Alternate Picking


Alternate picking

Alternate picking is one of the most important ways of playing single note lines on guitar using a pick. It's used more often than economy picking (also called sweep picking).


How it works is as follows: a line of notes is played using a downstroke, then an upstroke, then downstroke, then upstroke. This alternation between down- and upstroke is always continued, even if you move to a different string and when you skip a string.


There are three basic advantages to alternate picking:

- Because you are always alternating, it's possible to solo without having to think about choosing a downstroke or upstroke for the next note.

- The flow of notes that you get using alternate picking can sound very stable, especially if you do not pick too hard (if you pick too hard, the notes will sound snappy or twangy).

- It's relatively easy to learn how to pick everything this way, even if you are a beginner playing everything as a downstroke. After some practice, it will become second nature.


There are also disadvantages to alternate picking:

- Because you have to move the pick into position to be able to play the next up- or downstroke, playing notes on adjiecent strings can take more movement than strictly necessary.

It's not the most economical picking technique available (except when you're playing on one string). If you want to go for the highest possible playing speed, you should check out economy picking.

- If you always play everthing using only downstrokes or upstrokes, it will take some getting used to.


guitarhow lesson upstroke alternate picking
...and upstroke (on that same G-string).

Here's a good way to practice alternate picking: play one note on each string, moving down the strings and than up again, while picking in a down-up-down-up pattern.

Then, do the same with two notes per string. Then three notes per string, then four notes per string. Just play open strings; the left hand is not used in these exercizes.

Make sure that you are always continuing the pattern, no smuggling! Happy picking everyone!


guitarhow lesson downstroke alternate pickingDownstroke (on the G-string)...