Fast country -theme


Hi there!
I made a record a couple a years ago (though it was never published!) and one of my songs had an intro I could not really play, very sloppy, I think. Now that I’ve been here learning pickslanting a couple of days, I thought
it could be played with two-way ps. I attached here a sheet of the intro (the first four bars are crucial) and marked the places where I thought I should change from upward ps to downward ps and so on. Am I getting it right?
Anyway, I think, it is a good technique exercise whether you like country or not!
(The song is called This can’t be right! If someone wants to hear my sloppy version of it, let me know:-)


Hi! Sorry for the delay in responding - somehow missed this earlier.

Without going into detail reading this, I’m sure you can find some way to make this work. Of course crosspicking can play any kind of string change, but that’s kind of a non-answer.

Instead, I would suggest looking at this the opposite way. From the interviews we have done with players in improv-oriented styes like Albert Lee, Mike Stern, and so on, it is pretty clear that their technique has exerted an influence on the lines they write. It’s not pure composition in thin air, and it’s not purely based on mechanics, it’s both, together.

So… one approach you can try, which would be more “guitaristic”, would be to adopt a technique and then see what kinds of lines you can write with it. You can take a piece you have already written, like this one, and make small changes to the phrases so that it’s easy for a certain picking style, like dwps. A lot of times this results in lines you like even better. Not always, but often.

I understand you may not always want to change the lines you are playing, and for transcribing certain kinds of music, like classical pieces, you wouldn’t do that. And maybe crosspicking works better for that. But crosspickers, because they can alternate pick everything, tend to do that a lot as opposed to dwps players who use lots of slides, pulloffs and sweeping. It cuts both ways!


Thanks for the answer!
I know that in the guitarworld there are lots of things that are designed just for the guitar, the vocabulary is very instrumentbased, but I’d like to think that I might learn to play any line that pops into my head, not just playing licks I played a thousand times before, but maybe that is a too big challenge. I am a pro saxplayer and I can, more or less, do that, but I love the guitar, unfortunately it’s very hard for me to get even near that state with the gtr. But I think Stern and many jazzguitarists can. Does this make any sense?

This countrytheme, which has some jazztwist in it could be easier to play, if the 3rd and 4th bar would be identical but wholestep lower (fingerings too), more guitaristic. But if I like the small differencies…? Next time I compose something, I’ll first check if I can play it with guitar:-)

I’ve made some progression trying to play it as I wrote on the sheet, two-way ps, but maybe crosspicking is my future. (Though I think cp is only a special case of two-way ps, pickslanting angle shifts only happening after each note;-)


This is a common question and the truth is, no. Even with crosspicking, there are phrases I can only play starting on a downstroke, and only on certain strings, because that’s how I worked on them. If I want to change which string, or reverse the picking, everything changes and I have to work it out all over again. I have to know exactly which pickstroke starts each string, and I have to know exactly where all the downstrokes are located so the hands can be synchronized.

Over time, the more stuff you work out, the bigger your vocabulary of memorized movements becomes. They you can take those movements and apply them to different fretboard shapes. But it all must at some level be memorized, or you will not be able to play those shapes on the fly.

This homework is the same for crosspicking as with any other of the picking systems we look at. The only difference, is that you have slightly more flexibility with the left hand shapes that you choose. But the amount of the work, and the time it takes to do it, is the same for each technique.

And there are times when crosspicking takes more work, if you want to use accents, pulloffs, sweeps, or slides. Systems like dwps have those movements memorized. For example, a three-string sweep plus an upstroke is such a common shape in dwps, that it quickly becomes memorized. Because of the sweep, this gives you instant access to double-time triplets / sextuplets, which are super common in bop for example. To do this with crosspicking, you’d have to work that out first. To add a pulloff, you have to memorize which pickstroke you come back on when you start picking again. In dwps, you have probably already done that work because it was necessary.

Anyway, in actual practice, the difference in freedom and work is small or arguably negligible, and there are many cases when you would choose the pickslanting technique over the crosspicking technique for musical reasons.

It’s just a tool for a job!