This is Why You Suck at Guitar: Your Picking Patterns Suck, With Ben Eller

In this rip-roaring fun ride lesson, Uncle Ben is going to show you why your parents were right to disown you because of your god-awful picking skills!

Ultimate Guitar
Ladies! Gentlemen! Cyborgs of indeterminate sex! It's time for a brand new installment of "This is Why You Suck at Guitar."

It's been far too long since Uncle Ben here dropped a TiWYSaG lesson on you guys, but what can i say? Touring and recording with Whitechapel, Unearth, Far Far Away, and Andy Wood sure does take up a lot of my time. Plus I've been battling a major wolverine infestation in my crawlspace, so there's that.

This time, you're going to learn the logic behind picking patterns used in chord arpeggiation. That sounds really expensive, but it's actually a dollar store technique you've heard in songs like "More Than a Feeling" by Boston, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day, and many more.

The great thing is, once you learn the logic behind when to use an upstroke as opposed to a downstroke, you won't have to go through the agony of memorizing a long picking pattern anymore. You've got enough to worry about, what with learning the chords, the order in which to hit the strings (and of course the wolverines in the crawlspace), you don't need to be trying to memorize "down, down, up, up, up, down, up, down" on top of it!

This mostly applies to chord arpeggios like the ones I mentioned earlier. In some styles of music, such as the bluegrass and folk sounds of my beloved Appalachia, strict alternate picking is used in chord arpeggiation as a way of maintaining time feel. But this technique will work for pretty much anything else.

Thanks for watching, kids, please like the video and subscribe to my channel for more great lessons and sick licks. Cheers!

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About the Author:
By Ben Eller. Twitter/Instagram @BenEllerGuitars

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I def suck at upstrokes been playing for 17 years never practiced right trying to fix it now, thanks
    Awesome. That helped a lot and was fun as well Ben. Excellent communicators like you make great teachers. Thank you.
    I do it all down-up-down-up-etc. all the time. Alternate picking, regardless of which direction the next note in a chord arpeggiation will never not be the most practical way to do it for me. When I learned how to do this essential, though maybe slightly overlooked technique, it helped me significantly. Try it, it is actually a fairly easy thing to get used to so long as you apply a logical practice method.
    I went to that too and constantly read somewhere that "you should do this when playing arpeggios" or "sweep is the only way to go up and down the strings". As long as I keep practicing upstrokes and downstrokes, the attack will be fairly even and thus keep the arpeggios sounding consistent from note to note.
    Good point, but doesn't apply to every song
    -----I -----I -----4---4h6h4----4-----4---4h6h4-----I --- --6---6-----6-----6---6-----6--I ---6-----7-----I -----I Doesn't? Really?
    train wreck of a post.....sorry bout that. Point is it is entirely possible.
    yes it is possible, but doesn't make it any easier to play it that way thus 'doesn't apply to every song' which was stated in the video, try it yourself...