Crosspicking/Tracking technique (video)


Awesome! Let’s see some clips.

That’s exactly it. Most people can already tap their hands on a table top fast enough that if we imagine the tapping as one half of a picking motion, it’s already fast enough to play a very wide range of “fast” things. What’s missing is just the coordination of doing the motion at those speeds. And that very often is more like the bike riding / surfing type skill acquistion - a thing you attempt a bunch until it starts working, sometimes almost instantly.

Good work here!


Looks much better. Your motions aren’t small and tense looking, but look more like your effortlessly & quickly ‘flinging’ from stroke to stroke… and you arrive back up to your ‘above-the-string’ position with time to spare.

This is a really dramatic improvement in my opinion… keep doing what you are doing!!!


You don’t mean triplets at 180, hence X 4/3 ( = to 4/4 16th 240 bpm??)

Assuming you mean 180 4/4bpm, that is still awesome.

I can occasionally string together 1NPS stuff at 180 bpm, but it’s still not ‘automatic’ yet, and it’s only for specific runs.


I mean 8th notes @270 or so (which is equivalent of 8th notes triplet @180 - correct me if my math is wrong) - merely a rough estimation. I consider the fwd roll to be basic Bluegrass vocabulary, and Bluegrass is played 8th notes most of the time. The basic fwd roll, though made of 3 notes is not a triplet but 8th notes for syncopation purpose. Usually you have 2 notes following the roll played twice to complete a bar (3+3+2). I can play 1nps stuffs little faster if you don’t have the string skip (like 3nps or 4nps cycle). Fast bluegrass tunes can be played above 300.


Thanks all, this is really helpful feedback, and also thanks for being so encouraging :slight_smile:

I just tried this again after being out all day and i couldn’t do it until I remembered not to supinate as much. I guess my motor system is still learning what works and what to do to get it right…

@blueberrypie I second @Troy and would love to see some clips!

I think this community is great. I have probably saved months or years of piling on the repetitions to no avail. I still have a long way to go but at least @Troy has unmasked all these techniques.

I guess other more classical instruments (violin, piano) already have this level of insight into what techniques and forms are required to play fast, and how before CtC this was all just a mystery to most people on the guitar? Maybe that discussion is for a different thread…


Yes, we are trailblazing pioneers. Amazing how guitar picking insights have changed from the 80’s style of ‘use small pick-strokes & barely touch the string’ to what we know today.

@blueberrypie, definitely want to see some video of this.


Here is a short clip.

It’s a bit slow on the first rolls, then faster, trying to keep it clean. Not as fast as triplets @180 but close. Nothing special here, it just shows that these stuffs can be played really fast - and is routine stuff for elite Bluegrass players.

Also there’ no way I can do that that fast DDU, not even close. Maybe some players could - but my arm hurts just thinking about it.


Wow - that is nuts! Sounds awesome…

That’s so interesting - at that speed you are almost just nudging the middle string in the roll with a slight rotation of the arm (I think?). Is that a conscious decision by you in order to keep it fast. Do you do that at lower speeds too?


I know I tend to do something like a ‘kick’ for ascending inside string change. It’s something I’ve talked about previously on this forum. Maybe that is what you refer to. It’s not really conscious, neither worked out. Instead something that came kind of automatically with the motion.

One of the thing with that motion is that - as said before in this very thread - it feels like ‘nothing’ to the point that you might lack of a reference point. By that I mean the ‘feel’ of a positive contact with the string - as well as something you can relate to rhythmically as well as pitch-wise. So producing accent, or doing whatever that gives you a ‘feel’ can come with practice, though not fully consciously.

It also depends how much you sustain the motion. If you do just couple rolls as part of a Bluegrass fiddle tune it’s different than if you sustain the motion for an Etude or something. I use to apply these patterns for some classical pieces, and they are sustained. But Also I play a version of ‘Blackberry Blossom’ that includes couple fwd rolls in the middle of single lines and is totally different in terms of feel.


Nice technique. Are you resting your wrist on the strings? Are you using your elbow at all for tracking during the roll?


I have my wrist kind of (gently) anchored at the bridge and pivots from there. I don’t feel like I’m doing something specifically for ‘tracking’. Like to me , picking, tracking is the same.


Hey guys,
I have been working on this some more this week, have a look at the first part of wildwood flower, roll style.

Does it look ok? I know my forearm is wiggling a little bit, but it does feel smooth and not jumpy. I think my initial goal is to just not string hop at this tempo (triplets at 135 bpm)… At this tempo it feels actually quite smooth. Which is a really nice feeling.

Any feedback is warmly received, even if it is a thumbs down on the technical side of things. Where do i go from here? Can I keep pushing with this form or do i need to adjust?

Thanks, hope you are all having a nice weekend,



It’s hard to tell if forearm wiggling is part of a smooth motion you come up with, or instead is a bit of stringhopping. There’s surely nothing wrong per se in using forearm rotation, but to me I had to get to play the roll faster to figure out the correct motion. As far as I’m concerned I took the DDU-DDU roll as a reference point, because that involves stringhopping. So as long as playind DUD-UDU instead would not overrun it it was not clear whether or not I’d stringhop some string changes.

Things is that you might do well for most of the string changes and stringhop a couple one. Remember that the DUD-UDU roll pattern has ALL the string changes. In my case I figured out that there was unnecessary (and as a matter of fact ‘stringhoppy’) wrist wiggle at some point. Especially the inside string skip really gave me a hard time. But it all came as a light-bulb, not considering individual string change but the whole up and down motion - which is a bit like mini-strum. That’s why I find it difficult (and counter-productive) to go too much analytic on this.


Thanks for this, so I guess I should go faster to test it as you did? I can do the roll at 150 for a bar then it breaks down because it still feels fast. Shall I just push it?

Seems counter intuitive but I do like this trial and error approach. I feel like I am getting more success with it than with slower metronome practice


To me - and it’s all relative - the make-or-brake speed was at around 160 (as triplets, or 240 8th notes, or 120 16th). There was really a before (I could not make it) and after (I can make it) that would translate in motion feel. BTW it’s possibly a speed wall that is very common with players, from what I read here and there. And it’s not like I would work gradually with a metronome (I definitely NOT did that) but instead just checking if I was in that ballpark.


Ok buddy, that makes sense to me, thank you!


I think it looks really smooth, and your form improvement continues to impress me.

It may very well be that your particular form requires the forearm rotation. It’s a completely valid mechanic… I use even more forearm than you, and I don’t string-hop at all. I understand that Troy and others use wrist only, but that is one of many methods.

And yes, you absolutely need to keep testing it in quick bursts. And it’s fine that those bursts only last a bar. I continue to do bursts way out of my comfort zone as part of my routine. It’s almost like a cheat, so that you can ‘feel’ how things work at high speed. I’ll even do bursts at 200 bpm… and even though I start swiping… and my tracking breaks down… I still get valuable feedback that helps me with my form at slower speeds.


Thanks man, all this feedback is really important to me, it really is good to be corrected and/or validated. I’ll keep pushing.

I still don’t understand, how did so many people get to shred speed/this fluent at cross picking/pickslanting or whatever technique without all this work that has been done by CtC? Like honestly I have made more improvement in the last month or 2 than I had ever thought, and without it I would have just hacked around for years and made zero improvement.

I am getting the sense that those people who reached the top of the mountain somehow found a mechanic that worked without realizing it, or via trial and error, which makes me think why is no one telling people to do trial and error (instead conventional wisdom is the metronome route) And I’m guessing that there are thousands of guitarists still at the bottom or half way up without a clue of how to get any higher.

Although as I read other threads, there are people who are asking for technical help, whose picking is 100000 times better than mine, and I am just bamboozled as to how they even got that good without the fine grained technical help I am finding here…

It’s a mystery to me…in a way I wished I had fluked it years ago, but it just feels like the luck of the draw…


They primarily go by feel. It’s “can I play this passage fast, and does it feel smooth”. If it doesn’t then keep tinkering until it feels right. This is the process of trial and error. Then once they have it down and can perform it with fluidity at a good tempo then they start to dial in the form by repeatedly drilling it into muscle memory with the metronome.


Yeah… it requires much more time in the beginning… but much less time over the long-term. I’ve tweaked my picking mechanic so many times over the last two years… I can’t remember. But once you get a reliable, economical double-escaped motion that you can move anywhere at anytime, it makes guitar playing SO MUCH EASIER, and everything sounds so much better. Its hugely worth it in the long run.

I see lots of threads on this forum about how would you pick ‘xyz’… and responses always involve swiping, legato, and sweeping, hammer-ons from nowhere, phrasing changes… etc. But if you have a nice double-escaped mechanic, almost everything becomes pickable… and its immediate. You don’t have to ‘study’ a group of notes and strategize… you just play it, and you can start on either the upstroke or the downstroke, it doesnt matter.

And learning to pick all the permutations of 2WPS + Economy + hybrid + swybrid + etc + etc takes forever to learn. with X-picking… you just need to learn the 4 different string change mechanics… and go through the different per-string combos (ie 1NPS, 1-2 NPS, 2 NPS, 2-3 NPS, 3 NPS)… and introduce the skips… and that’s basically it. You really feel like you can ‘master’ picking. (something that seemed impossible to me two years ago)