Crosspicking + pick depth question


#1

Questions for anyone that crosspicks - does your pick depth change when you crosspick or does it stay relatively the same. Today as I was practicing a little crosspicking, I noticed that my pick was not diving as deep into the strings (maybe because the pick needs to get air on every stroke?) and maybe this was helping the crosspicking. I know Troy has said in the past that pick depth doesn’t necessarily matter or help your accuracy but I am curious what other people think.

thanks!


#2

I’m interested to know more about how to get consistent pick depth as well. I thought Troy mentioned it in one of his motion mechanics videos or perhaps the pickslanting primer as if he would talk more about how to achieve that later, but I haven’t run across it yet.

I believe I have fairly consistent pick depth, but I’d be willing to know if there’s something intentional to be aware of or focus on. This goes for any of the picking techniques, slanted or otherwise.


#3

I tihnk that pick depth is a really big deal, as well as the shape of the edge profile of the pick. Depending on how deep the impact is, the string can have a significant impact on the hand, and either slow it down considerably, or make it move up-and-over.

So now I am very curious about how loud I should play when unplugged. My strings are very weak, with around 10# of tension, and even then they will displace my hand if the pick is deep enough.


#4

To me pick depth matter a lot.
It matters because with less pick depth you have less resistance and you can make the motion to get out of the string smaller.
I am constantly working at that, and therefore since a week or so i have changed my set-up. I have set the height of my strings the same now instead of following the 12" radius of my neck.
I feel i have a more constant pick depth now on all strings.
Downside is that the lower and higher strings had to be raised for this, but i am getting used to that already.


#5

Raising your strings may be a solution for helping with consistent pick depth, but will introduce new issues with your left hand, uneven string height from the fretboard, which may not necessarily be a great trade off. Let us know how it goes for you.


#6

Thanks for these perspectives guys! I am particularly interested in pick depth in relation to crosspicking. With pick slanting/escaping there can be a lot of variation with pick depth. I’m assuming with rest strokes, the pick has a “bigger” depth because the pick travels all the way to the next string. I think you could have a relatively small pick depth and still clear the strings for string changing. But with crosspicking - does a smaller pick depth help or does it just depend on a number of factors! Thoughts?


#7

Yes, it is a bit less comfortable for the lefthand. What i did now is lower the high and low strings a little bit. This feels ok so far.


#8

I believe that less pick depth is the best way to go for higher speeds, also for crosspicking. The less the pick has to travel to get over the strings the better it is for accurate high speed playing, also there will be less resistance.

At lower speed it is not that much of an issue and more pick depth gives you a different sound which you may want to go for.


#9

The latest vid on YT of Anton Oparin, where he sits down with a student talking about picking technique, is at finaly translated in English! Part 1 is there.

He taks about pick depth. One important thing he mentions is besides very little of the pick sticking out is: consistent pick depth. He achieves this by resting his palm at one point on the bridge.
I think that is indeed a very important thing keeping the pick depth as little as possible and exacte the same on each string.


#10

This interests me too. When people say “very little pick depth”, like how much do they mean? I can feel a lot more resistance even with 3-4mm of pick depth versus 1-2mm… A picture of what works and makes it feel smoother and with less string resistance would help here if someone would be willing to do that?


#11

Hmm. This isn’t a direct answer to your question, but I will say that crosspicking is easier for me when I’m using a LOT more of an edgepicking angle than I do for regular alternate picking, which either has the effect of keeping my pick depth from getting as deep, or from making it easier to glide out from below the string by riding along the curved edge of the pick. I’m not sure which, I’ll have to try to shoot some video and see if I can see any difference.

But for the time being try exaggerating your edgepicking and see what happens.


#12

If I said that, I apologize! I may have been glib in my wording, but pick depth of course definitely matters - for lots of reasons, from tone and attack to picking motion. I think what I have objected to in the past is this idea that we had in the '80s that by attempting to use the smallest possible amount of pick on the string, it somehow solves all these tangential picking problems, like switching strings, hand synchronization, and so on. There was a time when any question about picking technique resulted in “choke up on the pick”, “use less pick”, “use smaller motions”, no matter what the actual problem was.

That being said… we can see from the closeup footage we have filmed that most players do use a relatively small amount of pick on the string. This includes players who are still learning, and who post in Technique Critique. It’s actually remarkable how small an amount this can be, and how players can modulate this by feel. Controlling your hands to modulate between 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch of the surface of a moving object to contact a vibrating string is an impressive feat of fine motor control.

And I would note also that this is not the same as having a lot of grip exposure. The amount of pick sticking out of your grip helps you reach the strings - the amount that hits the string is typically way smaller:

The good news is that most people seem to learn to do this “small pick on the string” trick. And as you’re discovering, you can modulate it too, maybe without even thinking about it based on changes in other aspects of your technique like your motion. There is not a whole lot of evidence that “using too much pick” is a problem that’s holding many players back.

If your attack feels unsmooth, there are other factors, like edge picking and grip flop that come into play. And these dovetail with the gauge of the pick you’re using. You can grip a thin pick pretty rigidly and play it face-on with zero edge picking, and still move through the string. Try that with a 2mm pick that has no taper on its face and you probably won’t get through.

If your motion itself isn’t working in some way, that’s a whole other factor. Lots of interplay here. But again, apologies, because all these things “matter”!