Crosspicking/Tracking technique (video)


I wouldn’t just stick at this speed because it’s comfortable. This speed didn’t even exist yesterday! You only got here by searching for it. If you can just wake up one day suddenly and do a smooth, good-sounding 160, then that’s probably not the fastest you can go. Which means that the motion probably isn’t as smooth as it can be yet. So keep up with the “search for easy” by always trying new speeds and you’ll probably unlock some more of that over time.

Personal confession, I hate the phrase “noodling”! I’m not sure why. I’ll have to think about it. But if by that you mean adopting a playful approach, yes, definitely. And in that respect, “noodling” is probably a better word than “practice”, since it’s about discovery and not repetition per se.

I never “worked on” fretting, but I think we all worked on sounding good. With heavier strings, a note will definitely fret out if you’re not somewher near the bar. But again, I never paid conscious attention to this. If there was a point early on when notes were dying out on me, then I must have fixed this by sound/feel.

I’ve heard recommendations to try bass guitar for a little bit to become more aware of this. It’s true, those strings are like undersea telecom cables. You need to fret them near the bar or your hand will quickly tire.


Ok thanks, I will try this - actually just doing a bit this morning has helped me synched things up a little bit better. Also the tension that comes with fretting notes is starting to feel less now. You are right, actually this is fun!

Thanks - I will give this a go then post back hopefully…

It’s a quote from Brookyn 9-9 - it’s a great show, if you have time check it out!


Ok I think I am definitely getting somewhere with this. This is a six note pattern - I think my synchronization is getting better, and this is 16th note triplets at 105bpm (roughly, no metronome anymore for me), which is close to 160bpm 16th notes. I think this is good (not totally synched left and right hands though, but getting there) and definitely a big jump in smoothness of feel for me - it just feels easy.

Also when I try 3nps Strunz and Farah segments, I can easily change strings after a downstroke now, these are a bit sloppy but they feel so smooth, there definitely doesn’t feel like any jumping between strings!

Ok - so I think this means I am an “upward pickslanter”. I did try downward pick slanting over the weekend in loads of different positions - it just hasn’t clicked for me like UWPS did in such a short time. So my questions, without jumping the gun too much are:

  1. If I start to become an UWPS, then that’s fine for patterns which start on a downstroke and play an odd number of notes per string (and end on a downstroke), but what about all the cool pentatonic licks which are 2/4 notes per string?? Is it acceptable to start these with an upstroke - like I saw in the John Mclaughlin video? Or do I need to at some point learn how to DWPS these lines?
  1. If I want to play through a 3nps scale in this orientation, do I do the andy wood style very fast forearm rotation? Is this not string hopping, but ok since it’s only every 6 notes?
  1. Crosspicking - this has encouraged me to maybe go back to trying a pronated 10-0-3 crosspicking position - trying the supinated 9-0-2 for months just did not work at all. This one isn’t really a question, more a reminder for me to do this…

Anyway thanks again!! I’m a much happier bunny today with regards to this :grinning:


I wouldn’t get in the mindset of thinking that you “are” or “are not” a certain kind of picking motion. It’s just a motion you’ve learned how to do. You can learn any motion(s) you like. You’re just new at this, that’s all.

Yes of course you can play pentatonic lines starting on an upstroke. That would be like saying you should avoid playing two notes on a string if you have to start on an upstroke. Think of all the musical situations that might require you to do something like that.

Here’s Andy Wood doing some awesome pentatonic stuff on an upstroke:

It’s not clear to me that what you’re doing is pronated. Pronated players like Molly Tuttle turn the forearm so the whole ulna is off the guitar and not touching. The only the part of Molly’s hand that touches the strings is the thenar eminence / thumb heel. Your form looks more similar to Andy’s who is a supinated player.

But that’s kind of academic — I wouldn’t worry about what you’re doing, only that you can do it. The only other thing I’d suggest is that when you’re practicing these things, try not to do these super short bursty things with only one or two repetitions of a short phrase. It’s too hard to determine if your hands are locked up over such a short amount of time. Over longer stretches, with accents on the initial note of the pattern, you stand a better chance of being able to feel the synchronization.

If you ask me to play two super fast reps of something, I can only do that because I have it locked up already. But when I was learning that’s not what I did. I played lines more like this:

If you watch this in slow motion, and then additionally drop the speed slider to 50%, you’ll see that the first note of each repetition of the pattern is actually larger, going way over the B string. I can’t really feel that when I’m playing, but this is apparently what I’m doing to maintain sync. And I do this with all picking motions, even things like elbow which I almost never use. It’s universal, in my case.


oh yeah I see what you mean, wow you are going a long way past the string and then coming back - and still playing at 130bpm. Even at that tempo you look like your picking motion is bigger than mine

Ok - what that says to me is that the speed comes from the smoothness and co-ordination. Maybe it’s a bit like sprinters being told to relax everything and run smooth, that gets them quicker rather than tensing up and trying to grimace their face and bust a gut to get through that 100m…

Thanks for this - ok I’ll try doing longer patterns. When I try to do these patterns for more than 1 bar, my left hand seems to make mistakes and falls apart, so that might be a “brain” thing which just should be fixed by playing for longer…?


The more we observe, the more I think that’s true. But try not worry about motion size - it’s the result of various factors not the cause of them. For example, if you play with a flexed wrist and forearm rotation, then the same “size” of motion at the arm will produce much more travel at the pick, just because the flexed wrist places the pick farther away from the point of rotation. This is why Eddie Van Halen gets these huge picking motions even though he’s going 210-220 beats per minute sixteenth notes.

With respect to EVH and his forearm motion, the things we discuss here are probably similarly relevant to the motion you’re using here, in terms of smoothness and doing it for longer durations:

You can also experiment with trying to do the forearm thing too, to see if it offers any insight into your wrist work. It’s so different in feel from the motion you’re using, I doubt it will interfere at all. And it’s also fun.


So I’ve tried to have another go at looking for the cross picking motion again.

How does this look? I don’t know I guess I am searching for smooth and fast, even if it is a bit sloppy. It doesn’t quite feel as smooth and easy at the downward stroke escape motion I found, but is that because this is harder to do over 3 strings then just single string picking? This feels not bad to me, kinda smooth, and a little less bouncy than my other attempts, but I still may be way off here, I don’t know. It’s at around triplets at 140 I think

One thing I am trying to work on is not rotating the forearm on the upstroke to escape the plane of the strings…

Anyway does it look like I am getting closer at all?




actually I think this is getting closer to the motion that I want?
To me it feels more like just going left and right, and not in a U shape. plus it feels a lot smoother, does it look any better to ppl?

One thing I notice - is that if it is correct, it’s a bit like riding a bike. I can do it fast and smooth for around 1 bar, and then on the second bar, my brain/hand wants to do the old stringhoppy motion, and I have to try and force my hand to just move straighter - is this normal and part of the motor learning process? I can remember learning to ride a bike, once you get it, you can do it for short distance initially, then you lose balance and start to wobble and fall over. is this what happens here too?