Wrist flexion vs. Slanting


This might be stupid or even discussed before, but when reading in another crosspicking thread yesterday, I got something in mind that kindof questions my current imagination of efficiency.
So just to make sure I ahve everything right, here’s my thoughts.
Troy’s crosspicking approach combines slanting with wrist flexion. Eventhough wrist flexion is the same motion as on stringhopping it works fine cause it’s just needed on every second stroke.
So now in scale playing we use at least 2 notes per string, so technically the same approach should work fine if we flexion is used only for string changes.
So now i wonder if it wouldn’t make sense to get the flexion efficient?
Wouldn’t that give us TWPS with just one mechanic and even one that probably everybody developed intuively?

Don’t get me wrong here, it’s not that I think this is the best approch to TWPS, just I don’t see the mistake in the logic.

@Troy and @Brendan, if this is confusing to others feel free to delete it, it just bothers me to have the feeling there’s missing something for me.


It’s more complicated than that. Any movement that occurs twice in a single pickstroke is stringhopping. If you position your arm like Steve Morse, then deviation is actually the stringhopping movement in his setup. In the highly supinated orientation, the “lift” is deviation. At all points in between Steve Morse and flat / parallel forearm orientations, stringhopping is actually a combination of deviation and flexion/extension. It is only when you reach fully parallel that stringhipping becomes purely flexion and extension.

I’m not 100% sure what you’re asking, so apologies! But it sounds like you’re asking if you can play scales with only wrist movement and no forearm. Yes you can. Andy Wood does this, but only for outside string changes. For ascending inside string changes, he still uses some forearm movement. Because the real world is complicated and what you think might be ‘simple’ in theory might not be as simple in actual practice.

In general, it doesn’t matter what arm or hand movements you use for two-way pickslanting. This is what we were discussing in the other thread. The ‘definition’ of 2wps is any phrase that combines single-escaped pickstrokes and fully escaped pickstrokes. Both types of pickstrokes can be produced with a wide variety of physical movements. Choose any types of these physical movements that you like.


Basically that’s the point where I think I miss something.
To clearify (sorry for my english), what i first understood by your crosspicking and yesterday transpsoed to scales is that wrist flexion can be an efficient escape motion.
So what my sick brain now told me was that in scale playing we could use the same escape motion, regardless of even or odd number of notes, which sounds easier to me than using 2 different motions.
I know basically nobody does this - and probably for good reason.
In other words was hoping that you could explain why it sounds simple in theory but seems to be useless in real life.
And again this has nothing to do with finding my way (I didn’t even try) it’s more an academical question, it bothers me when my brain tells me something that doesn’t match my senses.

Thanks for taking time to answer this, it’s really appreciated!


People do do this. Andy Wood does this, as I explained. It is still two-way pickslanting because wrist motion is a perfectly acceptable way of creating a fully-escaped pickstroke.



What pickstroke do you need to make, single escape or fully? What arm / hand movement do you want to do use to make it?

If you combine single-escape pickstrokes and fully escaped pickstrokes in a phrase, that is what two-way pickslanting is.

Try not to get too hung up on whether or not you “see forearm movement”. Two-way pickslanting is not a movement, it’s a sequence of pickstroke types.


Ok so at least I’m getting closer in terminology :grin:
My interpretation always was that slanting is a straight line, and escapes due to an angle to the body.
The curved motion always belonged to the crosspicking world for me.
If slanting contains the curve, there’s basically no question left :joy:
Probably i simply have to get rid of that ‘wrist flexion equals bad’ idea … man and I thought I understood at least the basics :grin:

Thanks again for taking the time!


Ok I see the disconnect here. Have you watched any of the YouTube features on 2wps like the Batio one? The whole ‘down up rotate’ thing. The ‘rotate’, that’s a curved pickstroke. We are more explicit about this in the Primer with on-screen arrows and such. But it only makes sense. If a moving object changes its direction in mid-stream, it creates a curved pathway. It doesn’t matter how you generate the movement whether you use wrist or forearm or whatever. At the moment you ‘switch the pickslant’, you make a fully escaped picktroke. It’s unavoidable.


Yes I think I watched all the free stuff (probably excluding the 2h clips).
I’ll subscribe when I know I really spend some time on playing and practice, actually I have some problems with my stomach … next week again hospital. But I’m in good hope that things get better until summer.
I sorted MAB and Miller out as some kindof special mechanics, therfore I just didn’t care about that curves.
In the end it’s just a question of terminolgy, the thread title now would be ‘Slanting vs Slanting’.
It’s good that you keep an eye on that!
Now on second (or more 200th) thought, I think I somehow I had in mind that a staright line is more efficient than a curve, which doesn’t make sense at all since I understood that that’s not the case after your crosspicking tutorial (and your explanation to it).
Probably neuronal networks take longer to catch up at a certain age :joy:

Thanks for clearification!


The initial post of @theGuyFromGermany brought me to an idea (which might be exactly the same, that he had in mind).
If I sum it up correctly, it should totally be possible to play fast scales or licks (excluding 1nps stuff) with a parallel setup, picking with wrist deviation and string changes with only wrist flexion.
Of course, this results in something like 2wps, but without changes in hand setup.

Is this correct? Not that I would like to change my technique in that direction, as it would be going back to the way I picked, or think I did, some time ago, but still an academical interesting question.


Yeah that’s exactly what i meant.
And as Troy said there are palyers using that motion, so it’s not pure academical.

What i got wrong was the term for slanting, wrist flexion is in fact slanting if you don’t do it on every stroke it’s an efficient escape motion.
Still i think it’s kindof interesting - in an academicall way - why this is not the most common way to slant. I’m pretty sure 99% of all players (or even more) have it in their toolbox, but for some reason they have developed a different motion instead of (simply?) removing the unneeded stringhops.
But that’s really theory, whatever works is fine, and wrist flexion works as other motions.


No - not if you want to use true alternate picking. If your forearm is parallel, then the only “lifting” movement you have is wrist extension. This is stringhopping. If you’re playing for a while on a single string, then you extend/flex to create your fully escaped pickstroke to a new string. Then you play for a while, then extend/flex to a new string, and so on. But the closer together those string changes become, the more the strain builds, the lower the speed limit becomes. Any time a single pickstroke uses a muscle and its antagonist, it is stringhopping. That is a recipe for problems.

More importantly, there is zero reason to do this because alternating your escape movement provides a much better and perfectly efficient approach that all elite players use for fast playing, as far as we know. Except Jorge Strunz, who swipes! But he sounds great so you can do that too.

How do you create an escape movement that truly alternates? There are many methods and we have discussed them ad infinitum. You can use forearm for upstroke and wrist extension for downstroke. That’s what you’ve been doing in your “pedal tone” practice. Or you can use wrist extension for upstrokes and wrist deviation for downstrokes. That’s the Molly Tuttle way.

And so on. Many approaches to this.


Hmm now again I’m not sure if i got it right :disappointed_relieved:

If we exclude the 1nps scenario, the extension is needed every second stroke, in worst case.
Isn’t that what you do in your crosspicking, extension in one direction and pronation/supination with wrist deviation in the other?
Because that was the main idea, it’s not about alternating the escape it’s about using it only when needed, as a general strategy. Wouldn’t that open up everything but 1nps patterns?

This is really just about understanding, sorry to bother with it.

Ahh and in advance, I’ll be in hospital for a couple off days from tomorrow (nothing to worry … i hope), so if it should take some time for me to answer, there’s still interest, it’s internet connection I’m worried about.


Ok, hold on, I take that back! I see what you’re getting at. I supposed technically that could work, but you would lose the ability to make fully escaped pickstrokes. So no Paul Gilbert lick, pedal tone lick, etc. You could only ever make single-escaped pickstrokes.

Understand that most players we film do use pickslanting, regardless of their arm orientation. Even a parallel player is pickslanting if they’re making a diagonal motion that escapes. Indeed the concept you’re proposing depends on the ability to do this. So here’s what I’m trying to understand:

If what you and @Tom0711 are asking is whether you can have no pickslant, in terms of using a fully trapped pickstroke all the time, and then making an extension movement to change strings, yes technically that sounds like it would work. So long as those pickstrokes were only ever single-escaped. In such a scenario, an ascending 2nps phrase starting on a downstroke is one-way pickslanting, extension-based dwps.

If what you’re also saying is that while picking on a single string you’d revert to the no-pickslant movement, then that is a separate question. Considering I don’t think anyone we have filmed plays this way, I have to assume that there is some benefit either motor or cognitive, to assuming an escaped trajectory as your default.

On the other hand, if what you’re asking is, is there a way to have a 2wps type style without needing to move your forearm around? And the answer is, yes, forearm movement is not necessary. You can use a fixed forearm and just alternate the escape. If you are a parallel player then [edit] your upstroke escape would need to be forearm, so the answer is no in that case. However [edit] your escapes can be entirely wrist if you use slight (and I do mean slight) pronation or supination in your setup.


That’s what I meant.
Little example, a change from the D- to the g-string.

  1. Parallel setup
  2. Pick the D-string by ulnar deviation combined with wrist extension simultaneously to clear the g-string.

3.Pick the g-string by radial deviation combined with wrist flexion simultaneously.

That’s all, no string hopping, no fully escaped pick strokes required, as it’s just an uwps-movement, although not an uwps (pronated) setup. Of course, and that’s the drawback, you can’t go back to the D-string directly. If you would do that by wrist extension again, that would be classical string-hopping.

And to make this very clear again, this is just hypothetical, just for academic reasons, because I’m understanding all that more and more. It’s fun :wink: (Of course you already know, Troy. Otherwise you wouldn’t do what you do).

EDIT: Just saw, you already answered my point above.


That’s correct. These are great questions guys - I would like to commend you both on asking things that have probably never been asked on a guitar forum before, to the extent that I actually have to stop and think about them before answering. And then edit my answer three times to make sure it’s right!

The question of whether anyone actually plays this way is totally valid. And not always easy to determine visually. Andy Wood is a great current test case, with a sometimes-supinated, sometimes pronated… or possibly parallel setup. Because of the nature of the things we are beginning to ask about technique, we have had numerous discussions internally as to how to actually measure these movements categorically to remove doubt. I think we’ve earned that much for our sweat and toil. However short of building out a million-dollar mocap lab we’ll have to think about how to do that…


Ah great, so it seems the question is not totally stupid. that makes me feel better :grinning:

So first of all @Troy, it’s totally appreciated that you take your time for these questions at all, there’s so many people that really need help, while this is more an academical discussion, so take your time and edit as much as you want :grin:

Ok, back to topic. Now I’m back again at the starting point.
In my understanding 1nps needs 2 different escape motions in any case, so I’ll exclude that for the moment.

So the thing I’m wodering about is this.
What seems to happen for the majority of players is that they develop a motion that escapes in one direction which then is used as a basic setup. To make that work things get refingered or stroke orders gets mirrored to make it work. When looking on the posts in this forum for some players that includes a new or adjusted motion for the repetition.
In other words you can say they put some effort in it.

On the other hand, in theory if they’d (simply?) remove the unneeded stringhops, which ere probably already there as motion, they’d get the same result (even a little more) without refingering or mirroring.

In theory the second version looks so much easier to me, while it seems that’s simply not the way it works.
So, something tells me there’s a drawback in the second version that I don’t know about.

In other words what is the ‘evil’ part in wrist extension? (Just noticed I have it wrong in the thread title)


I believe there is nothing evil about it. Think about it this way. You pick up the guitar for the first time, grab the pick, lay your hand somewhere on the bridge and end up with a random angle between string plane and the “deviation-plane”. Why should it be exactly zero? And if it’s not, you will unconsciously have the benefit of one of the strokes escaping automatically. If you come up with a solution for the the other one, by tilting your forearm (TWPS) or wrist extension (crosspicking), you’re done. If you come up with left hand solutions (occasional hammer-ons/pull-offs) and/or sweeps, you’re done also.

I often see the misconception, that economy picking would solve all these problems. it doesn’t.
If you play the gilbert-lick for example, you can sweep the first string-change. Then you reversed the picking pattern and you are stuck, because then you are inside-picking the changes and end up with pure alternate picking as there is no economy pick opportunity left.

Get well soon!


But does that happen very often?
It seems more that even the famous players spend at least some time to develop their technique.
Probably most common is that stringhopping is the first approach to get over the strings and then it gets obvious that it’s pretty limited.
It seems extension gets sorted out, at least as primary motion, and that’s what I’m interested in. That’s the point I don’t get 100%, it’s efficient (when used correctly) and in most cases it’s already there, so what keeps it from being the most common escape motion?


I don’t know. We should have some guitar teacher who is familiar with all these concepts and has seen a lot of students answer that question. Maybe @Troy knows one.


This is not now I use these terms, but I’m glad you said this because I think this will help clarify. In order to understand what I mean when I use these terms, you have to look at this at three levels:

  1. Body mechanics. What you are describing are obviously different physical movements. One involves only wrist. Another involves some forearm. Done.

  2. Type of pickstroke. These are both fully escaped pickstrokes. These two movements are the same at this level, and the picking pathway when viewed under a camera looks similar, regardless of whether forearm is involved or not. The motion appears curved because the pickstroke is escaped at both ends.

  3. Alternate picking style. This is perhaps where I’m confusing people. Levels 1 and 2 are enough to describe anyone’s playing style at the level of the movements. You can look at every pickstroke a person makes, and decide which physical mechanic it is, and whether or not it escapes. But what about when you notice that certain patterns of usage repeat between different players? In other words, what do you do when you notice that certain players use similar combinations of physical movements and pickstroke types? That’s when we need a third, higher-level category: the picking style.

For example, if we see a player who only ever uses single-escaped pickstrokes, that’s one usage pattern: one-way pickslanting. If we see a player who mixes both types of pickstrokes, the single-escape and the full escape, that’s a second usage pattern: two-way pickslanting. And if we see a player who uses only fully-escaped pickstrokes, that’s a third usage pattern: crosspicking. It doesn’t matter what the body mechanics are. Forearm rotation is not “crosspicking”. The habitual use of fully escaped pickstrokes is “crosspicking”, no matter the body mechanic type.

It doesn’t matter that the physical motions involved feel different. That is only reasonable - they are different physical movements. What we are talking about here is taxonomy, how to organize players by what they have in common. And these commonalities aren’t always obvious. Again, someone like Andy Wood is a great example. When viewed at the level of the movements he makes, it seems like a jumble. He uses forearm sometimes, and other times he does not. But when viewed at the level of the pickstrokes, he is clearly a two-way pickslanter, because he mixes the two types of pickstrokes when playing fast. He is distinct from players like Carl Miner because he does not have the tendency to make fully-escaped pickstrokes all the time at those speeds.

However, Andy does have a crosspicking ‘mode’ where he does this. And it’s something he does at moderate speed on both guitar and mandolin. It’s supinated, with full range of motion deviation and extension below the string. It is mostly wrist, but you’ll see bits of forearm here and there, on some string changes more so than others, depending on lots of relatively minor variables like what string he’s playing on and so forth. So if you try and use the presence of forearm movement to determine whether he is “crosspicking” or “two-way pickslanting”, you will be very confused. But in all cases, when Andy plays this way, the pickstrokes fully escape. So the only category that makes any sense is the higher-level usage pattern: crosspicking.

We could, if you like, create other higher-level usage patterns. In fact, we already have. We have “primary” two-way pickslanting, which refers to a particular combination of single- and fully-escaped pickstrokes. We even have subcategories there, like “primary up” and “primary down”, which refers to specific body mechanics and pickstroke type combinations. These categories are useful to have because we notice there are lots of players that fit it, and it helps you recognize them when you see them. It also helps you make guesses as to why a particular player may use or have chosen these particular “recipes”, and that in turn feeds back into your understanding of how the movements work.

You may notice other similarities in usage patterns over time that are worth naming, to help you recognize them when you see them. The “parallel extension” two-way pickslanter would be another such category. But as you point out, it’s not clear that anyone actually plays this way. So it may not exist. But positing its existence is a useful thought experiment and who knows, maybe it exists. If it does not, maybe we’ll understand why.

But if you keep looking at the forearm and trying to determine that way, you’re going to run out of options because by itself, forearm movement or no forearm movement, or wrist extension or no wrist extension, they are just movements. The are the lowest level of the hierarchy, and not enough to describe all the meaningful patterns we’re observing.


This is a big assumption. My guess is this not true. I don’t think it’s true for everyone, and it’s possibly not even true for the majority of people. Maybe we at Cracking the Code are guilty of making it seem like everyone is a stringhopper until shown otherwise. But I doubt that is the case. The Technique Critique posts we have seen on the forum so far show us that some people have stringhopping problems, but not all. The rest are actually doing things that could work: forearm movements, finger movements, idiosyncratic combinations of all of these. These are things that might not technically be “wrong”. But there are so many variables that the player is confused and doesn’t know how to make them work as part of a system.

It is hard to imagine, when watching Steve Morse or Molly Tuttle, that they ever had any kind of stringhopping problem. Molly and Steve’s techniques are mostly flat, back and forth wrist movement, with a slight curvature. My guess is that for many players, making this kind of movement is what is most natural, and they discover it quickly and at a young age. It doesn’t seem likely Andy Wood ever had a stringhopping problem either. We actually have video footage of Andy Wood at 8 or 10 years old and he was already doing a wide deviation movement:

How do players like Andy figure this out? We can only guess. We know for a fact nobody showed him how to do this. It was experimentation. But if you tell a kid to strum a guitar or mandolin, and they watch videos of Doc Watson and Sam Bush, and they see that wide back and forth movement, that’s what they are going to try.

And as @Tom0711 points out, just going by odds alone, there is only one possible point in space that is perfectly parallel - all other points will allow some type of efficient wrist escape. All you have to do to increase your chances of making any kind of efficiently escaping pickstroke is to randomly choose a non-zero forearm orientation, and then try to make a flat back and forth wrist movement.

The main problem with the ‘only extension escape’ picking style, is that it relies on a movement which instantly becomes highly inefficient if you try to make two or more of them in a row. That is a pretty strong constraint. Imagine someone who doesn’t know this, and tries to use this approach to play lines from a lesson book that are not designed for this. If they encounter the Paul Gilbert lick, or pretty much any jazz lick, they will feel weird and jumpy. The player won’t know why, but they will probably instinctively move their arm or hand around until that feeling goes away. The most likely way to make that feeling go away is to assume a supinated or pronated orienation, and make a flat movement. Instant smoothness.

That’s my guess.