String tracking


How do you improve/ practice string tracking?
I think its the main issue in my crosspicking progress.
I want my elbow to be responsible for string tracking, but so far its not very accurate. Any tips to improve it?


The only thing is practice, Develop the coordination necessary; there is no shortcut.


I’m not sure if I’m qualified to give advice but I am currently working on a floating wrist technique, so string tracking quickly became an important factor. My unconscious solution was to use an UWPS which allows me to lightly touch some strings with my thumb. I think this gives me a perception of where I am on guitar which makes string tracking much easier. Check if you have some reference point of where are you on the guitar :wink:

Hm, you know what, after writing all that I tried to play without touching strings and I didn’t feel much of a difference. Perhaps that idea of having a contact with guitar isn’t as crucial :thinking: Anyway, I’m not deleting the above paragraph.

If your problem is actual innacuracies of the elbow (as you wrote), then I don’t really know the solution. I would guess that the standart advice of taking things slow, making exercises for a specific problem, and practicing while focusing on your problem area (elbow) should help but perhaps there is some better way of improving string tracking :thinking:


I wanted it to do that too in the beginning, meanwhile i think there’s no benefit to think in a way that tracking should be thought of as separate motion.
If you think about all that tiny forces that need to be compensated by string resistance and roational movements it gets pretty complex to isolate the tracking.
Efficiency is another thing, my thinking is actually that tracking should be felt as part of the pick to get it as effortless as possible.

I’m pretty sure that all that above is more or less my personal experience, anyways to me works best to fo focus on particular strokes (i.e upstrokes on ascending works pretty well for me), at least it feels way better than looking on tracking as an isolated motion.

… hope that helps.


I think the elbow inaccuracy is slight, but because of that i sometimes have to compensate that with my wrist to hit the right string and avooid hitting wrong strings. This makes my wrist motion not consistent and it is hard to get it up to speed.


Let’s revive this \m/

String tracking remains one of my issues, particularly when there are repeated “inside” string changes (e.g. an ascending pentatonic box with DWPS, or a descending penta with UWPS starting on an upstroke).

Typically I practice these things with the standard gradual metronome increases, I may be improving a bit but I have the feeling it’s not doing much good.

I would be happy to hear more practice strategies for string tracking that worked for other forummers.


EDIT: Or if you feel like sharing musical etudes/examples that focus on this particular aspect, please do so :slight_smile:


I made a plectrum that pulls your hand in a certain direction depending on your accents ( I think? tbh I don’t really don’t know how it works - just another random discovery!) - it’s a tortex triangle plectrum 0.50mm red. You bend it around the center - so it’s curved around the vertical axis, You hold it so there’s no slope, its vertically perpendicular to the string, and you swing it like a pendulum across the strings ( I think troy calls this leading edge picking). You hold it with your index straight down and your thumb pressing on the lower edge nearest to you. It’s quite a startling feeling - the pick actually pulls ur hand in the direction of your run if you Inside pick - it’s pretty amazing really and great for hand position practice!


Ha, sounds cool! If you get the chance, could you share a pic of your special pick? Cheers :sunglasses:


Sure thing - here you go!

Takes me about a day to bend a pick - by hand, rolling it and bending it till it’s around 90 degrees with a curve. Since it’s my main pick at the moment, I have tried to speed up the bending - but I end up snapping them :stuck_out_tongue: it takes around a day to break the pick in - and smooth the end - at first it’s a horrid picking sound and very catchy on the strings - but as soon as it’s worn down - it’s great!

I use this pick in a DWPS hold - but mainly with thumb pressure to get the clicky/bonky sound. Index finger is almost vertical down and thumb holding the side nearest me, thumb and finger press about halfway down the pick. When I first started using it - my thumb ached for a few days!. When I practice a run with this pick - the precedence is heavily on timing only, I don’t care if I bluff notes, because they clean up later on. And that stops any hesitation messing up the rhythm - which is the most important thing - playing a fast run - when it’s perfectly in time - it lights up like a neon sign!!

When used in the Vertical leading edge position - it pulls your hand to which ever string you are picking on, which is super handy for string tracking!


Picking wise those should be relatively easy- It’s just one way pick slanting until the turnaround where you flip the Slant to match the direction of the string changes.

I know you’re a good 2WPS- I wonder why you have difficulties with this?

What is your motion mechanic, and is it different from your string tracking mechanic?

The 3 main movement of string tracking are Elbow(Flexion/Extension of Lower Arm), Elbow/Shoulder (Elbow + Using shoulders to pull upper arm forward/backward), Wrist (using deviation to track the strings).

I think that Wrist Deviation only had a certain reach (of like 3 Strings) and that if you are using that then you will also need to start introducing other tracking movements in.


Hey both, thanks for your replies and sorry I didn’t get back earlier, incredibly I couldn’t find any time for my favourite kind of procrastination in the last few days :slight_smile:

@shabtronic Thanks for the pics of picks :smiley: seems an interesting invention, I like the idea that the curved pick shape would facilitate the tracking motion, may get some of them big triangles to try! Only issue I might have is that I don’t hold the pick with a straight index so I may not be able to grab that bent shape :thinking:.

@DJ_Ddawg you are right that the issue is the interaction of picking/tracking mechanics, and I believe I track with the elbow (but need to check), while I pick mostly with a combination of elbow and wrist. For some reason, I don’t have too many issues tracking the string in a TWPS scenario with an alternation of inside/outside string changes. Here I have the impression that tracking happens in the outside changes, while the inside ones can be done with almost no tracking.

With one way pickslanting the outside changes feel good, but the inside ones are a bit trickier - I feel like the momentum of the pickstrokes fights against me. My weakest point is ascending inside (the DWPS case).

I can do all these string changes ok when I have enough picked notes on each string (say 6), but my hand sometimes gets lost when I have 4 or 2 notes per string and I have to cover all 6 strings fast. Maybe what I have to do is spend some time analysing my tracking mechanics without the metronome.