The Unique Guitar Tone of Up-Stroke Picking...



Beginner guitar players often start out picking all notes using only a down-stroke motion. Initially, this will feel like it's the most comfortable way to pick notes on the guitar. 

Over time, the guitarist develops more skill and begins incorporating alternate picking. However, very few players explore the sound of dedicated up-stroke picking.

Generally up-stroke picking is best avoided early on. It can lead to timing and coordination issues with your flow of notes. This type of up-picking will also make it more difficult to increase your picking speed. However, once more skill is attained, (via down and alternate methods), up-stroke picking can offer guitar players a new /unique sound.

This lesson will help you develop the other half of the picking equation – picking only up-stokes. The "Up-Stroke" picking technique introduces a very different guitar sound, and it helps you increase your picking options as well as, train you how to improve your overall timing when playing with up-strokes.


HAND POSITION:
Gaining control and mastery over your guitar picking starts by making sure that your pick hand is in the best possible position to pick the correct string at the right time. While this may seem obvious, very small changes in your hand position can make a big difference in your ability to pick accurately and to get a good overall guitar sound.

Make certain that your hand setup is properly aligned. Essentially, if you've already developed decent picking hand ability for down-stroke and alternate picking, up-stroke picking will be easier to attain from there.

NOTE: Upstroke picking motion should only be added into your playing after learning to play effectively with alternate picking.


DEVELOPING TECHNIQUE / SOUND:
The advantage that we have through performing all up-stroke picking is the more dynamic sound produced by the repetitive up-picking attacks.

The louder effect that this style creates manages to produce even more impact upon the string sound. However, it comes at a technical price. The overall technique of performing this effect can be challenging.

Use the following exercises to help develop the feel and technical proficiency of this technique.

UP-STROKE EXERCISE #1).
Up-pick all notes in the "group of 3" patterns below.



Developing the Up-stroke requires a high degree of accuracy. Once the up-picking motion shown in exercise one begins to feel comfortable, move on to adding more fretted notes as shown in exercise #2.



UP-STROKE EXERCISE #2).
Up-pick all tones across these arpeggios.


The study shown above outlines the shape of "A7, D and A major" chords. The idea is to generate an even flow across the chord tones, while taking advantage of the more dynamic sound of the up-stroke picking method.

Next, we'll add more of a scale approach to the technique. Linear single-string playing can really come alive through more string to pick contact offered by way of, "up-stroke picking."

UP-STROKE EXERCISE #3).
Up-pick all tones across the melodic line shown below.





CONCLUSION:
While down-picking and alternate picking certainly have their place for creating specific dynamics and for accuracy (plus speed), the technique of performing up-stroke picking also has its advantages. The loud dynamic of an up-stroke pick attack can really have your notes jump out at the listener.

And, the up-stroke pick attack produces a strong pick grind against the guitar string, (so long as the pick is held at a slightly increased angle). This creates an even greater effect of the pick to string sound and contact.

While this method of "up-stroke" picking may not work in every lick, or for every scale run, it can be a great alternative in many playing situations. The idea would be to study it, develop the skill and test it for when you feel it might be a good alternative to your standard /more common use of alternate or down-stroke picking.

Keep in mind that it's all about the sound and the dynamics you generate.

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