Identifying Your Motion

How can you tell which picking motion you’re using?

Understanding your own technique is a pretty sophisticated challenge. The complex motor skills used to play musical instruments are learned subconsciously, primarily through sound and touch. Most of the time, you’re only likely to recognize what those motions actually look like after you’ve learned them. But even the players we interview frequently tell us they’re not aware of the exact motions they use.

So in this section we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the most common picking motions in popular use. We’ll cover what to look for and listen for in your own technique, and the techniques of others, to spot them with accuracy.

As you develop this ability, you’ll be much smarter at avoiding the confusion that arises as your hands naturally experiment with different techniques during the learning process. And you’ll also avoid stringhopping and other problems that arise from trying to match motions with phrases they weren’t designed for.

So if you’re ready to level-up your picking technique detective abilities, let’s get started!

Identifying Your Picking Motion

Chapter 1 - Goals For Identifying Your Motion

Your checklist includes joint family and escape motion


Chapter 2 - Primary Motion

Most players have a default joint motion for going fast


Identifying Elbow Motion

Chapter 1 - Identifying Moore Elbow Motion

The simplest form of elbow motion


Chapter 2 - Identifying Wylde Elbow Motion

This variant of elbow technique is more complex than it looks


Identifying Forearm Motion

Chapter 1 - Identifying EVH Forearm Motion

The forearm joint is a rotational wonder


Chapter 2 - Identifying Gypsy Forearm Motion

Django's picking motion is a blend of forearm and wrist


Chapter 3 - Identifying Aldrich Forearm Motion

This forearm-wrist blend is among the most common


Identifying Wrist Motion

Chapter 1 - Identifying Wrist Motion

The most multi-directional joint in picking


Chapter 2 - Identifying Di Meola Wrist Motion

Maybe the most popular picking motion of all time


Chapter 3 - Identifying Stern Wrist Motion

Mike's motion moves sideways, but on a tilt


Chapter 4 - Identifying Gilbert Mixed Escape Wrist Motion

An introduction to mixing escapes with wrist motion


Chapter 5 - Identifying EVH Wrist Motion

The wrist motion family with a unique pick grip


Chapter 6 - Identifying Grier Wrist Motion

The wrist motion that rests on the thumb


Testing Your Primary Motion

Chapter 1 - Determining Your Primary Motion

Simple tests for discovering your go-to joint motion


Chapter 2 - Evaluating Primary Motion Test Results

How to spot a joint motion mismatch