Snow (Hey Oh) - crosspicking? How to play?

Hi - I’m mostly a metal player but decided a while back I wanted to play this John Frusciante lick, only to figure out I couldn’t really play it…

It’s gotten better but I still struggle with accuracy and speed on this one. Wondering, from a technique perspective, what’s the right way to tackle it?

I’m thinking this is some kind of cross-picking, but would appreciate other thoughts. In particular, if there’s some content on the site that would help with tackling this, please let me know!



Hey welcome! Do you have a video or tab we can use as a starting point?

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Sure - here’s a link to the tab. The four bars repeat for most of the song. Also video of Frusciante playing it live.

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I cross pick this (pure alternate picking). Be aware that this is deceptively hard riff for many people, so don’t give up too fast. Changing chords on this can be challenging too, you need to be able to completely not to think about our picking hand, so I’d start practicing the picking pattern without changing chords 1st.

There is quite a lot of material on this site which covers that - Andy woods interview and Troy’s crosspicking videos are what you need.

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Had to watch the video to figure out the left hand. Skip to 2:50. Good pinky workout.

Edit: FWIW, I alternate (cross) pick it, too. The deceptive part was that I couldn’t make the right hand groove correctly without optimizing the left hand first. The trick for me was realizing that I didn’t have to hold my ring finger down during the trill, so I could use my ring finger for the trill. That’s why the video was helpful. At first I was trying to hold all the notes while doing the trill with my remaining finger, and there wasn’t enough room so the groove was suffering.

I agree with StickyFingers. Make sure you can do the right hand effortlessly first. I suggest just holding the first chord down to start, and skipping the trill. Repeat on one chord until the right hand is easy. Then add the trill. (To make the groove really snap, emphasize the first note of the trill, which is easy if your chunks start on the 1st and 3rd beats. Also cut the root note off at exactly the same time as the start of the trill, which took a few reps for me.) Then start switching chords. At least that’s what I did.

Hope that helps.

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This is actually a cool pattern, and I agree with the others that it seems quite challenging. Frusciante is often criticized for his solos, but you gotta admit he is a top rhythm guitarist.
It would be nice to see these sequences applied to a more unusual / darker chord progression.
Not bashing the song - I like it - but I wonder what this type of lick would sound like with some weird Opeth-style harmonies!

Forummers who can compose - I’m looking at you :wink:

Slow it down by half and it’s close to this:

Just seeing this now - we’ve been swamped. I actually don’t know this tune, but it’s a cool riff and John does an awesome job with it.

As others have noted, this is a classic one-note-per-string arpeggio workout similar to what bluegrass crosspicking type lines. I do this sort of thing with wrist motion and of all the ways I can think of to do it, that’s the one that has the fewest moving parts. We do have a lesson doing these kinds of patterns with wrist motion right here:

We do have an older video that’s public on our YouTube channel that outlines the general concept of how the wrist motions work, and you can find that here:

We don’t really go into the step-by-step “how to” of it in that video, because we were still figuring that out. But the concept is sound and has proven to be (mostly!) correct as we’ve learned more.

As far as how John himself does this, it’s a little more complicated. There’s a short hand closeup right at the beginning of the live clip, and it looks like he’s using a mix of fingers, wrist, and forearm to do this. When it comes to players who learned these types of riffs by feel you will see lots and lots of idiosyncratic combinations of movements, so there are many ways to do this and they are all in some sense “correct”. We teach the wrist method because it’s the simplest to explain and teach. But if players want to experiment and come up with alternate ways there is certainly no shortage of possibilities if you’re willing to do some “discovery” on your own.

Great riff.


Thanks all. Great, was looking for where I could dig into this on the site. I saw the “no words” cross picking video with Troy where the base of his wrist was pretty locked onto the body of the guitar. That seemed very unnatural to me. I’d been doing this was some arm movement to facilitate the string changes, but pretty unsuccessfully thus far. At 100 bpm, feel like this should be pretty easy, but it’s not!