I'm having the toughest time learning this lick because I don't know if inside picking is being used or a double down stroke. This conundrum seems to be present in guitar riffs that use hammer on/pull offs instead of picking again. For example:

  1. He picks the B string using a down stroke
  2. Does he use another down stroke when going to the G string, or does he pick the G string from the inside using an up stroke?

I've slowed the video down but still can't get his picking pattern. I want to learn this common lick the right way, if I practice incorrectly I would be wasting my time. Please help!

  • It seems quite clear from the video. However, what makes you think this is the only way to do it? The learning process, without a teacher, is often hit and miss, but is made better with experimentation, rather than learning stuff parrot-fashion. This is not a rant, nor criticism; purely words of wisdom through (sometimes bitter) experience!
    – Tim
    Oct 18, 2016 at 15:51
  • @Tim "it seems quite clear from the video"? So then, care to explain how he's picking?
    – reddish
    Oct 18, 2016 at 15:56

2 Answers 2


The basic ingredient of the lick is this:

B -15-12----12--------
G -------14----14-12--
   D (p) D  U  D (p)

where D stands for "downstroke", (p) for "pull-off", and U for "upstroke".

The reason why this works well is that your right hand keeps moving in a regular pattern. The pull-offs give your hand the time to move back up, and so your right-hand movement remains constant. If you picked each note (i.e., no pull-offs) then you would get downstrokes and upstrokes at exactly the same notes as with that pattern (the pull-offs replace the upstrokes).

However, this is not the only reasonably way to play that lick, and if you find a way that works and that sounds good, it can't be wrong. It's especially important to get the timing right. Try and practice all possibilities that seem reasonable to you. It's only after having put in some practice time that you'll be able to judge which way works best for you.

  • thank you for your reply. So you're saying that repeating the downstroke twice (as in your great diagram) is better than doing an inside pick in order to "alternate" (an upstroke instead of a downstroke)?
    – reddish
    Oct 18, 2016 at 21:19
  • @reddish: Well, it is one way that works well for many people. You can do it differently, but then you'll have a more irregular hand movement. It's very subjective and you simply have to try all options before you can decide what works best for you.
    – Matt L.
    Oct 19, 2016 at 7:53

Seems like the right way is never to repeat the same stroke. In other words, if there is an upstroke, then a downstroke should follow, never two continuous downstrokes or upstroke as this would defeat the purpose of "alternate" picking. Strokes should only be repeated when doing sweeps or economy picking.

Found this guys with great info:

  • That's not what the guy in the other video is doing (see my answer). Also, this definition of "alternate picking" makes most sense if you pick every note. If you use legate (hammer-ons and pull-offs) things can be different.
    – Matt L.
    Oct 18, 2016 at 20:03

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