Crosspicking/Tracking technique (video)


Hi all,
ok I have been working some more on this - I think I have been experimenting with a more pronated position. Well I can’t tell - it feels pronated, but is it? I keep trying to feel the ramp, but I don’t really know what it feels like to ramp down to the guitar body. Anyway this way of playing (@Troy said try the Molly Tuttle 10-0-3 style, so I think I am trying that) feels much smoother for me - my hand feels like it’s just swiping, but I’m getting it cleaner and faster than when I was trying a supinated Andy Wood style. Although I still may be doing that - would anybody be able to give me some feedback?

Actually one thing I find is helping is what’s happening when I go back to the beginning of the roll (i.e playing the b-string, then going back to the d-string. Instead of thinking about it as a string skip, I just try and swipe back in a straight line as quickly as I can, and It feels like it cuts out unnecessary rotation or potential string hopping - I think.

Anyway let me know if I’m on the right track here - feels like I am. When I was learning this tune 6 months ago I would have tickled you with a feather duster if you said I could play 2 bars of it at 135bpm…


Looks great and getting cleaner and faster will continue to happen naturally.

As far as the string skip… clearing the strings becomes hardwired or bulit-in to your mechanic… to the point where you do it without even noticing it. So string-skipping ultimately becomes more of a tracking issue… ie quickly moving across two strings, rather than thinking about hopping over a string.


Ok that’s really useful, thanks!

Im getting there…


Hi there
I haven’t posted for a few months as I have been working on this - but I feel like I am just hitting a wall at 16th notes at around 95bpm. I can do maybe 1 BEAT at 120bpm, but then it all just falls apart. I am struggling to pick a grip and hand position which makes this fast and sloppy but smooth at higher tempos, as no matter what I try, at anything above 110bpm it all just falls apart. In particular what I notice at these tempos is:

  • My motions get smaller and smaller
  • my forearm starts to seize up and I get this tense feeling
  • I start to grip the pick harder and harder.
  • I start going back to my old string hopping techniques

These feel like pretty serious technique issues, as everything I have read tells me that all of the above points are making me unable to play fast and smooth.

Does anybody have any tips on how to fix this, especially with regards to pick grip and tension in the arm? I feel like I am in a catch 22 situation:

  • I can play slow without tension
  • I can’t play fast without everything becoming tense and awkward and hoppy
  • the method to learn new motions is to see what works at a moderately fast speed
  • at fast speeds I am so tense! (thus completing the catch 22 loop)

Does anyone have any help here, do you think a good 1-1 lesson in person with a teacher would help here?

It’s a frustrating situation, I am here literally unable to do basic things at even moderate tempo’s, wheras everybody else on this forum posts amazing shred videos played at light speed, but they still think they have issues. I kinda feel like I am just not cut out for this instrument after all. I literally practice for hours each day with next to no improvement…

Many thanks again guys


I can only say that it initially felt ‘impossible’ for me to loosen up my arm at high speeds. But somehow I ‘learned’ to do it, and it wasn’t really a matter of learning how to feel relaxed and reduce tension. It was more like trying lots of different positions, doing lotsa little tweaks, lotsa different movements until it finally just happened.

Have you tried picking with the guitar sideways? (ie laying the guitar body flat). That might help point you in the right direction.


thanks man - I have tried playing it on it’s side, which helps a little - although I don’t know how to translate this to playing it upright. I get a decent hand position with the guitar on it’s side, but as soon as I lift the guitar back up, my arm and forearm tense up again.

Do I just need to reset a bit - and just practice playing with a looser thumb grip on the pick? I have tried this, but the problem is the pick then wiggles, and it feels like it’s going to slip or fall out of my grip. Do I just need to go back to basic stuff at 60bpm with a loose grip and build this back up again - building up “loose speed” as oppose to “tense speed” - which what I have.

Even with the “Pickslanting primer” the first dwps malmseen lick, I can do on 1 string at 16th note triplets at 120bpm (although my motions are not big), but as soon as I try to change string my hand can’t move to the next string without fluffing it all up and totally losing syncronization…

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, I don’t know what to do here!


Sorry about your frustration on this.
It’s hard to assess online. Maybe taking lessons could be a good move. Anyway reading your post I feel maybe you need a break on this, either a complete guitar break for a week or two, or do something else.

If I were to make a suggestion that would be strumming. It might help you figuring out with a couple things you mention which is 1/ pick grip (hard vs loose) and 2/ wrist motion and relaxation (and stamina). I’m specifically calling for ‘wrist’ strumming in that case which would be sort of close to the wrist motion for the crosspicking stuff - except you you escape the plan of (x) strings both ways instead of single strings. As a matter of fact going back and forth on 3+ strings 1nps feels close to light strumming.


Thanks for this - yes perhaps just strumming and a few lessons. I have had online lessons before, but i guess a video over an internet connection is difficult to see how much tension there is - plus I have only really just become aware of it.

I don’t know how you guys have learnt to play, as @Troy says, this thing really is like a medieval torture device :worried:. It just has me stumped, even though the video’s here and explanations are 100% clear and so easy to understand (it’s genius how he figured all this stuff out), why is it actually so hard to learn these simple motions?!


Hi - sorry you’re having trouble here! Just to clarify, these sound like two different problems to me. Is the first comment referring to the roll pattern, and the second one referring to the single-string phrase? Because a smooth 180 sixteenths is a professional level of speed and smoothness for most playing. Are you also experiencing the grip tension and arm tension when you do that, or is that just the roll playing? Which picking motion and arm setup are you using for that?


Thanks @Troy.
Ok - problem one (forearm seizing up, death grip on pick with thumb) happens on single note picking and scalar lines. I don’t have my phone, but tried my best to record this on my i-pad: do you think you can see what’s going on here? I can’t really play single notes at 16th notes at 160bpm for more than 1 bar, and whiskey before breakfast sounds horrible at 120bpm:

However - the roll I can do for 2 bars at around 150 triplets before my hand seems to forget the mechanic and conk out:

I think that my motions for single string picking and scalar stuff are too small maybe? after one bar my motions are so small sometimes I feel like I am just scratching the string rather than playing it. and then when I want to change strings, my hand is stuck in a groove of moving a tiny amount, plus gripping the pick Tightly and doesn’t move enough to get to the next string…??

I am trying to be slightly supinated, and I am trying to crosspick “whiskey”, but the 902 motion does not want to happen at anything close to a good speed. When I play it at something like 80bpm it happens, but that’s too slow to really to be able to tell if I have actually learnt the motion…

So it feels like I have a multidude of issues to deal with - tension, motion size, motion path…what the heck do I do here? I’m clutching at straws!


Thanks for the followups! These are helpful. Yes some of these motions seem a little forced and small, and I hear the scratchyness you’re referring to.

First and foremost, as a general comment, don’t put hours into something if it’s not working. If you hammer away at the same motion even though it doesn’t feel quite right, and you see little improvement over days or weeks - that’s how injury starts, and that’s not a road we want to go down. Instead, take this as a successful negative test result. In other words, ok, that didn’t work, let’s try something else. If you can’t figure out what else to try, it’s ok to not play until you come with up with something else to work on. That’s not giving up - it’s just being smart. Others have suggested maybe taking time off, and that’s always a great idea if you’ve been playing a lot.

In general if you haven’t figured out what a fast smooth motion feels like, then that is the first order of business and I wouldn’t worry so much about which kind of motion it is. Others have suggested strumming — fine choice. Related to strummy movements are the upstroke-escape family of picking motions which involve a little forearm.

In the “Intro To Picking Motion” talk, these motions are covered in the section that runs from about 56 minutes to 1:13 or so. These are not motions that work for roll playing because they are upstroke escape only. But they work great for gypsy jazz and that’s another cool style that sounds great on acoustic.

There are two forms of this - the flexed form and the lightly flexed form. I demo them both in the talk, and in the interest of again mixing it up, you can try them both. Here’s an example of what the flexed form looks like, starting at about 31 seconds in:

The point here is not to learn Gypsy jazz or Yngwie or even roll playing - it’s to learn what fast, smooth, and loud feels like. Once you find a motion you can do that you can do quickly, feels good, and produces loud clear sound, then you’ll know when you’re achieving that same feeling of fluidity with other motions, even if their form is totally different. This means you’ll know when you’re getting results and it’s worth doing more of something, and you’ll also know when a thing is not working and it’s time to do something different.


thanks for this! This is very clear - thank you for these points @Troy.

Ok so can I just clarify to make sure I understand - sometimes I tend to misinterpet things then go off on the wrong track!:

  1. So I should just search for a fast, fluid motion that is easy. It could be UWPS, DWPS, Crosspicking or whatever (but not stringhopping, which I assume never feels fast and fluid).
    Once I get it - I will know what fast/fluid feels like. Then that feeling will guide my attempts at other motions to know when I have them??

  2. my motions are very small, forced and rigid in the single string video clip. All the clips in the Intro to picking video seem to show that actually the pick is moving quite a large distance compared to me. Looking at Andy wood and Albert Lee (I love these guys, they are so good!) - they are using rest strokes quite a bit - I see the pick slamming into the string above/below the one they are picking, it’s almost like they are using that SLAM! to stop and go in the other direction. And then on the other side of the picking motion, they are escaping the plane of the strings, and then going past the next string (so that they can pick it if they need to).
    Is that the kind of distance I should be going for in my fluid and smooth motion? It is more than I am moving, and they are picking at faster tempos then me, which means that their hands are moving at a faster frequency than mine!

Thanks again,


Hi superslip103,

First of all, don’t assume you’re all alone with that kind of a problem. I was thinking the same about myself until I realized quite a few people struggle just to find a picking motion that works.

I wish you good luck in that quest, I’m personnaly still trying to find a way to make any motion feel right, without success so far, but it seems most people agree that by trying various things, we end up having some kind of an “AHAH” moment. Then it’s a matter of finding it back so it becomes the new habit.

Taking a break might be a good idea, as I absolutely understand your frustration.
It might work or it might not (I’m on my third forced long break after breaking my left collarbone three times this year (note to myself : stop moutain biking), and every time I pick up the guitar after a couple of months away from it, it feels just the same a before)… But you don’t risk much by changings things up if you feel your technique is not working as is it, anyway!


That’s right! You can just keep adding motions over time. But you have at least know what smooth feels like first or you’re just feeling around in the dark.

I wouldn’t worry about distance so much as the feeling of smoothness, the clarity of the attack, the speed, and the volume. If you can get a clear, consistent sound while moving fast and fluidly that’s the main thing. If it helps for you to think “make a big motion”, or “make a small motion”, that’s fine, but I wouldn’t worry about needing to do either. In actuality the “size” of the picking motion is the result of how fast and forcefully you’re moving, not the cause of how fast and forcefully you’re moving. Use whatever mental process gets you to the result you are looking for.

You will see lots of this in single-escape motions. I do it as well. A number of forum posters have suggested that it may even be helpful for learning these motions to specifically and intentionally try to make this happen. Meaning, some people may only know how to do a double escape motion, and for them, they can’t actually figure out how to produce a picking motion that buries itself in the strings half the time. So making a motion that actually feels like it contacts the far string reinforces the trajectory that the pickstroke needs to follow. You can certainly give that a shot.

I would simply say that when I do this it doesn’t feel effortful. When the pick is traveling along a path into the strings with almost any amount of force, it will very often hit that far string. When done with a fluid motion, it’s not even a thing you really notice.


Ok, thanks @Troy, I will try this, the rest stroke idea sounds worth a shot.
I will try not to wait 3 months again before posting, that is a LONG feedback loop.



Hey @Mando
Thanks for your kind words. It’s in a way a comfort to know others don’t find this easy at first too!

I’m sorry to hear about your injuries and struggles, I hope you can get better soon and get back on this!

Do you play mandolin, hence your name?


Hi! Ok I think I have a position and a picking motion that works!
Have a look at this!

so - I think this is UWPS, It feels fast, smooth, effortless (there is a little tension in my forearm but WAAAY less than before). It’s a good tone, and I feel like I can do this for a long time.

I just had to:

  1. pronate my arm so that the radial side (thumb side) rests on the body of the guitar, so that it takes some weight off for me.

  2. Focus on using just the real tip of the pick, and try to make bigger motions (that worked for me, as actually the bigger my motions get, the easier it feels)

Is this the kind of thing you mean? It feels good, it’s exciting! Can I go forward with this?

The only thing I notice is that when I try to play more than one note (i.e start using my left hand to change frets), the tension returns. Is this the next thing to conquer?

Bingpot? I think?!


Ok - I think I am starting to get this - I went back to the Pickslanting Primer course I first bought in July and found a Strunz and Farah lick - this is me actually doing a bit of it over 3 string at around 100 16th note triplets. It’s not perfect but it’s WAAAY easier and smoother than I could do before.

I can’t actually believe that I actually just did that :open_mouth: :hushed:


I don’t know what a bingpot is, but if is a talisman of personal success I’d say you found one! Nice work here. This looks good and sounds good.

Re: the Strunz and Farah clip, I like the first “success” clip better because it’s continuous and smooth, and I can hear the pick attack / tone loudly and clearly. Based on your feedback that it feels good, I know that this is every bit correct, because it sounds like it. By contrast, short chunks like the Strunz and Farah excerpt are almost over before they begin. There’s less opportunity to feel if your synchronization is on, hear if your tone is good, and so on.

Now that you know what smooth feels like, just try and translate that feeling to more musical playing. Single-string stuff is great for this because you can get going and stay going. It’s good for learning hand synchronization, and can be fun if you just wing it and make up cool patterns to entertain yourself. Here’s an example at approximately 160bpm:

I’m just making stuff up here. You can do the same. Honestly I don’t like metronomes for this because it distracts me from the feeling of smoothness. It’s like someone yelling in my ear to be a certain tempo when instead I should be focusing on feel. If you have grown up with the cult of the metronome, I would consider turning it off during this playful experimentation phase.

I wouldn’t worry too much about what is causing the “tension” since you now know what it feels like not to have it. Just pursue that feeling on as wide an array of different ideas as you can. And don’t worry about putting in “time” on this, like a job. A little here and there, whenever you feel like it, is great. “Practice”, if you want to call it that, for as long as it entertains you, and not more.

If you pick up the guitar and you notice that things are a little better than they used to be, and you can’t recall exactly when they got that way — that’s my favorite way to learn.

Again, great work here.


Ok great - thanks for sketching that out for me! :slight_smile:

The one string single note feels really nice to me now this evening - and I will give the single string noodling a go - I’ve just tried it and my hand synchronization sucks! So I need to work on that, but just being able to pick like that feels amazing, and things just seem that little bit more achievable now.

So just to clarify - one string patterns at a comfortable, smooth feel with my new picking action.

Can I ask a question about the fretting hand - which I haven’t considered much- I have read/watched video’s and had a lesson this week and the general advice is to place your finger just behind the metal fret, and not in the middle of the space - is this important to work on or not so important?