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Upstrokes (Guitar Lesson)


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Brad Henecke

Upstrokes

Brad covers the proper way to perform an upstroke. He demonstrates an exercise in various rhythms that involves upstrokes.

Taught by Brad Henecke in Speed and Technique seriesLength: 4:16Difficulty: 0.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (04:26) Upstroke Picking Technique Essentially, this lesson is a continuation of the previous lesson in this series. In the last lesson, Brad demonstrated some simple exercises aimed at getting your pick hand acquainted with playing downstrokes. This time around, he plays through the same exercises using only upstrokes.

Before proceeding to the exercises in this lesson, you must be comfortable with the following topics previously discussed in this series:

1. Understanding of how to properly hold the pick.
2. Understanding of proper left hand picking technique.
3. The ability to play in time with a metronome at a slow speed.

Upstrokes are much more difficult to play than downstrokes for roughly the first few years of playing the guitar. This is due to a few specific reasons. First, gravity enables the hand to play steady downstrokes much faster than a succession of upstrokes. Second, downstrokes are used far more often, so every guitarist gets more practice playing them. Finally, it is harder for the wrist muscles to return to their original position after performing an upstroke compared to a downstroke. This brings up an interesting point in relation to technique. How fast you can play isn't entirely dependent on how fast you can pick, but also how fast you can return the pick to its resting position. The same statement can be made of the left hand fingers.

To solidify these facts, play a series of downstrokes as fast as you can. Then repeat the process with upstrokes. If you haven't been playing for very long, your downstrokes are probably about twice as fast as your upstrokes. In order to compensate and close the speed gap between down and upstrokes, you must spend a significant amount of time practicing only upstrokes.

When practicing through these exercises, there are a few aspects that you want to focus on. First, ensure that you are playing perfectly in time with the metronome. Matt Brown always preaches, "If you can't play in time, you can't play. It doesn't matter how fast you can play, or how expressive your playing is. If you're rhythm isn't perfect, you're not playing music." Almost all music teachers preach the same philosophy in regard to rhythm. Next, make sure that your hands stay relaxed at all times. Remember Brad's mantra: ""minimum effort for maximum effect." If your hands begin to feel tight or cramped, immediately stop what you are doing and take a break. Also, be sure that every upstroke you play is identical in tone and volume. If you are having a hard time with rhythm or keeping your tone even, slow the metronome down until you can play these exercises comfortably with no mistakes.

Note: Open "Upstrokes" under the "Supplemental Content" for tablature to the exercises that Brad discusses in the lesson video.

Picking Practice for Intermediate and Advanced Players

Some additional exercises are also posted in the "Supplemental Content" section for players that need a little extra right hand challenge. Once again, the McLaughlin picking exercises are available. This time around however, play through these exercises using upstrokes. Switch to alternate picking when you reach the quintuplet exercise. Also, a picking exercise attributed to guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani is also available. Play through these exercises using only upstrokes as well.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


kravmagaselfdefensekravmagaselfdefense replied on June 5th, 2012

great lesson. However when you demonstrate 16th notes you are still playing eighth notes. Technically if you are doing it this way then the metronome is now counting eighth notes. Be sure to mention this transition.

tim65tim65 replied on October 9th, 2011

Why should the pick be at a slight angle? Is this how all good guitarists play?

aguillen2011aguillen2011 replied on April 28th, 2011

The 16th notes should be played twice as fast - they are played at 8th notes. Looks like this has been noted for some time - any chance this lesson could be corrected?

monkafellomonkafello replied on February 25th, 2010

lol which is okay b/c i'm none too quick on upstroking 16ths

monkafellomonkafello replied on February 25th, 2010

Yeah you're playing your '16th' notes over two measures instead of one, making them the same speed as your 8th notes.

jbuczekjbuczek replied on October 11th, 2009

yeah, I know, that's weird

joselojoselo replied on September 12th, 2009

there is no difference between 8 and 16 notes

brett911brett911 replied on March 27th, 2009

Are you playing the 16the notes like 8th notes? The 16th notes should be faster than triplets?

Speed and Technique

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Technique is extremely important to playing in any style of music. Perfect technique combined with blazing speed can take your playing to a whole new level.



Lesson 1

Series Introduction

Brad introduces his Speed and Technique series.

Length: 1:15 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Picking and Timing

Brad Henecke covers proper picking technique and gives a basic lesson on notes/timing.

Length: 6:10 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Picking and Downstrokes

This lesson is all about the downstroke. Brad discusses technique and shows you how to pick in different rhythmic groupings.

Length: 5:20 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Upstrokes

Brad covers the proper way to perform an upstroke.

Length: 4:16 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Alternate Picking

Brad Henecke covers alternate picking and how it can speed up your guitar playing.

Length: 5:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Alternate Picking with Upstrokes

Brad Henecke presents alternate picking exercises that start with an upstroke.

Length: 3:26 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Sweep Picking

Brad explains the basics of sweep picking in this fun speed building guitar lesson.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Economy Picking

Brad explains the basics of a technique called economy picking.

Length: 5:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Series Review

Brad provides a brief review of this series. He gives information regarding why technique is so important.

Length: 2:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

String Skipping

Brad covers proper string skipping technique and gives you some exercises that will speed up your playing.

Length: 8:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Hammer-on / Pull-off

This lesson is all about improving speed by applying hammer-ons and pull-offs. Learn some exercises that sound great and boost speed.

Length: 11:27 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Hammer-On Lick

Brad Henecke demonstrates a speed building lick that makes heavy use of hammer-ons.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only

About Brad Henecke View Full Biography Brad Henecke was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 5th of 1963. He has been a fan of music for as long as he & his family can remember. You could always find him running around the farm wailing on his cardboard guitar, pretending to be a member of the rock band KISS. Additional inspiration came during his first concert when he got the chance to see Boston & Sammy Hagar in the early 1970's.

This opened up a whole new world of rock and roll music for him; his parents noticed his growing interest in music and enrolled him into guitar lessons when he was 13.

From there he jumped into two years of lessons at a local music store in Cedar Rapids. After discovering Eddie Van Halen, Brad knew that the guitar would always be a part of his life. He took his love throughout the city as he played as a pit musician & jammed at parties for friends.

This made him thirsty for more. He enrolled classes at Kirkwood Community College & also took lessons from the one & only Craig-Erickson (www.craig-erickson.com).

His love for music landed him a gig opening for Molly Hatchet in Cedar Rapids with a band called "Slap & Tickle". He has also played in the Greeley Stampede show for quite a few years with "True North".

Brad is currently playing in Greeley, Colorado with a rock band titled "Ragged Doll". They play a wide variety of music with an emphasis on classic rock from the 60's to present, with Brad playing electric guitar in the five piece lineup.

He currently jams on his all-time favorite guitar: a Paul Reed Smith Custom 24. Beyond guitar, he plays also plays drums & bass guitar. He has also been known to thrash a banjo from time to time. He is still actively playing & passing his 31 years of playing experience on to others (you!).

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