I am practicing major scales on guitar(2 notes per string). Going from String Low E to high E, I move my pick downward for 1st note and upward for 2nd note of the string. My question is what should be the direction(upward/downward) of the pick when I play the scales reverse(from String High E to Low E) ?

  • What's the 2 notes per string scale pattern? – Tim Apr 3 '17 at 10:23
  • @TIm its just the basic major scale pattern – Rahul Salgare Apr 3 '17 at 13:08
  • I don't know of a major scale pattern with only two notes per string - unless you are meaning major pentatonic, which can easily be picked using alternate picking. And the down/up continues providing you only play each note once, not the highest twice. But if you're talking pentatonic, it changes the thrust of the question. – Tim Apr 3 '17 at 17:30
  • @Tim sry I forgot to mention pentatonic. you are right. Bt its not only with the scale. any time when I play something from high E to low E, I get confused which stroke to do. Its not like I cant play comfortably...I just fear that I wouldn't end up practicing wrong. – Rahul Salgare Apr 3 '17 at 17:48
  • There's usually a 50:50 with picking. Not a lot of choice. Up or down. And certainly no correct/incorrect. Two players may well do the same phrase in at least two different ways. Part of the fun is finding your own way. (I already said that!) You must give yourself every option, and you'll be a better player for it. Or, get a teacher, who may well say, do it my way - not that it's been thoroughly thought out, so you're non the wiser. No right or wrong, just differences, so get experimenting. And even your own 'rules' are likely to have to vary with each new phrase you play! – Tim Apr 3 '17 at 17:54

This is something you really need to sort out for yourself. There are going to be anomalies in picking direction at some point in whatever anyone chooses to play. There will be times when the well revered alternate pick routine just needs to be changed, albeit for one stroke.

Part of the fun of learning something is to find your own way, rather than be guided by others. This is one such instance. Try alternatives, and if it works for you, stick with it.

  • One of the technique issues I've had to correct in students, especially ones that were self taught, was their having problems with consistent strumming or fast / clean picking. In these cases the students had learned to aim a pick stroke or strum by following a rhythm pattern using a double down or double up picking without being able to keep a steady up down pattern. The technical issues usually cleared up after they worked getting a regular pattern in their hand. This is why I advocate that beginners learn a regular steady picking and strumming pattern first, before working the anomalies. – Alphonso Balvenie Apr 3 '17 at 5:22
  • @AlphonsoBalvenie - I certainly agree with the problem in strumming rhythms, and have had to sort out many that occur with this self-taught concept. However, with individual note picking, the problem may well not be solved by alternate picking, as is is more dependent on which string particular notes are played on - and that can vary as alternative strings can be used, and often, the pick takes the wrong direction for the next note on a string on the wrong side. As a self learner, I spent hours working out best pick sequences, - more often than not, they worked better without alternate picking – Tim Apr 3 '17 at 6:50

In many beginning techniques the student is taught to keep a steady down - up pattern with the pick, to develop the muscle memory of the regular rhythm. Phrases should always start with a down pick.

To work on this, you should keep playing whatever the next direction of the pick is until you end the phrase, no double picking even on string changes (no up-ups or down-downs).

When starting the scale again on the high E, you should start with a down pick and continue the down-up pattern to the end.

EDIT: for more clarity.

The technique work I'm describing works rhythmic muscle memory of the down - up motion, specifically to build a regular motion and avoid attempts to double down or double up.

You can go up the strings with an up - down pattern as long as you keep the rhythm steady and don't double pick. You can also work just up-down, the point is to have each pick stroke alternate.

Eventually players will be able to choose whether to switch to up or down picking in a certain passage.

  • But I think up-down pattern is comfortable for me starting from high E. So if I go with up-down instead of down-up will I have a problem while learning advanced stuff or playing at high tempo? – Rahul Salgare Apr 3 '17 at 4:54
  • too long for a comment, I edited the answer. The slow down or inability to have a fast tempo comes in if a student has taught themselves "false" ups or downs. I usually teach the regular up down pattern until the student has it steady, then add in down-down-up picking for triplets and 6/8 picking. – Alphonso Balvenie Apr 3 '17 at 5:14
  • Taking a strum pattern like that in 'All my Lovin'' (Beatles),(12/8) alternate sounds so much better, and it's easier to execute. Any other sounds stilted. It just needs a new thought idea that the second and fourth 'beats'of the bar have accented up stums. – Tim Apr 3 '17 at 6:55
  • @Tim I prefer the accented up strum on 4 for accompanying Jigs in 6/8 time as opposed to the more traditional down down up pattern, too. – Alphonso Balvenie Apr 3 '17 at 20:01

Practise it down up strokes Practise it up down strokes Then practise it starting on each of your four LH fingers. There will be different numbers of notes on the strings. Then you'll be ready for anything.

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