Crosspicking/Tracking technique (video)


Hi there
Would I be able to get some feedback from somewhere regarding my progress so far? I have been trying

  • A more relaxed right arm position (resting on the top of the guitar)
  • A more relaxed grip
  • a smaller pick depth (that is one thing I noticed Molly/Andy Wood/@Troy/anyone! do when playing fast
  • the 9-0-2 picking motion with no forearm rotation.

Here is my latest go:

I think it’s closer - but i do notice minimal forearm rotation - AAARRGH I can’t get rid of this. Is it ok as it is?

Also - if this motion is ok, then how do I go from here, this tempo is ok for me, but when I try to go at 80bpm, 90bpm, 100bpm (16th notes), then it just feels like

  • the strings put up a lot more resistance, making me pick harder, and tense up
  • the harder I pick, the more my forearm rotates - causing me to miss the string/pick the wrong string.

I know @Troy, you said that learning a new motion at high tempos is harder due to muscle memory issues, but is building speed like this just trial and error, or just more an organic thing? I feel like building it with the metronome just isn’t working - although you have said to not really use it, so I do apologize if am repeating myself/making the same mistakes you told me to avoid! :persevere: .

So in a nutshell - does this motion still need refining, and if not, what is the best thing for me to do to get it up to 130bpm in 16th notes?

Thanks again,


I notice extension on the Upstroke and the Downstroke which would make this string hopping. This is also evident by the tempo- you should at least be able to do >120 bpm 16th Notes with ease. The motion needs to feel smooth and efficient and this can only happen with moderate to fast levels of speed.

Try Supinating your hand more- this should allows Wrist deviation on the Upstroke to clear the strings (no extension) and then the Downstroke will be cleared with Deviaton + Extension.


Thanks for this, yes i can this too on the slo mo.
I find that if I supinate more i start to rotate my forearm. I notice that andy wood, troy or anyone rotates their forearm, its so frustrating that i can’t cut this rotation out. Any advice on that?


It’s really just trial and error until your find the correct Arm position and wrist motions that allows you to play 1NPS passages smoothly at a moderately fast tempo.

And there’s nothing wrong with forearm rotation for Crosspicking. If that’s the way that you play the line the fastest and smoothest then invest in that instead of trying to find something that isn’t working for you.


Ok, that’s reassuring.
When you are referring to me string hopping and extensions on the upstroke, is that in all my playing, or just the crosspicking 1 nps arpeggio lick at the end?

If i try any thing above 80bpm it feels REALLY hard to get through the strings, really tiring and i have to struggle to keep up with the metronome. That seems to say to me my whole technique is string hopping.

It’s weird, i can pick a single string with just deviation at 160bpm, but that ability doesn’t seem to help AT ALL when it comes to changing strings with fiddle tunes


If I said this or implied this I apologize, because it’s the opposite of true! As @DJ_Ddawg points out, playing fast is the main way you learn what efficient fast technique feels like. If this tempo isn’t working and this is as fast as you can go, then it’s not correct. We can try and figure out why but that’s not as direct as finding the right form through trying.

Best thing to do is to floor it repeatedly while making small variations to feel and see if you can find some version of this that is smooth while moving fast. As for what to play, just choose something simply like a roll pattern, or scale fragment. Something with continuous picking motion and no legato.

Your setup is in the ballpark, so anything you’re doing wrong is now small. Accuracy is not super important as long as you’re attempting to do the motion. You do this in small sittings of a few minutes at a time, trying to find that smoothness. When you do, you’re on to something - see if you can identify by feel what is causing that so you can replicate. What I can tell you is that when done with optimal form, you can’t really feel the vertical component of this. And it’s hard to see when you look at the hand itself, even from player POV. It just looks like side-to-side motion. The only way you know you’re escaping is because it sounds clean and you can see a little air gap between the point of pick and the string plane. In all other respects it’s invisible. I jokingly think of this as the “crosspick illusion”.

One other thing you can try is the 1003 form, like Molly and David. It’s just different enough that it provides a slightly new sensation to work on, and may break out of whatever rut you’re in. The difference is contact point - it’s only thumb heel / thenar eminence. The ulna just needs to come up a tiny bit above the radius. It does not feel weirdly twisted. Feel and appearance is also side-to-side motion.

Again, you’re doing fast trials and looking for smoothness at high speed. If you can’t go fast at all, then the form is really wrong. Keep adjusting until you can go fast in any form. Then keep adjusting until you can go fast smoothly. No metronome. When that thing blares at you it takes you right out of the intuitive zone of focusing on feel, and also makes it impossible to make small typically subconscious variations in movement speed as you search for that correctness.

Sorry for the headache here. We’re working on better instructions for all the movements, including clear visual reference for what things look like when done correctly. We want to make it as obvious as possible when things are or are not working, so you don’t end up repeating the same broken things for hours on end. You’ll always have to take things the last mile, by feel with trial and error. But the closer we can get you to that destination, the less trial you’ll have to do.


Thanks @Troy, and absolutely no need to apologize - you guys are the ones who can actually do the cross picking motion! I am the one who can’t seem to do it no-matter how many times I get shown/told the correct way :worried: The instructions are clear, I understand the mechanics in my head perfectly, so there’s no issue there at all. I think my old inefficient picking technique is so ingrained I can’t seem to change it, namely masses of forearm rotation and string hopping.

I actually found the thread on cross picking with the 2 minutes tutorial video, which has given me some more on how to set my arm up, also there are posts in the thread which are helpful too.

I read you said in one post in that thread people who can do this find it so intuitive that they can’t understand why everyone can’t do this - I think you intimated this yourself too - that it’s like moonwalking and once it clicks you just get it. I hope I can get that soon!

Ok - I’ll try your advice of trying it fast and smooth for just a few minutes at a time, sans metronome. But I’m glad you say I’m in the ballpark, that’s encouraging for me. I don’t mind practicing for hours, but it sounds like it isn’t the route. I read in a Noa Kageyama blog that interleaved practicing forces you to recall more quickly what you just learnt a short while ago so reinforces it, so I hope that works here better than hours and hours of drilling it?

I’ll post a video soon if that’s ok to see if I have a better motion,

Thanks again


Recall is a part of the motor learning process, but only if you have something to recall. i.e. If you’re trying to replicate a successful prior attempt, then yes. But if you’re trying to generate a successful attempt, even a very brief awkward version of one, that’s a different goal. Short attempts still work for this, but for a different reason — variability. Make an attempt for a minute or two, then put the guitar down and take a break. Then pick it up and try again. Each time you pick up the guitar your position, grip, and motion may be a little bit different, and this increases the odds that you may do something that clicks.

Fast is what you are going for here. If you can only do a motion slowly and hyper correctly, and you can’t do it fast and sloppy, that is a sign that whatever you are attempting may not be right. So try to find a motion you can do fast with less regard for hitting the notes totally correctly. If you find that you have a mental block against playing fast and sloppy, break it. Think of this as a fun commando exercise of going for it as many different ways as you can think of until something feels right.

As I mentioned about, I definitely suggest trying the 1003 form as part of this. It’s just different enough that it may work for whatever reason.

Also, since you’ve seen the “two-minute tutorial” video, I recommend trying the laptop version of the 902 form. It’s super comfortable, and it gives you another way to attempt this that may feel different. You’ll still have figure out the standard playing position version of the movement, but if you can get it this way, it gives you a sense of what it’s supposed to feel like when done with smoothness.

Here’s a clip of what that can look like on acoustic - see if you can use this as a reference. When you look down at your hand, you really can’t perceive visually or in a tactile sense that there is an up and down component to this, even though it’s obvious in Magnet view:

Again, it’s ok if you hit wrong strings or multiple strings and sounds terrible. If you film it and you see a curved motion, and it feels smoother and faster than where you’re at currently, then you’re on the right track. Then you have something to recall and tweak, potentially at slightly slower speeds where you can see what’t going on.


Ok excellent, thank you for this once again.
Right so I have been working with this today, and trying the laptop way of doing it - I have come up with this so far - does this look any closer? It feels more left and right, and when I slow it down it looks more like a curve, with less forearm rotating…It’s not super fast, but it feels like a medium tempo to me.

Any good?


That actually does look pretty good. Does it feel any smoother? It doesn’t have to be blazing fast, it just has to be done at a realistic speed where it would feel awkward if you were doing it wrong.

What happens if you go faster, does it flatten out and get sloppy? Or does it stay accurate and get bouncy? Accurate and bouncy is bad. Flat and sloppy is good. Speed is the test. If you have a mental block about playing any faster than you can play totally accurately, break that block and go faster.


Yes, it did feel smoother, and definitely not bouncy at all which was nice. Now when I try and play it bouncily it feels awkward and wrong…

Ok so I tried it fast this morning before work. Obviously it sounds terrible and a mess and i’ve never heard anything quite so awful :slight_smile:

Is this what you mean or am I totally off? It does feel kinda smooth - my wrist is quite tense - but it may just be the mental block I have of playing fast and sloppy as you say though. I start playing slow just to get the feel of the motion in the clip before trying it fast. To be honest it just sounds like a mini-strum :frowning:

sorry about the low quality, I don’t know why my phone decided to reset all its camera options this morning…if it helps to upload a higher quality version I can when I get back from work…



Nothing should feel tense. it should feel the same as the previous take, just faster. You can’t “get the feel” of a movement you don’t know by playing slowly. That’s the whole point of playing fast. It’s how you learn what correct feels like, i.e. by trying it different ways until it feels smooth. So in other words, the exact opposite of what you’re doing here.

Moreover, your form in this attempt is different than the previous one which felt better. You’re more supinated here, i.e. leaning more on the ulnar side of your hand. This is not correct. The right form is more evenly balanced between thenar eminence and hypothenar eminence, as though the hand is resting equally on both heels. It may be that you will naturally rest slightly more pressure on the hypo but you won’t really notice it. It feels planted squarely. The arm will still be slightly supinated due to the natural orientation of the forearm bones. Then you just pivot left and right.

Try that again as your previous attempt and see if it looks and feels smooth again. If it does, then do it as fast as you can. If it feels tense in any way, keep trying slightly different arrangements until it doesn’t, with small breaks here and there. When you find the form that feels smooth at speed and is slightly more accurate as you slow down, that is the correct form.


Oooooh - is this it? I think I might have it:

  1. This looks a lot closer to what is happening in the tutorials, and feels more similar to when I play laptop style

  2. I timed this after playing it without a metronome - it’s triplets at around 125, so I guess a moderate tempo (this definitely doesn’t sound slow to me)

  3. It actually feels like nothing, like I’m just swiping the strings left and right, and magically I’m hitting 1nps accurately. There is almost no feeling of actually hitting the string (even the ‘g’ string which was giving me tonnes of resistance. If I did it at this speed the old way, it definitely feels awkward, and requires gargantuan amounts of mental energy and concentration to get it right. This way I almost have to not think about what I’m doing.

  4. I can repeat this lick, at will at this pretty decent tempo. So it’s repeatable (that’s gotta be good, right?)

  5. If I speed this up to 150, yes it is sloppy, but there is no “string catching”, and the motion is the same. I hit some correct notes (not all) but it feels smooth and not tense. It’s a bit like the child drawing a tree ananlogy. You could tell what I’m trying to do (a roll pattern) but can also hear mistakes…

What I did, was to use my thumb, and just flattened it and tilted it back a bit, after paying more attention to @Troy thumb in the cross picking 2hr video, and the 2min tutorial. This seems to give the pick the downward pick slant at a really nice angle, rather than over supinating the forearm to achieve this slant. When I over supinate, it all gets messy and my arm just wants to rotate. It feels like there is very minimal rotation here, and the pick motion looks more smooth, curvy and biplane like.

Does it look any good or am I imagining all of it and still actually some way off still?


At this stage I’d say it’s up to you to say if it’s good or not. It surely looks good to me.
I did struggle at first with the fwd rolls, mostly because I used to do DDU stuff for years and it feels completely different. But once I got a grip on this (and it came more like it clicked, rather than tedious practice) it started to feel very fun to do that. I can really go fast on these now, like triplets @180 (that would be 8th notes @270 if we talk bluegrass), and I did not really practice speed per se.

Tips I could give you are :

1/ do that on every four 3-strings sets you have on a regular guitar. Combine (like ‘dove-tail’) the 3-strings roll on different sets of strings.

2/ Vary what you do left hand. Adapt some pieces of music (could be bluegrass, classical, pop, whatever … or your own invention). Do some inversion and open strings. You have to make sure that pitches and tone don’t fool your motion (this would happen to me)

3/ also do the backward roll. You got to handle it as if both rolls actually feel the same. Do other pattetns as well (like 4nps, etc…) - but you’ll soon realize that many patterns are kind of variation of the basic roll, which has all string changes permutations including a string skip.

… combine 1+2+3 together :slight_smile:


Thanks for this
I know what you mean about practicing this on all strings. Steve Kaufmann has a version of wildwood flower which is almost all forward rolls, on different strings and pattetns where it switches between sets of strings. That seems like a good thing to use.

I hope this is the right form. It feels so much nicer than all of my previous attempts. For some reason this just clicked this morning almost despite all my tedious practice, not because of it.

That’s insane you can do it at 180. Did you find doing this helped you with your scalar more linear playing too?


It’s not really different at 180 vs 160. The point is that with DDU I would hit a wall with some tension building. I started to work on the alternate roll to break that wall and it did. Once you reach around 160 for triplets (which is more 240 8th note if you apply it for bluegrass) you know that you’re there. Actually I never work with a metronome and don’t really practice for speed, it’s just that at some point the motion feels so natural that you can let it go.

Does it help for scalar stuff ? Well I don’t really know. But surely… It helped me to tweak some string changing, with less of forearm motion. Also A thing I do practice are 2-1-2 patterns, like big arpeggios you know. And it definitely helps for that (I would do it sweep + legato before, but can do fully alternate now at decent speed).


Do you have the arrangement in a shareable format?


Is it legal to attach a photo of the tab for you?


Looks good to me. Everything @blueberrypie says here is on point. Only you can tell us whether it’s working because it’s a feel thing, but what you’re describing so far sounds like it, and the form you’re filming here is consistent with what you’re describing. Good work here!

Fyi small technicality, but there’s not really any “slant” needed here - if by slant you mean the way the pick appears to be tilted or not tilted. Crosspicking type pickstrokes want to escape equally on the downstroke and upstroke, to create a symmetrical curve, so in theory the pick can be totally vertical at the point of string contact. In reality, small changes to your grip may give the appearance of being angled one way or another, but that doesn’t affect the motion.

The motion is right because you’ve correctly matched up your arm position and your wrist movements. What you’re doing with your fingers really only matters for smoothness of attack.


If we’re talking about scanned pages from someone’s instructional material, I would ask that we not post those. If someone wants to hack up their own arrangement of a standard tune I’m of fine with that. Soundslice is a great way to do this on the web. Not sure if they have an embed code that you can link inside of a forum post like you can with a YouTube video, of if you’d just link to the Soundslice page.

Either way I’d create a separate thread for that.