Alternate picking is the formal name of the most typical way of creating sound on the guitar with a pick. It’s a very simply method where you pick the notes on the guitar both with downward and upward motion and always in order alternating between up and down strokes.
The formula for alternate picking is, if you start on a down stroke:[ Down, Up, Down, Up, Down etc.] or if we start with an up stroke it would be: [Up, Down, Up Down etc.]
There are general signs for the upward and downward picking motion that can be used both for strumming the guitar e.g. picking more than one string at a time with a sweeping motion or just when you are picking a single string using Alternate Picking.
These signs are used typically the same way by most people and are rather straight forward. These symbols are the ones displayed here. You might also recognize these symbols from the Strumming Page
At first glance these symbols look counter intuitive but they actually make sense when you line them up against a TAB or the illustrated guitar neck in my videos.
In the video below we have two main examples where I show Alternate picking. We start by picking the basic three notes per string pattern of the Major Scale, first by starting with a down stroke and then after we try playing the same pattern but this time starting with an up. I don’t utilize these symbols in the video but they are used in various teaching material for the guitar so it’s prudent to at least recognize them.