Everything you need to know about crosspicking


I’d have to walk through this but it’s in C and it’s the usual suspects - I, Isus4, IV, V and a little VI. The only outsider is IIdom7 which you’ll hear a couple points. It’s a common move in major to hit the dominant of II, resolve to V, resolve to I. Not sure if that gives you the general gist…


What is the purpose of the extension you do in the wrist, when showing the setup? The only way I feel like I can extend it like that, is if I place my hand on the pickguard (kind of palming the bridge), whereas my hand will naturally be flat (much less extended) if it’s on the bridge.

On pickguard:

On bridge:


I can’t say specifically, and it may be that I’m exaggerating the extent of it in the demonstration part of the tutorial video. But take a look at the slow motion clip a few posts up. You’ll see that the palm is definitely lifted above the strings. This differs from my downward pickslanting setup where the pinky rests on the strings and mutes them. You can have this wrist extension posture and still be supinated, where upstrokes deviate and downstrokes deviate+extend. But it’s easier to come out the other side of the crosspicking movement - maybe because you’re not asking your hand to take such a hard right turn.

This may also be why some people complain that they can’t make crosspicking work if they use a “pickslanting” posture. If that posture includes gluing your pinky to the bridge then maybe there’s a connection there. Andy Wood talks about this in one of our recent workshops, where he says he feels it is harder to do the motion when muting. However he can still do it. So I would maybe flip that around suggest that if you can get the movement unmuted with the extension bend, maybe it is for whatever reason easier that way. But the knowledge of what that feels like when done correctly can make it easier to get it while muted with less extension, like Andy does - because now you can feel what it’s like to make that pickstroke come out the other side without making such an acute change in direction.

These are just guesses.


Troy’s remark about tracing a “U” shape with the wrist really helped me sort out the crosspicking mechanic. Still a ton of work to do, but concentrating on that simple movement has helped me improve at least.


Hey @Troy,

I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “coming out the other side”, could you elaborate a little? As far as I understand, you are demonstrating a crosspicking style with a supinated forearm and an extended wrist, where the downstrokes deviate and extend, while the upstrokes only deviate. So are you saying that it’s harder to do this way than some other ways?

The other thing I’m curious about is the muting issue.

As far as I know, your demonstrations did not include any muting. Do you find it hard to mute? I would also be interested in hearing what other people say about this. I’m guessing that @hamsterman uses quite a bit of muting in his crosspicking style. It would be learn more about that.


I’m just referring to hitting the string and going back up into the air again before the downstroke completes and the upstroke begins (or vice versa). This extra leg of the journey is what differentiates a fully-escaped pickstroke like the kind used in crosspicking and two-way pickslanting from the single-escaped pickstroke used in one-way pickslanting. In a single-escape pickstroke, the pick goes down into the plane of the strings, hits the target string and stops, completing the downstroke.

They did not. And if you use a movement that is only wrist, you’re probably not going to get any muting if you use the Molly Tuttle / David Grier pronated style of crosspicking. If you use the supinated style however you can get muting with the pinky laying across the strings. Some people think this is trickier to do and Andy says as much in the interview. So maybe there is something to that. That’s all I’m referencing here.

There are lots of other ways to generate a fully-escaped pickstroke, some methods using blends of forearm movement and wrist movement, like I’ve demonstrated elsewhere:

Muting is possible with this method thanks to the way the hand lays across the strings. For the most part, when you observe players who are able to get muting while crosspicking, it’s because they have a supinated arm position. There could be exceptions using the thumb side of the hand for muting while using a pronated arm setup for crosspicking. I’m just saying this is a generalization.


Actually… I have a similar problem… i have to sorta add pressure to mute… and its awkward and uncomfortable… similar to Andy Wood. But I do it when I have to. I feel like my natural position is when my wrist is about an inch above the strings.


@Troy : most of what you say is now perfectly clear for me. I think you laid down the puzzle pieces pretty neatly

Just one thing though :

What about if you’re doing a backward roll, like


In that case, for the inside skip string from D (upstroke) to B (downstroke), do you think a mere deviation is enough ? Or some extra escape motion on the upstroke necessary to clear the G string to skip ?


Forward roll, backward roll doesn’t matter, nothing substantial changes.


Muting is quite important to me. (I assume you mean palm muting effect on the sound) That is one of the reasons which pushed me towards learning the crosspicking approach as seen in the most recent YouTube clip uploaded here by Troy (rotational blend crosspicking).

I also want to have the ability to change the amount of edgepicking and this kind of setup allows me to change the angle of my wrist which changes edgepicking.
To illustrate it, I can point my forearm and wrist almost parallel to the strings (which gives me almost no edgepicking) or I can point my wrist and forearm more towards the ground (which gives me much more edgepicking). So that’s cool. The only slight problem is that the part of my hand which actually does the palm muting changes slightly because of these shifts but the technique stays relatively the same. Or at least it feels basically the same to me. And after some practice, it’s not really a problem anymore.

If somebody else has some more thoughts about the crosspicking approach which allows for palm muting and manipulating the level of the edgepicking, I’d love to hear them :slight_smile:


Maybe this is a good place to bring it up. Does 1NPS cross picking (at anything above 120 bpm) not work too well with light strings? Especially when there is a lot of string skipping, etc.

I tried it on my friends guitar with .09, and it felt akward, like the strings were vibrating too much. Or maybe my form is a bit too stiff. Here’s my form at about 125 bpm. I am trying to remain relaxed… but i’m definitely hitting the strings pretty hard.


Any supinated approach will allow ulnar-side palm muting. Steve Morse is a classic example. Super-supinated, entire right side of the hand on the strings. But also approaches like Martin Miller’s which aren’t as supinated, but where again the entire side of the hand is glued to the strings. Which is ok in Martin’s case because the fingers take over some of the movement.

It’s only the pronated Molly Tuttle / David Grier style where there is not really any or much ulnar-side palm contact.


Nice work!

Not that I am aware of. With any picking technique you need to modulate your touch to the string gauge, otherwise you’ll be slamming a skinny string with a big force and it’s not going to sound great.

Also, keep in mind the other reason questions like “Is crosspicking…” often don’t really have answers is that there is really no single “crosspicking” movement. There are many ways to do this. The only commonality to crosspicking approaches is that pickstrokes are fully escaped. That’s it. The mechanical things involved can be completely different, and have completely different properties.


Thanks, that’s interesting to hear. An inch seems quite high… I started experimenting with my hand position, lifting the hand up did do something for me. One thing I noticed is that bringing my hand back quite a bit seems to help. The thunb part of my palm is still on the bridge, but the pinky part is more behind the bridge. Is that something you tried?


Did you try to play like this, with your hand behind the bridge? And if so, does it make a difference?

Yeah, of course that’s what I meant. Absolutely, muting is an important technique, I wouldn’t want to do without either, that’s why I asked.

I know what you mean, I also experimented with this using the wrist only technique. It did work well sometimes, and then again at other times it didn’t:) Definitely something that I would like to hear about as well.


It’s tough for me to describe my positioning. Sorta a hybrid between Steve Morse and Troy’s X-picking form. One thing that is super important is the sliding/draping of the pinky/ring finger on the pick guard to maintain a precise movement. Also, the faster I go, the more comfortable I feel with a raised wrist… and muting is awkward, but I can somewhat mute the strings that are above where I am picking.

Also, I use every mechanic under the sun at the same time. It’s a strange mix… but it was kinda trial and error to get a curve… but without losing speed. Also, my thumb is very high on the index finger… I think even higher than Troys.


I don’t know… I posted something along those lines earlier in the thread, but I think it’s about having a lighter touch, and/or having less pick hitting the strings. I don’t think it should be an issue, but there’s some work to control the tone, and the balance of every pick stroke (esp. upstroke vs downstroke and the hit after a string skip which tends to be harder probably because the larger motion involved gives it more energy).

Nice playing btw!


Thanks. The string issue gets really out of hand once I get to higher speeds. I think what’s happening is my curve is pretty flat… so my strokes need to be pretty wide to clear the strings, and when I add tracking to that (especially the inside changes)… I end up slamming the strings. I’m considering switching my electric to 12s to accomidate this. But then I don’t like the idea of not being able to play on all types of gauges.

This is becoming an issue with my non-1NPS picking as well, since I use the wide stroke for everything now. With my tremolo picking, I hit the string vibration limit at a much lower speed than others.


Light strings need light touch, otherwise it’s like trying to play on spaghetti. It’s really not a crosspicking issue, it’s just a “guitar” issue!


Andy Wood said crosspicking is harder for him on light strings, and much easier with the stiff strings of an acoustic.