Am I crosspicking or string hopping?

Hi guys: I’ll start with some explanation. After hanging around here I started filming myself to find out what I’m doing and almost immediately found out that when I get past 160 and close to 200 BPM (16th) I use elbow picking. This works for some people but it really hurts and strains and my endurance is not that good (nor my precision). After watching some wrist players I decided to develop my wrist motion better, starting with cross-picking. But, trying to reinvent playing could be risking falling in to the trap of “string hopping” which Troy warns us all of. Therefore I ask: am I using correct motions here?

First is standard cross picking, then it’s Andys “motorcycle strumming”, then back to cross pick.

I filmed in Slow motion 120 on an iPhone like described.

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This is a tricky question because both hopping and efficient double escape can look very similar: curved pickstrokes that escape in both directions.

The only difference is that efficient double escape can be done faster (ballpark of 150bpm 16th notes or higher) and should not cause significant muscular fatigue.

Long story short: what you are doing here sounds good but it’s too slow to rule out string hopping. Only way to know is to ramp up the speed and check what happens :slight_smile:


Yes, so I’ve learned from reading here! That’s why I’m asking the pros - I’ll try to increase speed, but unsure if crosspicking is possible at that speed (for me =) )

I’ve notice Andy Wood using some wrist extension (?) for making his downslanted downstroke to get free from the strings - is this correct? (And - isn’t that one of the string hopping motions)

It’s beneficial to record one self in slo-mo: I’m playing it wrong!

Skärmavbild 2021-09-01 kl. 19.37.48

Hi Johan! To add to what @Tommo has said, which I agree with, regardless of whether or not this is technically “stringhopping”, it doesn’t look completely smooth to me and there are some basic things we can address.

It looks like you’re trying to use wrist motion here, in which case the forearm rotation isn’t necessary, which is what is causing the hand to flip-flop its orientation around sort of like a fish. Nor is the elbow motion component, where the forearm moves side to side like a windshield wiper. Instead, the arm should remain completely stationary from the wrist the shoulder, and only the hand should move back and forth, with no feeling of tension, effort, or bouncyness. You may not be aware you’re doing this, so just place the arm on the guitar and tell yourself that everything above the wrist is dead. Not frozen or locked, just resting and not involved. If you see it move, stop and try again.

And you should be able to do this 150bpm or faster. You may need to sacrifice some accuracy to get that. And the accuracy here is great. You’re not playing the pattern you thought, but the one you are playing, you are playing correctly. So don’t worry too much about that. You want a light effortless feeling of moving only sideways, with no up and down bouncy motion. It’s ok if you hit wrong notes or miss notes. Try that and film it, and see what it looks like.

I would also note that the best way to get this technique is to use it on a wide variety of patterns. Don’t think of this as “crosspicking”. Think of it very generally as wrist technique, where the hand does the motion, moving effortlessly sideways and skating low and flat over the strings. Any line you play, play it with this technique and look for that fast tension-free feeling, with sloppiness if necessary. When you have that, slow it down a little and see if you can get a few more notes right.

Keep us posted.


Kill the fish, deaden all above wrist, turn off wipers, hit wrong notes or miss them. Sounds like a mission for the aspiring pendulum of death to me!

I’ll grit through this and post a reply this Sunday… Thanks a million for your keen eyes, you really know what to look for!

@Troy One question about string tracking when using wrist only - I feel the need of a slight forearm movement when shifting from say E1 to E6 - is that correct?

And, when I start with a quite neutral slant and adding a little more pressure between forearm and the top of my guitar I can see the “fish” decreasing the “flip-flop”…

@Troy It’s Sunday and here 'tis:

Crosspick normal 0:00
Crosspick slomo 0:19

G run acs tk 1 normal 0:57
G run acs tk 1 slomo 1:01

G run acs tk 2 normal 1:13
G run acs tk 2 slomo 1:17

G run decs tk 1 normal 1:30
G run decs tk 1 slomo 1:34

G run decs tk 2 normal 1:45
G run decs tk 2 slomo 1:48

Hi Johan, thanks for doing this. There is no change in these clips, the forearm and hand are still doing the flip-flopping. Can you see that, and you just don’t know how to turn that off? Or am I failing to explain clearly what I mean by the flip-flopping? Because that’s always a possibility!

Big thank you for the comments!

Ok, 50 billion dollar question: how do I make it stop? I can feel the unwanted motion decrease when adjusting forearm pressure. (Obviously not the same as it happening)

And NO, I fully understand what you’re pointing out, but when speeding up I do not know how to make it stop!

It may be difficult to keep the setup the same and get rid of hold habits — so one thing you could try is to introduce a significant change. For example, we often suggest to try the 3-finger grip as a means to probing new motions!

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Aha, but it’s crosspicking available with that grip?

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Check out Steve Morse :wink:

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Ah, of course… Stupid of me! =) Should’ve known that!

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@Troy @tommo Been trying “flatter, smoother” for a week or two - do you spot any difference? It feels less jumpy, but is it?

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Hey Johan sorry for the delay!

It looks like at times you do manage to go “all wrist”, while at other times the forearm rotation starts to kick in. Sounds pretty good et these speeds, but I’m not sure what will happen with faster tempos (if you need them). Are you pretty much at the end of the ;line in terms of speed, or do you have more in the tank?

Again this is just because speed is a good test for efficiency, not because we are fixated with fast music :slight_smile:

I think just as an exercise it would be good to see what you can do with the 3-finger grip and by pushing the speed a little. If you discover something good, it can be a good reference to shoot for in the standard pick grip. If not, well you can always go back to standard grip any time you want :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the reply, been gradually transferring the movement from forearm to wrist and the occurance is slowly shifting resulting in a smoother more relaxed motion. Never been able to get a smooth motion with rotation/elbow movement - i easily lose tracking while doing it

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Andy is in some regards easy to understand - and in some difficult.

If I understand his motions correctly (after watching the clips many times in slomo): his default “resting” on the strings is very supinated with an EJ style position for acoustic work, which he sometimes keeps for playing some rolls. (it’s more in a DWPS as it was called earlier, than neutral). It looks like his escape motion for downstrokes is a extension (?) with the wrist? (upstrokes naturally escapes). But for other rolls and runs he goes to a more neutral angle/slant-platform.

In some cases he plays his licks almost entirely with a UWPS and his escape is forearm rotation for the upstroke (as when shredding electric passages).

Are these shifts based on the sheer speed he chose to play them in, or are they based on the kind of lick? (if such a question is answerable!)

@tommo @Troy

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Sorry for the mix of words here, but I’m trying to identify stuff, not only to learn myself - but to use them as a teacher in order to help my students…

Hey Johan!

More or less copypasting what Troy said somewhere (don’t remember exactly what interview/lesson): we think Andy has basically a bunch of slightly different picking techniques that he mixes and matches, as you outlined.

A guess for why this may be the case is that he simply learned different phrases with different techniques, because he was presumably very good at trial and error in his formative years and simply stuck with whatever worked for each musical phrase he was working on.

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This is soooo crucial - not only for the formative years - but the whole career!