Downstroke Cross String Picking Exercises

Learning to pick cleanly from one string to the next can be challenging.  It becomes even harding if you need to skip strings.  The exercises in this lesson are intended to build your cross string picking skills.  These focus on downstroke picks only.  Look for the alternate picking resources on this site if you also want to work that technique as well.  Progression wise, you should stick with downstrokes until you really comfortable with them before moving to alternate or sweep picking.

All of the examples are using the A minor pentatonic scale.  If you wish to transpose to an alternative key, you should be able to see the patterns and switch keys without a lot of difficulty.

Exercise #1 - Adjacent Strings Up

This exercise focuses on moving from the low to high string by picking the next adjacent string to the one you are currently on.

Cross String Picking Exercise 1

Exercise #2 - Adjacent Strings Down

This is the same exercise as the previous one except you are moving from high strings to low strings.

Cross String Picking Exercise 2

Exercise #3 - Crossing 1 String Up

This exercise gets harder because now you are jumping over one string as you move from low to high.

Cross String Picking Exercise 3

Exercise #4 - Crossing 1 String Down

Same as before but moving from high to low strings.

Cross String Picking Exercise 4

Exercise #5 - Crossing 2 Strings Up and Down

Jump 2 strings at a time.  Move from low to high and then come back down.

Cross String Picking Exercise 5

Exercise #6 - Open Strings

Even though this exercise is using all open strings, it is the hardest to play.  As you leave each open string and pick the new string you need to use your fret hand to dampen or mute the string you just left.  If you don't find a way to dampen the strings by the time you reach the end of this exercise all the strings on your guitar would be ringing out. This would not work if you are trying to play a single note melody (rather than an arpeggiated chord).

Cross String Picking Exercise 6