Understanding Escape Motion

Escape motion is a type of picking motion that moves away from the body of the guitar during part of its travel. This allows the pick to break free from in between the strings and escape, avoiding the surrounding strings, and making clean string changes possible.

The discovery of the fact that the world’s most celebrated players were subconsciously tailoring their musical vocabulary to their escape motion is one of Cracking the Code’s early breakthroughs that made clean picking possible for players who never thought they’d have Malmsteen, McLaughlin, or Johnson levels of sparkling clarity.

The specific terminology we created to describe this phenomenon — including the phrase “escape motion” itself — didn’t exist yet. Our classic interviews with picking pioneers like Steve Morse, Albert Lee, and Michael Angelo Batio were the first systematic attempts to observe and categorize the different escape motions that expert players make. For more background, you can read about that history here.

The good news is that most joint motions used in picking technique already possess some type of escape. For many players, this amounts to a freebie that can be unlocked simply by becoming more aware of the type of escape motion you already use, and pairing it with the right phrases.

In this section we’ll take a look at which kinds of escape motion are available, and how they are used for basic string-switching tasks.

Escape Motion Fundamentals

Chapter 1 - The Problem of String Switching

Playing across the strings is a core challenge in picking technique


Chapter 2 - Single Escape Motion

The most common string-switching mechanic is ingenious


Chapter 3 - Double Escape Motion

Switching strings with semicircular motion


Chapter 4 - Circular Escape Motion

The escape of consecutive downstrokes or upstrokes


Chapter 5 - Joint Motions and Escape

Joints can have different escape capabilities


Escape Motion In Use

Chapter 1 - Switching Strings With Even-Numbered Groupings

Single-escape motions and the simplest kind of string switching


Chapter 2 - Odd-Numbered Groupings With Double Escape

Using semicircular escape for complicated string changes


Chapter 3 - Escape Motion Picking Styles

Picking techniques can involve complex motion blends


Escape Motion And Pickslanting

Chapter 1 - The Garage Spikes Problem

A common culprit of uneven pick attack


Chapter 2 - Pickslanting And Escape motion

The slant of the pick and attaining smooth attack


Chapter 3 - Pickslanting vs Edge Picking

They both control attack — understanding the difference