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Crosspicking 101

April 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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Billy in the Lowground

December 23rd, 2009

Billy in the Lowground – Key of C

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Cherokee Shuffle

July 30th, 2009

Cherokee Shuffle (aka Lost Indian) is usually played in the Key of A capoed at the 2nd fret G position.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

Soldier’s Joy

July 11th, 2009

Soldier’s Joy is a well known fiddle tune usually played in the key of D. For guitar it works well with or without a capo though I prefer using the capo and playing out of the C position.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

Salt Creek

July 9th, 2009

Salt Creek is a festival favorite and a flatpicking essential. Usually played in the key of A capoed at the 2nd fret (G position). Most pickers have learned this tune directly, or vicariously, from Doc Watson’s famous rendition. In this particular example I play a variation of the B part that is slightly different than the way you usually hear it though the structure remains intact. The ending tag is one of my favorite Tony Rice licks.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

Molly Bloom

April 23rd, 2009

This arrangement is a good exercise for changing positions while trying to keep a consistent tone. The tune is in the key of G and has a similar vibe to Blackberry Blossom though is far less known.

Over The Waterfall

December 4th, 2008

My computer recently suffered a catastrophic hard drive failure but fortunately I had a decent backup. While sifting through said backup I discovered some interesting stuff that I forgot even existed. Most of what I found would be of no interest to the average reader so I’ll spare you the details however I did come across a video outtake of me screwing around with Drop D tuning and a very slow improvised version of the tune Over The Waterfall. I never posted this since it wasn’t really intended for educational purposes and most of the opening licks are out of frame but since I haven’t posted in a while I figured I’d put it up.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

New Camptown Races

July 13th, 2008

New Camptown Races is a Frank Wakefield tune that he played with Red Allen. It’s usually played in Bb or occasionally B natural. I play it in Bb (G position, capo at 3rd). The chords with the capo on are G, C, D, Em, A. The signature lick of the tune can be played by holding an Em7 chord and picking out the notes.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

St. Anne’s Reel

July 5th, 2008

St. Anne’s Reel is a popular fiddle tune among bluegrass and old time jams. This is my arrangement of it for guitar.

Forked Deer

November 20th, 2007

Forked Deer is another parking lot standard usually played in the key of D. The example here is played in the key of C with the capo at the second fret.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

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