Crosspicking and left hand questions

Hey all,

Recently I’ve been working on cross picking and hand coordination. In that regard I still feel like I’m hitting a wall. Wondering what you guys think of my Albert lee style crosspicking.

I can’t get the basic motion going. Any advice? My other question. Is about the pinky. Fast lines where my pinky is making fast jumps; or I’m making really quick position shifts give me a lot of trouble. And I’m that regard I still feel like I’m hitting a wall. How do players here practice chunking fast position shifts or deal with their pinky finger? Fast practice hasn’t been working.

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Filmed a flow motion video of me trying to do cross picking. This wasn’t very fast (8ths at 160). How does it look?

Hi! Thanks for posting. This is actually doesn’t look too bad but for the grip you’re using here, the arm position is typically flatter, where your thumb heel and pinky heel both contact the strings. Here it looks like your thumb heel is lifted off the strings, giving you a more “dwps” appearance. We’re still learning about all this stuff, and there may very well be edge cases we’re not aware of. But shooting from the hip, I’d say you want the two-heel contact to do the motion you’re trying to do here. This is what Andy Wood does, for example.

Give that a shot if you like and happy to take another look. Also, try to include regular speed video as well. Slow motion is great for details like string changes, but it’s not great for seeing how fast the motion really is and how it sounds. In general, slow is not how you want to start this type of motion. Instead you want to try it faster to make sure it’s really smooth and you’re actually doing it right. You can always slow it down later to clean it up, but you don’t want to get stuck putting tons of time into a motion which is wrong. And fast is how you test that up front.

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Can’t tell if I’m even doing the basic motion right or just stopping short of the bottom string.

Thanks for giving this another shot. This is pretty good. I think the upper half of your pickstroke is still bigger than the lower half, so the motion is still a little biased to the “upstroke escape” side of things. So a touch flatter might be the trick here.

But in general, I wouldn’t practice this as a motion on a single string and looking at it to see if it’s right. Instead, I’d try to play whole phrases or tunes that require it. This way you can judge by feel and sound, which is the more natural / musical way to get this. Basically you’re playing the phrase or song, and if it feels smooth and non-tensiony and you can do it reasonably quickly, that’s a good sign that the motion is not stringhopping. If you can hear all the notes, and you don’t feel or hear interference from surrounding strings, then that’s a good sign that you’re doing the escapes.

If the accuracy isn’t totally there and you find that you sometimes but not always hit wrong notes or strings, that’s fine at first. You might still be doing the motion / escape, but just aiming wrong. Which is a good problem to have. That’s what you can work out over the long tail as you try different phrases and tunes and memorize all the different picking patterns you’re likely to encounter.

So I’d say find a piece of music you want to use on this and see how that feels / sounds. Presumably there is something you want to play that is leading you to experiment with this, so go straight to a handful of examples of that music and use those for your experimentation. You’re pretty close here so I think the “basket of tunes” approach should get you the final way there pretty quickly.

Alright, thanks a lot Troy! In general how fast should I be going. It seems when I go past 16ths at 110-120 or so I start to be unable to clear strings when playing cross string lines. I’ve been working through some heads with the technique and trying to some of the arpeggiated jazz cliches.

There’s not a number. Very generally, if you’re not playing fast enough to make mistakes then you can’t tell if you’re really doing it right, at least as a starting point. When you say you’re not clearing the strings, have you filmed that and looked at it, and is that what’s really happening? Or are you just picking the wrong note on the wrong string but the motion looks ok? Because picking the wrong note is a “better” mistake than not making the motion.

If you’re just picking the wrong note some of the time, but the right one other times, see what the picking patterns are where you’re doing it right and make a little etude consisting of only those picking patterns. This way you have a whole mini-piece you have a shot at doing totally correctly.

If you’re in some way failing to do the motion, then you have to tool around at the mistake-y speed until you can at least get it right some of the time. Once you have that, you have something you can clean up. So you can do the etude approach on that.

Getting to the stage where you’re doing it at least partially right at normal playing speeds is important because then you can do the etude step. Or you can slow down a little to see if you can get more notes right. But none of this really works unless the motion is at least partially right.

It feels like going too flat makes me get rid of the slant. What is it about this movement that requires the flat hand for my grip?

“Pickslanting”, by which I mean the pick itself appearing slanted compared to the guitar, isn’t necessary with the motion you’re trying to make. To be clear, you’ll still be making angled motions, but the motion you make and what the pick looks like in terms of its orientation are two separate things.

Regardless, try not to worry too much about the bits and bytes level stuff. What you want is the pick moving back and forth in what feels like a flat sideways motion, where it spends equal time above the string and below the string so that the movement is symmetrical. You want it to feel smooth and not hitting the surrounding strings, at least not all the time at first, as a starting point. When you start to get this right it won’t feel like you’re doing anything special, but when you film yourself, you may see that the pick is making a semicircular motion that clears the string in both directions.