Guitar Tutorial: Different Picking Forms Part One: Alternate Picking

Most of what I will mention here is for plectrum style guitar, although it can be applied to fingerstlye playing as well. When I talk about picking I mean picking of individual notes and not the picking of chords as such. It is the kind of playing which is being used when playing solos and melodic riffs on the guitar.

Students of the guitar do get introduced to Alterate Picking from very early one. Alternate picking seems to be the most logical form of picking to get around the fretboard. Well is it? In this short article I will highlight different forms of picking. Part one will deal with Alternate Picking and Down and Upward Strokes. In part two I will look into Sweep Picking and Tremolo Picking.

                      Alternate Picking:

It is the from of picking where you alternate your strokes of the plectrum: Most commonly players tend to play any note with a downstroke when this note falls on the beat. The upstroke is commonly used for the notes which fall on the off beat.
Think of youir beats in a bar as follows:  1  And  2  And 3  And  4  And    any of the numbers are played with a downstoke of the plectrum and any of the “And” are played with the upstoke of the plectrum.

Alternate Picking is also used when skipping strings: Most players will use a downstroke for when they skip strings regardless of the pickingpattern which went on before.

                    Down Strokes:

They are being used, as mentioned before, for any notes which fall on the  beat. It is possible to use down stokes all the time, as it gives you a different sound. Try it on your low E and A string, you may like the sound of it.  Down strokes tend to sound “heavier” compared to the ligther feel of the upstroke. Ideally you should use whatever pickstyle fits the music best.
Downstrokes are also used for the downsweep in Sweep Picking, but I will deal with Sweep Picking in part two of this article.

                  Up Strokes:

Usually used, as mentioned before, for any notes which fall on the off beat. Up Strokes are also being used in the upsweep in Sweep Picking. I will deal with this form of picking in part two of this article.

Part Two will deal with Sweep Picking and Tremolo Picking.

Hope to see you soon again,