Back in the early 80’s I would always try to alternate pick strokes down/up or up/down.
By the 90’s I incorporated sweep picking down and up (even if only two adjacent strings) along with inside picking.
Recently I’ve been working on clawhammer banjo – it’s all down picking.
You make your hand into a claw shape with your middle finger as the claw. As you do a downstroke with the claw, rest your thumb on the top string. When you pull your hand off the thumb picks the string. You get two notes for each downstroke.
It’s given me a much stronger downstroke than I had before.
Check out the videos here: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=93830F6F47684C49
The first is a nice bluesy example of clawhammer, the other 3 are jazz guitar videos where the players are doing a lot of downstrokes in the solos, IMO. Definitely more than I would have before I played clawhammer.
It seems the great players have strong downpicking techniques. Barney Kessel also did a good up stroke and finger-picking as needed.
Thanks to Ed Levy for the inspiration to write this post.
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