Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Picking through triplets

Looking for some guidance here. What pick direction do you use when playing through triplets? I’m trying to figure out a sure-fire way to keep my pick directions in line. Here are some options but I’m looking for guidance on the most common techniques for multiple triplets.

  1. Pick DUD UDU thru two triplets and you can resume your regular ol’ DU pickings. Just don’t pick three triplets!
  2. Pick DUD DUD through any set of of triplets. It’s a bit of a mental switch for this one. Cross picking has a similar mental switch if you are playing DDU DDU.

What do y’all use? I need something I can do from muscle memory and not think about pick strokes. I just don’t want to start a bad habit and have to fix it later. Thanks in advance!

1 Like

I (generally) go straight DUDUDUDUDUD… This leads to wrong-pick direction every other beat. I just turn my brain off and roll with it. “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring”, if read as 9/8 (I think some write it as 3/4) is almost all 1/8 notes. Also, some of the musical phrases are 3 measures. SO you not only end up every other measure starting with an up stroke, you also start every other phrase with an up stroke. Like I said… I just turn off my brain and keep the picking on auto-pilot.

That said, that’s just me. I have never worked enough on DDU and other variants to have them work well for me. I think you can pick any reasonable approach and you will be fine.


So for triplets I use the pattern I learned for Irish mandolin, which is to pick it alternate, but then your next not will be the same direction as the last note of the triplet for example: DUDUdudDUD or DUDuduUDUD. Since in 4/4 you usually only play triplets on the downbeat, the first example is more common. If you’re playing a jig it’s entirely different and I assume you aren’t so I won’t elaborate


I’ve learned over the years to add a hammer or pull-off in there to get back on track. And don’t forget, there ain’t nothin’ in the world wrong with playing a quarter note every now and then to take a breather!