Crosspicking 101April 24th, 2010
Crosspicking is basically the technique of using a flatpick to simulate the fluid sound of finger-picking. It’s most commonly associated with Bluegrass guitar and mandolin players.
The effect is a rolling syncopated sound similar to Scruggs style banjo playing and just like three finger banjo rolls, crosspicking is based on three note phrases played across multiple strings with a four beat pulse.
There are three fundamental patterns or rolls.
The first is alternate picking or down-up-down (DUD) – This is the equivalent to the Square or Double Thumb banjo roll.
The second is down-down-up (DDU) – This is basically a forward roll
And the third is down-up-up (DUU) – Which is like a backward roll
Once you become familiar with these three patterns you’ll start mixing them up in order to fit them into four beat measures. The ultimate goal is to accent melody notes so they stand out among the array of filler notes.
To hear classic examples of crosspicking check out Jesse McReynolds’ mandolin playing with Jim & Jesse, George Shuffler’s guitar playing with the Stanley Brothers or just about anything from Doc Watson, Clarence White or Norman Blake.
The following videos demonstrate the three fundamental patterns and give you some ideas of how to use them along with open string drones, harmonized scales and double-stops.
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