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Old 03-10-2013, 02:54 AM   #1
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Ska upstrokes/method

how do you play ska the best? I know you are supposed to do upstrokes, but I can't get the rhytm going. When I play downstrokes I can play fast, but upstrokes feels awkward and slow. What is the best method?
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Old 03-10-2013, 06:06 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by pushbuttonfour
how do you play ska the best? I know you are supposed to do upstrokes, but I can't get the rhytm going. When I play downstrokes I can play fast, but upstrokes feels awkward and slow. What is the best method?

The reason upstrokes are used a lot in ska is that generally chords are played on the off beat, so the upstroke effectively comes after an imaginary downstroke - it's supposed to help with the rhythm and keep you locked into the beat.

Chords also sound different when played with an upstroke, and if you try playing with a downstroke for the chords that are generally played with an upstroke, it'll sound different.

Anyway, apply some kind of logic as to which direction you strum. The most common way to decide would be to take the smallest subdivision of notes in the bar, and for every note that starts on an odd note value use a downstroke, for every one that starts with an even use an upstroke. For example, if the smallest note value in a bar is an 8th and the strokes come on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th, eighth notes, the strumming pattern would be down, down, up, down, up. I realise this is quite a convoluted explanation of something relatively simple, sorry I'm just not great at describing some things!
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Old 03-10-2013, 07:27 AM   #3
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Try playing slower reggae style song first to get a hang of the upstroke "chop" rhythm. Then start counting the rhythm in eight notes (1 and 2 and..) and playing the upstroke chords on the "ands" while the downstrokes on the 1, 2, 3 and 4 are done on muted strings. Also to lessen the awkward sound and feel of the upstroke try playing only the top 3 strings of regular barre chords to really get the chop kind of rhythm going.
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:39 AM   #4
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Listen to for the upbeat and go on that.

Count the rhythm like this

1 and-2 and-3 and-4 and-1 and-2 and-3 and-4

and play your upstrokes on the "ands", i'd advise that you still play the downstrokes to maintain the rhythm and either miss the strings or mute them by simply lifting your fretting hand slightly. Either way works but muting the downstrokes is easier and is probably what you're used to hearing anyway.

and i've just realised that's pretty much exactly what diamanth said, because I didn't read all the posts...
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Old 03-10-2013, 01:14 PM   #5
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In certain tempos I only use downstrokes.
1 = bass note or mute
"and" = high three strings
2= bass note or mute
"and" = high strings and so on.
If you play the bass notes very subtile they'll blend in with the bass player does.
That of course doesn't solve the initial problem with the akwardness of upstrokes, but yeah, it sounds ok.

Another way to get the rhythm right is to not use a pick but your fingers. Thumb = Bass notes, fingers = high strings.
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