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> Economy Picking 101
Ben Higgins
post Mar 12 2015, 04:37 PM
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Economy Picking may be a crap sounding name (guitar techniques for for the poor, anyone ?) but it is definitely NOT a crap technique. I love it, many other famous guitar players love it. Let me tell you why you should be using this... errr... tool in your guitar playing.

Pictured: A tool

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To understand economy picking you first need to understand alternate picking. If we were to take an average sextuplet run in Bm, you would alternate each pick stroke no matter whether you were on the same string or changing string. Whether you began on a downstroke or upstroke you will still maintain the alternating feature of this technique. Take a look at the pick stroke symbols underneath the tab:

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Ok, so we're familiar with what alternate picking is, yeah ? Cool, let's mess around a little.

Economy picking is still alternate picking when played on the same string. It still makes use of alternating up / down pick strokes. However, it only becomes economy picking when there is a change from one string to another. Instead of automatically picking the opposite stroke, you follow the direction of the pick and sweep through the strings. Look at this same Bm lick now played with economy picking. See those downstrokes side by side ? They are not played as separate downstroke. That is essentially a mini sweep. You would push the pick down through to the next string.

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The 3 note pattern allows us to play 2 alternating pick strokes and then on the 3rd note our pick is facing the same way that we started. So we can use this to push the pick through and down to the next string. (literally down towards the floor.. but in guitar speak, we would be ascending) This means we can repeat the D, U, D pattern on the next string and the next...

Using downstrokes to sweep through the strings is how we use economy picking to move to a higher string when ascending. Got that ?

Ok, let's look at a descending lick:

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You'll notice that we start on an upstroke. This is because, after 3 notes, the pick will face up again and we need it facing up so that we can push the upstroke through onto the B string. Get it ?

Using upstrokes to sweep through the strings is how we use economy picking to move to a lower string when descending.

These 3 note ascending and descending scale runs are the more simple side of economy picking. Things get more complicated when you start changing the number of notes on a string, combing odd and even note groupings. The bottom line is that you've got to start working it into your own licks and seeing where economy picking may work for you and, also as importantly, when it won't.

The thing about economy picking is that, sometimes, it's more beneficial to miss the occasional pick stroke out and play a hammer-on or pull-off in order to maintain your economy picking motion. You'll discover these situations as you progress in this technique but I've just given you the basics to be getting on with now.

So, if you wondered how Yngwie gets his runs to sound a lot more flowing and off kilter than people who pick every note, then this is why !


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Chris S.
post Mar 12 2015, 09:04 PM
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I just use a power drill!! biggrin.gif

No really though, I know how important it is but I could never break out of the alternate picking habit.

One of these days tongue.gif


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jstcrsn
post Mar 13 2015, 01:28 PM
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my 2 cents.I learned eco picking out of not knowing .I grasped it pretty quick and out paced my instructors ears so he did not hear my eco picking with its "problems"( IMO ).the problem is that I tended to play three notes per string, have just a slight pause when skipping strings, play the next three to catch up to the beat and so on.This was so small a timing issue , that unless you were faster than I, you probably wouldn't notice. But , I knew there was always something wrong and my picking was never syncopated properly.

So where am I headed with this ?
As with techniques they are wonderful and usefull, but one must be sure to not learn it incorrectly , get frustrated and quit or struggle for years (like me, to this day with sycned alt picking).
For these reasons I would encourage people to get a good ( not fast ) syncopated alt picking technique before they add this one
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Ben Higgins
post Mar 13 2015, 04:05 PM
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QUOTE (jstcrsn @ Mar 13 2015, 12:28 PM) *
my 2 cents.I learned eco picking out of not knowing .I grasped it pretty quick and out paced my instructors ears so he did not hear my eco picking with its "problems"( IMO ).the problem is that I tended to play three notes per string, have just a slight pause when skipping strings, play the next three to catch up to the beat and so on.This was so small a timing issue , that unless you were faster than I, you probably wouldn't notice. But , I knew there was always something wrong and my picking was never syncopated properly.

So where am I headed with this ?
As with techniques they are wonderful and usefull, but one must be sure to not learn it incorrectly , get frustrated and quit or struggle for years (like me, to this day with sycned alt picking).
For these reasons I would encourage people to get a good ( not fast ) syncopated alt picking technique before they add this one


Yeah I think it really does help to have a solid understanding of alternate picking and how it works.. you don't necessarily have to be stupidly fast at it either. If we look at somebody like Yngwie or possibly even Gambale, they'll be loads quicker and more efficient with their chosen technique than if we asked them to play the same lines using only alternate. So what I'm getting at is yes, I agree that understanding alternate is essential but you don't have to be a master at it before you can choose to use economy.. if you find it useful smile.gif


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Jim S.
post Mar 13 2015, 09:34 PM
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From never learning until now the importance of alternate picking. I developed a goofy approach to economy picking. I'm very comfortable string changing while alternate picking but my mind is still geared toward that mini sweep feeling of economy. Therefore after a certain speed I get confused a bit and miss. One very strong picking habit I have is I never drop the pick, other than that I'm a noob.
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Ben Higgins
post Mar 14 2015, 10:15 AM
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QUOTE (Jim S. @ Mar 13 2015, 08:34 PM) *
One very strong picking habit I have is I never drop the pick,


Well that's a start ! It took me a long time before I was comfortable with the pick not slipping position in my grasp all the time ! biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Mar 14 2015, 11:38 AM


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jstcrsn
post Mar 14 2015, 01:20 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Mar 13 2015, 04:05 PM) *
Yeah I think it really does help to have a solid understanding of alternate picking and how it works.. you don't necessarily have to be stupidly fast at it either. If we look at somebody like Yngwie or possibly even Gambale, they'll be loads quicker and more efficient with their chosen technique than if we asked them to play the same lines using only alternate. So what I'm getting at is yes, I agree that understanding alternate is essential but you don't have to be a master at it before you can choose to use economy.. if you find it useful smile.gif
I am right there with you on this being an important TOOL . What I noticed is that your 3 nps ( this is a term meaning 3 notes per string for those that might not know) could be played as 16th notes( not triplets) example 1 :1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 then starting your descending pattern on the b8 example2 :, that could be your 1 count and then continue your four count in your decent.This would start over on the E7, starting your loop over
IMO this would solve issues with syncopation . What are your thoughts .Of course I would always recommend being able to play triplets as well

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Ben Higgins
post Mar 14 2015, 01:38 PM
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QUOTE (jstcrsn @ Mar 14 2015, 12:20 PM) *
I am right there with you on this being an important TOOL . What I noticed is that your 3 nps ( this is a term meaning 3 notes per string for those that might not know) could be played as 16th notes( not triplets) example 1 :1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 then starting your descending pattern on the b8 example2 :, that could be your 1 count and then continue your four count in your decent.This would start over on the E7, starting your loop over
IMO this would solve issues with syncopation . What are your thoughts .Of course I would always recommend being able to play triplets as well


Well spotted ! I did in fact write them out as 16th notes which was accidental on my part. I did intend to write them as triplets but forgot to change the note values.

So the examples given are indeed in 16th notes and yes, I would definitely advise having a go at working through them using that timing value. It may even be easier for some people that way.

Using economy picking to Descend in 3nps using triplets is much tricker, I find. It's just harder to keep in time, probably because of beginning on an upstroke and having to keep the pick close to the string. Once you've cleared the E and are on the B and so on it's not so bad.. but getting started is trickier than ascending.


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