Crosspicking, stuck at 120bpms


When that happens to me, I try the left hand in isolation (not hammer-ons and pull-offs, just pick the first note and don’t pick the rest. This is just for analysis, not for practice. I often find that I can play the notes fast enough, but the timing is uneven, which causes synchronization problems and uneven volume across notes (unintential accents, dropped notes, unnecessary swipes, etc.).

Then I practice the left hand with hammer-ons and pull-offs. I find hammers and pulls provide improved mechanical timekeeping for the left hand over just not picking. This allows me to sharpen the timing on my left hand, without worrying about synchronization.

Once I can play it in time with hammers and pulls, I try to pick it again. I don’t try to keep the hammering and pulling motions while I’m picking, I just try to play it normally. I usually find an immediate and fairly large improvement. Do this a few times a day for a few days and I’m usually good to go.


For player who have a fast motion going on that may be the case, but I always thought (and I know a lot of other people share the same feeling) that you could build up to insane speeds independently of the motions you use, thanks to CtC I now almost facepalm at myself for not seeing the obvious fallacy of that, but its just wasn’t that obvious back then, if I could build up legato and metal downpicking/gallop rhythm speed, why couldn’t the same be true for picking? But yeah agree, accuracy > speed.


Indeed. Moreover the feeling of sweeping vs alt. picking is very different, and IME the fact you did learn to sync both hands sweeping doesn’t guarantee you can sync alt.picking the same way. I don’t know why … I can sweep comfortably stuffs that I can’t alt.pick. I’m talking synchronization here. Sweeping might help, but not sure to which extent. It seems to me that the motion and/or feeling of picking is so different that you have to re-build synchronization, at least a part of it.

I’m too lazy to pursue that 1nps race w/ alt.picking… and I admit that at higher speed I much prefer sweeping to alt. picking for 1nps. It’s both a matter of diminishing return as well as a tone preference. But for more tricky patterns working out crosspicking 1nps motifs is interesting and opens up possibilities. There are stuffs I used to finger pick than I’m now more consistent with crosspicking.


You are not! What you’re doing looks great, and is basically a version of the motion we teach right here:

…a couple excerpts of which you can watch right here:

The basic idea is that intsead of asking the pick to move along a wrist path, like what Petrucci and Morse use, you are asking the pick to move in a more pickups-parallel path. The wrist can’t move this way by itself. This is why you’re seeing a combination of wrist motion and a small amount of forearm motion. If it feels a little “twisty” to you when you do this, like turning a motorcycle grip, that is what wrist and forearm blends can often feel like.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach. It works fine and is very capable. If you haven’t been working on this long, then I wouldn’t worry about anything at this point since there appears to be no problem. Just try to tool around with this motion across a wide variety of musical phrases, focusing on smoothness and ease even more than note accuracy. When you find phrases that work really well, and feel smooth, do more of those, turn them into little etudes and try doing that some combination of motions across different strings.

The more stuff you try, the more opportunities you have to do it right and discover these little pockets of “easy”. The fretboard shapes in the “212” excerpt above are a great example of the kinds of lines that offer all kinds of little opportunities for this.

Nice work!


(Oh sh*t it’s Troy!! Calm down Johnny, act cool dammit! )

Thanks @Troy!! You and CtC are really helping me get my picking to the next level!

I really thought I was doin some kinda flextension with the wrist, but after reading your reply I do see the forearm motion! Makes sense since out of the other motions (wrist, elbow ) it’s the slowest I got (funny as it’s my default for non-shredy soloing).
What’s funny is that I think I learned how to do this from downpicking metal rhythm playing, which I also thought I was using flextension for (I think there was a post on the forum about this…) but now when I look at it… yep! Forearm rotation when downpicking fast metal riffs!

Anyways, will definitely try some of those excerpts of yours, will update if I make any breakthrough!


Yes you are using wrist flexion and extension - along with wrist deviation and forearm motion. So you were right the first time. The first tutorial clip explains the blended nature of the motion in a little more detail. The blend changes based on which path you are asking the pick to travel.

I wouldn’t worry about what the motion is technically. We can already see from your clips that it’s working. If you experiment with this there may be some slight tweak that you make by feel to get it to go faster. But it’s not a thing you’ll have “figure out”, but more the result of attempting to go as fast and smooth as you can, accuracy be damned.

There are some more thoughts on ‘going for it’ with trial and error style practice as well as in the EVH tremolo blog post we just put up.