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Cross-String Ornaments

I suggest you read a few articles on cross string ornamentation by two people way smarter than I:

David Russell: Two String Trills
Stanley Yates: Everything You Wanted to Know about Cross String Ornaments

Russell and Yates give two different fingerings to use for cross-string ornaments. Russell’s method is to use aimp:


Yates uses imam, which is a bit harder to get down. However, he offers practice advice that works very well in the article linked above.


There’s also the option of raking a finger across two strings, which can work really well, but it’s hard to get in time and rhythmic.


The advantage of miam and mimm is that the thumb is free to do it’s thing. This can be a big advantage in more complex pieces.

Personal Preference

Your personal preference and strengths are going to determine which fingering pattern works best. My go-to cross string trill is aimp. However, I’m working on nailing miam because it frees up the thumb.

5 Responses
  1. 2009 April 15

    Hi, Chris! I follow you to your blog from twitter. Nice blog!

    I like this kind of articles, short and clear, with references.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. 2009 April 16
    Mark permalink

    It seems like everyone has a different preference on this! My guitar teacher recently recommended aimi and mimp.

  3. 2010 March 17
    kuan permalink

    The problem with Yates’ fingering is if you want to play, say, six notes. DR’s fingering just comes back around.

  4. 2012 March 15

    For cross string trills my guitar teacher likes
    to use combinations that are taken out of the right to left direction
    of ami tremolo. mia or iam.

    so I use m i a (m being the longer finger) and p

    by the way, I’m my own teacher now. 😉 LOL