Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 20 of 20
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    This YouTube clip of Troy Grady demonstrating and explaining what he calls USX picking recently came to my attention. It reminded me of the way I used to pick when I played a Strat. "Back when knighthood was in flower" as Ron Eschete put it in his clip for us on CAGED fingerings). It seems a more natural way to play on a solid body electric guitar.
    For many years--nearly 20, I think--I played an archtop guitar and spent a lot of time working on my technique. Since switching back to a Tele this past Christmas, I have realized I went down the wrong rabbit hole and stayed there way too long. So I find myself trying to get used to something I was comfortable with BEFORE I became obsessed with improving my technique. Isn't life funny that way?



  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    That is really well explained and demonstrated and it makes sense to me.

    An observation; this "trapped" technique resulting in contact with the next string on the downstroke leads to economy picking when playing ascending lines. If you don't economy pick then the motion is interrupted as you have to escape from a downstroke to skip the adjacent string to do an upstroke in an alternating picking pattern.

    The motion falls apart when playing descending lines unless you are playing two notes (or four!?) per string.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    That is really well explained and demonstrated and it makes sense to me.

    An observation; this "trapped" technique resulting in contact with the next string on the downstroke leads to economy picking when playing ascending lines. If you don't economy pick then the motion is interrupted as you have to escape from a downstroke to skip the adjacent string to do an upstroke in an alternating picking pattern.

    The motion falls apart when playing descending lines unless you are playing two notes (or four!?) per string.
    Which is exactly how George Benson gets around the guitar. Economy going from heavy to light strings and then using patterns based on either 2 or 4 notes per string to go from light to heavy strings.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe View Post
    Which is exactly how George Benson gets around the guitar. Economy going from heavy to light strings and then using patterns based on either 2 or 4 notes per string to go from light to heavy strings.
    You certainly learned Benson picking way better than I did---after two years, I gave up!--but one difference I see here is how the pick is held. In the clip of Troy Grady demonstrating this technique, he is using a traditional pick grip, not a "Benson grip". And he doesn't plant a finger the way some teachers of this method do (-JC Stylles, for example.)

    Of course, Grady is playing a solid body electric guitar, not an archtop. Is that the difference?

    This approach makes perfect sense to me on my Tele. It's taking a bit of getting used to in that I used to move my hand more----when I was planting a pinky on the raised pickguard of an archtop, my hand tended to move more than it does when I play this way. That is likely all down to my own bad habit and not a comment on the correctly executed 'Benson picking' method.

    I wish I had spent a couple years doing this rather than what I was trying to do when I thought I was learning Benson picking. ;o) But that's just me, not a model student.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Yes the mechanics are different from what Troy is doing and what Benson does. Pick angle is different and wrist motion is different but the effect is the same in that the trapped downstroke and the upstroke escaping the plane of the strings is similar.
    I guess there’s different ways to achieve this as Troy has spent way more time thinking and cataloguing all this than I ever would. My hat’s off to him.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    I chatted a bit with Troy in the comments, and one point he was very keen to make is that upward pick escape is not quite the same thing as downward pick slanting. USX includes DWPS but is not limited to it.

    so Benson picking, GJ picking and Yngwie are all variants of downward pickslanting where the upward escape is achieved through the slant of the pick and the motion is basically (for the purposes of mechanics) a straight line into the strings.

    upward escape motions can also involve compound movements such as moving the hand away from the strings. In this case the pick doesn’t need to slant but can still achieve USX by describing more of an arc.

    im experimenting with this combined with gypsy picking at the moment. It really helps with downward cross picking combinations, such as descending arpeggios.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    And that’s what I mean. That distinction is lost on me but Troy has finessed these movements down to their smallest components. I wish I’d had his brains or his videos when I was first learning guitar.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Me too! .. as i tried to do it by myself and did most of the mistakes one can make along the way, in the pre internet days!

    Fast forward to now, i thing i 've tried most of the picking techniques out there, economy, alternate, slanted, and benson picking. Once you make sure you are practicing a style the correct way (much easier today with all the info and nice teaching available), i think it comes down to what suits your hands the most. So results will be different for different people. But there's no magic formula, one has to put in the hours by the thousands, whatever the picking style..

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    First thought I had when looking at the vid is that the guy doing the vid seems to have way too much tension in his right hand. It looks like a claw. I notice that the guy he features later briefly in the vid (Andy Woods apparently, around 13:17) has a way more relaxed right hand which he maintains when he speeds up and that looks much more correct to me. I think the middle, ring and pinky should hang naturally with a normal curve to them, not claw-like like at the beginning of the vid.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    This YouTube clip of Troy Grady demonstrating and explaining what he calls USX picking recently came to my attention. It reminded me of the way I used to pick when I played a Strat. "Back when knighthood was in flower" as Ron Eschete put it in his clip for us on CAGED fingerings). It seems a more natural way to play on a solid body electric guitar.
    For many years--nearly 20, I think--I played an archtop guitar and spent a lot of time working on my technique. Since switching back to a Tele this past Christmas, I have realized I went down the wrong rabbit hole and stayed there way too long. So I find myself trying to get used to something I was comfortable with BEFORE I became obsessed with improving my technique. Isn't life funny that way?


    Yeah, the teaching sometimes gets in the way. How many guitarists I know who endlessly go on about their techniques. Most of them do alternate picking and have real ceilings in their playing.

    TBH with the Tory Grady thing, I think it's actually a reaction to these things

    - a crap, ubiquitous art non existent pedagogy that doesn't actually improve your technique
    - set against some self taught players who actually trusted what felt good and went with it
    - a pedagogy detached from the actual 'feeling' of playing and often what those teachers actually do
    - a few teachers that can actually teach technique

    Is it necessary to get as super anal about it as Troy does? I don't think so. If | can take one or two helpful suggestions from Troy (in practice I teach every who can't already pick well DWPS.) I think Troy is like the theorist that the teachers need to listen to, and then they find a way to teach what he's worked out.

    DWPS is EASY if practiced , and almost everyone who has learned Gypsy picking for instance can play very fast with no problems. Good technique is the rule in Gypsy jazz (sometimes to the detriment of the music IMO). In straight ahead jazz it is the exception. (I'm talking about amateur/semi-pro level here....)

    HOWEVER - GJ picking has limitations. One is obviously mechanical, but the other is actually tonal for electric instruments. SO I am finding ways to modify it. TG is handy for that.

    In order to acquire technique people need to do these things IMO
    - get very specific about the quality of the movements they make
    - listen to their bodies
    - practice consistently to the correct feeling
    - complicating this - sometimes the correct feeling may be very unfamiliar

    none of that is as easy as it sounds.

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Is it necessary to get as super anal about it as Troy does? I don't think so. If | can take one or two helpful suggestions from Troy (in practice I teach every who can't already pick well DWPS.) I think Troy is like the theorist that the teachers need to listen to, and then they find a way to teach what he's worked out.
    No, it is not necessary to get as super anal about it as Troy does but I'm glad he did what he has done. He changed things by stepping aside from method books and also from the written / oral instructions of players themselves, "put 'em under the microscope" so to speak, so he could see---and show others---what technically dazzling players were actually doing with their right hands as they played.

    This video seems quite dated now--the graphics, esp---but I like what is going on. He is trying (and succeeds) in figuring out what Yngwie Malmsteen was doing in a famous guitar instruction video. And what he finally figured out was a) how Malmsteen was able to do what he did and b) how counter to 'conventional wisdom' it was. Troy was not a fast, accurate picker before he tried to figure all this out. He became one. I see him less as a pedagogue or theoretician and more as a mad scientist, or at least, a laboratory scientist. Like some kids I knew growing up who tinkered with junk cars and figured out what was wrong with them and hit on various ways to get them (or at least a part of them) running again.

    Later, of course, he developed his camera for filming a guitarist's hands while playing and the rest, as they say, is history. (I think he's working on a model of this that uses a smartphone which would allow players to analyze their own playing / technique.)


  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    I think it's up to the teacher to learn this stuff, and then communicate as little of it as is necessary to the student.

    My hat's off to Troy, didn't mean to say otherwise.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    About that "claw" grip. There's no reason to restrict oneself to that one. I fancy the "trigger grip" for instance. In other clips but one dedicated clip especially, Troy shows those other grips. He can use any one of those with any of the techniques at +200 bpm speeds, no problem. The interviews with Andy are among my favorites as Andy is super conscious of his technique, even remembering how he learned. His insights on strumming were priceless to me.

    The clip referenced was an important starting point for me in a months-long trek working on specifically on single-note picking. I can only play 30-40 minutes on most days, and also made mistakes along the way, so other people may progress faster. But let me tell you, it works. My speed which was the average 120 bpm with so-so accuracy and tense motion has increased by 40 bpm with perfect accuracy and much better tone. I'm not after super high speeds. I do USX, strict alternate picking, avoiding economy picking for the most part, so I had to assimilate the "cross-picking" concepts. Both techniques can be made to blend seamlessly.

    But it takes time and a great deal of attention, in a "be your own teacher" kind of way. Stuff like this takes time to internalize on a motor/sensory level. Which if feasible if you've ever learned or improved at any technical skill by yourself, like a sport or any kind of technical skill. I further conceptualized some things for my own sake, like for instance I distinguish between three downstroke shapes depending on which string the next stroke occurs. Like if you hit cross-court or down the line, you're still hitting a forehand, but you don't strike the ball the same way. Finally I found it was best to adapt to stuff I was willing to learn rather than the examples, as it's better for motivation, and I needed to know it would work with anything.

    Andy Wood's advice to "floor it" as soon as you know the notes was excellent, because any snag or tension will tell you immediately you're doing something wrong. In that case you stop, re-analyze what you're doing to identify the problem, and "floor it" again. That's goes against the grain of conventional pedagogy (start s-l-o-w and incrementally dial up the metronome), but it works.

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Hmmm. Interesting. I think that's always what I did. I'm glad I didn't let teachers anywhere near my right hand.

    Just look for snags. And once you find them, analyse them.

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Hmmm. Interesting. I think that's always what I did. I'm glad I didn't let teachers anywhere near my right hand.

    Just look for snags. And once you find them, analyse them.
    Finding snags is easy. They find you. But analyzing them well can be difficult, as several different analyses may fit a single set of data points.
    One thing that makes Troy's teaching more useful than that of many other teachers of picking is that he looks at how the hand and wrist actually work. This technique provides a great example of that.

    Some teachers of picking act as if it is a problem in geometry: since the shortest distance b/w any two points is a straight line, find the shortest distance between any two notes or strings and voila, picking problem solved. But this assumes something about the wrist and hand that is not true----that all its natural movements are in a straight line. In other words, it assumes that USX picking MUST be wrong because it CANNOT be efficient to move PAST a string and THEN pick back through it on a downstroke (which is what USX picking describes.)

    Yet USX picking works. It is not the only way to pick. It is not the way one MUST do it or the only way one CAN do it, but it works because it is taking advantage of a natural movement of the hand and wrist. (Which is why some people, by chance, start out this way and make rapid progress.)

    Those who find and fix their own snags when starting out are truly blessed. The rest of us are screwed, at least for a time. ;o)

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    As I think has been stated in other posts, Troy Grady has a full course on picking with a plectrum. That video is a teaser. His course goes into excruciating, highly evidence driven, detail on picks (size and shape), pick grip, wrist motion, forearm rotation, pick slant, escape (upward, downward, and combination), and line development based on picking mechanics.

    Some post seem based on the assumption that Troy advocates a particular grip or pick slant or that the teaser video is his whole course. He doesn’t. He explores many different approaches and analyzes players with radically different approaches, from John McLaughlin to Ingvie(?) Malmsteen.

    The goal is to play FAST and CLEAN. I have little use playing 16th notes at 240bpm, but Troy’s course is an exhaustive study on what it takes to get there. I bought the course because I’m a dilettante with a lot of curiosity. But if speed and accuracy is a focus of anyone here, his course is much more than that one video and well worth it. If he had other courses that were as detailed and comprehensive on other technical aspects of playing (like strumming, left hand mechanics, etc.) I would buy them in a second.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    Troys contribution to guitar has been immense ... and for me was a real eye opener back in the day .. I naturally am an upward pickslanter playing with the trailing edge of the pick, but never really paid attention to how I hold the pick before Troy.

    I am still naturally an upwards pickslanter, but for certain styles I'll do the downwards pickslant playing with the leading edge (aggro blues, gypsy and other styles).


    But switching pickslant while playing like in the Steve Vai diminished run below was quite the eye opener





    My only critique of Troy is that he tends to use 30 minutes for something that could be said in 3 minutes


    Must admit that it seems to me that he recently started all over after a long break and is now rehashing his old stuff under new names like cross picking now being called double escape picking

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post

    Some post seem based on the assumption that Troy advocates a particular grip or pick slant or that the teaser video is his whole course. He doesn’t.
    Agreed. Indeed, Troy doesn't always use the same kind of grip OR pick. He also makes clear that with downward pickslanting, it doesn't matter where the motion comes from (-fingers, wrist, arm, shoulder) so long as the path is right. (That is, upstrokes move away from the body of the guitar, or what Eric Johnson calls "up from the pickguard".)

    I think most players favor either downward pickslanting (DWPS) or upward pickslanting (UWPS), while some few can alternate between the two. I think MOST people are more comfortable with DWPS and the smallest group would be those who easily pivot from one to the other while playing fast passages.

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    To my ear, it all comes down to the way it sounds, and how the way it sounds makes the listener feel. Picking can be done lots of ways and produce what I might classify as a few "dimensions" of sound and resulting feel. Some of the more important dimensions might be:

    Lagging vs Dragging
    One often plays behind the beat in Jazz, and when done right might be called "lagging", which sounds authentic, expressive, and cool. Sometimes I hear what sounds like a bad sounding kind of lagging, which is really what I would call "dragging". This dragging has the sound of distress; as if the player is having trouble.
    I hear this most clearly in some strictly alternate picking jazz guitarists that have a top speed near the limits of what is needed for up tempo tunes, for example someone who is solid up to 8 notes per second but their technique gets discernibly shaky beyond 10 or 12 notes per second.

    Effort vs Struggle
    The sound of effort is absolutely wonderful on a technical passage, naturally enhancing the climatic feel of a solo, and just positively underscoring and emphasizing the exciting sense of having successfully achieved it. The sound of struggle is different; alarming and sad, the sound of disclosing and exposing having not worked on it enough.

    Fluency vs Methods
    The sound of methods (and changing methods for different speeds of picking) can have the feel of desperation, of seeking through a series of techniques trying to find one that works. The sound of fluency gives the feeling of comfortably having developed a more unitary general solution powerful enough to express everything in all domains.

    How many guitarists learned and tested a bunch of picking methods, perhaps a master of none? How many learned to use only one method exclusively that happily executes everything they want or need to play?

    I am pretty neutral to disinterested in Troy's stuff, but he does "this one special trick" that I think would be of benefit to all learning guitarists, especially beginners - using a top down approach, meaning using a "top speed" down approach. This promotes the end result, the motivation that what works at top speed is transparently transferable to all lower speeds (versus finding what works for low speed and then switching as needed to additional methods and adjustments in order to get to top speed). I think it is the top down approach that most likely avoids the sounds of dragging, struggle, and methods, and more likely enables and results in the sounds of proper lagging, the positive revelation of effort, and the authentic and professional sound of fluency.

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Just ran across this on YouTube, from the Forum at (Troy Grady's) "Cracking the Code." Jazzy phrases, for those who may think what Troy teaches is not really relevant to jazz.

    Crosspicking rather than simply DWPS but you get the point.