Poll: What motion do you use for string crossing?
Poll Options
View poll results: What motion do you use for string crossing?
I move between strings using only my wrist
13 48%
I mainly move between strings using my forearm
3 11%
I mainly move between strings using my whole arm
4 15%
I mainly move between strings using my forehead (if narwhal)
7 26%
Voters: 27.
So I'm quite interested in what motion people use for string crossing and thought it would be interesting to have a bit of a discussion about how you move between strings and why you use that method - and also what the advantages and disadvantages are to it. String crossing is obviously an important part of your technique and recently I've been paying close attention to how I go about it.

Some people use just their wrist both for the picking motion and to move between strings. I can't really do this for all strings since working a lot with computers I seem to have developed a susceptibility to RSI, meaning that I find it can cause problems if I hold my wrist at an angle for a long period of time. Having said that I do sometimes use my wrist to string cross if only moving between 2 adjacent strings.

Anyway, I've been experimenting with various string crossing motions - for example, moving your forearm to change the height of your wrist to align it with each string. I've found this to be quite effective. The main disadvantage to this is that it means you don't keep the same pick angle on each string - the higher you go, the more angled the pick gets. I also find it can be a bit odd when moving to the low E string, and it's slightly more difficult to palm mute the higher strings than the next method:

Another method I experimented with is moving your arm - effectively pulling your elbow backwards to raise your hand and forwards to lower it. I found that this is particularly good if string crossing the whole range of strings. It also keeps your wrist at exactly the same angle regardless of the string. It's also really easy to palm mute each string as your hand is always in the same position on each string, whereas if using the forearm the hand gradually goes closer to the bridge. The main problem with this technique is that I have found that if you're not careful, this can cause strain in the right shoulder. Clearly my right arm is just really susceptible to this stuff :/ I've actually found that I play best using this method, but if I happen to have any strain in my shoulder (which is often unrelated to but aggrivated by using this technique) I can't really use it.

Either way, the advantage to the latter two techniques is that your wrist can always keep the same motion going regardless of the string you're playing meaning that you only have to master one motion with your wrist.

What's your take on all this stuff? I realise that this sort of thread isn't for everyone, but this is the techniques forum after all and I figure it would be nice to have a discussion thread for once rather than a simple binary question/answer thread.
Last edited by llBlackenedll at Dec 22, 2011,
I'm a narwhal.

However, I mostly move my arm at the shoulder joint to move across strings. Forearm moves a little during string skips but stays at a sort of 90 degree angle, wrist picks the notes.
Forearm stays locked during sweep picking, shoulder and wrist do that motion.
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Somewhere between with my wrist and with my arm. More my wrist. It depends on the skip. If it's 2 or 3 strings, it's more the wrist, but if it's 4-6 string skips, it's always more the forearm.
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Last edited by Banjocal at Dec 22, 2011,
All, except I lack a horn. It all depends on what I'm playing, and what I will be playing. I keep my technique fluid so it adapts.

I might just move my fingers without moving my wrist for a short jump. I might move my wrist if I'm doing a bit more. I might move my forearm if I'm doing big jumps. I might move my whole arm if it'll be in a more comfortable position.
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hhh i move strings using my foreskin is missing!

I move using my wrist, my arm and my thumb.
sometimes my thumb does the whole jump while the wrist and arm just chill..

I will post a more detailed explanation later

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Last edited by Slashiepie at Dec 23, 2011,
It's funny because I think this is a particularly important part of your technique yet I see very few places actually advise on the matter. I think it's probably something a lot of people "just do" without thinking about it, but I'm quite analytical so..

I found this thread on another forum about the subject, though they're talking about fingerpicking. Either way it still applies and it seems they have come to the same conclusion - that moving from the shoulder is best as it helps keep your angle the same regardless of string. One person noted that they are more relaxed when moving from the elbow as moving from the shoulder causes them strain.

Personally I do think that moving from the shoulder is the best option but as I say it does cause me some strain. I'm going to invest a bit of time into seeing exactly why that is, as I'm sure I'm not the first person to encounter this. But I think provided you can move from the shoulder without causing strain, it's definitely the superior technique. Though because you're floating a lot more, it means you have to have a really accurate shoulder (which can be compensated for by slightly adjusting your wrist while the shoulder settles)

Also - surprising number of narwhals attend these forums.

EDIT: Well that was quick - I thought I'd ironed it out but it seems that sometimes if string crossing down all 6 strings, I hunch my shoulder somewhat. I think "moving from the shoulder" should be moving your arm at the shoulder joint, but for some reason on occasion I lift my whole shoulder.
Last edited by llBlackenedll at Dec 24, 2011,
There is something that plays quite an important factor too.
The way the guitar is angled and the strap height.
Youre bound to use more of your arm if it is tilted upwards and use the wrist if its tilted downwards, since the movement of just letting the wrist fall feels more comfortable.

Imo it cant be strictly wrist, strictly forearm or strictly shoulder (the movement being so big that one notices the shoulder is under strain a la Batio doesn´t seem like a good idea to me)

I discovered that once you get comfortable with whichever way you do, the angle in which you cross the strings does not necesarily have an impact anymore.
I wouldnt worry about crossing them in an exact straight line, if its a diagonal or curved one its perfectly ok, you can switch to a vertical line with no problem or the other way round once you have the feel down.

I would try all the possible wrist movements and combinations and let my body stick to the most comfortable I try not to use my shoulder either. I however move the forearm and adjust the angle from the elbow. I combine wrist movement (mainly for when the skip starts with downpicking) and thumb movement (extending the thumb and the index finger and then pulling it back towards the hand) when the skip starts with an upstroke.

Was a bitch to get down because i dont use palm muting XD
Havent seen many threads or discussions about string skipping now that you mention it.
Guess its a pretty individual process and it really depends on what you are playing.
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Last edited by Slashiepie at Dec 26, 2011,