All down picking

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by bluesdoc, May 14, 2006.


  1. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    12,989
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    I assume that most of us use alternate and sweep picking. Occasionally I see pro level players who also do a lot of all down picking. When I try this, I'm incredibly slow. Not like half the rate of alternate picking - more like 1/8 the rate. I'm going to woodshed this 'technique' as there are situations in which it may work better (or sound better) but sheesh, it's a slow start. Anyone have any take on this??

    jon
     
  2. ivers

    ivers Member

    Messages:
    3,145
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2005
    Location:
    Norway
    While I don't have a silver bullet that would get anyone past the 'slow start' bit, I've practiced isolating down or up-picking a lot, and what I used to do was to choose a pair of strings (usually the top ones) on which the left hand would play chromatically (that is, play symmetrically, so you skip one note in the chromatic scale, unless it's on the G and B strings), like 1234, change string, 1234, move up a fret, 4321, change string back, 4321, move down a fret, repeat.

    (Got that? Great!)

    My right hand would then play various figures that involved some repetition of either down or up, for example 4 down, change string, 4 up, up a fret, 4 down, change strings back, 4 up, down a fret, repeat.

    Or.

    2 down, 2 up, change string, 2 down, 2 up, 2 down, 2 up, change back, 2 down, 2 up, down a fret, repeat.

    I've also done 3 up, one down, etc, or any permutation imaginable ( of course also only down or only up).

    If you think downpicking exclusively is a biat**, only up-pickin is for me even worse!

    Another thing you could try, is 'reversed sweeping', which means playing an arpeggio, but using up-picking when ascending, then downpicking for descending.
     
  3. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    12,989
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Thanks, ivers! Mmm, gotta go practice. Be back in a couple of years...... :eek: ;)

    jon
     
  4. ES350

    ES350 Member

    Messages:
    571
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2006
    as you probably know, both T Bone and Charlie Christian used only downstrokes...definitely a different tone, and your timing changes as well.
     
  5. lhallam

    lhallam Member

    Messages:
    15,539
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Location:
    Lost
    Downstrokes are similar to rest strokes in classical gtr. It is a fuller sound.

    I typically incorporate exclusive down strokes on slower melodic passages and when going to a higher string.
     
  6. Mita

    Mita Member

    Messages:
    99
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    Germany
    Rest Stroke Picking ( also known as Gypsy Picking) also uses downpicking as often as possible even when jumping from one string to another.
    Greetz
    Mita
     
  7. HammyD

    HammyD Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,660
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2002
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Hey Jon, A few months ago I started practiing with an inexpensive jazz box using all down strokes and just my thumb. I found that, for my style at least, it provides me with less volume but much more control over dynamics. You work harder at first but the result is worth it. Same as I find 25-1/2" scale guitars more difficult to play, but my playing is better with less wankage. Foreced to think before I leap (or stumble) I tend to be more melodic.
     
  8. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Messages:
    14,061
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    Back when John Abercrombie used to use a pick, he pretty much used all downstrokes for that exact reason, that it forced him to slow down.
     
  9. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    12,352
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2003
    Location:
    western ma
    Doc from the Bad Brains uses all downstrokes for his power chords. The crushing results speak for themselves.
     
  10. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

    Messages:
    14,122
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Location:
    MD.
    And if I'm not mistaken, T Bone played almost exclusively with his thumb! Incredible!
     
  11. RichardB

    RichardB Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2004
    Some observations wrt jazz and gtr:

    I am of the opinion that downstrokes impart a stiffness and erode some of a players swing especially on 8th note lines.....The up/down motion is the loosest and most relaxed sounding tech for pick playing...I used to wonder why Russell Malone sounded so stiff to me on record, then I heard/saw him in person and it was patently obvious why: He uses mostly downstrokes except for the very quickest lines, and this forces him to "change gears" when he "shifts" (and actually changes technique) from slow to fast and it sounds stiff and unnatural...All the other aspects of his playing are good, but this aspect sticks out like a sore thumb to me....Also if you listen to Wes, he used mostly downstrokes and to me his articulation of the triplet based 8th is pretty flat and the swing suffers for it, especially on brighter tunes...
     
  12. ES350

    ES350 Member

    Messages:
    571
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2006
    I hear what you're saying, esp about Wes (although you almost hate to say it). Then again, my original observation was limited to 30's-40's swing and the use of downstrokes...it can impart a period flavor and it is a limiting factor to what you can play.
     
  13. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    12,989
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Thanks guys. I forgot about this thread...... didn't get 'instant email notification' for some reason.

    Anyway, for me, it'd just be an alternative for some of the rock stuff I do. I could not play without alt picking, and I also do all fingers and hybrid picking. It's just that I never tried all down and for some passages in the material I play, it seems to work better. I just want to get a bit more natural with it. Still fairly foreign, but less so since doing it more.

    One of my guitar heroes, Garth Webber, uses downstroking sometimes and it always impressed me that someone with his chops, esp using alt picking, would do a lot of down stroke picking. I'm beginning to understand as it's just another part of the palette, especially rhythmically, that can be part of one's arsenal.

    jon
     
  14. ricoh

    ricoh Member

    Messages:
    1,199
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    surfside fla
    Back when I was playing in the Village {78-80} there was a blues guy named Bobby Ross that played that way. It was a great sound and style....very concise and clean. He was fast too............a real guitar slinger

    Rico
     
  15. Shawn Tubbs

    Shawn Tubbs Member

    Messages:
    131
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    That is a picking technique commonly used by Gypsy Jazz players. It allows for much greater volume when playing single notes. I've been at that technique playing Gypsy Jazz for a little over a year now. I haven't really used that technique as much playing electric but I could see how it would create a fatter tone and is certainly worth working at. It's a fairly big mountain to climb. It's all muscle memory. Your muscles are used to the up down tech. . It's a totaly different muscle memory when doing all down strokes. The thing to do is practice the down stroke tech then switch right back to up down so you don't over develope one technique over the other and you'll be that much more rounded in your over all right hand technique. Just be patient and realize it wont happen over night.You'll sound great when you get it down and all your guitar homies will be pissed off trying to figure out why your tone is so much fatter than theres. Sorry for all the typos and spelt wrongs.

    Good luck!!
     
  16. trisonic

    trisonic Member

    Messages:
    13,161
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2003
    Location:
    NJ out of England
    I never thought about this but now I realize I use almost all downpicking unless I want a special effect.

    Now you tell me! No wonder I'm all fingers and thumbs nowadays - 'course the arthritis doesn't help any....

    Best, Pete.
     
  17. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

    Messages:
    20,237
    Joined:
    May 20, 2003
    Location:
    Home of the ex-world champion Cavs
    I don't agree. I love Wes' feel. He actually does use alternate thumb picking on the faster tunes. Listen to Canadian Sunset for example. His technique was indeed limited on faster tunes due to his preference for the sound of thumb downstrokes but I still prefer his feel to just about any else's so using him as a bad example is...Well...A bad example!

    Another data point...There are basists out there who slap with all thumb downstrokes amazingly fast. It's possible to develop this technique. IMO, whether you swing or not is more a matter of personal commitment to time and rhythmic principals and less one of pick technique.
     

Share This Page