Bryan Sutton gives a history on George Shuffler and his invention of the crosspicking style. He also demonstrates the differences tonally and technically between down down up crosspicking and alternating down up strokes. Bryan also gives context to the exercises he will share in the next lessons.
- One of the real exciting features about flatpicking, we've discussed a couple other embellishment kinda things that sort of define flatpicking as a style. And certainly not to be left out is crosspicking. We're gonna get into some of that now. And to give you a little bit of history, George Shuffler was a guitar player with the Stanley brothers back in, I guess, the '50s and through the '60s. And he's sorta in and out of the band. He's a really great guy, and got the privilege to know him over the years. But he had an idea when he was playing in the Stanley Brothers' band, that he wanted to play guitar.
He was one of the first guys in bluegrass to be known as a lead guitar player. And so he's a pioneer of a lot of just the idea of the guitar having a prominent role as a lead instrument in bluegrass, over just a rhythm instrument. And one of his techniques that he kind of was able to kinda push along and to turn it into kind of a standard way to apply it to bluegrass was crosspicking. And his basic idea for it was to try make solos and try to make melody parts that felt like banjo rolls.
And so what crosspicking essentially is, the effect that you're trying to go for is a roll sound. And the way George did it, and usually, the basic sort of idea of crosspicking is it kind of works out of all the basic kind of scale forms that we've looked at so far. You see a lot of it out of C. (guitar strumming) And this F form. Because it's usually three strings together. (guitar strumming) So to isolate the E, and the G, and the C right there. The way George Shuffler did it, he actually started with two down strokes and an up.
(guitar strumming) Which has a real obvious pulse. (guitar strumming) And an F. (guitar strumming) Even working with some of our shapes. (guitar strumming) As the crosspicking style developed and sort of expanded over the years, different players sorta moved away from two downs and ups, with the pick stroke to more of an alternating thing.
Which is, that's generally, when I start crosspicking that's kinda what I gravitate to, which is this. (guitar strumming) And I pick. That's basically what's going on with the pick. Down, up, down, up. And the effect is the sustain, how the notes kinda roll over each other. And it creates this sorta real beautiful kinda sound.
(guitar strumming) And the theory behind what's going on rhythmically is that it creates kind of the feeling of they're all sort of mini triplets within a four beat pattern. One two three, two two three, three two three, four two three. (scat singing) And it creates not only the roll within itself, but the bigger picture that's established with it. And it's a very musical kinda thing. It's kinda captivating, it's compelling to hear. (guitar music) Or the George Shuffler style.
(guitar music) So that's a basic sort of primer, if you will, of what's going on with crosspicking. And it's, again, a huge element of a way you can kind of enhance your own playing. I use it as kind of a technique. I don't necessarily use crosspicking in everything I do.
But as it develops into your playing as a useful tool, there's ways, and we'll talk about this. As we develop certain things about crosspicking, a lot of the ideas that we've talked about, of smooth, steady, rhythmic kind of playing can kind of apply to this. And it makes the effect of crosspicking stronger, and it also effects your overall strength as a player in other ways to play the guitar. So I'll show you a couple other things dealing directly with crosspicking.
And we've got some neat sort of exercises to work on to build your sense of this way to play.
Learn how to maintain flatpicking flow—consistent tone, groove, and musicality. Find out how to play along role-oriented lines, and find more musical opportunities. In chapters 3, 4, and 5, Bryan shows how to apply what you've learned to intermediate versions of popular bluegrass tunes. Each lesson helps you add a challenging new dimension to your sound, and improve your overall musicality.
Note: This course was recorded and produced by ArtistWorks. We are honored to host this training in our library.
- Adding feel
- Developing groove
- Playing intermediate bluegrass tunes