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Cross String Picking Mechanics on Heavy Metal Guitar

Let musician Alex Skolnick teach you cross string picking mechanics in this heavy metal guitar lesson from Howcast.


Let's talk about cross string picking mechanics. I have to confess this is not a term I use very often, but I know a lot of players do use it, and I've learned a lot of licks and have come up with a lot of licks that I suppose apply to the concept of cross string picking mechanics.

So what I wanted to do now is look at a pattern using the low two strings of the guitar, the fifth and sixth strings. If I just played the first four notes of the A natural minor scale, I think the best way to play in that position is alternate picking, alright. Down, up, down, up. So when I cross the string, check it out. Alright, it's a down motion and an up motion, and I can make that snappy. Alright.

And you want as little motion as possible in order to make it the most effective. So when you play it fast, I can play up and down. Okay. Now it's kind of interesting, if I swap positions, if I play the exact same notes but start on the fourth finger, I get this and for some reason here it feels better to pick in the same direction for the first two notes. So here I would start on a down stroke and play the next string on a down stroke. It has a slightly different flavor. Listen to the difference.

Alright. So the alternate picking is a little more cultist. If I descend, to me it sounds best to do the first two notes on the fifth string than the other notes here, and I once again return to alternate picking. How you prefer to cross string mechanics really depends on what position you're in, your left hand frets, and the lick itself.

Let's go back to the first one, all other picking. Now I'm going to move that up and down the neck. Here's that same lick an octave higher. The picking is the same, it feels a little different because I'm on the highest ones.

Back to the second position. Here I'm starting on the picking in the same direction. If I do that up here... So again it's really important to practice all of these slowly before you play them at that speed.

Have fun with cross string picking mechanics.

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