View Full Version : Crosspicking and/or back up

Nov-08-2005, 7:11pm
Ok, so I have mastered strumming chords a la the backbeat with the local Bluegrassers I jam with sporadically. (Like maybe five time's a year if I am really lucky.)I have recently noticed that the more advanced mandolinists play an arpeggio-type back up throughout the song, not just chording a rythm like me. Are they playing chords, but just in note form? Or is there a secret society cross-picking-type system they are using and I will never see discussed in instruction manuals? Help! There are no mandolin instructors in town so I have to learn everything on my own. And I want to pick along like the other mandolin players. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif

Nov-08-2005, 11:47pm
Try these lessons (http://www.mandolincafe.com/crosspicking.html) (click). I found them helpful.

Be aware that there are at least 2 things called cross-picking. There is this, and then there is the style of playing a melody mixed with arpeggios, banjo-like. Jesse McReynolds wrote the book on that other kind; the book is unfortunately out of print, but someone sent me a scanned copy that i can send you if you're interested. That's a really weird way of playing, although it sounded very nice when Jesse did it.

Nov-09-2005, 11:15am
I have the book the lessons are from and it is pretty good with one major caveat - it is 100% tab. You have to figure out theory aspects for yourself in order to apply them to other chords. It's not that hard to do, but it would have been nice if the chord diagrams indicated the notes (like the root, 3rd and 5th for a major) because there does seem to be some "method to the madness".

Oh yeah, the full book also includes some of what glauber refers to as "the other kind"; even some ragtime stuff.

Nov-09-2005, 11:50am
Glauber- I'd appreciate it if you'd email me a copy of the .pdf


The book was written by Andy Statman and is the authoritative source of crosspicking.My copy got lent to a student and was never returned. It is a goldmine!

Mickey's book is NOT crosspicking as played by Jesse- it applies alternate picking across various string groupings. True crosspicking is based on DDUDDUDU or DUUDUUDU patterns across the strings-not alternate picking.

Nov-09-2005, 12:01pm

Please copy me (arbarnhart@aol.com) on that email of the PDF.
Not all of Mickey's book is alternating (see Down Yonder, Dill Pickle Rag and a few others) but I agree most of it is.

Mark in Nevada City
Nov-09-2005, 1:42pm
I have recently noticed that the more advanced mandolinists play an arpeggio-type back up throughout the song, not just chording a rythm like me.
First off when there's more than one mando in a session weird stuff can happen. Not bad stuff, just weird. When playing backup, the mandos prime role is to hit the backbeat chop. Wouldn't be bluegrass without it! Any "advanced player" knows this. With two (or more) mandos, depending on the feel and drive to a tune, one mando chopping may be enough, freeing the other player(s) to fill out the bands sound in another way, maybe by cross-picking. Continuously cross-picking behind a band may work in some places, but I'd be wary (constant "tinkering" in the background can be distracting to the vocals or other instruments). Sometimes, if you can lock into the other mando players chop, the "dual chop" works best for driving tunes, letting two instruments play as one. A lot easier for two mandos in a jam than two banjos http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

cheers, mmm

Nov-10-2005, 7:37am
Thanks Glauber, you've helped me out again.

Nov-10-2005, 11:20am
Thanks. Very nice.

Nov-10-2005, 12:47pm
John mentioned the difference between using DDU/UUD and alternate DUDUDU picking.

If I continue trying to crosspick, using alternate picking will I hit a wall in terms of speed or loose something in terms of sound/timeing?

A few months ago I asked this same question but didn't get any replies.

Nov-10-2005, 1:32pm
You will not hit a wall either way 250sc.
I think there might be a wall when you fully master one of the kinds and want to try another.
My McReynolds DUUDUUDU roll is powerful and fast, but I break my teeth on other crosspicking right-hand patterns, probably because I lost the necessary patience to start all over, simple and slowly.

I don't think Mr McGann is right when he says:

True crosspicking is based on DDUDDUDU or DUUDUUDU patterns across the strings-not alternate picking.

I think there are some spectacular examples of DUDU picking that would definately be in the category of true crosspicking.
Dan Crary's guitar picking comes to mind, but I also think that Tim O'Brien does his powerful forward roll DUDU style. Listen to his intro to "Are you tired of me", a great cross picking solo that breaks free from mannerism with its neat little straight (non-cross-picking) lines

Nov-10-2005, 3:22pm
Jeroen - it is a matter of semantics. Crosspicking is a term used to define the style used by Jesse, Geroge Shuffler etc. It is NOT alternate picking. Picking sets of strings with alternate picking is just that- alternate picking. Alternate picking is alternate picking.

Try this: play strings 423 DUUDUU then strings 4 and 3 DU. That's 8 eigth notes. Listen to the syncopation on the "and of 2" (the 4th attack). Now, play it alternate picking style. It is just NOT the same- that and of 2 now gets an upstroke, and it is weaker (harder to play too). The crosspicking has built in syncopation. I suggest you try the B section of Jesse's "I Don't Love Nobody" from the .pdf. Play it both ways and listen to the difference!

Nov-10-2005, 3:40pm

Much as I hate to argue with a certified expert, I think it may indeed be a matter of semantics.

For my reference, I point to Greg Horne's Intermediate Mandolin. There are two sections, "Crosspicking" and "McReynolds-style Crosspicking". In the first, alternate picking is used, but consecutive notes are (mostly) placed on different strings, even when they might be available on the same string without a position shift. This produces one "effect", which is not the same as "normal" playing. The second section uses rolled picking patterns for a different effect, and in this section, what you say about syncopation comes to the fore.

Perhaps we need a new term for one or the other....

Nov-10-2005, 4:06pm
At the risk of sounding pompous:

I once learned a Tony Rice solo note for note. I played it with alternate picking. It never "sounded right" although I knew I had the right notes and positions. I learned about crosspick, applied the pattern, and viola.

As I said: alternate picking is alternate picking, whether on one string or across a group of five. Why call it crosspicking? #Because you "go across the strings"? I think crosspicking was VERY well defined in the '70's when Andy's book on Jesse came out (and it remains the definitive source for true crosspicking). Everyone who talked about "crosspicking" on the mandolin was talking about the "Jesse McReynolds" style. I have never seen the term "crosspicking" applied to alternate picking until the past couple of years. Maybe I need to get out more...

BTW the effect mentioned where consecutive scale notes are each played on different strings is called "melodic style" on the 5 string banjo, and "floating" on the guitar. It still ain't crosspicking unless you use the consecutive picking patterns, IM (loud but somewhat humble) O. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Here's more about why crosspicking isn't alternate picking and vice versa. (http://www.johnmcgann.com/crosspicking.html)

Nov-10-2005, 5:12pm
Well, as I said: One or the other. I'll gladly cede "crosspicking" to the McReynolds style, but what do we call the other? I do think the effect is different enough--especially if you're careful to "let ring" when picking the next note--to deserve some kind of "special" term.

"Melodic" doesn't seem right for the mandolin, since it's general much more melodic than banjos anyway. "Floating" is somewhat better, I guess, but not much.

Nov-10-2005, 5:41pm
"floating" gets my vote-party of one http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

I have sympathy for the guitarists- I am one as well. This term has also been around at least since the 70's, and is in the bag of tricks of every country guitarist from Albert Lee to Brent Mason. Bill Keith gets the banjo nod, as do Courtney Johnson, Bobby Thompson and many other killer banjo players.

Nov-10-2005, 6:09pm
Thanks for the feedback. I'll have to play with it a while.

Nov-10-2005, 10:21pm
I always thought crosspicking was picking across the strings mainly because that's how Chris Thile describes it, not matter which type of picking pattern you are using. To me, Jesse's style is obviously crosspicking since he is they guy when it comes to crosspicking, but in terms in the way I look at crosspicking, it would be crosspicking with an alternate picking pattern. So technically crosspicking is picking across the strings with an alternate picking pattern(using Jesses pattern you are altered from the traditional DUDU and if you use DUDU you are altered from Jesse's style). And if you are not crossing strings you are merely playing in a melodic or scale like way with an altered picking pattern. Just as you would do when like playing in 6/8(Jig time) DUDDUD.

Anyways, back to the one and only question asked here, I think what you are trying to do if you are not playing chops is mainly fill in. Listen to a very good banjo player(Sammy from LRB) or fiddle player (Rickie Simpkins), what they do is mainly play the melody with what is either being sung as they are playing or what was just sung. So technically they are taking a break and either playing it while someone is singing or they chop up the break and play the segments after that certain melody is played. Understand? of confussed? Hopefully this helps. If you can't figure out the melody that quick just use arpeggios whether you are crosspicking or not

Nov-11-2005, 6:17am
I have Andy's book on Jesse's style, buy I got alot more use from Jack Tottle's solos in "Bluegrass Mandolin"...