Where to start?


As I mentioned in my into post, I’m try to evolve from a strum bum to someone who can play more interesting stuff competently. I gravitate more toward bluegrass picking so I’m thinking about focusing on cross picking. However, I don’t know where to start.

I figured the wisest thing is to simply post a few video clips and get some feedback. The playing here is pretty bad compared to what else I’ve seen around here.

So if I want to start developing cross picking skills, what am I doing wrong? Am I doing anything right? Grip? Tracking? Pick angle? Any an all feedback is appreciated.

I figure once I know what the issues are, and given where I want to be, that should give me some insight as to where to go next.

Here’s an A major pentatonic scale

This is the coda guitar riff to Scarlet Begonias

Here’s an (ugly) stab at Will the Circle Be Unbroken, with a combination of picking and strumming

And, finally, here’s some alternating bass/strum. This is just a G C D G progression, and the 4 leading into the change is a single string chromatic run, A B (5th string) into the C; B C (5th) into the D, E F# (6th) into the G. This one is a bit longer with the slow motion, but anyone looking should get the idea pretty quickly. The goal is to strum the bottom three strings, and the strums should only be the top 3 strings. The latter objective is rarely achieved.

Hopefully, this is all clear. If not, please just let me know.

For the record, in case it matters, I’m playing with a Clayton acetal rounded triangle .63mm pick.

EDIT: I think I got the videos fixed. @Troy


Thanks for signing up! The simple answer to the question posed in the title of this thread is right here:


If you haven’t checked out the “Getting Started” guide yet, I highly recommend doing that. We link you to it right after the signup process but it’s probably easy to skip over it. We will devise even more devious methods of re-routing you in the future so that all roads lead to the guide.

The first thing listed on the page is the most important. It’s the intro broadcast on picking motions which addresses important fundamentals on pick grip and picking motion that everyone should know. It will also introduce some important terms that I know you were asking about in the other question about glossaries - things like pickslanting and so forth.

So, definitely, the intro to picking motion broadcast first. Then some some Pickslanting Primer chapters. Once you’ve done that, I think you’ll have a much better idea of “knowing what you don’t know”, if that makes any sense.

If there are still questions at that point, and I’m sure there will be, come back here and post them and we’ll take a look.


Thanks for posting these. The angle is appropriate so that’s good. Couple comments:

  1. When we do technique critique, we really need full-speed video in addition to slow motion, otherwise it’s hard to get a sense of what the overall motion looks like. Slow motion is great for seeing specific things, like what the pick is hitting or not hitting. I don’t think we have any details on this in the prompt that comes up in the “Technique Critique” section, so this is our fault. We’ll go ahead and add those instructions now.

  2. When choosing the slow motion mode on your phone, most of the time, choose 120fps. 240 is so super slow that it’s again hard to get a sense of what the motion looks like. 120 is a sweet spot where you can see detail but still see movement. Also, it requires less light, and has better video resolution - so you’ll generally get a cleaner image on top of that.

Re: crosspicking, this is a topic we are still researching. Here’s the video we did on how wrist type crosspicking techniques actually work:


It’s from the Albert Lee series of analysis videos. They’re all good and all worth watching. I’d start out with the intro broadcast and then the Pickslanting Primer but once you get a handle on the basic terminology, I’d check out these Albert Lee analysis features next.

Very broadly speaking, without watching in great detail, if what I’m seeing in your clips is primarily wrist-based motion, and you want to learn crosspicking, then the most detailed description of at least one method for doing that is actually right here on the forum:


The discussion can get pretty technical here, so again, I’d watch the intro broadcast, then some Primer, and then check out the Albert Lee stuff to understand the concepts of how wrist crosspicking works. The general idea works for any wrist-based player, like Molly Tuttle, David Grier, and so on.

That should get you started in the right direction. If you have any further questions let us know.


Great video. Do you have anything that integrates the finger movement in X-picking, sorta like Molly does? I know there’s the M.Miller one. Any other ones?


The difference between Molly and Martin is that you don’t specifically need finger movement to do what Molly does, and there are examples she plays in our interview which have less or none of it. She is essentially a pronated wrist player, with some finger motion, instead of the other way around.

Re: Martin’s technique, I haven’t worked on it so I can’t comment. I’ve asked Martin about this, he hasn’t really sat down to think about how to teach it.

So if you want to work on finger motion, you’re on your own for now!


Gotya. Well I am getting closer to doing a critique video… just smoothing things out. So maybe in a couple weeks, I can display my kitchen sink method. For whatever reason, It just looks more like Mollys finger movement than Martins. I think finger movement can be very individualized and diverse.


I’ll re-record these tomorrow at the proper speed. Third time in the charm, eh? I was looking for a camera speed setting in the camera app itself. Turns out the setting is in the iOS setttings > Camera section. I changed the default and will update the original post with slo-mo and regular speed samples.

Thanks for the clarification.


Don’t worry about recording more footage just yet. I would watch the intro material first, then the Albert stuff, then, if bluegrass type roll playing is your interest, the roll tutorial. Try it for a week or so and then record a clip. That will give us a much more concrete base we can help you with, i.e. once you have some attempts under your belt.


Roger that. Thanks, once again, for clarifying and I appreciate the road map. Looking forward to diving in!


I think it is very beneficial to focus on the loose feeling of the wrist and arm to incorporate the finger motion. If you hold too tightly then you cannot move your fingers individually and you will have to rely on all Wrist or forearm movement.

As for what part of the finger to focus on for the movement, I am still experimenting. Of course there is the MP Joint Extension of the Index Finger, and the Thumb Tracks along, but I also notice that the thumb joint starts to extend and bend a bit (the smaller joint). Not a huge amount- maybe 20-40°.


I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of different stuff and this is where I am right now. I don’t have a lot of speed, but that’s not a big concern for me at the moment.

One thing that I’m running into, that I saw in at least one other thread, is that the pick slips backward (toward my palm) after a while. If there’s anything anyone can see in this video that might be cause for that let me know.


This looks pretty good! The basic form all looks to be in place here. Once you’ve gotten things as visually close as you have done here, the best test is simply whether or not you can do this at faster speeds without strain. Does this feel smooth to you yet, and what happens if you do this more quickly, without worrying too much about note accuracy?


This made me think of one of the recent Andy Wood broadcasts, where he goes something like:

“I think when I tried crosspicking initially it may have sounded like this”: and then he does some sort of fast crosspicking with a lot of “unmuted swipes”, i.e. he keeps hitting multiple strings at a time. But importantly he stays in time.

I wonder if this is actually a good idea to get the feel of what true crosspicking may be like? I.e. pretending to do it while we still hit the wrong strings, focusing only on the curved path, and hopefully clean it up with time? Or am I reading too much into what Andy Wood was trying to show?

I know I’m speculating wildly here :sweat_smile:


Thanks for the feedback. It still feels a bit clunky, but if the technique is satisfactory, I can start to work on speed and accuracy. When I try to speed it up at this point the pattern completely breaks down. However, there isn’t any strain that I’ve felt yet. It feels pretty comfortable once I get it going and lock in.

Any ideas on the pick slipping issue? It’s probably just a matter of gripping it tighter. I’ve always had too tight of a grip with both the left and right hands, so this is something I’m consciously working on. I’ve got Clayton acetate picks (.63 and 1.0mm) and it happens with both. I’ve got some Tortex .60mm as well.


Nothing wild about this, we’ve discussed this before. A sloppy “mini strum” is much closer mechanically to crosspicking than super accurate stringhopping. The strum will both look and feel more like the real thing. However if we’re talking about simple three string patterns like these roll patterns, it’s not clear to me to what extent actually trying to do this is useful or necessary, since there really are not many variables or moving parts.

In general, doing the movement correctly so that it looks similar to the real thing, and not worrying too much about hitting the exact notes is a good first step. This is probably true any movement you are learning.


What do you mean “breaks down”? One of the characteristics of efficient motions is that they degrade gracefully as you speed up. Meaning, the movement still looks similar to what it looks like more slowly, but just progressively less accurate without ever feeling like you hit some kind of maximum speed limit that is markedly different from your usual. If that is what is happening that is generally good. Stringhopping on the other hand will hit a certain point and not go any faster.

There’s only so much grip force you can apply to a pick before you start to quickly tire, so increasing grip force usually isn’t the answer. Usually pick slippage has more to do with situating in such a way that the edge is riding against some part of your finger that directly opposes the slipping forces. This way it’s not a grip so much as a doorstop. I know that’s a super vague answer! I think what I mean is experiment with little shifts in where it sits, not gripping it harder.


Ops I must be getting old, I used to be able to memorize more or less every statement in your lessons / interviews! And to be fair, if done with tight rhythm the occasional “mini-strum” doesn’t even sound bad… as far as the “wrong” notes belong to the right chord / key. In fact, it probably sounds better than a perfectly clean crosspick with timing inconsistencies :thinking:


When I try to do a roll faster, at this point, it gets to where I feel like I’m not even hitting the middle string in the roll and it alternates between the 4th and 2nd strings, for example. The breakdown is in the accuracy viz hitting notes/strings to complete the roll.


That could be good. What really matters is what does the movement look like. Is it still the same movement, just with less accuracy, or is it a different movement entirely? For example, if the movement still has essentially the right shape, but the pickstroke is airballing the middle string, then you know you’re doing it right, but just not aiming properly on that middle note.

On the other hand if the movement has essentially become a pickslanting movement above a certain speed, then maybe some more experimenting is necessary to get the feel of the movement and making it consistent as speeds change.