Trying to push the tempo - Fisher's Hornpipe (help pls)

Alright, couple things here. This is a fairly typical attempt for me at playing Fisher’s Hornpipe at a speed that, let’s be honest, I’m probably reaching for a bit.

So there is some roughness there, but there are days when the crosspicking just ‘works’ and I can hit everything without really trying. I’m imagining that’s a feeling I should be aiming to recapture and reproduce as much as possible since it’s a probable indicator of a ‘correct’ approach technique wise.

I do often have issues where a 1x upstroke or downstroke will miss entirely or come to rest against but not actually sound the string I’m trying to sound, usually it’s a downward motion and often it’s the G or B strings. You can see it happen a few times in the video.

Nothing in the playing stands out as being grotesquely ‘wrong’ to my eyes per se, but I’m wondering if it’s just a muscle memory thing that needs more work, since likely at speed the spatial awareness isn’t dialed in just right and the aim goes sideways for a bit?

Anyway, would love some feedback!

Edit - Also I often find it easier to play descending (scale) runs than ascending, which would suggest I’m maybe prone to DWX playing more often than not. I find I engage a more elbow driven motion on occasion, especially for stuff that’s all on a single string like the run at around the 20s mark. There’s probably a bit of crosspicking in there (at least I hope there is!) so a few more pairs of eyes on it would be appreciated.


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I think it looks like you have a pretty solid DBX technique going on! The mistakes I hear seem to be mostly synchronization problems. I think you left hand is as much to blame as the right!

Out of curiosity: How is your roll technique? Can you go faster than this?

I’m not sure about this. Strict linear scale playing in either direction generally requires mixed escapes, so any “preference” shouldn’t matter much.

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Thanks @Johannes that’s a good point I often forget to focus on, my fretting hand will often lag behind or just go out of sync on occasion. I often find it difficult to keep up with whatever my picking hand is doing.

When you say ‘how is your roll technique’ I don’t know how to answer this, truthfully. I’m not sure what is considered a roll exactly. I’ve seen Troy doing his crosspicking demos where he plays 3 note rolls moving from C > F > Am etc but if that’s what you’re looking for, then nothing I’m able to do (even poorly) approaches the speed or cadence of this.

I’m able to play 1 or 2 pieces at a faster pace than this but I don’t believe they involve as much crosspicking, although I could be wrong. Happens constantly! :smiley:

Maybe this is not a problem at all, but my first impression is that the pickstrokes look quite “small”.

If you are looking to increase speed / smoothness, maybe you can experiment with making wider motions, even if at first you end up hitting a wrong string here and there? I recall Troy mentioning in one of the crosspicking tutorials that his pickstrokes tend to be approx 3 strings wide (e.g. like the distance from B to D).

You can definitely see also in the Steve Morse interview that his pickstrokes are super wide when he does the fast “Tumeni notes” thing.

I had some discussions with Troy on whether it is really possible to consciously control motion size or not, so if you experiment with this let us know how it goes :slight_smile:

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Having given that a whirl, I think the REAL problem here is that I don’t know how to play guitar! :laughing:

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That’s what jumped out at me as well.

I think the idea for you is that banjo-style rolls that have a simpler fretting hand will remove one variable to help you gauge how fast your picking hand can handle DBX, and whether your picking hand is actually the problem or not.

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Yeah, I meant a three note roll like in the crosspicking videos.

Yes, good point! That was my intention.

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That’s cool thanks for the suggestions. I double checked my own work against this as I figured it was what you meant and also seemed like the simplest etude/exercise to use.

And came up with this. There’s a slight sync issue due to my phone being a turd, I cleaned it up as much as I could but if it needs another go-round I can try a different camera. I see a bit more bounce than I think is ideal. Some days it’s better (yesterday) some days it’s worse (today for instance)

Does this feel pretty relaxed while you’re doing it? Also, do you have a slow motion version of this that you could post?

I guess it depends on what ‘relaxed’ means to you.

Can I continue at that tempo and maintain the pace? Yes. I’ve played for 15 minutes on and off without my arm/hand ever succumbing to that locked up feeling you get the first time you try and downpick Master of Puppets or some shit lol

I have to really work to make sure I’m hitting the appropriate strings though, it takes very little to screw with my motion or knock me out of the ‘order’ in which I’m playing. Concentration must remain extremely high and if I lose focus, I lose the ‘order’ almost instantly. It comes and goes during that clip even.

As for the slow-mo footage, it was next to useless due to my camera issue, so instead of trying to lipstick a pig, I’m going to shoot more video and post up again. Thanks for taking an interest though, hopefully I’ll have a better quality example soonish.

And through the magic of the internet, here they are.

Managed to clip a portion that wasn’t all effed up due to frame’s getting dropped by my phone. First is normal the 2nd is exact same slowed down to 25% speed. I have a problem naming files, I am exceedingly dumb.

And the slow mo

Edit - Sorry to add one more thing, but I’m able to go a lot faster if I add in 4th string and swipe the ever loving SHITAKE out of it. As seen down hyeah. For the life of me I can’t get that speed doing three strings, add a 4th though and I could literally keep playing at that tempo until I got bored of it I’m sure. I find it easier to keep time to it as well. Slo-mo available if needed, but this is p.cluttered already.

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To me, the motion you’re using on the 4 string version looks pretty significantly different from the 3 string version. I think the general advice around here is if you feel like you’ve hit a speed wall, like in your 3 string version, there is something about the motion that isn’t quite right.

IMO, the 4 string version looks far more relaxed. Can you post a slow motion version of the 4 string one? It looks like the pick is clearing sometimes, or is at least trying to, but it would be easier to see for sure in slow-mo. If you can’t that’s totally fine though.

At this point, my advice would be to run with the 4 string version and clean that up. It looks much more relaxed and it’s obviously faster. So I’d start with that technique, maybe around 160bpm (which I think is pretty close to the speed in the video), then knock the metronome down 1bpm at a time until you can play it clean. Stick at that clean tempo for a minute or so then jump back up to 160 and repeat. Do that a couple of times a day for while and I think you’ll see some marked improvement.

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Hey thanks for plugging away on this, appreciate it. Here’s the slow-mo version of the 4 string clip. I’m not exactly sure what happens to the audio when the video gets slowed way down, certainly doesn’t line up well anymore but the visuals are easier to see at least.

You’re right, the movement feels completely different, if I needed to push it faster, I could (at the detriment of what little cleanliness there is obv) but if I was asked to push that 3 string roll faster, no bueno. I doubt I could manage even another 5 bpm without it just entirely losing ability to pick the strings or short circuiting the d - u - d – u - d - u sequence.

Np! Happy to help. Thanks for the slow-mo video! It looks (and sounds) to me like you’re rarely actually hitting the 4th string in the sequence.

As far as the motion goes, I am far from an expert, @tommo would be a much better judge than me, but I don’t see anything inherently wrong with the motion other than it seems pretty inconsistent. It looks like the motion isn’t quite ingrained yet.

If it were me, I’d still stick with the plan I laid out in my last reply and really try to bake in that easy, fast motion. Maybe record yourself at the top speed, then when you get down to a speed where it’s accurate, record yourself at that speed too so that you can compare the motions. The idea being that starting fast will force you to use an efficient motion, then you slow down that efficient motion to allow it to gain accuracy, then speed it up again to make sure the motion is still efficient and over time, you keep the speed and gain accuracy. In theory, you should really start to feel the difference between when it’s working and when it’s not. If you’re slowing it down and it all of sudden starts to feel less easy or smooth, jump right back up to full speed to remind yourself what that fast playing feels like.

Hope that helps!

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Hey! Thanks for the mention and sorry I’m a bit late to the party! I also think that these “4 string examples” show the most promising form, and I also don’t see anything wrong with the motion.

Sure, extra string are being played but I think this is a more realistic approximation to efficient crosspicking than the first couple of videos, which looked like micromanaged motions to me.

My feeling is that you should try going for it with these 4 string arps (or similar patterns) and see if in the next few days / weeks you notice that things are starting to clean up. Maybe do some more slo-mo filming once in a while to check if you are getting some clean double escapes in there. Not all the time, just a few here and there will tell you that you are on the right track.

One thing I noticed in these 4-string examples is that you often miss the high E string and play the B string 2 or 3 times, so this could be one of the first things you could focus on in the short term: make sure that the pick is hitting each of these 4 strings at the intended time. At first it’s ok if other strings get caught in the process, but make sure the “correct” one is played.

Hope this helps but keep us updated!


Thanks everyone.

TO THE WOODSHED! (my basement)


Not fair, I want a basement too :smiley:

By the way, another thing I would suggest (and which I’m trying to do myself) is to occasionally try the Steve Morse / Albert Lee 3-finger pick grip.

I found it very helpful when I’m stuck with old motion habits: e.g. I also had trouble going for the “fast and sloppy crosspicking” with my normal grip, because I’m so used to the controlled stuff. I’m now trying the 3 -finger grip here and there and it’s helping me to let it go a little.


It’s not always awesome, I’ve had to fight my way through a few spider-crickets on the way to my office. Those things give me the ULTRA creeps, eeuugh.

Yeah I’m definitely going to need to take a firehose to things because man, breaking out of ingrained habits is difficult.

I was looking at my hand/wrist position yesterday wondering why I’m having such an issue clearing strings and I started wondering if I’m not actually in the proper position. It almost feels like I’m halfway between the Andy Wood supinated setup and the David Grier / Molly Tuttle pronated position.

That may well be the case! If you go exactly halfway, you may find that wrist deviation becomes a fully trapped motion - and you don’t want that! You always want to have one of the escapes “for free”

PS: when using exclusively wrist motion, that is. With additional joints like forearm thrown in the mix, the analysis becomes more complicated - and may not be worth doing VS just sitting down with the guitar and beasting it :smiley:

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