Picking while soloing


rasmus1610
Registered User
Joined: 01/15/17
Posts: 2
rasmus1610
Registered User
Joined: 01/15/17
Posts: 2
03/02/2017 11:23 am

Hey guys,

I'm actually pretty new to the guitar (working my way through fundamentals I which isn't too difficult) but I like to solo a bit with the minor pentatonic scales to some blues tunes.

I'm wondering how I should pick while soloing. Alternate picking or just normal "downstroke" picking...Is there even a consens about it or is everybody doing it like he likes or even changing (alternate picking for fast things and normal picking for everything else).

Would be great if somebody could help me here.


# 1
IstvanPetrie
Registered User
Joined: 10/15/16
Posts: 33
IstvanPetrie
Registered User
Joined: 10/15/16
Posts: 33
03/02/2017 1:13 pm

Hi rasmus,

I'm not sure there's a true consensus. Personally, I try to use alternate picking where possible when I'm running through scales and soloing, but there are sequences where this might not be the most efficient way of playing the notes.

For example, if during a solo I had a pause and was then running through a new passage, I wouldn't start with an upstroke just because my previous sequence of notes in the solo ended on a downstroke - I'd view this sequence as a new starting point and start with a downstroke. However, if starting with a downstroke was leaving me out of position for my next passage, I might intentionally start with an upstroke.

I wouldn't think it's really good practice doing all downstrokes unless you're looking for a particular sound that this might give you.

More advanced players (than me) can do sweep picking for some fast soloing which is effectively playing a sequence of downstrokes or upstrokes.

Hope that made sense!


# 2
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,408
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,408
03/02/2017 3:20 pm
Originally Posted by: rasmus1610

I'm wondering how I should pick while soloing. Alternate picking or just normal "downstroke" picking...Is there even a consens about it or is everybody doing it like he likes or even changing (alternate picking for fast things and normal picking for everything else).

In general, you have the right idea. If it sounds good & you are making the music you like, then it's fine to use downstrokes. Until you get to a phrase that requires alternate picking in order to make it happen.

However, upstrokes can sound slightly different from downstrokes. And sometimes even though alternate picking isn't required to get a lick done, it might be the most musical way to approach it.

I encourage students to learn & practice both techniques! :) It gives you more tools & options for creating different sounds & approaches. Sometimes I'll try a phrase, riff, lick with all alternate picking & it sounds fine. But then I'll try it with all or mostly upstrokes (or downstrokes) & it sounds much better! Sometimes vice versa.

Being able to pick it a number different ways gives you more musical options. Hope this helps! Have fun!


Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 3
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
03/02/2017 10:56 pm

Just adding to what IstvanPetrie and Chris said; there really should be a 'rule' about when and how you should alternate pick or pick in any other way. You're making sound and it should sound good. However you get there with picking, do it.

Keeping that in mind, adding to Chris, different stroke directions have a different timbers and can matter on how the solo sounds. Even in rhythms, you can tell. I was listening to the Aerosmith's song 'Toys in the Attic' and noticing, even after having played it in the past, that the rhythm is not a consistent up or down pattern. I mean, it follows a pattern in terms of 'up-down-down-up-down' strumming but the same chord could be upstroked or downstroked. It's what makes the riff cool. I know, not a solo example but an example nontheless.

To be honest, I've never much thought about 'how; I did it. I just played how it felt. If you buy in to too much 'I must play with this technique', you're gonna miss some cool stuff. In the 80's, I heard sooo many times that 'you must alternate pick everything'. I loved alternate picked shredding. I did it a lot. Just didn't care if I was 'true' to the technique. Only that what I did sounded good.....cuz that's the point.

So, when you're soloing stuff. Play with it a bit. Have fun with playing with it. You're gonna crash-n-burn. But fun while doing it and you'll find out about how it all works.


# 4
rasmus1610
Registered User
Joined: 01/15/17
Posts: 2
rasmus1610
Registered User
Joined: 01/15/17
Posts: 2
03/03/2017 8:28 am

Thank you all :)

I think I'm a bit too dogmatic ;) That's how I learned my other instruments but maybe with the guitar I can experiment a little bit more


# 5
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,408
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,408
03/03/2017 2:11 pm

You're welcome!

Originally Posted by: rasmus1610

I think I'm a bit too dogmatic ;) That's how I learned my other instruments but maybe with the guitar I can experiment a little bit more

The thing is that there is probably a best way to do any given musical passage. But it might be a different way for each individual player. Especially since there are mulitple options on mechanical technique & timbre results.

Learn it both ways! It's fun! It's a great excuse to practice more guitar. :)


Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 6
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
03/03/2017 2:32 pm

Wait until you get to legato techniques and enter the debates of what notes should be picked or be played legato :).

Joking aside...what alternate picking did for me was allow my playing to sound more rhythmic and more fluid. Playing with all downstrokes can give you playing a more choppy or stacatto sound. That may very well be the sound you are going for at times, but as others said, it's good to have options!!

Jeff pointed out about how the picking direction impacts the timber of the note. This is where it can make you playing more rhythmic. Notes played with a downstroke tend to get more emphasis. I imagine it like I'm hitting a drum harder to emphasize a beat...and I more naturally do that on downstrokes. The up down of the alternate picking helps me keep the feel of the rhythm, like I'm strumming chords.

I never sat down and said "OK, I'm going to learn how to alternate pick". Way back I tried learning some licks and the only way I could do it was by alternate picking, so I just naturally started doing that. So yeah, don't worry about any dogma, just do what feels right to you. Try some alternatives if you feel the need and go for it.


# 7

Please register with a free account to post on the forum.