I had an interesting email that I tried to best answer a few weeks back; it was out of my area of confidence - being specifically *not* about fingerstyle! - but I had a crack at it. I thought it might be interesting to my fingerstyle mates here; and even better, some of my not *solely* fingerstyle mates might be able to offer up a better answer than I did! :)
According to you, using a flat pick is not your forte :) but your experience should be able to assist me.
If I am going to learn alternate picking, should I not alternate pick all my notes/songs/scales etc ALWAYS anyway after that ? If alternate picking is so much more better/efficient why isnt it just the standard type of picking taught from the onset ? I clearly understand the benefits of alternating pick, but I am having a problem understanding why anyone would revert to "regular" picking if its inferior to alternate picking. So for example: Once I learn alternate picking and I am given 3 notes to play, I will simply alternate pick all over them, it will feel smoother/faster, why wouldn't I? What will I miss if I completely do away with "regular" picking ?
Sorry if it all sounds repetitive, its impossible to Google such a question and I'm just trying to make sure that I describe it well enough for you to understand my beginner dilemma!
Greg, you sound just like an engineer! The best way of thinking of course :)
But when we put down our technical physics based ways, and have a go at thinking about what we are trying to achieve - sound, groove, style - alternating picking shouldn't always be performed. For instance, say you were playing just four bassnotes in a bar and you wanted to accentuate the same thumping sound; you would downstroke each one the same.
And if you were playing offbeat, playing notes on the "and" (one and two and...) they will want to have that "and" sound you'll get from upstroke.
I'm not suggesting that on beat is always downstroke and off beat is up, although it's probably a good starting point to help you "feel" what the groove is doing. I'm talking from more a rhythm style than lead style, but the message is similar.
Shredding for instance would probably be non-stop alternating, you need the speed - but even then I'd suggest that occasional downstroke notes would line up on beat.
I think if you close your eyes and feel the music, and put the mechanics out of you mind, you'll know where to downstroke and upstroke. That's really easy for me to say however with a lifetime of guitar mechanics behind me that I *can* do with my eyes closed, but I could have come along a lot faster if I got more into what I can only describe as "groove", where the music is coming from "you", not through a series of optimised efficient programmed movements :)
Hope you find something in that ethereal vauge gut reaction from this 30-years-in-guitar-still-leaning, who hasn't held a flat pick for more than five years :)