Where is the force generated when using mainly the wrist?

When using mainly the wrist for DWPS, where is the force that creates the up and down picking motion generated? Which muscle is responsible for this generating this force and motion? Where should I focus on? Is it the wrist watch area that I should be focusing on?


Good question! In the “Wrist Mechanics Explained” chapter we talk about this a little. Basically you can think of it as four muscles — a side-to-side pair, and an up/down pair. These are all located on the top and bottom of your forearm.

To get all the different angles the the wrist can make, you use combinations of them. The exact combination you use depends on your arm position. So for example if you use the “lightly supinated” arm position we demonstrate, that is a side-to-side motion and you would use only those muscles.

That’s the technical answer. The real-world answer is, there is not an obvious “feel” of doing this and it’s not like going to the gym where doing a bicep curl is super obvious which muscles are working. Wrist motions don’t require much force, especially when you do them right. At medium-fast type speeds, 150-170 bpm sixteenths, I can’t say I really feel anything specific.

Instead, It’s more about the hand itself feeling like it’s going back and forth without much effort. In a way, maybe you can think of the lack of feel as maybe being helpful. Meaning, the more familiar you become with doing this, the lighter / more effortless moving the hand will feel.

Compare this to something like forearm rotation where there is definitely a turny / twisty feel to doing it. At least when it comes to motions like the EVH tremolo motion.

Not sure if any of this helps!

Indeed, focus on the movement pattern and not any particular muscle. The body works as a system; it is futile and not productive to try and mentally emphasize one aspect over the others. Even a simple biceps curl involves more than just the two heads of the eponymous muscle.

How do you tell the difference between elbow and wrist? When I try to do wrist motion it feels like the whole arm moves a little bit. Is this correct correct wrist motion? When i try to move the wrist only it sort of feels like mini-rotations. I feel like I understand all of the motions presented in CTC but i have a really hard time telling which motion i’m doing and if i’m doing it right.

To me it feels like the hand is moving back and forth. In other words, you’re thinking about the hand, not the wrist joint, per se. The hand isn’t very massive compared to the arm so the motion feels light, and you don’t feel big beefy muscle action in the upper arm. That’s what it feels like to me when I do this.

Note also that when I do wrist motion, I don’t touch the guitar body with the fingers. When I rest the fingers on the guitar I’m much more likely to have a flexed wrist, and that form, for me, is how I do forearm-wrist motion. So the one triggers the other because that’s how I learned forearm-wrist. Instead, for wrist-only motion, I’m resting the wrist on the bridge and the fingers are lightly curled, Al DiMeola or Andy Wood style. This makes the wrist the pivot point, and I don’t feel as much urge to rotate the forearm.

I will also not that when we film great wrist players we do see some small movement at the elbow joint. Andy Wood talks about this, in our first interview with him. He says he notices it more when he goes faster, like he contracts more up there. We don’t know if this is necessary, or a good thing or a bad thing. Either way, his wrist is still clearly moving back and forth, not just the elbow joint. So if you see a little elbow I wouldn’t worry about it.

Finally, there is no law that says you have to use wrist motion. So don’t get too hung up on that. Use whatever technique works best, right now. Even if you’d like to learn multiple techniques, start with the ones you can get. Like solving a crossword puzzle.


Mainly in the biceps, more so as soon as you put your hand in a supinated position (palms facing up). A neutral hand position is more forearm muscles. It’s explained here in detail, worth having a read! Supinated position

My mind if you were tensing it would be like cranking on a screwdriver, so do this for awhile to figure out the muscles.