Up-Picking Overview | Hub Guitar

Up-Picking Overview

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Up Picking Hi, I'm Grey and this is Hub Guitar. Let's have a look at the up-picking technique. I would not describe this technique as a foundational guitar picking technique that you need to practice for many hours. I would think of it as an exercise to become more aware of how you pick, and the different effects between downpicking and up picking, and hopefully to improve your picking hand accuracy and consistency by selecting a narrow skillset and honing it to perfection. On the page below are some specific examples of up picking exercises. It's not so important that you use these specific exercises, but they are given for you to follow. Up picking is a great technique to use to play notes that happen on the up-beat, the "and" of 1, 2, 3, and 4. [demonstration]

How to Up-pick

  1. Pick the strings using upstrokes only.
  2. While not as efficient as alternate picking, this technique is great for building accuracy and dexterity—and has other uses as well.

Up-picking means to play using only or mostly upstrokes. It is not really a special style of picking that you need to worry about. But it can be useful to try to play exercises and etudes with only up-picking, and it can be useful to think about which situations make an upstroke more suitable than a downstroke. The technique comprises one-half of the alternate picking technique. This method of picking up notes is especially useful to keep in mind when you are going from a low string to a higher one. Using an upward picking pattern can help you to target the string more accurately because the direction of the picking hand is reversed and the downwards kinetic energy is interrupted.

Strict Up-Picking Example

Up-picking exercise in a contemporary musical style.

Up-Picking for Syncopation

Up-picking exercise in a contemporary musical style.

Mixed Up-Picking

Here are a few examples (with notes) of situations where strong up-picking can come in useful. Advanced players intuitively learn to recognize situations suited to an upstroke or to reversing the normal alternate picking pattern.

Up-picking exercise in a contemporary musical style.

Key Exercises

  • Try playing all of the Alternate Picking Exercises with upstrokes only.
  • Pick a simple etude, preferably one that is not fast and not too full of notes, and play through it with only upstrokes. There are many classical etudes for pick style guitar to choose from.
As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

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