Everything you need to know about crosspicking


Very true. So just to reiterate, the Andy Wood and Albert Lee methods of crosspicking are both achieved the same way correct? Or is there a difference because Albert is more supinated? Just think about deviation? I am getting this pretty well and then sometimes I find myself swiping other strings and I can’t tell what I’m doing differently.


Yes Albert is a supinated wrist player - let’s not say “deviation” since crosspicking requires both deviation and flexion and extension. And the more supinated you go, the more flextensiony it looks. Same for Steve Morse. Both very clear supinated wrist crosspickers.

Andy on guitar is a mix of lots of things, but his moderate speed mandolin technique is pretty consistently the supinated approach. You can also check out some Sierra Hull on mandolin, also a supinated approach, as well as Caterina Lichtenberg, the classical mandolinist, for an even more supinated style.


Correct. What I meant was, I think earlier you mentioned that when trying to achieve this crosspicking motion, you are not consciously thinking about flexion or extension but rather simply going left and right with wrist deviation and the flexion and extension take care of themselves automatically.


Yes. Obviously, at some level, I am “doing” something. But it’s not clear to me beyond the arm setup what that is because it doesn’t really feel like anything.


Damn haha there’s that special secret sauce. I hope someday you can voice what that exactly is because the last little part is the key it seems but you say you don’t necessarily know, you just know what it feels like after you achieve it.


It’s really not that mystical. Once you get the arm setup, there aren’t too many other ways you can move other than correctly or stringhopping. If you’re having trouble, set up a camera and film it wearing short sleeves, with good lighting and a down-the-strings angle that includes the forearm. Then step through the video. In the supinated setup, only the downstroke extends. If the upstrokes are also extending, then that’s the issue. No need to repeat that a hundred more reps, that’s your answer. Change something about your setup or movement and film again. And so on.


Hey Troy, that was some nice playing. I’ve never tried to learn cross picking since I’m a heavy metal guitarist I don;t think I need it. I do have one question for you about cross picking though. If you were to use the cross picking style of picking as your only style of picking, would it work on Yngwie and Paul Gilbert type songs and if so, about how fast would you be able to play Yngwie and Gilbert style licks with cross picking compared to the way you’d normally play those licks? In percentages would you say 90% as fast as you can play them with your normal way of playing those licks? 80% as fast? Something else?


@Troy, I had heard you went to Yale but wasn’t sure if it was just a rumor or if it was true. That’s really cool. What type of degree did you get? I’m going to guess - a B.S. in English or Poitical Science. Is one of those it?

I got a B.A. in Marketing but it certainly wasn’t from Yale. I went to USF in Tampa but living in Tampa with the amazing local music scene they had there in the late 80’s and early 90s which is when I was there was as much of an education as the USF School Of Business. In the nightclub scene I majored in The Rock-It Club and minored in The Mons Venus :wink:

The Rock-It Club was legendary. It was the best rock nightclub in Tampa Bay and it was the kind of club that could have Skid Row one night and a top local band the next night. I believe our music scene was 2nd only to Hollywood’s scene at that time. My guitar teacher Dallas Perkins was roommates with Paul Gilbert at G.I.T. Troy, did you ever consider going to G.I.T? I was tempted to go but ultimately decided not to.


Yngwie’s pedal tone lick is entirely crosspicking. The riff on Van Halen’s “Hang 'Em High” is entirely crosspicking. Eruption after the dive bomb, the open string / pulloffs lick, the string skipping part - crosspicking. And so on. As far as I know there is no speed difference. There may very well be, but I have no hard evidence that there is. There’s enough fast rock stuff out there done with crosspicking that I try not to worry about the speed limit.


I’ve never come across a heavy metal lick that I couldn’t play just using my regular picking styles ( which I could describe as 2 way pick slanting and sweeping) so I don’t see any need to learn a new picking style. I couldn’t justify the time it would require - time I could spend on writing songs. Besides writing, I just work on refining the picking style I already use. Refining my existing picking technique is the reason I subscribe to Masters Of Mechanics.


@Troy, I might be a little dense… I just plain do not understand how you can do UWPS with a DWPS. Lol


Escaped downstrokes despite visible evidence of a downward slant.


But isn’t that still DWPS though?
Maybe I’m thinking too much about it and just have to try and get the compound curve by feel…
After spending a lot of time on 2WPS , it feels so alien to keep a DWPS…


I think you mean “despite visible upward slant”.

Edit: Sorry, I can’t English today. “Despite” does not mean “without”. Yes, exactly what you wrote!

Try not to get too hung up on what things look like. Pickslanting is about the path the pick travels at is moves. If you take a look through the Molly Tuttle clips, you’ll see many examples where the pick might appear to have a downward pickslant even though her entire hand and arm position screams “upward pickslanting”. In her case it’s a grip thing. Teemu explains in his interview about how grip affects pickslant appearance and it’s a good observation.


Cool, I’ll check Teemu out again!
I wasn’t going to look at crosspicking until I’d sorted out my scalar 2WPS, but seeing Martin Miller rip through Glass Prison and Morse lines, its hard to ignore! Thank you and @Prlgmnr for your response!


Ya know… it’s so funny because I always heard @Troy say this, but I needed to learn it for myself: I thought once I grasped the crosspicking technique that I would finally be free from the constraints of having to organize licks with pickslanting or sweeping and that I could just play literally anything on the fly. I realized that is not true and that I still had to prepare and play licks in advance even with crosspicking. And, sometimes, the amount of stuff possible with just dwps alone makes me wonder why I ever really tried to learn the other string switching methods. I could pretty much play anything with dwps alone or I could at least play “close to” anything with a few refingerings or slurs with dwps. Crosspicking is great and so is 2 way but I honestly feel now that we should develop whichever technique comes the most naturally to us and just push it to the limit.


For what it’s worth, I had to write that sentence about 5 times before I got it to say what I meant. I start trying to explain this stuff and suddenly “upstroke” and “downstroke” become completely interchangeable in my brain for some reason.


I think I understand the picking technique in the “Two-Minute Tutorial! Crosspicking” video:

forearm supinated at a constant angle throughout (so wrist deviation plane is at an angle to the strings)
upstroke: wrist radial deviation (escapes strings)
return stroke: wrist deviation to neutral (buried)
downstroke: wrist ulnar deviation + wrist extension (escaped)
return stroke: wrist deviation + wrist flexion to neutral (buried)
(the movements blur into each other once you get the hang of it)

Do I have that right?

I’m getting hung up on the very first step. With my palm flat on the guitar, it seems like my wrist deviation plane is parallel to the strings. So to get the upstroke to escape, I have to add extension, which I think would be string hopping.

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!


That’s exactly right!

As you have expertly outlined, the deviation movement goes the whole way - from the top of the upstroke, to the bottom of the downstroke, and back again. If there is a blur, that is the blur. In other words, the movement is almost entirely one movement, deviation,not two movements connected together. That is why it looks so flat.

If you are having trouble, make sure your deviation component lasts the full length of the pickstroke in both directions. Otherwise, you’re asking your hand to make a sharp right turn in the air, at the moment of string contact, and that will not be smooth or fast.


I was a 2Way pick slanter when I joined CTC 2.5 months ago to better understand my technique. A few weeks in, I abandoned ship and I switched to Cross Picking only.

It’s been a struggle with ups ands downs. I’m using mostly rotation, as it’s been described as turning a key or motorcycle movement. I’ve been using it for 2 notes per string and 3 notes per string.

And I’ve been obsessed with the forward roll with the string pattern 4 3 2 4 3 2 4 2 ( Hint to not cause permeant damage to left hand fingertips, practice this roll with just harmonics at the 12 fret, then you can go for hours. ) When I started I couldn’t even do this at 80 bpm evenly. In the past week, on good days now, I’m hitting 120 bpm, though I had to jump right into 120bpm to really feel the movement, as it seems like you can brute force 110 bpm with bad technique that won’t go any faster. Basically I had to just pick the middle string of the roll getting rhythm going at 120 and then jump into the roll… I could then see the technique was different than speeding up what I was doing at 110bpm.

Now I can slow it down with the new mechanic, and what I’m seeing is concentrate on the thumb that it is moving consistently in the same downstroke pendulum movement for each of the 4 downstrokes in the roll despite the upstrokes each going to different strings.

I think another month or two and I’ll really cement it. My goal is to be able to do the above roll at 140 or 150… we’ll see. tomorrow it could all fall apart again despite my glimpses of “this is going to work!”