Understanding Escape Motion

The secret to clean string switching is that picking motions don’t only move back and forth — they can also go up in the air.

The ability to move from one string to the next without hitting any of the others is one of the least-understood aspects of picking technique, and also one of the coolest. It’s accomplished with picking motions that move in surprising ways, sometimes along a diagonal, and sometimes in a semicircle, allowing them to go over the top of the string to get to a new one.

These specialized escape motions are what allow you to maintain smoothness and speed while playing complex lines that span multiple strings. Great players usually learn them subconsciously, which is why they weren’t typically addressed in instrument technique teaching before Cracking the Code. The discovery of escape motion — and the way it influences the kinds of lines we choose to play — 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 good news is that most joint motions used in picking technique already possess some type of escape. The trick is simply knowing which type, and which phrases you can play with it. In this section, we’ll take a look at how this works.


Chapter 1 - Escape Motion

The shape of the pick's motion path is the key to string-switching success


Chapter 2 - Switching Strings With Even-Numbered Groupings

Single-escape motions and the simplest kind of string switching


Chapter 3 - Switching Strings With Odd-Numbered Groupings

Mixing escapes for more complicated string changes


Chapter 4 - The Garage Spikes Problem

A common culprit of uneven pick attack


Chapter 5 - Pickslanting

The slant of the pick and attaining smooth attack


Chapter 6 - Pickslanting vs Edge Picking

They both control attack — understanding the difference