Am I crosspicking?

It seems to be the age old question around this forum - “Am I crosspicking?” Or is the correct term “double escaping?” Here’s a video of me trying some rolls - it starts out at full speed and then goes to 1/4 speed. I was trying to do the pronated hand position - sorry, this was the best video and angle I could get. Any feedback/observations/ideas would be greatly appreciated - thanks!


Looks and sounds really nice and smooth! I’m still struggling with this pattern and i’m not a great technique analytic, but there you go :smile:

Hey @geoffk!

I think the filming is great :slight_smile:

This looks and sounds good, but it’s a bit too slow to rule out possible inefficiencies. For example, I just tried to follow your video with purposefully bouncy picking motions and could do it.

The problem for patterns like the forward roll is that the efficient and inefficient ways to do it can look very similar under a camera (especially at lower speeds). So the real test is just the usual “try to go fast and sloppy”. The efficient motion can do that, the inefficient one will be very tiring and speed limited.

try and speed it up some more, even if a few small errors creep

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@tommo can you remind us of the recommended thresholds for crosspicking tempos? I just rewatched parts of the Steve Morse interview and Troy mentioned triplets at 209bpm as a “mach 1” of where string hopping becomes impossible…but I also know that is an old-ish interview and Troy has uncovered some additional secrets/guidance since then.

It’s probably different for each person. But you could do a rough test by “stringhopping on purpose” on a forward roll (or similar double-escapey pattern), and checking how fast you can go. Say it’s 120bpm 16ths and you get exhausted fast (I personally struggle earlier, like 110or so).

Now suppose you find another motion where you can play the same thing say 20bpm faster, and it doesn’t even make you tired. That probably means you are on the right track.

If you get this test “wrong” and find that you can go very fast with the supposed “stringhoppy” motion… that’s a good problem to have innit :smiley:


Thanks for filming!

This is not pronated, this is the Andy Wood style where the pinky heel anchors on the bridge or body and you can see some amount of the underside of the forearm, including the palmaris longus tendon. I can’t tell from this perspective whether that side of your hand is actually resting on anything — it won’t always do so if the bridge is raised like on a Les Paul, and you’re hanging off the back of it. But if the strings kept going out the other side of the bridge, you * would * be resting on them, because we can see at around 44 seconds at the end of the clip that your palm goes right down to the strings with no air gap.

It looks generally good but this is all about how it feels, irrespective of speed. You want to feel no arm tension. And you should also be able to go 150-160 or whatever very fast speed while sensing no speed limit compared to just playing a single note on a single string, even if it’s sloppy. If you can satisfy both of those requirements then you’re on the right track.

As a general note, I wouldn’t try to “do crosspicking” simply as a way to play a bluegrass roll pattern. I would think of this more generally as learning to play a wide variety of phrases with this form you have here. So any kind of lead line you want to play, do it with this form and satisfy the “no tension” and “no speed limit” requirements. If you just hammer away at this one pattern all the time, it’s like a piece a gum that gets chewed out and has no flavor any more. There’s only so much to learn by repeating the same thing. Introduce lots of variety to keep the learning going.

Thanks to everyone for offering feedback - I really appreciate it. I think my next step is to film myself at a higher speed but my guess is that I am still string hopping If I play at the speed in the video, I maybe feel some mild tension - it doesn’t feel as free as other types of picking/strumming but it doesn’t feel like intense tension. When I try to play the rolls at 150bpm, my technique pretty much goes out the door and it sounds like mush - my pick starts hitting multiple strings and it sounds like a fit notes. Maybe filming at 130bpm will yield for helpful observations? I also don’t plan on playing 3 string rolls in my music so maybe I should try some arpeggios that I would actually play?

Not to over think it but I am also thinking of changing my arm/hand position to a even more supinated position that would at least feel more comfortable…the hand position in the video is not my usual hand position…lots of questions…

If you’re not interested in playing these arpeggios then I don’t see any particular reason to force yourself to play them. There’s plenty of music out there that would serve to introduce enough variety to learn from.

If you don’t normally use this picking motion, why are you using it here? Is your usual approach not working? Find something that’s comfortable and goes fast to start, then go from there. While it’s true that some joint motions don’t have as wide a repertoire of things they can do — elbow motion, for example — players that use those techniques augment subconsciously with other joint motions to get where they want to go.

That makes sense Troy - I don’t have a real reason to learn the rolls but I think the novelty of how to play them is fun - for example, at one point I learned how to tap - it’s occasionally fun but I don’t typically use it in my playing.

I was using this particular picking motion because I’ve been experimenting a bit with hand position - the hand position in the video seemed to produce more accurate results. I am going to try a more comfortable position but I fear It could be too sloppy to make observations…I’ll give it a try…

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