Why are there much less one-way upward pickslanters than one-way downward pickslanters?

In the chart in Troy Grady’s video (below) detailing the names of various guitarists that use each type of pickslating, there was only one one-way upward pickslanter, Rusty Cooley, who was also a two-way downward pickslanter. There were many more of each other category. Why is this?

Video: https://youtu.be/XSpb4I_9KEs
Timestamp for chart: 2:18

I’m not sure. From my experience, almost any extreme metal guitarist I met personally was an upward pickslanter.

Pure guesses:

If I recall UX is good for sweeping towards thin strings, and DX is good for sweeping towards thick strings. I suspect that most rock music is more about sweeping towards thin strings, hence one would have their choice of UX or the more powerful 2WPS. I think that as the music becomes more demanding (both directions are required), then one might end up 2WPS.

I’m not sure about what it means for Rusty to be listed twice, but he is really fast, so perhaps he is worthy.

And since in heavy genre you spend most of your time on thick strings (5th,6th…7th and 8th) It’s natural to have a support point on a thumb part of a palm, which leads to upward pickslanting.

If it’s true, I’ll put my money on gravity.

For what it’s worth, post classical style, I started out an upward pickslanter, became a religiously alternate picker (somewhere between cross picking and string hopping), got fast on downward pick slanting (thanks @Troy), and now I can’t be bothered to pay attention unless I’m working out a part. And then I’m in “SWYBRYD” territory, with different approaches for technical and tonal considerations. I’ve actually come full circle to being curious about Neil Schon’s upward pick slanting.

But yeah, I’d bet on gravity. The palm planted on the bridge is opposition to gravity, and the curved hand in a downward sloped pick slant seems to me to be succumbing to the same.

I wouldn’t read into that graphic at all — it was not meant to be any kind of representation of the frequency of these motions out there in the real world. It was just a listing of some players off the top of my head at the time.

Lots of bluegrass players appear to be “primary up” type players, like David Grier, Jake Workman, Bryan Sutton, Andy Wood, and Presley Barker, to name just a few.

In general, this is not something I’d worry about unless there’s a convention in the style of music you want to play. If there are signature phrases for your musical style like there are in bluegrass and Gypsy jazz, for example, by all means use the technique that gets those licks the way most people get them.


I’d hazard that this is actually more of a cart before the horse thing, actually - for whatever reason you see a lot more upward escaped players in rock, and an upward escape lends itself a little more to sweeping from the low to high strings, so you see a lot more ascending (pitch) sweeping in rock than descending, for it?

As for why you see more upward escapes in rock, it could be as simple as virtually every rock guitarist just starting out on their scales learns and practices the pentatonic scale, which unless you’re an alien freak like Rusty Cooley you’re going to arrange two notes per string, and that’s a pattern that gets a lot easier with escaped upstrokes than with escaped downstrokes. Thinking out loud here, but I suspect most of the rock guys on this board probably did a lot of pentatonic practice at some point early on in their playing careers…

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As an aside and off topic I guess but find useful I have read in some interviews with Rusty that he did not like the bridge to be higher then the body due to him having to go up and over the strings. This is pointing to classic DXS requirements or desires I should say. I have always felt better by planting my big thumb muscle and using that as a pivot or at least a solid anchor point to rotate the wrist from and the lower you can get the bridge the better so you don’t have to overcome going from the body to the strings and the transition is a little easier I think. I also tend to use elbow as well so it leads to that as well. Anyway sorry for being off topic and look forward to seeing his archive stuff again on CTC.