Crosspicking, stuck at 120bpms


So after finding out Petrucci plays the Glass Prison arpeggios at ~170bpms, I figured I’m not THAT far from reaching that raw speed (ohhh boy), but after toying with crosspicking for the last couple of days, I seem to be plateauing at 16ths for 120bpms clean and relaxed, and 140/145bpms messy and tensed bursts after some warming up.

(sorry for the note choices, hard when you’re using the left hand to film yourself :sweat_smile: )

I feel I might be doing some stringhopping, which may be limiting my speed, any suggestions/observations?

Also, a more general question if I may: Imagine I’d want to play 1nps lines at Petrucci; Miller; Wood; Morse tempos. Could I reach those raw speeds (discarding the whole hand synchronization issue) just by correcting my form? Will I need to find a new movement that “allows” for those kinda speeds? Or would I need some speed burst like training aiming to increase my raw speed by a considerable margin (like 50 bpms or so)? Or even all of them? And since were at it, could the same logic apply to all picking motions like wrist, forearm, elbow, fingers?

Thanks in advance!


plateauing after a couple days? If you could get up to 170 bpm X-piking cleanly after just two days of learning, I would officially crown you the speediest guitar learner ever.

I would say that you are starting things the right way. Doing sloppy bursting at higher speeds is something that a lot of us do to get the ‘feel’ of the motion. Honestly, your form looks better than mine when I started. Mine was absolutely terrible, and my tracking was really inaccurate. I really don’t think your bouncing either.

So I’d say, stick with it, your off to a good start. And continue trying to clean up your form at the lower speed, until it feels a bit more natural and less forced.


Thanks! But I have to apologize because I obviously led you (and maybe others) to believe Im better than what I really am, lol.

Ive been playing for 10 years now and although I never did much if any “sitting down to a metronome” practice (unless for getting the song’s timing right) I always tried learning a variety of different technics, and one of the “technical” songs I learned was Petrucci’s Glasgow Kiss intro, so I do have some crosspick chops, I just never even knew it was a “thing” until I found CtC. Only the last couple of days have I tried playing 1nps to a metronome with the goal of raising speed.


Try less force, go for smooth, not accurate. Try forearm + wrist. Try wrist only. Try removing your pinky anchor. Try supinating more, or pronating. Try everything!

In other words, yes, maybe you do need to find a new movement. Maybe the old one is fine with some corrections. But the best way to find out is to try lots of things.

(You movement looks quite good to me but perhaps a bit “jerky” which may be limiting you.)


Edit: After reading Troy’s responses I guess I’ve made a fool of myself :stuck_out_tongue: I did see the similarity to the “crosspicking with forearm” motion, but coupling that with your limit to 120bpm I falsely assumed you were doing it inefficiently. Apologies, my bad.

This clearly looks like string hopping. The bouncing that happens on every note is what’s slowing you down. The good news is that you can fix this.

You have to try to experiment with your initial arm position. The first thing could be to try rotating your forearm a little by either supinating (rotating your arm a little “outwards”) or pronating (rotating your arm a little “inwards”). Try with and without anchoring your pinky on the guitar. Try picking using only the wrist. Keep trying new things every time you pick up the guitar. If you’re tensing up, take a break and come back later.

The goal is to find a motion that feels completely smooth at high tempos, and therefore whenever you try a new position you should start out by playing as fast as you can, to find out if you can actually get a high tempo. Sloppiness is not an issue here. You might miss strings when you’re using a movement you’re not used to at high tempos, but that’s okay, that can be fine tuned later. When it clicks you should not be feeling tension, you should only feel your arm moving. For the left hand you can just use something static like a chord and pick the three/four high strings (D-e or G-e) like you’re doing in the video.

There are a couple of resources that Troy has generously made free. This (IMO) is the most important concept of all when practicing a new motion:

Trial and error is really all you can do until you find something that works for you.

Let me know if some this isn’t making sense and I’ll try to clarify. I haven’t done a longer post like this before, but I’ve been in the exact same situation as you. Getting all of the above ingrained by reading so many of Troy’s responses has helped me progress a lot! So hopefully it can help you as well.


Thanks, and yeah Im following, I just find it hard to believe I’ll ever be able to do a 902 wrist movement, or even use Martin’s MP technic by just figuring out how to do the movement, they seem rather complex, do you just figure out the movement and once it clicks, bamm! Youre crosspicking 16ths at 200bpms? Or do you figure out the movement first (feels smooth, kinda fast) and then train to be able to use it at higher speeds? (not so much in an athletic pushing your limits kinda thing, but more like training your brain/coordination)

Now Im the one who hopes is making sense! :sweat_smile:


Some of the movements may seem rather complex, but that’s probably just because you’ve never thought about that kind of stuff before. You will probably be able to do them with a bit of trying. But they might not all be for you, and that is the reason for Troy’s recommendation to actually try them all. Some of the movements will feel better for you than others, and the first step is to find out which one(s) those are. That’s also why you shouldn’t try to make the movements very slow. What you want to find is a movement that you can actually make at fast tempos and that feels good to you. So like @Rambro said, go for it and see if it feels smooth.

This has been adressed a couple of times now, and I think it’s an important point. The movement is one thing. But that is just the movement. You still have to apply the movement to the guitar, and that is not something that will come for free. In other words, just because you can move your arm/hand/fingers really fast, that’s not going to automatically let you play anything on the guitar. You will still have to practise the stuff that you want to play. So, if you want to play 1nps stuff like Petrucci, you need to practise it. The movement alone is “just” the prerequiste for the ability to play whatever you want to play. (But an important one, of course!)

So, go for it, great things will happen to you!


Neat, thax a bunch! So just to be clear, obviously the left hand, and even the picking pattern will have to be practiced to reach certain speeds and fluidity (if i try to play the glass prison arpeggios, even just the right hand will fail miserably :joy:) BUT the right hand movement perse will come automatically (speed included) once I figure out how to do it?

So for the pattern im playing in the video, imagine Id figure out how to do the MP movement a la Martin, would I imediatly be able to the same pattern with a static chord at ~170bpms? Or will I have to train my brain to do the movement (just right hand) to reach those speeds?

PS: Sorry for writing “speed” so much, im a death metal guy, it comes with the territory :sweat_smile:


OP, did you check this out ?

Especially what Martin says at around 4:10


For me, I wasn’t and am still not completely used to playing extremely high tempos like Martin, Andy, Troy, etc. can do with double escaped picking. I’ve found a motion much like Andy’s that I feel is effortless (902), but I haven’t yet learned how it feels to play 16th’s at 170. I can do 16th’s around 145 in a roll pattern, so what I’m doing now is following Martin’s advice here:

It might be that I haven’t found the most efficient setup yet, i.e. that the curve that the pick is tracing could still be flatter, which would allow for an increase in speed if I can optimize that. I’m not sure if that’s the way Troy thinks about it, or if a higher speed requires something else completely.


The idea here is that speed is not something you have to develop or “work up to” in some way. Rather it’s something you already have. So there is some movement that you can already do fast and smooth. For instance, you might be able to move your forearm back and forth pretty fast (and smooth). What you have to do is to figure out how to utilize that movement when you play guitar (By the way, this is not something I came up with, that’s what Troy has said somewhere, I’m just rephrasing here)

When you figure that out, you will be able to play something at a fast tempo. It might not be 1nps stuff, maybe it’s something else. But I think that’s not so important. Once you know how it feels and learn how to reproduce it, you can work on whatever you like. Eventually it’s going to happen.


@blueberrypie I always assumed he was talking about getting the movement accurate (as in hitting every string only once, avoiding hitting unwanted strings) and syncing with the left hand, not so much raw speed per se, for example, at 5:33 Martin is going back and forward on just those 2 strings at quite a fast tempo. Do you think he also needs warming up to play that at those or greater speeds? It does make sense… but the opposite also makes sense :thinking:

@Rambro I also saw that one! And it kinda left me confused because there’s a video of Martin and Tom Quayle discussing and at one point they both seem to find that their current raw picking speed is the same, if not slower than when they were like 20 or so. And here is Martin teaching his student to use burst speed training to increase speed, so I assumed (wrongly very much perhaps) that there is a “speed training” kinda aspect to it, unlike what @tomatitito expresses in his reply, whom I am strongly inclined to agree with.

Also thank you for the replies! I am taking everything into consideration, will update if I make any breakthrough.


Yes, that’s what understand too. I think it’s interesting to know from a master of alt.picking that getting the accuracy on these 1nps runs is a challenge, still a challenge for him now.
But, yes, that’s the accuracy of what’s been played. The ‘bare’ motion itself you can figure out quite quickly if you discard the accuracy. Basically do a motion that would cross all the strings to be played that feels smooth.

One important think IMO is to make sure that basic/raw motion extends enough on both sides of the far strings. I advise you to exaggerate that extension farther for that raw motion, because when it comes to work out accuracy, the motions tends to shrink. If it shrinks too much you go into issues. The raw motion should be very similar to a short strumming actually (that what it is in my case) - and itself is a good for warm up


This is surprisingly true. If you dis-aggregate the parts, the actual cross-picking component of 1nps arpeggios is actually pretty simple, a repeated movement moving up and down the strings. Think of it like alternate picking on a single string - you can either do it or you can’t, and if you can do it at 120bpm, then right off the bat you can probably do it at 160 or 170bpm without much further woodshedding.

For me, the hard part of this stuff (as a guy who never really got into sweep picking) is the fretting hand component. I can alternate pick a few patterns I’ve been working on 130-140 without TOO much slop (not nearly as clean as I’d want, but close enough to get through a jamming situation), but much beyond that the coordination between the two hands goes to hell because of the fretting hand. But, if I throw accuracy out the window and just try to blow through an arpeggio as fast as I can, coordination be damned… Then yeah, 170-180+ is no problem. It just sounds like a cat strangling itself on my fretboard. :smile:

So, try just blazing through this way faster than you think you can - 160-170bpm or so. Don’t worry if you can keep the coordination in line, just see if you can physically get the picking hand to do what it should be. If your mechanic simply doens’t work at 170bpm, then you’re doing it wrong. If it does, but your accuracy is all over the map, then the mechanic is probably fundamentally ok, it just needs some more practice to get the coordination straightened out.


I’ve watched your form again, and I still don’t think you are bouncing, at least from what I can see. Also, if your mechanic is playable at above 140 bpm 16th, its almost impossible to play at this speed and bounce.

I really think your foundation is strong, and you just need to learn the precision. Don’t worry about 'copying the ‘wrist-only’ or the ‘finger/thumb’ movement or anything else. Sure, you should definitely try everything you can, but keep in mind that there are tons of ways to generate a curved double-escaped path.

As far as playing 200bpm 16ths, that is not a common skill… in fact… I’ve still never seen anyone do that for any extended period of time. I’m pretty sure it can be done though. Troy can hit 190. I can hit about 180, but it’s still kinda messy. But I’ve been practicing this for over 2 years, and Troy has been practicing it for > 4 years.


Yeah, I have experienced the same thing! My alternate picking has become much better and I can play some things now that I could not have a while back. But there is a lot of stuff where my left hand now seems to be the limiting factor. A good example is playing a scale on one string using some pattern. I forget what the patterns were called, but things like that are in the Yngwie and Antigravity seminars. My right hand can do it, but my left hand is not keeping up. That was ironic to me at first, but it makes sense. Since I never played these kinds of lines at fast tempos, my left hand isn’t used to them either.

Are you trying to make progress on that front? And if so, what is your strategy here?


Well, keep in mind that that’s not something anybody actually knows. Troy has his opinion, or theory, if you will, and that’s what I gave you in my post. And to me it makes sense. But I think I read some discussions about this here on the forum where people explicitely disagreed.


exactly, and even though I wouldn’t bet any money on it, I too am very inclined to agree with you and Troy on that matter, I even suspect (again, just a theory of mine) that for players like Martin who figure out their motions early on, the reason they recommend metronome training to begin with is to train the hand synchronization aspect, as some already posted in this thread, it seems to be the main concern for some players (me included).


When people talk about “Building Speed”, it’s often about building accuracy. You don’t really build speed. Moving your hand fast, without any other consideration is easy. That’s building accuracy which is the challenge.


The irony here is that I’ve historically leaned on my legato technique, and have always thought it was pretty decent. And, I guess, it was, but with legato you can be a bit looser and let it flow a little, while picking has to be meter perfect.

Honestly, repetition. Lots of single string drilling for coordination - for example, for the antigravity Gilbert 6’s, starting by just ripping through 3-5-7-3-5-7 over and over again at ascending tempos until it’s perfectly locked in along one string before getting too worried about switching strings. Also, legato works well here, since a lot of it is just finger strength and dexterity - the Yngwie 6s were a struggle for me at first (well, for a bunch of reasons, as I’m not a natural DWPS player) and doing them across all six strings as a legato pattern in diatonic scales was a big help, too.

Also, unlike picking, where the mechanic either works or doesn’t, legato is something that slowly building speed seems way more likely to pay off. So, for example, doing variations of the Gilbert 6’s pattern (like from the end of Technical Difficulties’ intro) legato across all six strings and just sort of sliding it around through different positions, legato, starting at a comfortable pace and slowly building it up, seems to help.

It’s coming along, I just need to spend less time at work and more time practicing. :smile: