Learn Two Flatpicking Techniques

Flatpicking Guitar Basics Cover

Posted by Andy Ellis

You can’t beat a flatpick for playing crisp melodies, punchy riffs, and fast, fluid solos. But learning to wield a pick can be tricky—especially when you’re targeting individual strings, rather than simply strumming chords. In this lesson, we’ll explore essential flatpicking techniques that will give you the skill and confidence to graduate from “strummer” to “picker.”

ex 1_2 flatpicking guitar basics
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The Downstroke

Plucking notes with downstrokes yields a fat, full tone with maximum volume and projection. To get a feel for this, try Example 1, a riff inspired by Roy Orbison’s classic, “Oh, Pretty Woman.” After plucking a note, raise your pick from the string so it can vibrate freely. But don’t drift too far away—it’s important to hover near the strings so you can quickly attack the next note.

Alternate Picking

There’s a limit to how fast even the best picker can play using all downstrokes. The secret to speed lies in mixing upstrokes and downstrokes, and the easiest way to get started with this is by strictly alternating the two moves: every downstroke is followed by an upstroke regardless of which string you’re playing or a phrase’s rhythm (see Example 2).

Excerpted from Flatpicking Guitar Basics

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