Alternate Picking Exercise – Descending – Guitar Studio
Alternate Picking Exercise – Descending

Alternate Picking Exercise – Descending

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Alternate Picking Exercise - Descending

This exercise is just like Alternate Picking Exercise – Ascending but this time we are descending.

This exercise works on:
Dexterity – in your fret hand by using all 4 of your fingers;
Dexterity – in your pick hand by using alternate picking;
Coordination – by combining these complex exercises at the same time.
Musical Knowledge – because these are the notes of the Phrygian mode.

This exercise should be strictly alternate picked, starting with a downstroke and ending with an upstroke every time.  Go very slowly until you get it right.  If you make mistakes, back it down a notch and concentrate on making sure that the proper frets are fretted and the pick is properly upstroked or downstroked at the right times.

It will become evident why its called “alternate picking” on notes 6 and 7.  Lets take a very close look at the physics of picking.
Try to think of this exercise as being on a “set” of 2 strings.  So the area that is physically between the 2 strings will be the “inside” of the “set” and anywhere beside the “set” of 2 strings will be the “outside”.  So physically there will be an “inside” and an “outside” of the “set” of 2 strings.

The 1st note is a downstroke that is picked starting on the “inside” of the 1st string, and as the pick goes across the string is ends up on the “outside” of the “set”.  It is now in a perfect place to begin the upstroke of the 2nd note.  Since it has the smallest distance to travel in order to accomplish whats next.  You simply drag the pick back across the string for the 2nd note which is an upstroke.  Now again the pick is in the perfect place because it has the smallest distance to travel in order to play the 3rd note which is a downstroke.  All you have to do is drag the pick across the string and the 3rd note downstroke is played.  Now in order to play the 4th note you much switch strings.  But your pick is still in the most economical place to be considering the last note it played and the next note it needs to play.  So you simply raise the pick up over the 1st string so it doesn’t get picked and you drag the pick over the 2nd string and play the 4th note which is an upstroke.  So far everything is straightforward. But hang with me, because I’m about to get to the important part in the next set of notes.

So we’ve just played the 4th note, we’re on the 2nd string and we just played an upstroke, and the next note is on the 1st string and it’s a downstroke so the pick is in the most economical place it can be considering the last note it played and the next note it needs to play.  So you simply raise the pick up over the 2nd string so it doesn’t get picked and you drag the pick over the 1st string to play the 5th note downstroke.  The pick is again in the most economical place it needs to be because you only need to drag it back over the 1st string to play the 6th note which is an upstroke.

So now the pick is “inside” the set of strings but instead of doing the most economical thing and playing another upstroke, we actually raise the pick up over the 2nd string so it doesn’t get picked and play the 7th note as a downstroke.  This actually makes the pick travel farther before the next note is played.  The pick travels from the “outside” of the “set” and then starts again on the “outside” of the “set” in order to make sure the next note is a downstroke.  Why would we do this?  Short answer: To stay constant and our keep our picking rhythm steady.

The most economical way to pick would be to play the upstroke on the 1st string and then an upstroke on the 2nd string.  But if we did this the our playing would be “choppier” and less “fluid” because it throws off the rhythm of the pick hand. (This is not necessarily a bad thing!)

Alternate picking is just a way to keep our playing more constant when we need it.

Until next time, Keep on Rocking!

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