When you read a tab, or written music, how can you tell when to use an upstroke or a downstroke for the chords? For example, when i strum how so you know if your meant to be using all downstrokes or all upstrokes? Or if i'm meant to use a mix of both upstrokes and downstrokes, how do i tell when to use a downstroke or upstroke? Is there something written in the music notation that is susposed to tell me?

Or am i susposed to figure that out myself? If i am then how do i figure out if the note is an upstroke or downstroke?
Last edited by Aisten at Aug 13, 2008,
Well, usually you start a string on a downstroke and then if you play that same string again you use an upstroke, then a downstroke etc. so it is alternate.

There are different styles of picking though, such as economy picking. I suggest you read one of the technique lessons on this site about economy picking if you want to learn about that.
You are like a hurricane
There's calm in your eye.
And I'm gettin' blown away
To somewhere safer
where the feeling stays.
I want to love you but
I'm getting blown away.
feel the rhythm man.

listen to the song, get to know it and go from there.

alot of guitarists strictly use down strokes (i.e. James Hetfield, Jimmy Page on Communication Breakdown, and Johnny Ramone)
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say your playing all eighth notes in 4/4 time then you would play all the odd number notes down and the even notes up. this holds true even for tied notes just pay attention to whether it starts on an even or odd.
well, in tablature, there are usually picking symbols under each chord. an upstroke is usually denoted by an arrow pointing up while a downstroke is denoted by a box thing pointing down.

otherwise, it is usually wise to start on a downstroke on the first or strong beats in a measure, or all downstrokes for quarter notes. if eighth notes are involved, down then upstroke. same from sixteenths. triplets are a lil more tricky...
Yes! you are supposed to figure this out. it's hard at first but with time it becomes easier.
There's a difference in sound when using down and upstroke with chords, probably because of the way the chord begins.

I don't think you should always be alternating between up and down when playing chords, so try and mix it up while practicing the chords.
You have to use your ears unless its noted in the tab which it seldom is. It gets easier i struggled at first to get chord rythems with only chords but after more practice and learning more songs you wont even think aobut it and youll be improvsing your own rythems and mixing it up. Just keep playing and learning new songs and most imprtantly using your ears.