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Pick: All Downstrokes, or alternate?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MammaryVest, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. MammaryVest


    Oct 18, 2006
    Stoneham, MA
    Pretty simple. Some people like Tom Peterson say that alternate picking is "for the birds" while other players practice it exclusively. Personally, I think that with experience, you can easily make your alternate strokes sound consistent. What does everyone else think?
  2. robnatt


    Sep 14, 2005
    I play mostly with picks. Downstrokes work well for a lot of stuff, but for speed, you need to be proficient with alternating pickstrokes.
  3. speedkills


    Jan 10, 2008
    What he said.

    Seriously, it's hard for me not to alternate pick now...Even when I play slower parts, it's very natural for me now to alternate.

    I guess it would be like asking someone who plays fingerstyle to just use their index finger.
  4. I alternate.

    I don't think I could play all downstrokes if I tried.
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    alternate strokes doubles your speed ... a very handy trick if you want to play really fast and clean ... if you practice it a lot you can get 32nd and 64th notes ...

  6. EduardoK


    Jun 28, 2004
    Although I mainly play fingerstyle I've been a huge Steve Swallow fan for years. His tone is amazing. He only plays with a pick, I am not sure if he ever alternates but he mostly uses UPSTOKES. I find that's not only uncommon but also very interesting!!!! As you know Mr. Swallow plays jazz and started on an upright. Rock might need a different aproach...Just my 2รง
  7. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    Playing strictly downstrokes can sort of lend itself stylistically to, say, "punk"-type lines with a lot of chugging straight 8ths in them. Other than that it's pretty limiting.
  8. jschwalls


    Sep 4, 2007
    Savannah GA
    I always practiced both and fingerstyle...
    I can usually tell what style an original track was done with and I prefer to emulate that as much as possible..

    My practice routine was always divided into 3 parts.... I would all my exercises with fingerstyle, down-picking only, and finally alternate picking.. On more than one occasion I have been asked by producers to play an exact bass part with the three different ways and they would decide which they liked best...
  9. Use both depending on what sound you want.
  10. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    All downstrokes give a more consistant sound in my oppinion. you can get very close with alternating but there will always be a difference... i use a mix of both.. I've done this so much I don't even think about it any more...

    I also play fingerstyle, slap, tapping, pinch harmonics, double thumb, (rest for upright) jazz pizz, classical pizz, classical bowing (for those who don't know there are tons of bowing techniques)... honestly, I'd say tat using a pick, electric fingerstyle, and one finger jazz pizz are the only one's I claim to be proficient at... I haven't even touched jazz bowing or that crazy playing electric with a drumstick thing...

    but after a long post the point is that though some of those techniques may be close to eachother none are the same and essentially are not really interchangable...

    sorry for the long rammbling post... it's 230AM... and now i'm going to bed
  11. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    alternating, usually... downstroke-exclusive, sometimes.
  12. Mharris


    Sep 25, 2007
    Missoula Montana
    I went on a pick-a-thon for a few months, and it opened up a new world for me ... anyway, I found I totally suck at downstrokes. I can only play half as fast, but for what I was doing, I thought the alternate picking sounding pretty killer. I've since went back to concentrating on my fingers because I noticed I was starting to get weak :(

    Anyway, when I do pick up a pick I continue to play alternate picking, unless the sound really calls for downstrokes (or a pick for that matter).

    I say it's all up to the artist. After all, music is art. Do it how ya do it. :bassist:
  13. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    I started on guitar so alternate picking and using a pick was the way I went with the bass. I can do fingerstyle but mostly stick to picking because of the clean tone I can get with it.
  14. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    Know any guitarists who limit themselves to downstrokes? :eyebrow:

    I thought not. ;)
  15. My default pick style is actually to use all upstrokes. I find I have a lot more precise control that way, and I can get a punchier sound.

    But for certain faster rhythmic touches I'll thrown in an alternating bit...
  16. Thunder Pulse

    Thunder Pulse

    May 12, 2007
    Metal rhythm guitarists.
  17. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I meant to say accomplished guitarists. :bag:
  18. XtreO


    Jan 2, 2008
    You should always alternate pick. You don't play many chords anyway, do you?
  19. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I think what Tom Petersson says is probably right.. for Tom Petersson (if you play 12 string bass, upstrokes will sound vastly different to downstrokes)

    plenty of better musicians than him would disagree though... ultimately it's up to the individual to find what's best for them I spose
  20. El-Bob

    El-Bob Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    Hamilton, ON

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