Why Doesn't 2 Way Pickslanting Make Techniques Specifically Made For Cross Picking Unnecessary?


If someone knows how to do 2 way pick slanting, why is there any need to learn a special technique just for cross picking? Suppose someone wants to cross pick 4 notes on 4 successive strings in a row. The first is played with a downstroke with an upward pick slant to cross the the next string. The note on that string is played with an upstroke using a downward pick slant. The next note is played with a downstroke with an upward pick slant. The next and final note is played with an upstroke with a downward pick slant. This method can be used for any core picking situation, so why is there any need to use a different picking technique taught specifically for cross picking?


This, sir, is a very good question and the reason, why I didn’t try to approach crosspicking til now. I even regard changing pick slant on every stroke, when done through forearm rotation as some kind of cross-picking, but maybe I’m all wrong. Looking forward to Troy straightening that out.


Again, I have pondered this. The only thing I can think of is that with the crosspicking curve mechanic, it is supposed to feel effortless and enable you to play those sorts of lines for long periods (and possibly while singing if you are of the bluegrass side of things). I supppose the questions are:
A - can you successfully use 2WPS to pkay these sort of lines?
B- can you do so at the tempos that you would like to play them at?

If the answer to both of those is ‘yes’, then I don’t see any reason for you to invest time in crosspicking.

Due to the somewhat complex nature of crosspicking, it seems to have become somewhat of a holy grail. I think that it is also very useful for those who use DWPS/DWPS exclusively, as with crosspicking pick slant angle is irrelevent.

@Troy, as well as the opening post’s question, how does MAB handle crosspicking lines? Does he just use 2WPS and sweeping? Or is there ever a curve?


Do you have his “Speed Lives” instructional DVD in which he explains and shows how to play “No Boundaries”? There is an alternate picked three string arpeggio there. You can probably find the answer to your question of you watch this. I’ll watch it when I get the opportunity. I haven’t watched it in over a year.


Hi @Acecrusher,

If someone knows how to do 2 way pick slanting, why is there any need to learn a special technique just for cross picking?

To my knowledge nobody ever said, that there is a need to learn crosspicking. I think it’s important not to confuse the analysis and description of different picking styles that some players actually use on one hand, and the more “normative” question of what picking style someone should use on the other hand.

The way I see it is this: Troy analyzed different guitar players and actually found a number of discrete picking styles (which is pretty amazing!). He also found, that these players were not conscious of the way they pick. Why they ended up with their style, we don’t know and there is probably some randomness involved. But it is possible, that some players wanted to play a certain kind of material and managed to learn a technique that let them do that. For 1nps stuff, this would have to be either 2WPS or crosspicking (unless there is some other technique we don’t yet know about). What we can be reasonably sure of, though, is that they did not consciously choose that picking style based on their needs.

Now, we as the CtC community are in a totally different position, as we know about these different techniques and we can actually choose one of them and learn it (again, pretty amazing!). We also know, intellectually, that crosspicking is in a way the ideal technique, because it lets you change the strings after every stroke. (2WPS lets you do that, too, but you have to change the pick orientation, so that seems more effortful.) But, as @PickingApprentice said, if you can already play the stuf you want to play, there is no need to change anything. So if you can do 1nps with 2WPS, that’s great! I would’nt change anything.

On a different note, 2WPS and crosspicking may not be so distinct after all. @Troy talks about it somewhere, but I forget where I have read it. Instead, they might be two extremes on an axis, so maybe the change wouldn’t even that big for you?


Maybe not, but none of the other picking techniques described on CTC have been given a name that suggests they are the technique to use for a particular situatioms. DWPS, UWPS and 2WPS are all names that describe how the technique is done - not a specific situation it is to be is for - they’re all just "alternate picking techniques. Cross Picking is a very specific situation in alternate picking which implies it should be used for that specific situation.


Haha, I’m actually working on No Boundaries at the moment with that very DVD! The thing is, I am pretty useless at analysis picking movements and based on the Antigravity seminar, I don’t trust MAB’s motion mechanics at slow speeds. I will take a look at though.


Hmm, I’m not sure I understand. I certainly haven’t seen it that way. What exactly is that situation?


The situation is one that specifically involves playing lines which contain one note on a string per string change.


I don’t think that it is strictly the case. Players like Martin Miller have a crosspicking movement for a lot of his playing, but uses 2WPS for the more ‘shred’ moments. Crosspicking so happens to be a very useful way of playing arpeggio type parts.


I’m sure it is but so is 2 Way Pickslanting. I’m interested in knowing if Cross Picking is superior to 2 way pick slanting for playing one note per string lines and if so, why? It seems to me that knowing 2 way pick slanting would make learning and using cross picking unnecessary. That’s the reason for my question at the top of the thread.


I’m in a similar situation where I have been working on 2WPS and now found that when I pick without thinking I can do a crosspicking motion. Now Troy posted a response stating that I should/could make it habitual, but I’m not sure whether it is worth getting my 2WPS to goal tempo and before putting serious time into crosspicking.


I’ll take the blame for this confusion! The world is a complicated place, and as @tomatitito correctly points out, we came up with these ideas based on what we saw out there. When I came up with the ‘2wps’ concept, I didn’t even know there were players like Steve Morse and Carl Miner and so on.

Anyway they’re not “different techniques”, per se. When you talk about alternate picking technique specifically, it’s a system of layers, each one built on top of the lower one:

  1. Physical Movements
    shoulder, arm, elbow, etc.

  2. Pickstrokes
    single escaped (the ‘linear’ ones), fully escaped (the ‘curved’ ones)

  3. Picking Style
    pickslanting, two-way pickslanting, crosspicking

Pickslanting is when a player plays only single-escaped pickstrokes most of the time. A Two-Way Pickslanting player is one who plays sequences of single-escaped pickstrokes, with occasionally, one or two fully escaped pickstrokes thrown in. And a Crosspicking player is one who makes continuous sequences of fully escaped pickstrokes.

The key here is any movement can be used for the pickstrokes - elbow, forearm, wrist, fingers, etc. Doesn’t matter. That is the lowest level of building block, and the other two are above it. However, out there in the world we have noticed some correlations:

2wps players tend to use forearm for their fully escaped pickstrokes while using wrist or elbow for the singles. This is why you think of the 2wps player as someone one whose arm remains stationary most of the time, but occasionally flicks rapidly on certain pickstrokes. That’s just the fully-escaped pickstroke being played. If you only make one fully escaped pickstroke and then make singles again, you just switched from one pickslant to another. If you make two fully escaped pickstrokes back to back, and then play singles, you just switched, and switched back rapidly. That’s the “primary pickslant” approach we see in players like Batio, Andy Wood, and so on.

In the crosspicking world we have players who use some amount of their forearm on every pickstroke, like Martin Miller and maybe Carl Miner. And we also have those who do not, like Steve Morse and Molly Tuttle. Again the movement doesn’t matter, that’s below the pickstroke level. Use what you like. What matters is that crosspicking players are doing this on every note. A “crosspicking” player and a “two-way pickslanting” can both choose to make their fully escaped pickstrokes with the same physical movement. But 2wps is a style where you only choose to do this in units of one or two notes before going back to the linear movements. And crosspicking players can just keep doing this.

It’s worth noting that most 2wps players aren’t good at continuous sequences of fully escaped pickstrokes. That’s why you don’t see lots of 1nps arpeggio playing or pedal tone type playing in rock. It’s why most players simply can’t play Van Halen’s “Hang Em High” or Yngwie’s pedal tone lick.

It’s also worth noting that the wrist-only type of fully escaped pickstroke is much more common in bluegrass than in rock, and seems well suited to roll type playing as we’ve seen in Molly and David Grier’s case. Could you do that with continuous forearm movement? Sure, absolutely. But again, trends and correlations. Line up 100 bluegrass players and you will not see too many Jimmy Herring style forearm players, though you will probably see bits of it here and there.

So, what happens when a player makes the single-escaped pickstroke, the forearm type curved pickstroke and the “wrist-only” curved pickstroke? In other words, all type of pickstrokes, in several different physical methods? What do you call them? Andy Wood is a great example of this. When he plays scales, he uses forearm fully escaped pickstrokes for ascending inside string changes and a wrist-only fully escaped pickstroke for descending outside string changes. In between he plays singles. By our definition above, that still fits “two way pickslanting”.

Anyway, chew on that for a while and see if you think this makes sense! I think it holds up. For the moment, anyway.


That one will definitely need some chewing! Many thanks for the detailed reply!!!


Thanks Troy for that very detailed, well thought out post. I appreciate it!


I can’t resist to give my 1.2 cents :grin:
To me there’s 2 things in difference:

One is just the needed time, in scale playing you have 3 strokes to change the slant direction, so there the need to have a economical technique to chenge the slant. So basically you can look at the directional swap apart from the repetetive motion, in the end whatever you use to get from one slant to another should be fine.

The trickier part is string tracking. In the crosspicking world you cannot rely on json strings anymore while the world of OneWaySlant in 99% you move ‘simply’ to the next string.
My personal experience is that after some time using slanting the distance from one string to another becomes part of the motion and is not noticed anymore.
My impression of the hardcore crosspickers is that they simply define the endpoint of a pickstroke to their needs on the fly.

I personally reached a point in crosspicking where i can play from one string to another (and simply ignore that sweeping exists) and feel comfortable with it, but it’s not that I can play every pattern, string skips and double strokes makes the thing fall apart.
Actually I think that’s just the way it is, you build a vocubulary of patterns that are queued together to your needs, at least I hope so. When I started playing I experienced something similar with patterns for fingerpicking, after a while you have enough tools in the box to be at least able to play something similar to what you hear.


Troy’s already given you a lot to chew on, but I’ll chime in as well:

For me, I’m still figuring this stuff out, but it seems that my natural picking motion is essentially crosspicking. Not just as a way of playing one note per string arpeggios… but, as a way of picking notes. Two notes per string, three notes per string, sustained tremolo picking (which I very rarely do, which may be part of the reason that I didn’t develop a more conventional pick-slanting approach).

So, this could be my imperfect understanding… But for me, “two way pickslanting” and “crosspicking” are both just two ways of soving the same problem, namely picking lines with odd numbers of notes per string. Sure, one is an odd number, and crosspicking lends itself well to one-note-per-string playing (and perhaps a bit better than 2WPS since it takes the slant change out of the picture mentally and makes it an instinctive part of the motion)… but also 3 notes per string, 5 notes, whatever, and as an added bonus handles even notes just as well, too.

If you’re already a proficcient 2WPS player and don’t do much one note per string picking, then there’s relly no pressing need to develop a crosspicking mechanic. But, aside from that special case, it seems the two can be used pretty interchangably.


Ok, disclaimer, I really don’t want to seem pedantic here in fussing over the terms of things. But I think the idea here is that we’re trying to talk about some really complicated stuff and we need to be clear on what the terms mean, at least as we plan to use them, so that we’re not talking in circles around each other in threads like this.

So with that in mind, the way I see this is that “two way pickslanting” and “crosspicking” are not different techniques. And one is not “better” at playing 1nps phrases than another.

Instead, the very act of playing a continuous 1nps phrase is, by definition, crosspicking, since it involves making a continuous sequence of curved pickstrokes. In other words, if someone plays a whole phrase with a continuous sequence of fully escaped pickstrokes, that is a crosspicking approach.

On the other hand, if someone plays a phrase that has a mix of fully escaped pickstrokes and single escaped pickstrokes, that is two-way pickslanting. It’s a more complicated definition of two-way pickslanting than we set out with, because it defines the picking style from the perspective of the kind of pickstrokes involved. But it holds for more scenarios, and allows us a way of describing someone like Andy Wood, whose style is a complex stew of movements.

In either one of these scenarios, whether it is “crosspicking” or “two way pickslanting”, the actual movement you make does not matter. Whether you use a forearm movement or a wrist movement does not matter. You can have a “crosspicking” phrase that it is entirely forearm, and a crosspicking phrase that is entirely wrist with no visible arm movement. On the flipside, you could in theory also have a two-way pickslanting phrase that is entirely wrist with no visible arm movement at all - so long as that phrase is composed of a mix of single-escaped pickstrokes and fully-escaped pickstrokes.

And finally, you can have a phrase that contains only single escaped pickstrokes, regardless of whether those are executed with elbow, forearm, wrist, whatever. And that is the style we call “pickslanting”, or more specifically “one-way pickslanting”.

So, three levels: movements, pickstrokes, and styles.

Mix and match!

Still trying to figure out what's going on with my picking mechanic - odd swooping motion (EDIT - crosspicking progress thread)

Please, be as pedantic as you need - part of the reason I’m in this conversation in the first place is I’m trying to wrap my own head around these concepts by talking through them, and feedback on that is very helpful!

So, would it be fair to think about this as “crosspicking” is basically the motion that curves between different pickslants, and the primary “difference” between crosspicking and 2wps is sometimes in the latter you just pause the rotation that allows you to fully escape, maintaining the same slant for a little bit, and use single-escaping pickstrokes until you hit a point where you next need to use a fully escaped stroke…?

If that’s dead wrong, of course, let me know. :slight_smile:


I echo Drew’s sentiments. The more detailed, the better! If that means being pedantic I have no problem with that whatsoever.