What is two-way pickslanting, and how does it work?


This topic is linked to a Cracking the Code webpage. View the original page here: https://troygrady.com/2018/07/16/what-is-two-way-pickslanting-and-how-does-it-work/

You may have heard the term two-way pickslanting in discussions of picking mechanics, particularly when it comes to scale playing. It may even be what brought you to Cracking the Code in the first place. Indeed, the discovery that elite players actually make changes to their picking motion on the fly, right in the middle of a phrase, was groundbreaking. It explained a lot about why exercises like scales are considered fundamental, and yet paradoxically, only the best of the best players seem to be any good at alternate picking them.

[ read more at the blog post linked above… ]


I know we’ve discussed this on other threads a few days ago - in fact this blog post was essentially adapted from one of my responses there. We thought we’d do a nice multimedia-style presentation of this with embedded videos.

FYI the way the site now works, the forum thread now becomes the comment section for that blog post - which makes it much more searchable and useful anyway. We should have done that from the get-go, so apologies for the two or three comments that no longer appear!


…and here’s some cool slow motion footage of what it all looks like:

There is still a touch of forearm involvement here, but it’s super minimal. More importantly, it’s not what’s creating the differing escape paths we’re seeing, or the curved pickstrokes that connect them. That’s the wrist doing that. It’s notable how stealthy it is. You really can’t feel any of these changes in wrist motion. I can very easily see how someone who has always played this way would be unaware they were doing so.

I’m not done baking this cake yet - six months or a year from now I expect all these motions to be more habitual and consistent, if I keep using them.


How did you go about learning these movements if you can’t feel it happening? Did you just assume the hand position and change stuff around until you got all the string changes right?

I think the feedback loop is what’s preventing most people from getting these movements in a reasonable amount of time.


Not knowing this existed at all was the largest and most immediate problem on my side. At various points in the past I have definitely tried doing what I thought was some kind of “no pickslanting, just moving the hand back and forth” scale playing. That’s what it looks like people like Andy and Paul Gilbert are doing, and so a lot of players probably try to cop that. Predictably, that went nowhere for me.

Instead, I kind of came at this backwards. In the attached blog post there are two examples of the same lick we filmed a couple years apart and you can see how different the motions look. So somehow, by trial and error, I was learning to dial down the arm and use more wrist. It was not intentional. As a result of our work on crosspicking I became more conscious of this, and that’s when it started clicking for scale type playing. But only very recently, like over the last, I don’t know, year or so.

So how do we teach this? I actually like the bluegrass roll patterns, as one possible approach. Because they won’t work until you match the arm position with the wrist motion of the correct flatness. Once you figure out what “flat upstroke escape” and “flat downstroke escape” feel like, not only will the roll patterns start to work, but then you can do your usual 1wps types of lines that way. Gilbert sixes, Yngwie six-note pattern - if you’re a rock type player, for example.

Of course you could go the other way - try to do the flat 1wps lines first and then connect them. But if you do them separately, then you can’t really tell if you’re doing them both from the same exact arm position - which wrist-only 2wps requires. The roll forces you to do that, because you’ve got your escaped downstrokes and upstrokes in the same phrase.

That’s one suggestion anyway!


Nice picking!!! My 3NPS mechanics changed dramatically after switching to X-picking. And just like yours, it appears like there is no slanting.

But I would say that the difference in the path of the pick between outside and inside strokes is more because I am articulating slightly more when I string transfer. An analogy might be a vert ramp skateboarder who only goes above the coping of the ramp once every three direction changes. So in effect, each of the 3 changes is following the same path… but every third is just going a bit higher.


The motion paths are “the slant”, and there are two of them being used here. Is there grip slant? Actually yes there is a little bit of a dwps grip slant. But as we discussed in the crosspicking broadcast, you control that independently. You can dial in a little of that or dial it out. It does not affect the motion, only the pick attack.


When switching strings you make that “half moon” with deviation?A

How to minimize, “conceal” or make twps just less exhausting like you show in the clip is that one task, at least for me. I am just unable to flatten out the escaping upstroke and I have no idea why (at the moment)! Especially


This is also what I have started to do- use the (supinated) Wrist Only approach and then mix and match the movements for 3NPS, 2NPS (whenever you change directions), and 1NPS Playing. Now it’s more about the vocabulary aspect of playing- what types of lines can I create and play.


I don’t know that this method is specifically less taxing than other methods. It might be! But I think you would need to be equally good at whatever methods you’re comparing.

However as I wrote above one thing you can try as a way of to getting into this deviation style of playing is the bluegrass roll stuff. That’s actually what did it for me. This is the same exact technique as in the ”Crosspicking With The Wrist” lessson, just broken into two halves. If you can get that three-string roll pattern happening then you are on your way to this type of scale playing.

And you won’t be getting there by trying to make whatever you are currently doing less taxing. Instead you’ll just be getting there by learning a way of moving that works well that may be easier. Again, stress “may”.

Anyway that’s my suggestion if you want to give that a shot. That lesson has exact instructions for the hand position and motion I am using here.


Man this last picking example looks a lot more wrist deviation than past stuff I’ve seen… Dude I am starting to do this!!! Are you using 902 movements at all doing this? Or are you just tilting 903 slightly?

Man I was moving that 2 string Gilbert pattern through all seven positions today and I was actually hauling ass… I love the tone. It’s so badass. What a breath of fresh air from economy picking all time. I gotta master this alt picking and cross picking man.



Hey @Troy lol, are you doing a 902 thing in the Invisible 2 way video? Or is it straight side to side deviation?

I can do this while rocking my thumb to change pickslants… But is just seems like too much pick shifting going on… I hold it still here… :bear:


Yes, that’s what I’m doing. Check the linked blog article for more detail on this.


Good clip! Whatever you’re referring to with the thumb I can’t really even see, so I highly doubt there’s “too much” of anything happening here. Whether this is actually the wrist movement we’re talking about here or something else is unclear. But I think this falls into the category of “sounds good, so it is good”. If it’s working, do more of it, and in time, given the knowledge we all have now, you will probably figure out what it is you’re doing and zero in on it even more consciously.


Awesome, thanks man. Yeah, I held the thumb still in this clip. I was messing with rocking the thumb like teemu, but it seemed like too many pick shifts going on. lol.

But yes, I am doing the wrist now!!! I can stop the fingers if I want. lmao. Ok, I am catching up to everything, still on the 2nd live event. I will read the blog article also. Been busy.



If you’re referring to grip adjustments with the fingers, that has no effect on the motion. This is a wrist motion technique. You could make the motion with no pick at all in your hand and your fingers sticking straight out if you want. If you’re doing the same thing I am.


What I mean is, fingers to change pickslants, I have been experimenting with shifting the pick on each side of the index… I can push my thumb over the index, and the pick shifts to UWPS… Move the thumb back to sidepad or anglepad, or whatever the hell it’s called, and it’s DWPS… for 3 note per string lines… I find that it’s a little aggravating rocking the thumb every set of strings. It’s just something I mess with sometimes… I guess Teemu does it. I don’t like it so far. I don’t even know why I mentioned fingers anyway. That’s just something I mess with, trying to get fast at 2wps… I understand we are talking about wrist mechanic now.

This wrist picking that we are talking about… I won’t move the fingers. And yes, like you said I can just move my hand with no pick… I’m gonna mess with the arm laser pointer feel.


I notice my video looks like CMC movement… But it’s mostly wrist man. I am doing the wrist. I started anchoring the ball on the Ulna side of wrist to the bridge like Anton Oparin does… I gotta be moving the damn wrist or my arm is broke. Anton to Andy Wood is my anchor area. Anton way is helping my alternate picking a lot. Buahahahahaha

Edit: It looks like I sneak CMC in there when I fumble. lol.

Edit again: Actually, you can just use CMC only from Anton’s anchor… But damn it I am using the wrist. I know it’s moving. :sunglasses:


I understand, but just to be totally clear, there’s no need to “change the pickslant”, i.e. the “grip slant”, in this technique. Again, we’re responsible for the confusion on this, so I apologize for that. But essentially, the slant of the grip only needs to change if the picking motion changes to such an extent that it would cause the garage spikes problem. If not, then no grip slant changes are necessary.

In the 902 approach, whether you’re doing 2:00 or whether you’re doing 9:00, the pick attack is the same at the moment it hits the string. So if the grip works for one path, it also works for the other path, and also for the complete 902 fully escaped path.


Yes, I totally understand. I shouldn’t have mentioned the fingers. I jump around on topics.

902, I will work on 902!!!