Crosspicking struggles

Hi all, first time poster.

I have struggled for a really long time with playing bluegrass, a genre I really love, because I just tense up terribly, especially when attempting crosspicking patterns like basic 12312312 rolls and the like. I went many years just avoiding the acoustic and I mostly play electric now which is much more forgiving in many ways, but every once in a while I come back to this fight. I’ve come to believe that if I can solve my crosspicking problems here, it will advance my playing in many other areas and let me actually play bluegrass fluently even when just picking lines.

I’ve been looking in the forums and watching some of the relevant interviews but I’d like to ask for some technique critique in parallel here.

The faster sections here are around 100 bpm which is not blazing but higher than I am usually able to crosspick, and I feel kind of close to some kind of breakthrough. I’m playing a slightly exaggerated slower “ideal” motion a few times before trying a roll. It’s a little messy and not all there, but there are short segments where it felt “right” when playing it in terms of “this feels fluid and loose and like one large compound motion.” And then kind of falls back to a pecking stringhopping tension fest intermittently.

It’s interesting to me though that the more correct feeling motion doesn’t look all that different at all, it still has a bouncy look to it, visually, but while I’m playing it it feels completely different.

Am I on the right track?


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Welcome to the forum @jfo!

Sound-wise this is all great! Mechanics-wise, these are the first few things that come to mind:

  • Your slow “warmup” pickstrokes are not representative of “real playing”: starting at 20secs you can see that your motions become completely different.
  • The motions look a bit bouncy, which may suggest some kind of inefficiency (aka stringhopping)

Is 100-ish bpm a hard limit for this motion? What happens if you try to play these rolls significantly faster, say 130-140 bpm 16th notes?

Thanks for this response and sorry I never replied, I am giving another go! To answer your questions, yeah it felt bouncy, at least past a certain tempo, and it’s def a hard limit, I just totally freeze up.

I am trying another approach which is to focus on my upward escape motion in general, and maybe try to come back to proper crosspicking at some point, although I’ve struggled with it for so long!

are you good at single escape motion with your wrist whichever one it is. If so then focus on the up or down escape depending if you favor DSX or USX. In either case your wrist will have to do a door knocker motion for that bit to do a lift over the string then go back to its regularly scheduled program for the typical USX or DSX motion follow thru.