Everything you need to know about crosspicking


#1

…in two minutes! Well, maybe not everything. But it’s a start!


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#2

Nicely done. I always enjoy your narration but this presentation really made its point even without dialogue.


#3

Great. I had to see this just after getting to the office! Now I have to wait 9 hours to be able to try it! :neutral_face:

I love the format of the video. I hope we’ll get more of these two-minute tutorials!


#4

I must admit that from all modes of guitar picking, this is the one that FREAKS ME OUT the most. When I was younger I used to practice a lot this kind of playing-classical guitar etudes like Villa Lobos’s 1st, Carcassi and the like, insane Mahavishnu patterns etc, all done with alternate picking. I did manage to get some good results,but without being conscious of the movements involved and my hand used to get a bit too tense. The main issue was that, hearing back live recordings, man I was rushing like hell. Not good. That was the main reason I gradually switched to hybrid-having descent fingerstyle chops gave me easy access to a wide variety of patterns on the spot while keeping me relaxed and into the groove. Since discovering ctc I did try to practice again in this manner, but frankly, compared to what I’m able to do with my fingers alone, I felt like going back to square one…
Still, now it’s really clear how it’s done-thanks to ctc. So, maybe I’ll give it a try…


#5

It’s possible that you were stringhopping, and if not on all the notes, then maybe only some of them. That definitely happens and can make it confusing to know if you are doing the movement correctly.

Now that I can do this, what I can tell you is that it feels like nothing. You could do this all day with no strain. I can see why players like Molly Tuttle do this and have no perception of doing any kind of special movement, and can’t understand why other people have trouble with it.

It’s like doing the moonwalk. It’s one of those ‘aha now I got it’ kind of things.


#6

Typical Troy, so god damn wordy - you know, not everybody watching these went to Yale…can you dumb it down a little? I had to get out of my thesaurus and medical encyclopedia just to learn how to play some bluegrass, smdh


#7

So, we now know what muscles are involved, what it should look like and that it should ‘feel like nothing’.

Is there anything particular we can do to train ourselves to this?

When working on cross-picking I’ve been using bursting. My thinking was that I had to get the tempo up to 120-130 bpm, where string-hopping becomes impossible, to force the right movement. At those speeds I could manage one bar perfectly. Two bars. Three bars…But at some point it breaks down.

Does anyone have a link to some cool bluegrass standards or other (musical) practice material? So far I’ve been doing Tumani notes and the glass prison arpeggios but practicing different things, requiring the same skills, might be beneficial as that might help learn more general movements.


#8

This didn’t work for me, it just lead to stringhopping RSI-type strain trying to power through an inefficient movement. I didn’t learn the effortless movement until I established the correct hand position, and then executed what feels like side to side alternate picking from that setup.

I did the three step process in the video because that’s how you test if the position / setup is correct. You need to be able to do DWPS and UWPS, with rest strokes, from the same setup, without changing your forearm position. Yes this means (in this example in the video) you may be doing UWPS with a slight visible downward pickslant depending on your grip. This is fine. This is how a good portion of the world does UWPS anyway.

Fingers in the air via extension bend, flat contact patch on the guitar and strings. That’s your formula.

Give it a shot and see how you make out.


#9

Touché! I wanted to try something different here because the subject actually is really technical and I know we have lost people on this subject before. The truth is the players that do this well do not perceive anything complex about the movement so there must be a relatively hands-on way of communicating the concept.

What I wrote above is the slightly more detailed explanation. For the technical explanation, you can check out the Compund Curve chapter from the Albert Lee analysis:

https://troygrady.com/interviews/albert-lee/analysis-chapter-4-the-compound-curve/

ie your question from the other thread!


#10

Thank you Troy! And I hope you take my comments in good fun, much much appreciation for what you’re sharing and teaching here!


#11

I currently play around with something i call string-feedback.
If you know what the motion should be like you can roughly calculate where the plec should push your fingers on stringcross if you do it right.
Usually thats some point of the thumb on downstrokes and some point of the index on upstrokes.
It doesn’t do magic but at least you get instant feedback when your motion changes.
On very high speeds it gets kind of blurry for me, i focus exclusively on down or upstrokes then.
Hope that helps.


#12

Obviously!

In relation to your own thread, no turning of the forearm is necessary for this version of the technique.

Simply establish the setup as described - wrist extension bend, flat contact patch, etc. Then establish the two rest-stroke motions, the dwps rest stroke and the uwps rest stroke, without altering your forearm position. No turning of the arm. You are using the wrist to create a diagonal movement which escapes the strings in each direction. And you can do this by playing each diagonal movement on its own, with just wrist movement. These are your pickslanting movements, simply performed from a common forearm position which is “lightly supinated”, in the Andy Wood style.

This will essentially test that your setup is correct. Once you have verified this, the actual picking movement is not done by trying to connect these two movements consciously. Instead, simply perform what simply feels like a rightward movement of the wrist to execute a downstroke. Perform a leftward movement of the wrist execute an upstroke. If all the pieces are in place, the ‘curve’, such as it is, will be automatic, and you may not even feel the escape movement happening. Verify with video that it is indeed working.

There are a few benefits of this deviation-style movement for bluegrass roll playing. One, there is almost no movement except from the hand. In other words, no arm or elbow tracking. Across the moderate distance required by a three-string roll, you can just plant in one spot, and reach all the strings. The wrist already moves in precisely the plane you need for tracking across that distance, so everything is somewhat simplified.

Anecdotally, this method feels somewhat less athletic to me than forearm oriented techniques. There’s really very little force required. Most of the tension players feel when they attempt this comes from stringhopping, i.e. repetitive wrist movements, not efficient ones.


#13

Cool thanks John! Trying a different tack here.


#14

This is super helpful Troy, thank you! I will play around with this, and also review the Albert Lee video. I’m excited about this technique because it’s really what I wanted all along - just be able to get a strong pick attack on anything and keep time with the down/up paradigm. I’m really glad to have found pick slanting because it’s made so many things possible that previously were not possible, but the nature of the melodic lines I like to play really requires more agility and control. I’d love to be able to pick or slur notes however I like them and in whatever fingering sounds best.


#15

This technique is based on pickslanting! That’s the trick. Pickslanting and crosspicking, the line where one stops and the other starts is like the event horizon or something. In order to do this you first establish your dwps and uwps movements independently for this given arm setup.

Honestly, I think there’s a reason why Pat Martino and Martin Miller have that super even pick attack at all times. Because that’s what crosspicking does well, picking all the notes. To add articulation elements like slides and pulloffs you actually have to start and stop the flow of alternate picking and work out where they go.

Think about it:

So many dwps phrases go down, up, pulloff, string change, down. The picking movement is still alternate picking and feels really natural. The same line in crosspicking would go down, up, pulloff, string change, upstroke. And to do that second upstroke you actually need a movement in between, one that does not play a note, to get back to the other side of the string, so you can do another upstroke. It’s not a downstroke, it’s like a ghost downstroke.

This is why I think crosspicking can sometimes feel less smooth for non-picked notes until you work out these phrases with the ghost movements in them.


#16

Related question but let me know if t’s too off topic - has anybody done some ‘notes-per-second’ bpm type of cataloguing of clean elite crosspickers? For example, I think tumeni notes is 8th note triplets at around 210, making it 11 NPS, equal to 16ths at 158. I’d be interested in data on that as a goal setting measure. I know a lot of Pat Martino’s stuff gets in the 280-300 range where he’s playing 8ths (9-10 NPS) but I’m not sure if he really digs in a lot faster than that.


#17

It’s not obvious to me that there is any speed difference between this and one-way pickslanting techniques. I’m not saying there is no difference, I’m just saying, I have no hard explanation for why there is any, other than anecdotal evidence of players saying they can or can’t reach certain speeds. And when most people talk about this they’re talking about one note per string type phrases, which are challenging for completely separate reasons of trying to be accurate while jumping around. Considering that there are many ways to “do” crosspicking, i.e. there is no single “crosspicking technique”, I don’t know how you could even make a blanket statement about crosspicking being faster or slower than some other technique.

Ultimately I don’t really think it’s a super practical thing to worry too much about, since there’s kind of no way to know. What we do have is plenty of evidence that lots of things can be played at a wide variety of tempos that people would consider pretty speedy. And there is also plenty of evidence to suggest that most people can’t do it at even moderate speeds, because nobody ever showed them how. Let’s get everybody happening at medium-fast fluid speeds first, and then worry about how fast it really goes.


#18

Dude this is a miracle. I’m slowly getting it. As long as I stick to pure deviation it just works. So now that you’re efficient in this method @Troy would you now even play something like the antigravity lick with this method alone?


#19

Guys I am trying this as we speak! anybody with a tune-o-matic bridge facing problems to rest the palm as @Troy explains in the video?


#20

It’s not obvious to me that there is any speed difference between this and one-way pickslanting techniques. I’m not saying there is no difference, I’m just saying, I have no hard explanation for why there is any, other than anecdotal evidence of players saying they can or can’t reach certain speeds. And when most people talk about this they’re talking about one note per string type phrases, which are challenging for completely separate reasons of trying to be accurate while jumping around. Considering that there are many ways to “do” crosspicking, i.e. there is no single “crosspicking technique”, I don’t know how you could even make a blanket statement about crosspicking being faster or slower than some other technique.

Thanks Troy - I suppose I should have clarified I meant one-note-per-string or ‘mostly’ 1nps types of figures.

Ultimately I don’t really think it’s a super practical thing to worry too much about

I have a feeling this will be written on my tombstone.