Everything you need to know about crosspicking


Are you talking 16th notes or 8th triplets ? More than 140bpm/16th is extremely fast for 3 strings rolls. Not saying it’s not feasible but if there’s a link of someone playing that fast I’d be curious.


Someone posted a link to Martin Miller playing the glass prison arpeggios AP. As he uses Crosspicking for this kind of stuff, this would pretty much be it. In spite of this being arpeggios over even more than 3 strings the right hand does the same thing as doing “Chord-oriented” string rolls.
I don’t know the exact bpms, but it surely above the mentioned 140-150 bpms.



Yes, sure. I have no doubt that crosspicking ‘mechanic’ can get you to that speed.

But I should have been more specific. My point was about sustained rolls with static chord positions (including sometimes open strings) i.e. bluegrass banjo-rolls type of thing. And I think that involves additional issues at higher speed - as opposed to individually fretted notes like in your example. Because as vibration is not stopped in between strokes it makes the strings moving targets (especially on full-scale neck) and is hard to control tone-wise. So in that scenario, as much as it is easy for the fretting hand and involves no synchronization challenge, the picking hand feel is way different


You could be completely correct… there are issues. For me it’s the inside pick move you have to make from the 2nd to 4th string. And also at the end of the roll, you have to go 4 2 and back to 4. I’m doing 16th notes and I’m struggling at 120bpm, and today I can’t do it… and I’m back down to 110.

I can see 130 in my eventual … horizon. 140 may be as you say impossible.


Molly plays “White Freightliner” a little faster than this:


And there are numerous Andy Wood examples in this tempo range as well. Here’s one of my favorites, which he made up on the spot in response to a “Talladega Nights” joke in the interview:


These tempos are totally possible, ringing strings or not. You might get some pick/string buzz if you hit one of them but the string movement is small compared to the picking movement.


Thanks Troy,

Yes, those examples at 150 are awesome!!, which is why I set my initial goal for 140 to 150. I’m just saying for this particular roll 150 may not be possible. If you look at your transcription for Andy’s Talladega Nights, he never does the move I’m having the most trouble with, which is the inside picking move from the 2nd to 4th String. In that example, anytime he as to make that move, he goes to the 3rd string instead. Though he does lots of the outside picking of 4th 2nd 4th string in that example, but I find that easier as well.

I’ll have to look through Molly’s transcription to see. But I already see she does an outside picking move from the 1st to 5th string at 150 in that. crazy

UPDATE : Molly does the inside picking move from 2nd to 4th string twice in white freight liner… In measure 83 and 113, so I guess it is possible.

Next time you have Andy in the studio see how fast he can do this roll.

43243242 - repeat


That’s what the bluegrass crowd calls the “forward roll”, and I’m pretty sure they can all do it. You can poke around the Andy acoustic examples and I’m sure you’ll find bits of it.


I have the EXACT same issue with that 43243242 roll. That inside 2-4 move to me is a nightmare.

140ish … that’s very fast for rolls, sure it’s feasible (Andy Wood, Molly … they do it, but they’re the best of the crop out there) but it’s likely you might as well avoid some move at those speed.


Generally speaking, players that have the crosspicking motion down seem relatively insensitive to which patterns they play with it. In the interview, I asked Molly to play all different combinations, three strings, four strings, different directions, string skips, and so on. She was able to do them all with more or less the same motion, even when they were patterns she had not specifically worked on.

Ergo, it may not be that one of the strings changes is harder, per se. It may simply be that you’re not really doing the movement. Post a ‘technique critique’ clip and we’ll take a look!


@Troy, indeed the forward roll. I’ve checked the video with Andy about Bela Fleck rolls. At one point he starts that roll, medium speed, and then shifts to something else. In that video he blazes through a roll which is like


It’s a difficult one, but that eludes the inside + string skipping move of the forward roll. I’m not saying Andy can’t do it (obviously he can), but something tells me that when it comes to play faster stuff he would look for more fluid patterns, which makes sense.


I’m glad I’m not alone :wink:

@Troy When you are testing Molly on inside vs outside picking it is with two adjacent strings, and I actually find very little difference as well in the adjacent string scenario with this mechanic. It is the string skipping scenario where inside picking seems more difficult.


For the most part, nobody ever sat these players down and forced them to do one pattern or another. I’m the only one who does that. So I wouldn’t read into their improv-type choices too much.

Also, try not to get too hung up on “speed” when it comes to roll playing. I like the roll patterns because they are like little puzzles for learning a new movement and doing it smoothly. Once you can do that movement at all, you’ll be able to do it a range of useful tempos, and you won’t feel much difference between them. You won’t care too much whether they are a few ticks faster or slower than the players we have interviewed because you’ll sound good at all points in between.

If you do feel a difference currently, again, it may simply be that you’re not doing the movement yet. Like Yngwie and EJ and all the other players we have looked at, the reason why there was such a gulf between what they could do and what everyone else could do wasn’t really that they were ‘faster’. That was our relatively unsophisticated reading back in the day. Instead, it turned out that they just were making a specific kind of hand movement. Once you make that movement, and can play the line they way it’s supposed to be played, you start to care a lot less about small differences in metronome markings. Or, I do, anyway!


I agree completely. Now concerning that forward roll pattern (the one you play in the OP clip) It’s frustrating actually, because primarily I’d do that roll with DDU pattern instead, but there’s speed limit at around 110 (16th) for me, but more importantly it causes tension in the arm. I can see that crosspicking it is the way to go if playing faster than 90 (which is not very fast) but whilst I feel more relaxed in my wrist, and somewhat can play it faster, it feels awkward time-wise (and also wrt accent) because of that 2-4 inside move, so all in all it doesn’t really that much comfortable to play than DDU… I’ll see if I can post some clip in the coming days.


This sounds like stringhopping. Crosspicking is a true alternate picking technique, so it’s not really any more tiring than doing any other kind of alternate picking that moves around a lot.

Have you tried this on your lap yet like in the tutorial? That allows you to look in a mirror and see exactly what the movement looks like as you are doing it. It’s pretty cool. And then you have a very good visual reference for what ‘correct’ looks like by comparing to the tutorial video.


I’m stringhopping it indeed, but with DDU pattern (w/o sweep). That’s why I would like to do it DUD instead. no wrist issue when playing DUD, but it feels awkward and ‘bumpy’ whereas DDU is smoother.


For DUD exercise, I’ve been working on this pattern

3333 3333 4324 3333 3333 4324 …

It isolates the hard part for me.

They are painting our hallways today, and the fumes are really slowing me down.


Thanks, I’ll try that one.
Stuff I’m doing is 3333 24 3333 24 … starting on a downstroke. But I’m a bit lazy for drills.
That said that pattern can yield to cool sounding stuffs :slight_smile:


that’s awesome! just tried it thanks!


Cool. Thanks

I’m still confused by the advice to put the palm flat on the guitar. It seems like that forces the wrist deviation plane to be parallel to the plane of the strings …


Been trying a variation of the 3333 24… simply 3324 … , and I’m awful !! Can’t keep it going, obviously this is a huge problem identified.

thanks @blueberrypie for talking this through.