What about my pick? When do I pick up or down?

Pick in hand hotlicks pack

I’ve had chops for a very long time. I had McLaughlin type chops since I was 17, if by chops you mean the ability to play very, very fast. Yeah. But because that was not an issue for me, being able to play MUSICALLY was more important. PHRASING and using dynamics, which is something most of us guitar players don’t spend a lot of time with. This means knowing which side of the pick to use and when.

Playing music is so much more than being able to play fast. The notion that you play with economy is great. But the notion that in going to the next string you should play it with a down stroke because it’s better use of economic movement is just not something I personally subscribe to. The direction of the pick alters the sound of the string. A downstroke has a stronger and more pronounced sound. It’s definite and strong, at least it is for me and most people I know. Upstroke is lighter. Alternate picking gives you a natural flow, strong-weak pulse. Easier to play 8th notes or 16th notes with the proper rhythmic pulse. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and, or One e and ah, Two e and ah,  . . . or triplets gets more interesting. Down, up, up, Down, up, up. Or even Down, up, down, Down, up, down.


In MUSIC its about rhythmic phrasing, not necessarily what is easier or more convenient for the guitar. Yes you might play faster sweeping or going to a downstroke every time you go to a new string. And often it’ll sound cool and interesting, but will it be phrased with the proper rhythmic pulse? Going to another string changes the timbre. Up and down strokes change the strings timbre. The amount of force used in both hands effect the timbre. All of these factors are important when playing the guitar.

henry@henryguitar.com© Henry Robinett 2020