Down-Up Rest-Stroke Picking at Slow-to-Medium Tempo?

pdgpdg ✭✭
in Technique Posts: 473

I find it a bit difficult to play down-up (with the appropriate "sweeps, etc.), rest-stroke style, when the tempo is slow or medium-slow. No problem picking faster -- my wrist feels relaxed, the pick bounces off the "rest" strings, etc.

When slowed down, gravity is still the same, the string tension is still the same, but the tempo is slower -- seems it's sort of like expecting a horse to gallup slowly.

It's obvious that many of the best players play all down strokes until the tempo gets pretty fast.

In Stochelo's video lessons, there is even a disclaimer that, when he slows down his licks, his right-hand pick directions are not the same as when he plays the licks at tempo!

Is it just tradition? Or for a better sound? Or is it because it's actually more difficult to slow down the bouncy rebound of the strings, etc? What would happen if a horse tried to gallup slowly?

I'm wondering if it's not worth trying to perfect a slow "down-up" rest stroke, and if it would be better to perfect faster down-down playing?



  • Posts: 75

    Personally I think you answered all your own questions hear. I think many traditional players, don’t think of the dogmatic rules of when to do downstrokes be up strokes, but rather as you said, favor downstrokes whenever possible and simply use up strokes to catch any notes they need to play at higher tempos. I still think learning a consistent down-up at slower tempos is good so you can really build in as perfect of a technique as possible. But then again I don’t imagine many idiomatic players ever really did that, so I would prioritize comfort over anything

  • Posts: 4,833

    Can play fast but have trouble with slow? Man that's a good problem to have. Never happened here. Is there a section of music we might be familiar with where this happens?

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • WillieWillie HamburgNew
    Posts: 843


    Yes, there is, and it is called GYPSY SWING: during the production of the movie "Peppermint Frieden" (Germany 1983) there was a sinti guitar duo who played the requested music too fast for the director's taste. They didn't manage playing the tune in a slower tempo at once, the really had to rehearse for a while. This was reported to me by Markus Sing, guitarist and bandmate of Konstantin Wecker, who wrote most of the score.

  • Posts: 4,833

    Song by David Dawg Grisman or something else?

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • WillieWillie HamburgNew
    edited July 2021 Posts: 843

    I don't know. I saw the movie, but don't remember the music. The german Wikipedia article doesn't mention the two guitarists; this is all I found about "Peppermint Frieden" in english:

  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161

    Looool it’s happened in my studio a number of times with some famous players… one in particular was having a hard time at 180-200bpm because he felt the backing track was slowing down and he was tensing up because of it. When I raised the tempo up to 280+ he finally felt relaxed haha

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320

    Man, I wish I had that problem!!

  • Posts: 4,833

    @dennis that's nuts...they play ballads though so what is it with these mid tempos? (although 200 bpm wouldn't be a mid tempo for me...)

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 473

    Mid-tempo forces you either to play mostly downs (which is pretty fast), or to more-or-less alternate down and up (which is pretty slow).

    You need sort of a third technique. You can't simply slow down the fast bounce, just as you can't jump more slowly on a trampoline.

  • Posts: 4,833

    So I need to notch it up to 280 and up and 120 or less and skip the middle, that's it. But seriously, would love to see/hear this.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
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