Forum - Banjo Ben Clark


In the past I have adhered to the Steve Kaufman philosophy of continuing to alternate pick during crosspicking patterns, but lately I’ve been jamming with a guy who is really fast with DDU crosspicking. It’s got me thinking I might like to learn DDU, but it’s such a step backward for me, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. How do you guys crosspick? Have any of you made the change from one technique to the other or do any of you have insights into the relative merits of each?

Your story sounds exactly like mine Larry. I learned from Steve Kauffman too, I still have my VHS tapes. It seemed like it took a long time to get the feel of keeping the DUD’s going through crosspicking, but suddenly one day it just felt right and trying to do anything different felt awkward.

For the past year I’ve been working on DDU’s and it’s taking longer than learning SK’s teachings. I guess you get used to something, but it is working. I find myself naturally without thinking about it doing the DDU method at times and they both are feeling natural. At faster tempos I still struggle some with the DDU and want to go back to the DUD.

For me, it seems to be helping my playing considerably learning both. I’m sure some would argue that and that’s ok, but we have to find what works for us as individual players. I started very, very slow in trying to learn the DDU’s and like I said, I still struggle at faster speeds but it’s coming.

Check out Bryan Sutton’s Secrets For Successful Flatpicking DVD. He’s light years beyond anything I can do, but there are some good tips and tricks in it that are helpful. I didn’t get a whole alot out of it overall, but some things in it are helpful. If you want, I can send it to you for as long as you like. If anything, it’s a good dvd just to watch his playing. Cody Kilby’s in it too.

I think it’s worth the effort, but it takes alot of time and patience. Just be careful that it doesn’t take away from what you’ve already accomplished, anything that does that should probably be shunned. I try to learn new things while still practicing the old (as long as it’s something good and not a bad habit).


Before I started flatpicking with any seriousness, I did not adhere to DUDUDUDU. I played some DDU, although I never was fast with it. Since becoming a student of Ben, it’s now DUDUDU all day long. I have wondered the same thing as you. There are many players that play real well using both techniques. I think JW’s comments hit it on the head. We are all different. You (or I or JW) may be the kind of guy that DDU is a natural fit and it would be fighting nature forever to stick to DUDUDU while repetitively crosspicking, or maybe we would be better off sticking to DUDUDU. We’ll never know until we try. It took me a while to get used to DUDUDU, and I may someday play with DDU again. It would seem that at extreme speed, DDU would be more efficient and would allow for an absolute higher speed. However, it’s a different mechanical pick stroke so maybe that isn’t true. In conclusion, my paragraph contributed absolutely nothing helpful. Let us know how it goes :smiley:

I must apologize! :blush: I hadn’t watched the Bryan Sutton dvd in awhile. I thought there was a crosspicking section in it where he teaches DDU but there’s not. There is a crosspicking section and in it he strictly uses the DUD method. He’s amazingly fast and accurate and still uses the DUD.

Another thing I was wrong about: It’s a much better dvd than I had remembered. It has alot of very helpful teaching in it. It’s pretty advanced which is why I probably didn’t get much out of it. :unamused: Way above my skill level.

You’re still welcome to it Larry, but there’s nothing in it that teaches DDU. It’s a great dvd though.

Now I gotta figure out what got me started on learning DDU. Maybe it was a Tony Rice dvd. This is gonna bug me now until I can remember who it was.


I’m glad the Sutton DVD is better than you remember… I ordered it this week to push an order from Amazon into free shipping territory.

It’s actually quite impressive. I skimmed through it after I replied to Larry’s post and became entranced watching it. His blazingly fast playing is just as clean and precise as when he plays slow. He never loses any tone either. It’s fun to watch even if you don’t use it to learn from.

It looks like his Bourgeois is highly figured Brazilian from looking at the sides. Sure sounds good.

Amazon’s free shipping has been a good excuse for me to get music related items as well :wink: .

Thanks for the offer, JW, but I already have that Bryan Sutton DVD. Like you, I haven’t watched it in quite a while, so I probably need to pull it back out and give another listen. I find I’m like that with any instructional material beyond the most basic. I have to take what I can from it (given my ability at the time), apply it for several months, then come back and glean a little more, rinse and repeat.

Given that I have a limited amount of time to practice guitar, I’d like to settle in on one primary crosspicking technique, but I am intrigued by DDU. In addition to what it might do for me speed wise, I like the sound of it. Having those back-to-back rest strokes seems to add punch to the pattern. It’s that Tony Rice/Clarence White sound that I like so much.

My biggest problem with attempting it right now is with ending the pattern or when the pattern requires two notes on the same string. It sometimes causes me difficulty in getting the downstroke back on the one beat for alternate picking.

Glad I’m not the only one who thinks about these things, though. Last week, after a particularly nice crosspicking piece, I asked my friend if he was using alternate picking or DDU and he couldn’t tell me. He had to show me instead.

If you are looking for a piece to work on DDU, I have a version of “Bury me beneath the willow” that fits the bill pretty well. It’s like the George Shuffler version (or Clarence White minus the cool syncopation and funky licks). Want me to make a tef?

One thing to add to the discussion. I found when I was in a DDU groove, it was hard to break out for a beat or two, whereas with DUDU, I can do it without thinking. It might just be me, but that’s another factor I have to consider.

I’d work on Bury Me Beneath The Willow, but you don’t have to go to the trouble of tabbing it if it’s already in a printed format that can be uploaded.

— Begin quote from ____

I found when I was in a DDU groove, it was hard to break out for a beat or two, whereas with DUDU, I can do it without thinking.

— End quote

That’s the kind of thing that gives me trouble, too. It’s so much cleaner to just crank out consistent alternate picking. I think that’s Steve Kaufman’s point of view, too.

Below is CW rolling it at about 240 BPM. Sounds like a Gatling gun. I think DDU is the only hope most would have of reaching anywhere near that speed. I’ve heard Ben repetitively cross pick at that speed or better with DUDU, but I’m not anywhere near it:

To the best of my knowledge, that is a live recording… Mr. White had freakish timing and phrasing. I’m glad I wasn’t tasked to play rhythm for him. I have a hard enough time just tapping out the beat with it to get a ballpark of the tempo.

It’s not a transcription of CW’s above, but the foundation is there. I think it’s a pretty decent arrangement and I think you all would enjoy it. I’ll take a look to see if it’s already available, but either way I’ll try to get it to you sometime this week. Listening back to it, I think this was floating around some in my head when I did the crosspicking break for WV my home (albeit much slower).

Email sent.

Worth a watch: