I made these videos because I got a couple of requests from forum members to play some alternately picked/crosspicked arpeggio forms and to offer some tips on crosspicking.
I have always been a “neutral-slanter”/“crosspicker” myself and before I discovered CTC I thought everybody more or less played the same way I did. When I started out I viewed the guitar-string-plane as a symmetric plane, and I thought that the pick should always be at a 90 degree angle in relation to the plane of the strings and also with virtually no edge-picking. I was aware of other techniques, but I didn’t know how to execute them correctly. For example, I’ve been playing guitar for 25 years and I never had sweep-picked anything until I saw it on YT a couple of years ago. Go figure
I came to CTC to improve on my speed, because I wondered how it was possible that I couldn’t play certain things with alternate picking, although it appeared that these pieces were alternately picked and that I SHOULD be able to do them if I practiced enough.
Then I found out that many players here were DWPS and UWPS or economy/hybrid pickers and that crosspicking/alternate picking was relatively rare.
I also came across many posts where players were banging their heads against the wall about not being able to either understand the mechanics of crosspicking or perform crosspicking. Troy has devoted different posts and videos on the subject, but I still feel that for many people the movement or how to practice it is not completely clear.
I decided therefor to explain the things that have helped me in improving my alternate picking so that it potentially can help other players (especially players that have never crosspicked before).
First a few clarifications:
My alternate-picking technique is NOT exactly the same as Troy’s. The closest sibling to my way of doing it is Martin Miller’s technique, where you constantly draw curved lines in the air like a pendulum, before hitting the string and after having hit the string. I have a lot of work to do before I can come close to the consistency, speed and accuracy of Miller, but what he plays and how he plays it feels very natural to me.
To get used to this technique, what helped me is to not so much think consciously about slants and stuff while doing it, but just to make sure you lift the pick just enough to keep on playing. For example, say you hit the open B string with a downstroke. You make sure you miss the high-E just enough so that you don’t hit it and then continue with an upstroke on the hi-E. This way you are not string-hopping, but just avoiding the next string in one fluid motion.
Don’t underestimate the left hand. With many licks the limiting factor with me is the left hand, not the right hand, especially Yngwie-type single string lines, but also the Glass Prison arpeggios. My left hand isn’t fast enough or synced enough or fit enough sometimes to keep up with the right one.
Not all crosspicking-licks are created equal. Just because you can make a string change, doesn’t mean that you can suddenly blaze all over the neck with any pattern.
As you can see in the videos, I play an Am7 arpeggio (16ths at 150) which feels relatively easy to me. It is pretty similar to the Glass Prison arpeggios, but the latter are infinitely more difficult.
The left hand fingering is more intricate.
The accents slow you down, because you have to think about them.
You play different shapes of arpeggios (2 minor shapes and one diminished shape)
This is tiring for the left hand.
All this slows you down.
So don’t despair if you can play the Master of Puppets solo lick at the start of the solo with alternate picking but Glass Prison gives you trouble.
For example, I can play the “Lepper Messiah” arpeggios at 180-200bpm (converted to 16ths it would be 135-150), but (at this moment) I can only dream of playing the Glass Prison arpeggios at that tempo.
In order to get faster and more accurate I noticed that the technique I use in video 4 has by far the best results. It is a practice technique Miller talks about in his Skype lesson. You pick the tempo that is too fast for you to play at. In my case it’s 135 bpm for Glass Prison.
Then you try to play ONE note at that tempo. Then you try TWO in a row. Then three. And so on.
You will find that what gives you trouble is not if you can actually play it (because you can), but being able to combine all these movements in a row, hand synchronization and also stamina.
I hope this helped a bit.
Any comments/questions are more than welcome!
Disclaimer: I know some of the playing isn’t a 100% clean at all times, but I want this to be a realistic display, not do a 100 takes and cherry-pick the best ones