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Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: An Introduction to Crosspicking


As is the case with most genres, there are a handful of guitar techniques that must be utilized to accurately capture the aesthetic of the bluegrass style. Picking techniques, such as alternate picking and crosspicking, in particular, are tremendously important when playing bluegrass guitar. Therefore, it’s critical to take your time and focus on executing these techniques correctly and precisely as you begin to implement them into your playing. Eventually, the physical mechanics of these methods will become ingrained into your muscle memory, and they must be properly established from the get-go.


In this online guitar lesson, Grammy Award-winning guitarist, ten-time IBMA “Guitar Player of the Year,” and ArtistWorks bluegrass guitar instructor, Bryan Sutton, teaches the basics of crosspicking and outlines the process for integrating melodies into crosspicked patterns and arpeggios.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play acoustic guitar from a bluegrass master like Bryan Sutton? Try some free online guitar lessons now!


“Once you have the core melody of a tune internalized in your mind, you’re then ready to think about piecing together a crosspicking arrangement,” Bryan explains. “It’s critical to be equally aware of where the notes of the melody fall and where there’s space. Only then will we understand how we’ll fill the spaces with a crosspicking pattern.”


What is crosspicking?

Crosspicking is a guitar technique in which a flatpick is used to play a rolling, syncopated pattern across three strings. This rolling pattern typically outlines chord tones; however, melodic lines can be featured as well. The crosspicking technique was developed to imitate the sound and aesthetic of a banjo roll, with the primary difference being that banjo rolls are fingerpicked rather than flatpicked.


“Creating crosspicking arrangements is all about incorporating supportive harmonic information alongside the melody,” explains Bryan. “When I put the chords and the melody together, I’m filling the spaces between the core sequence of melody notes with supporting harmony in the form of crosspicked passages.”


To learn more about crosspicking and how to begin implementing the technique into your own playing, dive into this online guitar lesson from Bryan Sutton:


An Introduction to Crosspicking with Bryan Sutton:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play acoustic guitar? Through our comprehensive guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Bryan Sutton, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Bryan’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced flatpicking techniques, classic bluegrass tunes, music theory, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as flatpick guitar players and musicians.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: Walking Bass Runs with Bryan Sutton

Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: Alternate Picking Exercises with Chris Eldridge

Bluegrass Guitar Lesson: Embellishing Your Boom Chuck Strumming with Bryan Sutton




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