an issue; i have trouble maintaining the escape trajectory at the turnaround on the high B string. Like when it’s time to descend and hit the G, i end up swiping the B. maybe i need to move my arm more when i get up that high so that the motion relatively is the same? That’s giving me trouble, as is the descending in general, but the ascending part i have actually got pretty fast, even faster than this video i quickly took! When i connect the two lines, (ascvending and descending), sync gets thrown off, but when i throw them in between C chord strums seperately, i can do the asvending pretty fast, like 135 bpm even sometimes, which is MUCh faster than i can improvise random bluegrass.

Anyway, i know it sounds like i’m getting ahead of myself, but the reason i post this about DBX is because i jam to bluegrass alot, and beaumont rag is like my favorite jam song, and i want to be able to do the B part, but definitely just can’t. So was hoping in parallel to work on discovering a DBX motion, but will still conitnue to primarily work on the DSX stuff, to establish the speed and sync that i will need in order to branch out.

Here it is again, but faster. If i use only the ascending part i can do it faster. For some reason, as described above, the descending part i get caught on the higher string when I’m trying to change.

This looks great. Did you get this from Billy in the Low Ground? Because that’s a great example of a line that lots of grass players will do with DSX. Sutton for example.

The arm looks like it might be rotating a little, just going by the knuckles as an indicator. There’s nothing wrong with forearm rotation per se, it’s fast movement. It’s only a problem if you feel like you’re not getting the same smoothness and speed you’d get when doing the more strictly elbow motion by itself.

So part of the journey of self-teaching is constantly using the fast speed as a reminder of what “correct” feels like. Compare the feel of this line that moves across the strings with the feel of the single note on the string by itself. If the single note is smoother and if the camera shows you the motion is a little different, where the single note doesn’t wiggle as much and doesn’t feel as wiggly, then you know you might not quite be doing the same motion for the multi-string phrase. Keep trying until you can figure some way of making them feel and look the same.

For tracking, elbow is a common method for that in bluegrass because the guitar body is so large. The elbow has a very big range of motion. With this form you can just bend at the elbow to easily reach all six strings. I wouldn’t overthink that too much either. Just try and go fast while searching for that smooth feel you get with the single note. You’ll probably figure it out with enough attempts.

Everything I’m seeing here looks awesome and you’ve already cleared your biggest hurdle in the space of a week. It’s working!

I “discovered” that I’d a nascent DBX motion by posting here and asking “hey ya’ll wtf am I doing?” when it comes to a scale run I was trying to speed up.

@Troy was kind enough to knowledge bomb my thread and direct me towards information that would help inform and focus what I was practicing.

I also had a little riff/tune that I’d been playing for a while that was comfortable enough for me to play that I could really push for speed. Like ignore what it sounds like musically and just give 'er hell and see what happens. That gave me the confidence to really know that “actually my fingers aren’t dumpy sausages incapable of speed” so between that and practicing a 3 string roll pattern I got the confidence to try and learn Wheel Hoss (which I did!) and can now play at a reasonable speed.

Anyway, I don’t know if this helps specifically, but basically I used a riff that I “knew” I could use at speed and try to mimic that feeling of smoothness with any of the new things so that I didn’t revert to string hopping.

Hope that helps a bit

That’s a great summary of how this works. It’s like stepping from one stone to another to cross a stream. Everything you know leads to something else you know. But it is indeed about the feel of recognizing when a thing is right.

i didn’t really take the run from anything in particular, but it’s just become a part of my vocab due to transcribing so many Doc Watson and Dave Grier tunes that are played in C. THis run appears constantly, with minor variations, in both of there C songs. I may have shit technique but one thing i have mastered is the bluegrass vocab of all the greats.

When sutton plays in C, he has different tendancies, like this run more or less will appear constantly when he descends: but he uses a lot of pull-offs, and also repeats a lot of two note sequences that change strings which are hard to engineer with 1-way-escape.

Anyway, i will keep working on this and other vocab that I can use with DSX, and mixing it in between rhythm parts… and that will also drill my hand sync which needs to come up. And I’ll report back when I’ve made more progress.

@Troy - i am curious, i have never heard you mention Tony Rice. Have you ever analyzed his playing? It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen you break down on your site. He seems to pick by just wiggling his thumb… and he doesn’t do ONPS rolls, he actuall sweeps the first two notes, and then upstrokes the third note. It’s so peculiar.

Thanks - for me, i still don’t have that one speedy riff yet, but with this DSX stuff and am getting there. I have made progress since i decided to use it, and i expect in a few weeks I’ll be able to play certain licks up to 140-150 bpm, and then i can try applying it to more vocabulary and see if i can add in some other escapes. But first need to learn SOMEHTING fast, can’t learn everything before i learn something.

Di Meola does the same (EDIT: ok this is U U D but same concept):

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Nice, thanks, never noticed this.

I dunno man, what you’re playing in that 2nd clip, that little ascending/descending lick is WAY more than what I used to try and get a feel for speed. Just take like, half of it or even the whole thing if you’re feelin’ saucy and short circuit the thing for speed instead of music. Like make it go bonkers but try to get into a flow/zen state with it and just repeat it over and over and over and o… well you get the picture. See what you can get it to, you might be surprised how quick you can actually move your hand fingers ; )

Thanks, yea i basically am just finding any 3 string rolls, taking parts from Molly’s white freightliner, or just the regular old beaumont B part, and trying to just “go fast”… but i just hit all 3 strings every time lol.

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I’ve never watched this video of Al, even though I’m a big fan. That clip unlocked Fantasia Suite, I’ve always alternate picked it, poorly most of the time.

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Honestly for this musical style I like this type of phrase because they’re very realistic. A lot of these first-position bluegrass licks are two notes per string, with changes in direction that are either two two or four. This entails a lot of moving across the strings so you have to get comfortable with that. To the extent that a player can work directly on those types of phrases from the start, so much the better.

But for sure, mix in some of the “easy chunking” single-string stuff. You don’t have to want to play Yngwie to get value out of something like the six note pattern. And sure, a bluegrass player can do it in first position for extra realism. When it comes to mechanical learning, a variety of picking and fretting patterns is best.

Hah yeah my comment was ambiguous, I meant it in a “I didn’t even have that much of a skilled slick run to use” when I was pushing for speed not “that’s too complicated go simpler” so yeah, What @Troy said! ; )

I have gotten the yngwei chunk pretty damn fast at this point and have eliminated that one note i kept missing for the most part, but for me really changing strings was the obstacle. I think my hand sync is good enough to play 130 bpm bluegrass, almost, but it’s the string changes that plagued me. Although i have noticed improvements in my playing all around just by drilling that yngwei chunk, and even just drilling the four note chromatic exercise.

Awesome to hear about your DSX progress!

Just curious because I’m working on hand sync a lot now. What sort of issue was this exactly, and how did you fix it?

in the yngwei chunk, (say, 8-5-7-8-7-5), i was holding down the fourth note, the second 8, too long, and so i was kinda missing the fifth note, the second seven, because my finger hadn’t changed notes in time. So to fix it, i basically just focues on playing that 7-8-7 like a trill where i’m hammering down the high note realy fast and only tapping, and just practiced over time and it got better.

THe problem is i still can’t change strings for the life of me. Maybe extremely sloppily but i have zero control and i’d never be able to improvize or play any transcrition using that technique. SO not sure where to go from here other then to keep practicing doing it fast, and working up my hand sync.