5 Great Downpicking exercises 

by Rodrigo Sanchez, Oct 16, 2020 . 4 min read

5 Great Downpicking exercises 

Downpicking exercises are a must for many guitarists. Do you play metal? Better start working on that downpicking today. Do you like Rock? You will definitely be downpicking a while. Do you ever play power chords?

Then you will also be downpicking a fair amount of time. It is quite interesting that many guitarists only want to focus on playing lead. However, most situations require more time playing rhythm than lead. As a result, the time spent working on rhythm is essential. In other words, you will be accompanying most of the time. However, you also have the choice of playing only lead alone in your room. Not too exciting, right? So if you play electric guitar, you will be playing power chords often. Consequently, you will be downpicking quite a bit. Here are five great downpicking exercises.

Downpicking on one chord

Pick one power chord. Let’s say C. Set your metronome at 40 bpm. Now play four downstrokes per beat. Oh, wait, did you cringe when I said “metronome”? If so, feel free to stop reading now. After all, you don’t have to play guitar at all. Still there? Great! Let me state this clearly: you will have to use a metronome for this and all exercises. Start slow. Most importantly, make sure you can play the given exercise clean at a slow tempo. Once that is done you can then speed it up just a bit. Subsequently, make sure you can play the new tempo clean until you can increase it again. 

Downpicking on two chords

Let’s stay with our C chord. But now, let’s add a G. Set your metronome at 40 bpm. Play two beats per chord. In other words, downpick C eight times and then G another eight times. Repeat that until the change is seamless and there is no choppiness. Above all, make sure it sounds clean and even before you speed up. I cannot stress that point enough. 

Downpicking on two chords, with syncopated switch

This exercise is almost identical to the previous one. However, we are now going to switch chords on the upbeat. In other words, we will switch from C to G at the end of the beat. To clarify, play the C chord seven times and on the 8th you switch to G. That means you will be downpicking G nine times (and C seven times).

Four-chord downpicking

This one is similar to the second exercise. However, here we will be playing four chords. We will switch chords every beat. In the same vein as all exercises, start slow. Let’s use C, G, F, and Bb. Each chord will be downpicked four times before moving on to the next. Again, make sure you can execute the exercise flawlessly before increasing the tempo.

Four-chord downpicking exercises with syncopated switch

Let’s use the same four chords as the previous exercise. Here we are going to change the first and third chords after just three downstrokes. In other words, play C three times, play G five times, F three times and Bb five times. This exercise is a typical punk pattern that is widely used. Make sure you can play it clean before increasing the speed. Feel free to change the chords for variety. 

In conclusion, Downpicking is a must for most electric guitar players. It is the very essence of the sound of bands like Metallica and Megadeth. It happens most of the time if you play metal, punk, and many other subgenres of rock. And like everything else music-related, it takes practice to master. Remember to always use a metronome with these exercises. Above all, make sure you can play something slow before speeding up. In short, you’ve gotta walk before you can run. Feel free to leave us a comment. 

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