Crosspicking: How to start and proceed practising?

Hi everyone,

Ever since Troy’s video with Carl Miner, I’ve seen a lot of Carl Miner stuff that I find absolutely amazing. I want to be able to do licks like these

I have been on this forum for some time. I’ve been a member and I’ve done a part of the pickslanting primer. I have yet to finish all of them, but to a certain level of degree I understand the types of picking motion, the anatomy, DSX, and USX.

What I understand so far from all the videos and the topics regarding (cross)picking:

  1. Start fast
  2. Picking on a single string is the best way to start (I think I get a little over 200 bpm sixteenth notes with this)
  3. Move on to a simple pattern over 2 strings
  4. Work in chunks
  5. (I think): At these high level speeds, you cannot consciously decide things like: “use wrist extension on a down stroke, and forearm rotation on an upstroke”. Just try it fast and your body will find a way. It will be sloppy, but that will improve over time.

I guess what I’m after here, is how to proceed. In particular, with crosspicking. I have read much information in older topics on crosspicking. And in these threads, people refer to other threads, sometimes resulting in me having 10 tabs open with a lot, but unfortunately also unstructured information. I feel that my mind is becoming a mess, because I want to read it all but I’m also getting lost.

I’m just really looking for a bit of guidance, concrete steps/exercises, in how to proceed. What I’m trying to do myself:

  1. I would like to move on to an exercise that includes switching of strings. I understand I could take a repetitive pattern and play it fast, like this [176 bpm triplets]
  1. This would be the same pattern but then 200bpm triplets
  1. And this is more what I’m trying to accomplish: Being able to switch strings in both directions on a down or upstroke. [176 bpm triplets]

Trying to be fast, missing strings, hitting strings that I don’t want to hit, but I could also already say that it feels that it doesn’t come natural, I have to put a lot of effort in it.

Any thoughts, ideas? It would also be nice to have a lesson/talk over zoom. Now I’m just trying out stuff myself but it would be nice to be able to exchange some ideas :).


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Welcome Ruben! I think you got the gist of it with your checklist, and great filming :slight_smile:

Can you also upload the normal speed versions of these clips? SloMo is good for the finer details, while normal speed is important for the big picture: what does it sound like? do the motions look smooth? Things like that!

PS: one thing I would add is that thinking of “crosspicking” as a single all-encompassing technique can be misleading. I am guessing what you are really saying is that you want the ability to play a wide variety of picking patterns across different strings, with all sorts of combinations of upstroke and downstroke string changes.

So… the recommendation would be to practice a variety of patterns with different types of string changes across different strings! Since you like Bluegrass, you’ll find exactly this type of challenge if you try to work on a bunch of standards.

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@tommo Thank you for your reply. I had to re-cut the videos, so they’re not entirely the same as the slow motion version, but close enough ;). I’m working on these things a lot in isolation, so right hand only, because I’m a tiny little bit obsessed with that right hand movement.

[The 200 bpm pattern normal]

[The 176 bpm pattern normal]

[The other 176 pattern]

Haha, funny :wink: I will start working more on that then, but I assume I’d have to do some technically focussed training as well. Or am I overestimating that?
Also, thank you for correcting me. You used the correct terminology ;).

When you say technically focused, you mean you are making a distinction between “exercises” and “pieces of music”?

In my opinion the two can/should be the same thing. In a bluegrass standard you might find say 10 licks containing different picking patterns that are challenging (I’m making up stuff). Your “technically focused practice” could just be rotating at random between these different licks, with 3-5minutes of attempts per lick. So, the song parts become the exercises.

PS: if you want your youtube links to embed (display as playable videos), post the link like this (I already edited the links for you in the previous post :slight_smile: ):

some text

youtube address

some text


Merci :slight_smile:

Correct, I do make the distinction between pieces of music and “exercises” yes. But I don’t see why I couldn’t start focusing on the picking patterns in pieces of music that I like. I do this already for a bit, but not so often.

Lately I was focused on the picking technique itself, to find that ability to play a wide variety of picking patterns across different strings, like you said.

So with regards to that picking technique: I’m also looking for some feedback on my playing ;). If you take a look at the last one of the 3 clips: What are your thoughts?

I forgot to say that everything sounds great and looks smooth so far!

I would just advise you to use this exact setup (hand position, pick grip etc.), and a similar speed as the above clips, to play a wider variety of phrases like what you find in a Bluegrass standard, a guitar transcription of a Bach invention, or similar pieces of music that naturally have many combinations of string changes.

In terms of lessons, we don’t offer Zoom calls but we do have a new Technique Critique feature directly on the platform. If you have a Masters in Mechanics subscription, this allows you to access guaranteed timely feedback from one of the CTC team:

hey Tommo :slight_smile: Thanks for your help and feedback. Now I have the feeling I’m on the right path with what I’m doing. I’ll start applying it in songs and will (re)subscribe to the Masters in Mechanics soon. There is still some material that I want to watch. Next to that, the Technique Critique would be very helpful :slight_smile:


Play these. Great practice.


Thank you :slight_smile: great site!