Is alternative picking a necessity in tenor banjo? I'm currently slogging through Gerry O'Connor's Irish Tenor Banjo method and he never mentions upstrokes other than for triplets and trebles, but other sources I've consulted say that alternative picking is vital for developing speed. So, which is right?
If you go to www.mandozine.com you'll find a lot of tabs for mandolin and a lot of exercises on how to practice up and down picking. Since both have four strings the method is useful for both instruments. Any questions left you can email me.
I don't have any specific experience with tenor banjo (maybe soon!), but gypsy guitarists use 'rest stroke' picking extensively - even exclusively you might say. It's essentially a downstroke pick technique and they manage to develop absolutely tremendous speed. It wouldn't surprise me if their guitar style was adapted from banjo picking in the years before reliable amplification was available.
FWIW, in the few recordings I've heard of Perry Bechtel (on guitar, admittedly), it sounds like he uses a similar 'rest stroke' approach.