Chris Eldridge

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Banks of the Ohio

Introduction to Crosspicking

Crosspicking is one of the great, under-appreciated flatpicking techniques. Pioneered by the Stanley Brothers' George Shuffler, crosspicking imitates the percolating, 3 against 4 feel of a bluegrass banjo roll. But unlike the hell-for-leather roll of a Ralph Stanley's banjo, crosspicking sounds wonderfully chilled out.

This week we're going to look at a very basic way to play the melody to Banks of the Ohio using both alternate picking and the George Shuffler-esque Down-Down-Up right-hand scheme.




Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Chris Eldridge
Bill Monroe
Banks of the Ohio
Doc Watson
Joan Baez

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Introduction to Crosspicking

Loop 6:20 Overview of Down, Down Up (DDU) Crosspicking

Loop 9:20 How to Crosspick the Melody of Banks of the Ohio 

Loop 12:04 Slow Practice Loop


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 12:52 At Tempo Practice Loop

Loop 13:25 How the Chords and Melody Fit Together

Loop 17:18 Closing Thoughts and Outro





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JasonH Jan 06, 2019

Hi Chris, 

I've been here a couple of months now, but this is my first video submit to you.  Loving the content and the instruction here.  I am learning versions of songs I never thought I'd learn (the Norman Blake related content is just fantsatic).  Anyway, just making a couple passes of Banks of The Ohio here, the standard crosspicking version you have posted here.  I feel like my right hand might be too rigid looking at the video, but I'm not necessarily feeling any tension.  I wanted to get your take on it and what could be improved on.  Thanks, and Happy New Year to you!


Torgeir Jorem
Torgeir Jorem Jan 07, 2019

Your crosspicking sounds amazing!

JasonH Jan 07, 2019

Thank you Torgeir!

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jan 07, 2019

Hi Jason, thanks for posting this note and video - it’s great to have you here! 

To my ear, you’ve got this basic version of it totally down. It’s clean, there’s a fantastic flow and groove that you’re getting. You’re nailing it. And despite how it may look, whatever you’re doing with your right hand is working. So I would suggest learning some of the variations so that as you play through the tune multiple times you can unfold a bit more of a musical story. 

In summary, 👏👏

JasonH Jan 07, 2019

Thanks Chris, I appreciate the listen and feedback!  Will definitely try and work out some variations to keep it more inetersting.

Darren Jul 20, 2016

 Trying trying trying again. In the cross pick are all the notes to have the same emphasis? Any kind of exercise you can recommend to improve that?

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jul 21, 2016

No, not necessarily at all. I played everything very evenly in the example for clarity (although the super even approach does sound nice in it's way). Feel free to accent strong melody notes or play slurs in the midst of the cross picking. Those little things can make the content come alive. I believe that I may have covered some of this is subsequent lessons?

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Feb 16, 2016

Ahhh ... thank you Chris. I did bare down on the lesson last week and it came to me after continuously watching the super slo-mo for days on end and then it really became obvious to me what I was doing differently when I watched your backward roll lesson.  I love the personal interest and time you take with your students so thank you for that as well. I will not repost a video until I'm done with the backward roll lesson and I can sing the song so that's either a warning or a just heads up that it will be a while.

Thanks again -


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Feb 16, 2016

Ha! It's my pleasure Kip. Take your time!

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Feb 10, 2016

Cross picking practice is going slow but its going. Doesn't sound quite like the lesson but I've never tried it before this lesson.

Am I on the right track ... I will continue watching the lesson and try to at least duplicate the right notes.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Feb 16, 2016


This is really beautiful. Seriously, nicely done. There's a sensitivity and unhurried beauty to the way you are playing it. It's so nice that you needen't do anything different. That said, it is different than the classic crosspicking pattern, which is a 3 note pattern. So addressing that I made a little video:




Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Feb 05, 2016

Very cool and sounds great but like most cool and great sounding things it isn't as easy as it looks.  I find it difficult (initially anyways) to follow a downstroke on the melody note with an upstroke among others things so it will take some time to become comfortable with the roll. Thanks for the lesson.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Feb 06, 2016

Hey Kip, 

it might be a little tricky at first, but like anything, with a little practice it'll become second nature. Really try to focus on the up/down flow in your hand and arm. 

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