Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Pick direction / Mandolin

Does anyone have any tips. I understand pick direction is important, but will practice a song like Cherokee shuffle and find myself sometimes losing track of the pick direction I should be playing. It also happens when I practice the circular scales like the G and A.


I’m just getting started on mandolin myself, but I’ve played violin for years. On violin music there are many times bow markings showing which direction the bow should be going at a certain spot. In my opinion it depends a lot on where you’re going next and how best to transition there and what kind of sound you want. Having said that, I’m probably going to be called out at he upcoming camp for playing fast and loose with the pick directions. I tend to substitute he alternating up/down pattern sometimes when the @banjoben arrangements call for a straight down/down pattern. Slow practice is the best for techniques like picking and bowing. Hope this helps.


I think there’s a way of thinking about pick direction in that the down beat is a down stroke and the up beat (off beat) is an up stroke. I recommend practicing each song slowly at first until it becomes a habit of down and up strokes. When there are eighth notes in a row, they’re generally always alternating picking. Keep up the good work!


Great question and some great answers here! Soon you will not have to worry about pick direction if you’re disciplined about instilling the down/up stroke with the down/up beat…it will be natural to play downs on downbeats and ups on upbeats. There is a reason to do this, and once you master it you can break the rules when needed :wink:


Thank you very much for your help.